World Senior Championships declared open

LAS VEGAS - World Tenpin Bowling Association President Kevin Dornberger officially declared open the inaugural World Senior Championships Sunday afternoon at Red Rock Lanes in Las Vegas, Nev.

213 players age 50 and older from 33 countries plus officials, coaches, family, friends and supporters gathered in front of the 60 tournament lanes (the center also features 12 one-of-a-kind VIP lanes in a separated part of the bowling center) for the Opening Ceremonies.

In the name of bowling's world governing body, Dornberger thanked WTBA's partners Storm, Brunswick, Kegel, Rolltech, Station Casinos, Red Rock, Southern Nevada USBC and the United States Bowling Congress for their support.

Following the national anthem of the United States of America was the competitor's oath recited by Senior Team USA's Del Ballard Jr. and Lucy Sandelin and the Technical Official's oath by Southern Nevada USBC President, Vern Vernazzaro.

This marks the first time that senior bowlers will compete for medals in a WTBA-sanctioned World Senior Championship.

Surprisingly, among all the athletes are only two former World Champions. Lena Sulkanen of Sweden, who has won three gold medals in Singles, Team and Masters in the 1983 World Championships in Caracas, Venezuela, is targeting to become the first women to win gold in both adult and senior World Championships.

Rolando Sebelen of the Dominican Republic, who won the gold medal in Doubles with Carlos Diaz for Puerto Rico in the 1971 World Championships in Milwaukee, Wis., could become the first man to accomplish the feat.

Among the favorites in the women's division are two-time Bowling World Cup champion Jeanette Baker, Australia (1982, 83); Jill Friis of Canada, who rolled a 300 game at the 1999 World Cup; Germany's Gisela Insinger, who won the 2012 International Seniors Bowling Tour Masters in Europe; Angie Brown of England, a multiple winner on the ISBT; PABCON champion Mariela Alarza of Venezuela; and Mexican standout Teresa Piccini.

The men's roster includes Finn Teemu Raatikainen, runner-up in the Masters event at the 1991 World Championships in Singapore (winner was Mika Koivuniemi); South American standout and multiple PABCON champion Arturo Hernandez of Venezuela; ISBT champion Christer Danielsson of Sweden; and multiple South American champ Marcio Vieira of Brazil, just to mention a few.

Many of the other players are former national team members and have medaled in domestic and international events during their careers.

However, the players to beat will be on the team of the host country as a star-studded lineup represents the United States of America at the inaugural World Senior Championships.

The men's team consists of 13-time PBA champion Del Ballard Jr., seven-time PBA titlist Hugh Miller, two-time PBA50 Tour Player of the Year Ron Mohr and Ed Roberts, who has has amassed amateur titles around the world.

All four members of the women's squad are members of the USBC Hall of Fame including three super stars of the former PWBA tour, 25-time champion Tish Johnson, 18-time champion Robin Romeo and 15-time champion Anne Marie Duggan.

The former pros are joined by 10-time Team USA member Lucy Sandelin, who has won numerous international medals for her country including the 1976 AMF World Cup champion in Iran.

The 1st World Senior Championships runs from Aug. 10 thru 16, 2013. Men and women will compete in separate divisions for medals in five events - Singles, Doubles, Team, All-Events and Masters. All participants must be 50 years of age or above in the year of the championship.

Australia's Michael Seymour will serve as Tournament Director and Marios Nicolaides of Cyprus is the WTBA technical delegate. In the team manger's meeting on Saturday evening, Nicolaides has announced that the 35-feet Beijing and the 40-feet Athens lane conditioning pattern will be used for the championships.

Competition gets underway Monday with the Singles qualifying. The top four players, men and women, after six games on the Beijing pattern will advance to the semifinals. The two semifinal winners will determine the first gold medalist on late Monday afternoon. The award ceremonies follow immediately after the championship match.

Players return Tuesday for the Doubles qualifying, semi-finals and finals on the Athens pattern. Wednesday features the qualifying of the four-player Team event which is split into two three-game blocks, one each on the two lane conditioning pattern.

The top 4 teams square off in the semifinals and finals on Thursday morning. The higher seeded teams have the right to determine the pattern. Medals are also given in All-Events with the 18-game total of the foregoing 18 games of the qualifying in Singles, Doubles and Team determining the medalists.

The top 24 men and women in All-Events will advance to the Masters finals which will conclude the 1st World Seniors Championships on Friday afternoon. The Masters will be played on dual lane conditions, with the left lane dressed with the longer oil-pattern and the right lane dressed with the shorter oil-pattern.

All 24 players will bowl six games with the All-Events total carried forward. The top 8 after 24 games advance to seven games of round robin match play, where 20 bonus points are awarded for a won match and 10 bonus points for a tied match.

The top four players with the highest 31-game total including bonus points will play two semi-finals over one game ; the highest positioned in Step 2 vs. the fourth highest positioned in Step 2 and the second highest (No. 1 meets No. 4 and No. 2 bowls No. 3).

The winners advance to the championship match to determine the Masters champion in a one game final.

- Story and photos courtesy of