Bowling: New faces and repeat champions in another excellent national youth event

Sunday, December 7, 2014, 11:42

No fewer than 37 young tenpin bowlers participated in the 2014 edition of the MTBA Intermediate and Junior Championships, which traditionally caters for athletes in the under-23 and under-16 categories, with separate male and female divisions. However this year, encouraged by a highly enthusiastic response to the Eden SuperBowl’s Free Summer Bowling program, and also the ongoing SkolaSport scheme, it was decided to add a third category for the under-12s, which alone attracted eleven entries.

Mini-Junior Category (U-12)

New girl in town, Lynne Vella takes girls’ title, Edward Xuereb for the boys

The Junior events were decided on total pinfall from two 6-game sessions, and in the Mini-Junior category there was an excellent performance from newcomer Lynne Vella, who walked off with the girls’ title, shooting a great 1053 total (87.7 average game) to finish first ahead of Mireille Perini in second place (961) and Martina Pisani in 3rd (857).

Miss Vella was spotted as a bowling talent by MTBA coaches earlier this year, while she participated in the Eden SuperBowl’s first ever Free Summer Bowling program. Having thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and armed with tips and pointers from the coaches, Lynne then put what she’d learned into practice by participating in the Free Summer Bowling Tournament, where she placed in a very respectable 3rd place in her division.

That first taste of competitive bowling encouraged her to participate in the Junior Nationals, but Miss Vella surely never expected to scoop a national title at what was her very first attempt.

The new boys’ U-12 champion is Edward Xuereb can already be classed as an experienced bowler even at his tender age, having competed in various local events, and also abroad with varying degrees of success. He was lying in second place behind Ayrton Ciangura after the initial 6 games, but then improved on day two to clinch the title with an excellent 1779 tally (148.2 ave), pushing Ayrton down into second (1600), while third place went to Shadon Psaila (1475).

Junior Category (U-16)

Sara Xuereb and Kurt Attard take the honours

Sara Xuereb has become a leading light in youth bowling, as a pupil of the National Sports School and under the regular guidance of the MTBA National Coach, Rick Vogelesang. The determined youngster showed composure and playing consistency beyond her years to shoot very impressive sets of 1072 and 1058, for a winning total of 2130 (177.5 ave). That put her 116 pins ahead of her sister Raquel, second on 2014 pins, while Alessia Schembri came third on 1938.

Another attendee of the National Sports School, Matthew Magro was leading the U-16 boys by 50 pins with just one more game left to play, and must have felt confident of victory. However that was not to be, as an inspired 224 final game by chaser Kurt Attard against a 159 from Magro, saw Attard clinch the title by just

15 pins, ending on 2029 (169.1 ave) ahead of Matthew’s 2014 (167.8). Shaun Montanaro finished in third place, on 2002 pins.

Intermediate Categor (U-23)

Sara Xuereb and Philip Gruppetta strike again

The Intermediate and Junior events were run concurrently, and so the younger bowlers had the option to also compete in the U-23 category, qualifying according to their original twelve games from the Junior events. In fact U-16 champion Sara Xuereb qualified for the latter staged of the Intermediates in first place.

The penultimate stage was a ‘round robin’ for the top 6 male and female bowlers, with a system of bonuses adopted, giving a boost to individual game scores in the case of a win or a draw. The female qualifiers were Sara Xureb, Raquel Xuereb, Alessia Schembri, Michaela Briffa, Raisa Briffa and Gabriella Zahra, while those in the male category were Claude Camilleri, Philip Gruppetta, Nicholas Zahra, Kurt Attard, Matthew Magro and Luke Burke.

After the five round robin games, the top three bowlers from each division went on to the step-ladder finals, and they were: Claude Camilleri, Philip Gruppetta and Nicholas Zahra for the boys, and Sara Xuereb, Alessia Schembri and Raquel Xuereb for the girls, all in order of qualification.

The girls’ semi- final saw Alessia Schembri beat Raquel Xureb in a 164 – 137 score line, and so she advanced to face the second Xuereb sister Sara, in the U-23 final match. As the lower seed, Alessia would need to beat Sara twice for victory, but in the end only one game was required, as Sara clinched victory with a 141 – 173 game score. At just 13yrs of age, Sara Xuereb has now successfully retained the U-23 national title.

Philip Gruppetta met Nicholas Zahra in the boys’ semi-final, and easily won that 202 – 145, to go on to the final against top seed Claude Camilleri. The latter was put under extreme pressure, as Philip took the first game 185 – 167 to force a second game, and in face Camilleri produced a better 186 effort. However Gruppetta was more than equal to the challenge, shooting a brilliant 235 to also hang on to his title. Not only was that Philip’s second consecutive U-23 crown, but also it was Claude Camilleri who he beat in the final to win the event in 2013.

Leave a comment