Maltese excel to smash national bowling records

Tuesday, July 2, 2013, 12:03

June at the Eden SuperBowl saw the hosting of the annual Malta Open Championships, the 2013 edition marking number 22, the tournament having been held each year, without pause since 1992. The popular event again saw growth in numbers, with 60 bowlers hailing from eleven different nations taking part.

The other countries represented were; Belgium, England, Ireland, Israel, Libya, Northern Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and Tunisia.

The Malta Open title was eventually won by Belgium’s Christian Vandamme, the main headline grabbers from the event were a number of the 23 strong Maltese contingent, who managed to bag a bevy of new national records in their home centre, against very tough international competition.

There were two ‘perfect’ 300 games during the Malta Open qualification stages, both bowled by local bowlers, namely Kenneth Arpa for his second official career 300, and newly elected MTBA President,Paul Baldacchino who rolled his first ever magical 12-strikes-in-a-row to join the growing list of Maltese ‘perfectos’, which now stands at thirteen bowlers.

The previous Maltese record for a 6-game series belonged to Kenneth Arpa, for a 1519 tally achieved at a 2009 event in Trapani. Arpa went two pins better than that for 1521 (253.5 average) during this year’s Open, but was topped by Justin Caruana Scicluna with a 1525. Both stunning efforts were, however,overshadowed by an incredible 1555 set from Mauro Anastasi, that’s an amazing 259.1 game average over six for the new record-holder.

Young star Justin Caruana Scicluna was the previous 4-game record holder on 959 (Malta Open 2011),but that total was beaten twice this year by the same bowler, Rankin Camilleri. The latter shot sets of 967, and a new high of 988 (247 ave) to set the new standard.High standards for Open, 2013

The scoring level was very high for the 2013 Malta Open, with the cut to top 21 for the all important final stages being set at no less than a 220.5 game average over twelve qualifying games. The qualification was a case of near domination for the locals, with no fewer than ten Maltese bowlers making it through. Those were;

making it through. Those were; Justin Caruana Scicluna (1st placed qualifier), Mauro Anastasi (2nd), Kenneth Arpa 4th, Neil Sullivan 5th, Mark Spiteri 7th,Melissa Swift 8th,Ranklin Camilleri 10th,Tiziana Carannante 17th,Joanna Attard 8th and Mark Muscat 19th.

Some brilliant final day performances meant that four locals placed in the top ten, for the penultimate ‘Round Robin’ stage. Those were Kenneth Arpa, Rankin Camilleri, Justin Caruana Scicluna and Mauro Anastasi. Only Arpa remained after the grueling 9-game session, going through to the exciting Stepladder Finals (top 4) in second place, booking an automatic semi-final place, with only big Chris Vandamme ahead of him.

Arpa would face Malta Open first-timer, Ramon Hilferink from the Netherlands in his one game match, the newcomer having already seen off England’s Cliff Dew in the first stepladder match (256 – 220). The young Dutchman had been impressive all week, and got past his Maltese adversary with a 226 – 195 win, to face the formidable form of Vandamme in the best-of-three Grand Final. Hilferink and Vandamme matched each other throughout game one, the Belgian finally clinching it, 247 – 236 to take the advantage. Game two also saw a close, cagey start, but it was Vandamme who took control again, winning it 246 – 212 in front of an enthusiastic SuperBowl crowd, to claim his second Malta Open title, and his share of the €6,600 cash prize fund.

Christian Vandamme: A ‘Local’ hero?

Christian Vandamme has been in love with Malta, and holidaying here with his wife, Grethe since the mid-1980s. So when he realized that a 20-lane centre had been opened (November 1998), the Eden SuperBowl in St. George’s Bay, he immediately started lobbying the management of the day to create an international event, which led to the birth of the Malta Open in 1992. Since then, the lofty Belgian has participated on no less than twenty Malta Opens, missing out on two only because his busy Summer work schedule would not allow it – Chris is the owner/director of a taxi company at home in Belgium. Those twenty events have produced three titles for Chris (2005, 2006,2013), along with numerous runner-up performances over the years. Vandamme turned fifty in June 2008, which meant he was then eligible to also participate in the Senior Malta Open, held every October. He turned up to win that first Senior Open, and hasn’t missed one since, placing second to Rosario Bellomonte (ITA) in 2009, second again to Hermann Wimmer (GER) in 2010, and then claiming his second Senior title in 2011. Chris placed fifth in the 2012 edition of the Seniors, but is already booked in for the 2013 edition when he will be back, and no doubt amongst the finalists yet again, looking for his sixth Malta title!

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