Sue Abela defeats Neil Sullivan for Masters title

Wednesday, February 16, 2011, 16:00

The Malta Tenpin Association has held its fourth annual MTBA Masters event at the Eden SuperBowl. The Masters is open to all bona fide MTBA member bowlers, but the top eight seeded bowlers, based on all competitive play during 2010, were given an automatic pass into the second stages. Other hopefuls competed on day one of the event with a hope of also advancing.

The 2010 top eight were: Sue Abela, Kenneth Arpa, Paul Baldacchino, Rankin Camilleri, Justin Caruana Scicluna, Ray Falzon Reale, Mark Spiteri and last but not least, Neil Sullivan. They would be joined by another four bowlers over six games in the qualifying round, and those were (in order of qualification), Joanna Attard, Mauro Anastasi, Dennis Mercieca and John Balani. That top group of twelve would then go on to play six games in round two.

Sue Abela winner of the Masters title

Sue Abela winner of the Masters title

Men’s National Champion Neil Sullivan topped the standings on a great 1230 total, making him the only bowler to average over 200 on the day (205.0). He was joined in the next round by Sue Abela (1190), Ray Falzon Reeale (1184), Paul Baldacchino (1169) and Kenneth Arpa (1167). Then came Joanna Attard in sixth place, the only one of the four underdogs to survive this round, playing above her form for a good 1139 tally (189.6 ave). The last of the eight round three spots were claimed by Justin Caruana Scicluna in seventh, and defending Masters champion Mark Spiteri in eighth place.

The penultimate stage was a seven game ‘round-robin’. All bowlers again started from zero, and apart from their round-robin game scores, there were also bonus points to be had for game wins, draws and also high games. Top dog Sullivan earned plenty of extras thanks to four victories, but also racked up great games of 225, 235, 254 and a brilliant 278 for some very useful high game points. That kept him in first place with a gross total of 1778, above Justin Caruana Scicluna (1761), Sue Abela  (1758) and Kenneth Arpa (1699) in fourth. Those four would now go forward to the best-of-three knock out finals, which would eventually decide the new Masters Champion.

Top seed Neil Sullivan took on fourth placed Kenneth Arpa in the first semi-final clash, and only two of the three games were required for the former to see off the latter. Game scores of 183 – 169 and 207 – 168 handed Sullivan a well-earned place in the grand final.

Youngster Justin Caruana Scicluna had the formidable task of facing his illustrious mother Sue Abela, in the second semi-final, and had no qualms in taking the thrilling opening game 237 – 231. Sue then played on her vast competition experience to take game two with a 184 effort, as Justin stumbled with a dreadful 128, making it one all. The third and final game was better for both, but it was Abela’s greater consistency that clinched it, as Sue won it 226 – 182 for the match.

The final between Sullivan and Abela was also to be over a maximum of three games, and it was Neil who took the early lead thanks to a solid 232 – 207 opening win. Again Abela managed to go all square after two, with a tight 198 – 192 equalizer, meaning another decider for her. Another decider, and another victory as in-form Sullivan was finally stopped in his tracks, the game going to Sue with a 214 – 171 score line, and so adding the latest title of Masters Champions to her seemingly endless list of tenpin bowling honours.

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