Premier Rookie of the Year Candidates in WSOB IX Field

by Bill Vint, Professional Bowlers Association 0

The next generation of PBA stars will be in the spotlight at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno beginning Nov. 7 when one of the strongest PBA Rookie of the Year classes ever will test their skills in the annual multi-event GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling IX, presented by Eldorado Reno Properties.

WSOB IX, kicking off the 2017-18 Go Bowling! PBA Tour series, will be the final opportunity for the 2017 ROY contenders to make a statement while it also will be the first step toward 2018 Rookie of the Year consideration for a few others who will be bowling in PBA competition as members for the first time.

The World Series will award titles in four animal pattern stages (Chameleon 39, Shark 45, Cheetah 33 and Scorpion 42) as well as the PBA World Championship. Players who are leading the charge toward 2017 Rookie of the Year honors include Andrew Anderson, Holly, Mich.; Cristian Azcona, a Puerto Rico native now living in Lake Wales, Fla.; A.J. Chapman, Manchester, Iowa; Nick Kruml, Downers Grove, Ill.; Matt Sanders, Evansville, Ind.; Kyle Sherman, O’Fallon, Mo.; Zach Wilkins, Barrie, Ontario, Canada, and Zulmazran Zulkifli, Malaysia.

Among the 2017 candidates, Sanders is the only one to win a PBA Tour title thus far, winning the Xtra Frame Billy Hardwick Memorial in Memphis, Tenn., in late June.

Making their debuts in Reno as PBA members will be two rising stars familiar to all fans of youth bowling, Kamron Doyle, who grew up in suburban Nashville, and Michael Tang of San Francisco. Because the World Series is considered as one event under Rookie of the Year eligibility rules, Doyle and Tang will be trying to get a head start on the 2018 Rookie of the Year race.

Doyle, now 19 and living in Warrensburg, Mo., began attracting attention at age 11 when he became the then-youngest bowler to record an 800 series. At age 12 in 2010, he became the youngest to cash in a PBA Regional (for scholarship money), and in 2012 at age 14, he became the youngest to cash in a PBA Tour event when he finished 61st in the U.S. Open as an eighth-grader. After four terms on Junior Team USA, two on adult Team USA (including winning the men’s 2015 Team USA Trials), and an abbreviated collegiate career, Doyle has decided to pursue his PBA dreams.

Also vying for 2018 Rookie of the Year honors will be Michael Tang, Doyle’s two-time Junior Team USA teammate and a former San Jose State collegiate star, who will join older brother Darren as a PBA member in Reno. The Tang brothers got their first national exposure as finalists in the USBC Masters where Michael won three matches (including a 248-212 decision over his older brother) before losing to Australia’s Jason Belmonte in the title match, 279-212.

Combine the talented rookies coming in 2018 with the star-studded rookie field in 2017 with 20-something stars who have already made names for themselves (i.e., reigning PBA Player of the Year EJ Tackett, 2016 Rookie of the YearFrancois Lavoie, Anthony Simonsen, Marshall Kent and Sweden’s Jesper Svensson), and you’ll see why PBA fans are awaiting a fascinating WSOB IX, and an exciting Go Bowling! PBA Tour season in the new year.

 Read more in PBA Spare Shots.