RENO, Nev. – Ukraine’s Dasha Kovalova had her breakout victory at the United States Bowling Congress Queens in 2019, and she quickly has become one of the Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour’s top stars since winning her first major championship.
The 26-year-old right-hander will return to the event this week at the National Bowling Stadium, and she’s looking for another long run through the tournament’s double-elimination bracket.
The 2021 USBC Queens begins Wednesday with the tournament’s official practice sessions. The first of three five-game qualifying rounds will start Thursday, before the field is cut to the top 63 players and Kovalova, who is guaranteed a spot in the bracket as the defending champion.
Three-game total-pinfall matches will determine which players advance through the bracket leading up to the stepladder finals on May 18 at 8 p.m. Eastern.
With BowlTV.com providing wire-to-wire coverage of the 2021 Queens, the double-elimination format also will extended to the stepladder for the top seed.
The winner of the Queens will take home a $20,000 top prize and the tiara awarded to the champion.
Kovalova went undefeated through the bracket at the 2019 Queens in Wichita, Kansas, and defeated Malaysia’s Sin Li Jane in the title match, 226-216.
The win was the first for Kovalova since joining the tour in 2016, and she added a second later in the season at the Pepsi PWBA Louisville Open, where she rolled a perfect game in the title match.
“The win at the Queens definitely showed me that I was on the right track and that my hard work paid off,” Kovalova said. “It gave me a little bit of confidence and inspiration moving forward as a professional.”
Kovalova finished the 2019 season ranked third on the season-long points list, and she currently finds herself leading in points through six events this season (43,975).
She collected her third career title at the PWBA Twin Cities Open in April and has advanced to the stepladder finals in three of the six events in 2021.
Kovalova isn’t necessarily thinking about those statistics heading into the Queens, however, as she looks to improve her game each week on tour.
“I’m the kind of person who’s never really satisfied,” Kovalova said. “Yes, I have a win this season. Yes, it has been a great season so far. I can be better, though. I’m going to continue to trust my process and try to bowl well again this week.”
The process will be important for Kovalova during the three qualifying rounds leading to match play, since she’s already placed into the double-elimination bracket.
“It relaxes me a bit knowing I already have a spot, but it makes me anxious at the same time,” Kovalova said. “I know if I get too relaxed, I may start missing spares and my target. It puts a little extra pressure on me to make sure to watch the lanes, watch the transition and figure out what’s going on, so I can be ready for match play and predict what’s going to happen out there. I’m still going to compete as if I’m not seeded into the bracket.”
This year’s field will feature 110 players competing across two squads during qualifying. Match play will begin Sunday and go into Monday, before the top five players are determined for Tuesday’s stepladder finals.
For more information on the USBC Queens, visit BOWL.com/Queens.