LAS VEGAS (Oct. 21, 2016) – Seven-time Professional Bowlers Association Tour champion Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga, N.Y., is preparing for another late-season run at PBA Player of the Year honors, but unlike 2015 when he fell short, he’s in a unique situation this year.
Not only will the 30-year-old left-hander head to Las Vegas later this month to defend two of his 2015 titles, but unlike last year, he’ll head to South Point Bowling Plaza with a pair of 2016 titles already in hand.
Ciminelli, who won the bowlingball.com PBA Maine Shootout in April and the PBA Xtra Frame Parkside Lanes Open in September, will try to repeat as PBA Xtra Frame South Point Las Vegas Open champion kicking off the PBA Fall Classic and then try to repeat as U.S. Open champion in the season’s fourth major, which also will be held at the South Point Bowling Plaza.
“I like my chances and I feel tournament-ready,” Ciminelli said of the opportunity to successfully defend his titles. “I like being in the role of defending champion. I have a little bit of a chip on my shoulder and I just need to channel that mindset into believing I can win and good things will happen.
“If I can get out of the gate strong I have a good record of sustaining the momentum.” Ciminelli added. “Another thing in my favor is that I love that facility (Bowling Plaza) and that just adds to the confidence level.”
The PBA Fall Classic presented by South Point Bowling Plaza will include two events that will be covered from start-to-finish by PBA’s Xtra Frame online video-streaming service. In addition to the PBA Xtra Frame South Point Las Vegas Open singles event, Oct. 28-30, PBA will conduct its second five-player PBA Team Challenge event Oct. 30-Nov. 1, which this year will award PBA Tour titles to all five team members (if they are PBA members). Ciminelli will bowl in the team event with Team Brunswick featuring a roster that includes Hall of Famers Parker Bohn III and Walter Ray Williams Jr. plus fellow PBA Tour titlists Sean Rash and Tom Smallwood.
Last season, Ciminelli won the Las Vegas Open when he beat fellow New Yorker Anthony Pepe of Elmhurst, 269-211, in the title match of the first PBA Tour event conducted in its entirety in the new 60-lane South Point Bowling Plaza. Three weeks later, Ciminelli captured his first major title by winning the U.S. Open, 236-223, over England’s Dom Barrett at AMF Garland Lanes in Garland, Texas. He completed his 2015 season with a victory in the GoBowling.com Viper Championship, but his three wins weren’t enough to overcome the back-to-back major titles (USBC Masters and PBA Tournament of Champions) won by Australia’s two-handed star, Jason Belmonte, on his way to a third consecutive PBA Player of the Year award.
“These upcoming tournaments are going to be crucial in what happens with player of the year,” Ciminelli said about getting back into the player of the year race. “If anyone can get to four wins they’ll be right in there for consideration and if one of those happens to be a major all the better.
“You look for all the advantages you can wherever you bowl but in the end it really comes down to believing in yourself and that you can win,” Ciminelli added. “There’s a lot of work to do but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
As the 2016 season heads down the homestretch, Ciminelli isn’t the only player hoping to unseat Belmonte from his player of the year throne. Other contenders include two-hander Jesper Svensson of Sweden, who made PBA history this season by becoming the youngest player to win five PBA Tour titles by age 21, including the FireLake PBA Tournament of Champions. A week later, 19-year-old Texas two-hander Anthony Simonsen ended Belmonte’s streak of USBC Masters victories, becoming the youngest player in PBA history to win a major title. Simonsen also is a two-time titlist in 2016, winning the Mark Roth-Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship in January with partner Connor Pickford.
Rash also is a two-time winner in 2016 after capturing the PBA Badger and Detroit Open titles in the recent PBA Fall Swing in Detroit, and E.J. Tackett of Huntington, Ind., is not only a two-time winner (PBA Xtra Frame Storm Open and PBA Bear Open), but is the leader in the 2016 Xtra Frame Tour points competition that will award the winner a $10,000 bonus. The South Point Las Vegas Open is the final event in that points race.
For the PBA Team Challenge, early favorites include Ciminelli’s Team Brunswick, The BFF’s (an international contingent featuring England’s Dom Barrett and Stuart Williams, Sweden’s Martin Larsen and Svensson, and Finland’s Osku Palermaa), One College POY & the Rest You Know (featuring Belmonte and PBA stars Chris Barnes, Tommy Jones, Wes Malott and Bill O’Neill), and the understated defending champion Dead Money team (Alex Cavagnaro, Danielle McEwan, Matt McNiel, Matt O’Grady and Anthony Pepe).
When the Fall Classic concludes, players will shift their focus to one of the toughest tests in professional bowling when the U.S. Open begins with the first of three eight-game qualifying rounds on Friday, Nov. 4, at the South Point Bowling Plaza.
Xtra Frame will provide exclusive live coverage of the qualifying and match play rounds of the U.S. Open, Nov. 4-8. The stepladder finals will air live on CBS Sports Network on Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 8 p.m. ET. In between, Xtra Frame will cover the 2017 PBA League Draft on Wednesday, Nov. 2 at 8:50 p.m. ET.
Three-day ($3.99), 30-day ($7.99) and Xtra Frame Season Ticket (a full-year’s coverage at an average cost of $1.25 per week) subscriptions are available by visiting “xtraframe.tv” and clicking on the “subscribe now” link. New monthly or Season Ticket subscribers also are automatically entered into monthly sweepstakes where they have chances to win a new high-performance bowling ball from Brunswick, DV8 or MOTIV.
PBA FALL CLASSIC PRESENTED BY SOUTH POINT BOWLING PLAZA
South Point Bowling Plaza, Las Vegas, Oct. 28-Nov. 1 (all times are Pacific)
PBA XTRA FRAME SOUTH POINT LAS VEGAS OPEN
Friday, Oct. 28
1 p.m. - PBA Xtra Frame South Point Las Vegas Open practice session
Saturday, Oct. 29
9 a.m. – 8 qualifying games
4 p.m. – 8 qualifying games
Top 16 after 16 games advance to match play
Sunday, Oct. 30
8:30 a.m. – Top 16, 8 games round-robin match play
1 p.m. – Top 16, 8 games round-robin match play
Top 5 after 32 games advance to stepladder finals
5:30 p.m. – Top 5 stepladder finals
PBA TEAM CHALLENGE
Monday, Oct. 31
9 a.m. – 6 qualifying games (full team scoring)
5 p.m. – 12 qualifying games (Baker format scoring)
Top 10 teams after 6 full team games, 12 Baker format games advance to Baker match play round, based on 30 teams entered
Tuesday, Nov. 1
9 a.m. – 10 games round-robin Baker format match play
Top 4 teams advance to stepladder finals
3 p.m. – Top 4 teams, Baker format stepladder finals
PBA LEAGUE DRAFT
6 p.m. – 2017 PBA League Draft, South Point Bowling Plaza
South Point Bowling Plaza, Las Vegas (all times are Pacific)
Thursday, Nov. 3
1 p.m. – A Squad practice session
3:15 p.m. – B Squad practice session
5:30 p.m. – C Squad practice session
Friday, Nov. 4
8 a.m. – A Squad, 8 qualifying games
1:15 p.m. – B Squad, 8 qualifying games
6:30 p.m. – C Squad, 8 qualifying games
Saturday, Nov. 5
8 a.m. – B Squad, 8 qualifying games
1:15 p.m. – C Squad, 8 qualifying games
6:30 p.m. – A Squad, 8 qualifying games
Sunday, Nov. 6
8 a.m. – C Squad, 8 qualifying games
1:15 p.m. – A Squad, 8 qualifying games
6:30 p.m. – B Squad, 8 qualifying games
Top 1/4 of field after 24 games advances to cashers' round
Monday, Nov. 7
10 a.m. – Cashers' Round, 8 games
Top 24 after 32 games advance to match play
5 p.m. – Top 24, 8 games round robin match play
Tuesday, Nov. 8
10 p.m. – Top 24, 8 games round robin match play
5 p.m. – Top 24, 8 games round robin match play
Top five after 56 games advance to stepladder finals
Wednesday, Nov. 9
5 p.m. (8 p.m. Eastern) – Top five stepladder finals (live on CBS Sports Network)
The October issue of Bowlers Journal is out now and includes an in-depth look at how Jesper Svensson sharpened his game to embark on his record-setting winning streak on the PBA Tour, the last-ever edition of our 100 Top Coaches list, reaction to the suspension of four Junior Team USA players in August, a comprehensive discussion by Gold coach and author, Michelle Mullen, on how to strike a balance between power and repetition, and much more. To subscribe now, please go here: https://www.bowlersjournal.com/subscribe/.