WTT KingPins claim inaugural Elias Cup

by Bob Johnson 0

With owner Billie Jean King on the bench cheering every shot, the New York City WTT KingPins finished the inaugural PBA League championship match with a string of seven strikes to defeat the Motown Muscle, 440-407, and claim the Elias Cup at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis. The Elias Cup finals aired Sunday on ESPN.

The KingPins, the top qualifiers among eight teams that competed in five preliminary rounds earlier in the season in Detroit, put together a string of five strikes to take a 202-181 lead after the first game of the two-game, total pinfall championship match. But the Motown Muscle, owned by former Pittsburgh Steelers star Jerome Bettis, rallied to tie the match after five frames of game two.

In the Baker format contest, where each of the five team members bowls two frames to complete a game, the tide turned when the teams switched lanes after five frames. After struggling to strike on the right lane, the KingPins did not miss in their final five frames on the left lane. Consecutive strikes by Tommy Jones, Jack Jurek, John Szczerbinski, Scott Norton and Weber locked up the title for King’s team.

After throwing the decisive strike in the 10th frame, Weber benched himself and brought in KingPins’ supplemental draft pick Kelly Kulick to finish off the match. The only woman in the PBA League threw two more strikes to conclude the contest.

“We knew the Muscle had to come back on the right lane after five frames, and they hadn’t bowled on that lane in 10 frames,” Weber said. “We ate up some oil and they just didn’t make the adjustments.

“My team is the best team,” he added. “I knew from the start we were going to be hard to beat. We started communicating in Detroit, and I knew at that point we were going to be something special.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to have Billie Jean King as our team owner,” Weber continued, “and it’s an honor and a privilege to give her the first Elias Cup trophy.”

King, who admitted she doesn’t know a great deal about bowling, was an avid cheerleader for her team.

“I was so calm playing tennis, but I was not so calm watching today,” she said. “I was dying. The match was so close.

“I loved my team right from the start,” King added. “I watched them on ESPN; I even watched one match on a Jet Blue flight, but I could tell they worked together great. I was very happy to be here for the finals.

“I love it; it’s exactly what I believe in. If you watch a World Team Tennis match, you’ll see my philosophy on life: it’s men and women working together, because we’re in this world together and we have to help each other.”

The Elias Cup was named in honor of the PBA’s founder and long-time leader, Eddie Elias. Elias’ wife, Peggy, and daughter, Annie, made the trophy presentation in Indianapolis. The winners shared a $76,000 team prize.

BJI senior writer Lyle Zikes was on hand for all of the action in Indianapolis, and will have a special feature on the Elias Cup Finals in the May issue of the magazine.

PBA League competition will resume during the 2013 PBA World Series of Bowling V at South Point Bowling Center in Las Vegas, Oct. 25-Nov. 3.

Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson has received more national writing awards than any other bowling writer — close to 70 over the course of his 40-year career. He began at age 16 as a staff writer and then assistant editor for the weekly Pacific Bowler newspaper in his native California, and within three years was writing feature stories for Bowlers Journal. He has written for the magazine ever since, except for a five-year span when he was hired as the founding editor of another magazine. He moved to Chicago in 2000 and spent 13 years in the Windy City, including five as Bowlers Journal’s Editor. In 1975, Johnson received the Robert E. Kennedy Award as California’s top undergraduate high school journalist. Five years earlier, on the lanes, he had shared the Bantam Division Doubles championship in the Orange County Junior Bowling Association Championships. Today, he continues to work full-time for Bowlers Journal as its Senior Editor, to write his popular “Strikes Me” column, and to edit Luby Publishing Inc.’s weekly business-to-business Cyber Report.

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