Champs pin hopes on win

The Dominion Post - - Capital Day - Eleanor Wen­man

It should be sim­ple – roll the ball right down the mid­dle of the lane.

That’s the ad­vice I’ve been given from three Porirua teens, all se­lected to rep­re­sent New Zealand in ten­pin bowl­ing. I line it up, step back and re­lease – gut­ter ball.

Mean­while, 17-year-old Clare Sa­hayam, her 16-year-old brother De­van and team-mate Ash Ball, 19, are rolling strike af­ter strike down the lanes at North City Ten­pin in Porirua.

I don’t feel too bad. Col­lec­tively, the three teens have about two decades of ex­pe­ri­ence at ten­pin bowl­ing – Clare and De­van have been bowl­ing for the past six years, while Ash has been bowl­ing for about eight or nine.

All three have been se­lected for the Na­tional Youth Team, made up of eight young bowlers from around the coun­try.

In Jan­uary they’ll be head­ing to Mel­bourne to compete in the Na­tional Youth Cup and the Youth Teams Chal­lenge, with com­peti­tors drawn from all around the world.

De­van has en­tered the com­pe­ti­tion once be­fore, ear­lier this year, and faced some tough com­pe­ti­tion from Aus­tralian states and other coun­tries such as Malaysia.

‘‘If you think New Zealand is the best at rugby, Malaysia’s sport is bowl­ing,’’ Clare said.

There’s a lot of thought and depth that goes into the sport. Ash, for ex­am­ple, has about eight or nine bowl­ing balls at home. Each of the teens also use weighted balls, as op­posed to the stan­dard plas­tic ones of­fered at bowl­ing lanes for the pub­lic.

Lanes also have a bowl­ing ‘‘pat­tern’’ of oil laid down on them and this varies from venue to venue, coun­try to coun­try.

‘‘It af­fects the way you bowl,’’ Clare said. They of­ten ‘‘hook’’ the ball when they bowl, where it rolls close to the edge of the gut­ter be­fore veer­ing into the cen­tre of the lane.

The oil pat­tern on the floor can change how much it hooks, spell­ing disas­ter if you’re not pre­pared.

At North City Ten­pin, staff have the oil pat­terns of the Aus­tralian lanes to put down for the teens’ train­ing ses­sions.

Be­fore the na­tional com­pe­ti­tion ear­lier this year, the trio were train­ing about four times a week. This sum­mer, they’ll be step­ping up their train­ing again for the Aus­tralian games.

A lit­tle bit of sib­ling ri­valry will be spurring Clare and De­van on. De­van’s per­sonal best is 268. Clare’s is 269.

‘‘But it’s more like a fam­ily ri­valry be­cause all of us bowl,’’ De­van said.

Ash has his fair share of fam­ily ri­valry to help out too, as his older brother has been in Hong Kong com­pet­ing in an in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion.

They all av­er­age about 170 to 180 pins knocked down dur­ing a game and they all agree if they don’t get at least one strike, they’ve of­fi­cially had a bad game.

My score in a game against them? A solid 72, rounded off with two gut­ter balls in a row.


Teen ten­pin bowlers De­van Sa­hayam, 16, left, Ash Ball, 19, and Clare Sa­hayam, 17, have all been se­lected to rep­re­sent New Zealand.

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