Champs pin hopes on win
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.