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In the Pocket: Sportsman’s Bowl is switching to synthetic lanes next season

Friday, April 26, 2013
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Another set of wood lanes bites the dust.

Sportsman’s Bowl will join an ongoing trend among bowling centers when it switches from the trad­itional wood surface to synthetic lanes this summer.

With Burnt Hills changing from wood to synthetic just last month, four of the five centers in the USBC Schenectady Bowling Association will be using artificial surfaces.

“We’re probably one of the last in Schenectady, and in the Cap­ital District,” said Sportsman’s co-owner Paul Adkins. “The bowlers requested it. I think in today’s game, you need to keep up with modernization. The kids don’t want to bowl on wood anymore. People are geared up for bowling on synthetics.

“Wood reacts stronger. We’ve maintained the wood lanes here for almost 50 years, and we needed to make a change. We had to resurface the old wood, anyway. We figured, why not go to synthetics?”

Adkins said the change in lane surfaces will be a major investment for Sportsman’s ownership, which already went through a major overhaul last summer. Owners fixed a lingering problem with their foundation near the high end of the house, and they also built a new party/conference room.

“It’s an expensive venture, but it needs to be done,” Adkins said.

Bowlers who play at Sportsman’s might need to make a few changes next season.

“I think they might have to change, at least a little,” Adkins said. “They will find that the shot stays truer longer, and it should vary less with the weather cond­itions outside. But they may need different equipment or make some minor adjustments with their feet or their target. We create a lot of area for our bowlers with the reg­ular house shot, but it’s just that the shot may change a little.”

Sportsman’s has already started its spring league season, and reg­ular customers shouldn’t be affected by the lanes project.

“They’re hoping to complete everything in about 21⁄2 weeks. They will work nights if they have to,” Adkins said. “We’ll have limited lanes from time to time during the work project, but they are willing to install six lanes at a time if they have to. Hopefully, they will start about July 1. I want everything to be done by Aug. 1. That gives the bowlers a chance to come in and practice the new shot before the season starts again in September.”

Most of the time, the scoring has been excellent at Sportsman’s, but it is true that weather conditions seem to affect wood much more than synthetic surfaces. It will be interesting to see what kind of scoring conditions will be the norm at Sportsman’s next fall.

NBA TO EXPAND

The Northern Bowlers Assoc­iation will return for the 2013-2014 season with at least five events, tournament director Karl Bieber announced this week.

Scheduled events include: Nov. 16 at Uncle Sam Lanes in Troy, Dec. 1 at Boulevard Bowl in Schen­ectady, Dec. 22 at Sunset Lanes in Albany and Feb. 16 at Sportsman’s Bowl in Schenectady.

There will be one or possibly two more tournaments that will be announced at a later date.

Each event will begin at 9:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning. The format will be five games, with total wood determining the champion.

That’s great news for the area’s scratch contingent, because the NBA always does a phenomenal job running its tournaments, which are usually competed on a challenging condition. The association has a fine tradition that goes back more than four decades to the original NBA that was started by Cuby Fiorillo and Frank DePalma. Joe Marro ran the NBA for many years before the current NBA board of directors took over, headed by Bill Buell, Bieber, Ray Evans and Russ Hunter.

It could be a very crowded tournament picture next season, though. If the Huck Finn returns with a full schedule — which is more than likely — bowlers might have to choose between the Huck Finn, the NBA and a series of events sponsored by Marty Capullo Jr. at Towne Bowling Academy. Capullo is thinking about hosting several Huck Finn events, but he also is planning on sponsoring another separate series of scratch singles and doubles tournaments with a point list. He should have added sponsorship money available for all bowlers who compete in his tournaments.

Don’t forget that Tom Donato also has a couple of major tourn­aments with his Joe Donato Scratch Singles and “Uncle Nick” Doubles events. And the New Era Senior Tour will continue running events all summer and will continue into next fall and winter, as well.

It’s a far cry from 10 years ago, when bowlers had very few opportunities to compete.

I just hope we don’t come to a saturation point. There is no doubt that the Capital Region has plenty of outstanding bowlers who love to compete every week. We will see how deep their pockets are.

SUCCESSFUL VENTURE

The first Gazette Junior Team Tournament held last week at Sportsman’s Bowl was well received.

My thanks to Boulevard Bowl, Rolling Greens, Towne Bowling Academy, Sportsman’s Bowl, Sunset Recreation and Del Lanes for sending teams to compete for the Hal Buell Cup. And a special word of thanks to Boulevard Bowl junior bowling coordinator Sharon Sager, who donated the trophies.

Next year, we will tweak the format a little and perhaps move the date forward by a couple of weeks to accommodate more junior programs, which end their season at the end of March.

We should be able to double the amount of teams that competed this year.

SUPER SECRETARY

Dave Mennillo continues to be one of the best league secretaries in the Capital Region.

The Schenectady Bowling Assoc­iation Hall of Famer has been the league secretary for three of the top scratch leagues in the region, including the Schenectady [Sportsman’s] Majors, the Capital District All Star and the Vitalo Classic, which he still runs Saturday nights at Sportsman’s Bowl. Mennillo was the SBA Secretary of the Year in 2007 and has served on the SBA’s Hall of Fame committee for many years.

In the Vitalo league, he keeps meticulous records, including career statistics for every bowler who participates in the league for average, as well as 300 games, 800, 900, 1,000 and 1,100 series, average titles, team-high singles and more. His yearly end-of-the season banquets are extraordinary. I’ve been to a couple of them, and the program he puts out is amazing.

Mennillo has helped me out with column ideas on numerous occasions, and he stays on top of the scratch bowling scene like few others.

Many people forget that Men­nillo, a Linton High School grad­uate, was also an outstanding bowler in his own right. He was the 1965 High School Bowler of the Year and as team captain led Schenectady County in average, 200 games and 600 series. A 40-year member of the SBA, Mennillo has a composite average of 210, with 38 consecutive years of averaging at least 200.

Included on his playing resume are 15 perfect games, six 299s, eight 800 triples, with a high of 833, and 15 1,000 series, with a high of 1,068.

Mennillo has been a member of 26 league champions and won two average titles (1977-78 Schenectady Majors and 1977-78 Capital District All-Star). He was also a member of the 1998-99 Ace’s Coffee Shop that won the City Tournament championship. He led that squad with a 783 triple. Mennillo also won two City Tournament doubles crowns, teaming with Dale Bird, and he was a member of the Ace’s Coffee Shop team that set both a City League record and national mark for four-man team single (1,137).

There aren’t many league sec­retaries that put as much effort into his duties as Mennillo does. With computer scoring at many bowling centers, the all-purpose league secretary is becoming a lost art.

STRIKES AND SPARES

u All SBA league secretaries are reminded to drop off their final average sheets to the SBA office at Boulevard Bowl as soon as their seasons are ended.

u The 80th annual SBA City Tournament continues tonight at 6:30 at Towne Bowling Academy and concludes Monday night at 6:30 with the final Scratch Team Challenge. Entry fees for each event (team, doubles and singles) is $22.

u Congratulations to Bill Douglas, who was a one-man wrecking crew in the Gazette league roll-off. He bowled both right-handed and left-handed to win the overall title for his team, named Les is More. The right-handed Douglas (208 average) rolled a 785 triple, while the left-handed Douglas (175 average) fired a 638. The third bowler on his team was injured and couldn’t bowl, so Douglas ended up beating up on a three-man contingent called Super Scribes.

u The New Era Senior Tour will bowl Sunday at 1 p.m. at Sportsman’s Bowl.

u The Capital District Youth Scholarship Tour Masters event will be held Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at Town ’N Country Lanes. Only CDYST members who have bowled at least four tourn­aments are eligible.

u Joe Scarborough of Charlotte, N.C., rolled three consecutive 300 games to start the first round of qualifying in the PBA50 Sun Bowl at The Villages at Spanish Springs Lanes Sunday, recording the first 900 series in PBA history. Scarborough, who turned 50 in October, was bowling in only his second PBA50 Tour event.

u The Sportsman’s Bowl PBA Experience League starts Thursday and runs for 12 weeks for all adults and junior bowlers. Three-person teams will roll four games a week. Dues are $10 a week. The winning adult team will receive a paid entry into a PBA regional event.

u Also on Thursday nights at Sportsman’s will be an 8x8 league, where each bowler will receive a polyester bowling ball at the end of eight weeks. Cost is $8 per week.

u This is the last bowling column of the season. Get some practice in this summer, either in a league or in open bowling, and I’ll see you next fall.

 
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