By Emil Williams Jr.
SEMINOLE, Fla. – Breanna Clemmer of Clover, South Carolina, capped off an historic weekend in Florida by capturing her first career Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour title at the 2022 St. Petersburg-Clearwater Open.
Clemmer defeated Bryanna Coté of Tucson, Arizona, 226-181, in the title match at Seminole Lanes to claim the victory and collect the $ 20,000 top prize. The stepladder was broadcast live on CBS Sports Network.
Clemmer, the No. 1 seed, opened the title match by missing a single-pin spare, but just as she did throughout the weekend, she didn’t allow the miscue to affect her mentally. She quickly refocused her energy and proceeded to fire six consecutive strikes to take control of the match.
Coté, who was in the midst of potentially climbing the ladder for her third career PWBA Tour title, began to lose her look on the lanes near the end of her semifinal match, and her run ultimately ended after she missed the 2-4-5 combination in the fifth. Coté was unable to put two strikes together during the game.
This weekend will forever be in the memory of Clemmer, who on Friday night, blistered the pins for a 1,595 six-game total, which included a four-game run of 289, 300, 300 and 279. The final three games of the block broke the PWBA Tour record for highest three-game set at 879.
Now, the 24-year-old right-hander adds her name to the history book yet again, this time as a PWBA champion.
“It just feels amazing,” Clemmer said. “I feel pretty great. It’s been a long time coming. Obviously, I don’t think it has fully sunk in yet, but I think it will tonight when I go home or go back to the hotel. It feels great just to do it with my grandparents here. That means the world to me. I just have so much love for them.”
Her grandparents, Jimmy and Barbara Clemmer, better known as Poppy and Maw-Maw, have been in attendance all weekend, since this is the last event they will be able to see in person for the foreseeable future. Jimmy will be preparing to undergo surgery in a couple of weeks to replace both of his hips and be unable to travel. He’s still working his way back from a 2020 battle with COVID-19, which had him on a ventilator for 11 days, while he was unable to move.
Their support truly means everything for Clemmer.
“It means a lot for them to be here,” Clemmer said. “It was not looking good during those 11 days, and by the grace of God, he started breathing on his own. Since then, he’s been battling back and hip issues from lying in bed for so long, but now we’re getting back to where he needs to be. Having their support along with the support from everyone else truly means a lot.”
Clemmer starred at McKendree, helping the program win two national championships. She was a four-time National Tenpin Coaches Association Division II/III Player of the Year (2017-2020). A heap of expectations would be placed on any player with the collegiate career she produced, but many of those expectations came from others and not herself.
As Clemmer’s professional journey evolves in her second season, she continues to learn about herself as a player, and she’s also learned to only focus on the voices that really matter the most in her life, which puts less pressure on her overall. As far as setting records and winning titles goes, she knew she could win, but having a night like Friday, even she could not have imagined that.
“I knew I was capable of winning a title, but to do what I did on Friday, I never thought I was capable of that,” Clemmer said. “I always knew I was great and that I was going to be good, but I never dreamt of this. I used to put so much pressure on myself to be perfect because before I came out on tour, I had won everything.
“But, not winning a title last year and not winning rookie of the year really took a toll on me. Last year, I felt like I disappointed a lot of people, when the only person I was disappointing was myself. I know the only thing that matters is what I think, what my grandparents think and what my family thinks. That’s all that matters to me, and those are the only opinions that I really truly care about.”
Coté bowled great throughout the stepladder and recognized sometimes it’s just not your day.
“I’m 100% happy with my performance,” said Coté, the 2021 PWBA Player of the Year. “Obviously winning would have been the icing on the cake, but I executed, filled frames and had one open in four games. I just tried to make shots, and if my score was the highest one at the end, then so be it. Bre bowled amazing, and I will never take that away from her. She deserved that win. She dominated all week, and it was a pleasure to watch. So, I’m super happy for her. But again, I’m not sad about my performance. I did all I could. And at the end of the day, if I do all I can and I keep coming in second, that’s pretty good.”
She advanced to the title match after defeating Latvia’s Diana Zavjalova, 218-203. Coté stayed clean throughout the match, with the difference being a missed 10 pin in the eighth frame by Zavjalova, who was looking to defend her title from the 2018 event and pick up her first victory since that time.
In Match 2, Coté moved past No. 3 Jordan Richard of Maumee, Ohio, 224-172. Coté opened the match with a double, followed by two consecutive spares and another double. Richard struggled to get anything going early, and two open frames in the middle of the match sealed her fate.
In the opening match, Coté defeated No. 5 Verity Crawley of England, 222-221. Coté struck in six of the first seven frames, but a split in the ninth frame provided Crawley some hope. Crawley, who opened the match with a split of her own, tossed two strikes in frames eight and nine to force Coté to fill 20 pins to shut out Crawley. After leaving a 10 pin on first shot, Coté made the spare and followed with a strike to secure the win.
The 93-player field in Seminole bowled 12 games Friday, before the first cut to the top 31 athletes. Advancers bowled an additional six-game block Saturday morning, with the top 12 competing in a final six-game round to determine the five bowlers for the stepladder, based on 24-game pinfall totals.
The 2022 PWBA Tour season now will head to Maple Lanes in Rockville Centre, New York, for the PWBA Classic Series – Long Island. The week features three national tour stops and will run from June 6-12.
The national tournaments on the schedule for the Classic Series – Long Island include the PWBA Long Island Classic (June 6-8), PWBA BowlTV Classic (June 9-10) and PWBA BVL Classic (June 11-12).
The finals for the Long Island Classic and BowlTV Classic will be streamed live at BowlTV.com at 7 p.m. Eastern on June 8 and 10, respectively. The finals of the BVL Classic will be broadcast live June 12 at 5 p.m. Eastern on CBS Sports Network.
The same format will be used for the Long Island Classic and BowlTV Classic. Competitors will bowl 12 games of qualifying, before the top 12 players advance to round-robin match play. After 12 games of match play, the top five bowlers will advance to the stepladder finals, based on total pinfall and bonus pins for each victory in match play.
The BVL Classic will feature the top 24 players from the Long Island Classic and BowlTV Classic, based on their 24-game qualifying totals. Total pinfall will drop at the start of the BVL Classic, and the 24 advancers will bowl 24 games of round-robin match play to determine the five bowlers for the stepladder finals, based on total pinfall and bonus pins.
For more information on the PWBA, visit PWBA.com.
2022 PWBA St. Petersburg-Clearwater Open
At Seminole Lanes
1, Breanna Clemmer, Clover, S.C., 226 (one game), $ 20,000.
2, Bryanna Coté, Tucson, Ariz., 845 (four games), $ 10,000.
3, Diana Zavjalova, Latvia, 203 (one game), $ 7,700.
4, Jordan Richard, Maumee, Ohio, 172 (one game), $ 6,600.
5, Verity Crawley, England, 221 (one game), $ 5,600.
Match No. 1 – Coté def. Crawley, 222-221.
Match No. 2 – Coté def. Richard, 224-172.
Semifinal – Coté def. Zavjalova, 218-203.
Championship – Clemmer def. Coté, 226-181.