South Australian Gracie Perry claimed her first national title on the weekend after winning the 2021 Darwin Tenpin Cup at Planet Tenpin in the Northern Territory.
Twelve months ago, the Darwin Tenpin Cup kicked off the ranked event season for 2020 at Planet Tenpin. A year dominated by COVID-19 restrictions made sure it was also the last for the women’s division in 2020.
With increased optimism, the Darwin Tenpin Cup would commence the year of ranked events for the women once again. A 21-year-old from South Australia would surprise many by claiming her first national title whilst overcoming some of the country’s best women bowlers. That bowler is Gracie Perry.
“The feeling of winning my first nationally ranked event is like nothing I have ever experienced” stated Gracie. “Once I realised I had won, there was an overwhelming feeling of shock and disbelief but also a feeling of relief as I felt my training and hard work had finally started to pay off”.
Visitors from across the nation flew into the top end to compete over three days of competition. The 2021 event would be the 8th running of the Northern Territory based event. The host centre- Planet Tenpin would be the stage for three divisions– men’s, graded and women. The women’s division is the first Nationally ranked event on the calendar year.
The long layoff from tournament bowling provided a lot of anticipation and excitement for many as tournament bowling returned to the schedule. For Gracie, her strategy was simple.
“I just wanted to make top 12, then top 8. I never expected to win as there were so many amazing bowlers who had entered, bowlers I look up to” explained Gracie. “The lanes played differently based on the humidity, so my greatest challenge over the weekend was assuring I could slide on the approaches”.
Friday and Saturday involved qualifying.
The aim for qualifying involved producing the best two four-game block performances (8 game total) in application to make the top 12. The top 12 would progress through to the Sunday finals schedule.
Excitement built as the event would showcase the 2019 World Cup champion Bec Whiting on the lanes once again. After an 8-month absence from tournament bowling, Whiting would not waste time blowing off the cobwebs averaging an incredible 221.5 over eight games to finish as the event’s top qualifier.
Western Australian Siarn Ottaviano would finish second-highest qualifier after averaging 205 over whilst Gracie Perry would finish in 10th place with an average of 187.5 over the eight games.
The Darwin Tenpin Cup is a unique and challenging event. The format is designed not to allow comfortable leads to stay long with pinfall dropping after each stage. An event structure that keeps all competitors on their toes and ensures all bowlers start the next stage on level pegging.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the format of the event with the pinfall dropping after every stage” explained Gracie. “I never felt I had to ‘chase’ anyone. I could bowl my own game and just focus on myself and not on what anyone else is doing”.
Finals Round 1
Round 1 of the finals would see the top 12 complete four games. The results of the four games would see the field cut to the top 8 for round 2.
After the first round, Angela Fan would lead all bowlers with an impressive average of 211.3 over the four games. Local Planet Tenpin bowlers and key members of the Women National Training Squad Jaime Maglieri and defending champion Rebecca Voukolos would start the day off strong averaging 206 and 205.8. Queenslander Kylie Bailey would start her move by finishing in fourth place averaging 202.5 ahead of Whiting. Once again, Gracie Perry would cut it fine but do enough to progress by finishing in 8th place.
“I was lucky to scrape into the cuts mostly because I didn’t check the standings while I was bowling as personally this puts me off” explained Gracie. “I’m mindful in events like this that pinfall is very close, so I assumed I bowled a bad game or two, I would be out of the cut, so I would relax and bowl a big game that luckily pushed me up over the cut line.
Finals Round 2
Another four games in round two with the top 4 to progress to the Semi-Finals.
Bec Whiting would reveal herself as a clear number one seed heading into the semi-finals dominating her appearance averaging 221.3 in round two. Defending champion Rebecca Voukolos would return to the finals once again finishing as the second seed with her opponent in the semis being third seed Kylie Bailey.
The fourth seed to face the world cup champion Whiting would be Gracie Perry who once again did enough to claim the last spot to progress.
The Semi and Grand final format would be straight elimination matchups.
Experience won out in the first semi with Rebecca Voukolos cruising through her encounter with Kylie Bailey winning 222-158. The victory would allow the NT superstar to defend her crown.
Most expected that experience would win out in the other semi with Whiting to be her opponent, but the young Gracie Perry had other ideas with a shock 214-192 victory.
Riding a wave of confidence after defeating the World Cup Champion, Perry would once again defeat the odds by beating the defending champion Rebecca Voukolos 198-177 in the final.
Gracie was overcome with pride as she had not only won her first national title but defeated two of the best in the country to do so.
“Coming up against these amazing women in the sport was a great opportunity” explained Gracie. “I look up to both Bec Whiting and Bec Voukolos and have seen them bowl online, on TV, and in person. They are both great ambassadors for the sport due to their passion, drive and overall attitudes towards the sport”.
“I would like to thank Bruno and his amazing team at Planet Tenpin for the smooth running of the whole tournament. I can honestly say it was one of the best run tournaments I have ever attended” said Gracie.
Full results can be found here
Men & Graded Divisions
Andrew Macarthur from Alice Springs won the men’s division defeating Ronald Voukolos 247-181 in the grand finale. The Voukolos pairing of Ronald and Rebecca would walk away from their home-based tournament runners up in both their respective divisions. A special mention to Queensland Matthew Purser who threw a 300 game in the last game of Round 2 of the finals.
The graded division saw John Godinho win his grand final by one single pin!
The first ranked event for 2021 is in the books. Congratulations to Gracie Perry on the victory and Planet Tenpin for running another successful event.
The next nationally ranked event is the Youth divisions Werribee Youth Cup. Wyncity Bowl & Entertainment Point Cook in Victoria will once again hold the event that will kick start the youth division in 2021.
The Champs Equipment Spotlight
I only used 3 of the balls I brought with me (excluding my plastic ball) throughout the tournament. I used the Motiv Forge Flare, Roto Grip Idol and the Motiv Supra. My favourite ball for the tournament is a toss-up between the Idol and the Supra as they are both such amazing balls.