The PBA's first international regional tournament program, PBA Japan, is off to a stunning start and already has a "superstar" after its first two weekends of activity.
PBA Commissioner Tom Clark, who attended the second weekend of PBA Japan Region competition over the July 12-13 weekend at Sound Bowl in Ushiku along with PBA Deputy Commissioner Kirk von Krueger, got a first-hand look at the program, met many of the players and tournament officials, and witnessed Yuka Tsuchiya's historic performance in adding the PBA Japan Women's Chameleon and Chameleon Open titles to the Women's Cheetah and Cheetah Open titles she won the previous weekend at Tokyo Port Bowl.
"Yuka has tears in her eyes when we told her she's now eligible to bowl in the PBA Tournament of Champions and World Series of Bowling," Clark said.
"It was an extremely successful weekend," Clark added. "The PBA Japan tournament staffers were everything we'd ever want representing our organization. Japan Bowling Promotions, our partner in the creation of the PBA Japan Region, ran smooth events, with live streaming coverage that will soon be available on Xtra Frame, provided outstanding on-site exposure for the PBA and their main sponsor, DHC, and there were large fields considering the short amount of time we've had to promote the program.
"It was very gratifying to see how much the PBA brand means to the Japanese bowlers. The players wore dye-sublimated jerseys with PBA League or PBA player replicas. Our animal pattern lane conditions defined the playing fields. The respect the players gave us and the pride they demonstrated as PBA International members was terrific.
"And topping it all off was watching Yuka Tsuchiya sweep all four of our inaugural women's and open regional titles. For one person to survive the demanding format and win four trophies and roughly $20,000 in U.S. dollars was incredible."
Tsuchiya (pictured), a 31-year-old veteran of Japanese professional competition, won the Women's Chameleon title over a field of 29 players on Saturday, defeating Hiroko Shimizu, 221-157, in the championship match.On Sunday, she topped a field of 72 men and women in the Chameleon Open, defeating Naoshi Ishimine in the final match, 197-176, for her fourth consecutive title. With her wins in the Cheetah Open and Chameleon Open, she joins Missy Parkin and Kelly Kulick as the third woman to win two PBA "open" regional titles.
Clark said he and von Krueger had an opportunity to visit with all of Japan's bowling leaders and discuss the PBA's long-term goal of expanding PBA-level competition around the world.
The PBA Japan Region has four more tournaments scheduled in its inaugural season: the PBA Japan Viper Open Sept. 15 at Sagami Fast Lane in Sagamihara, the Women's Scorpion and Scorpion Open tournaments Nov. 8-9 at Higashiyamoto Grand Bowl in Tokyo, and the Badger Open at a location and date to be announced.
The PBA will help the Japan Region expand its international coverage via Xtra Frame. The Cheetah events are already archived on Xtra Frame (with original commentary in Japanese), the Chameleon finals will be added to Xtra Frame's programming in the near future, and the PBA is working toward carrying future events live.