Tomoyuki Sasaki and again Haruka Matsuda win prestigious NHK Cup



    Kokubnji Park Lanes in Kokubunji-Shi, Tokyo, Japan (May 12-14, 2006)

    2006NHKAllStarChampions.jpg The NHK Cup 40th Japan All-Star Invitational Championships were held at 32-laner Kokubnji Park Lanes in Kokubnji-Shi, Tokyo from May 12-14. Tomoyuki Sasaki and defending women's champion Haruka Matsuda claimed the most prestigious titles of the Japanese tournament calendar.

    Eligible to participate in the prestigious event are the defending champions, national team members, Team Japan members, the prize winners of JBC official championships and bowlers, who bowled more than 1000 games within the year in JBC approved tournaments. The men's and women's champions are considered the best amateur bowlers in Japan.

    NHK, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation, is virtually a national broadcasting corporation. Both the men's and the women's Stepladder grand finals are broadcasted nationwide by NHK every year.

    The format is different from all other tournaments. 274 players - 164 men and 110 women - participated in this year's event. The top 48 male and 30 female bowlers after 9 games qualified for the semi-finals and bowled another 6 games. The top 12 men and 12 women after 15 games advanced to the Masters Finals (five games round robin match play plus a two-game position round; 10 bonus points per win, 5 for a tie). The top 3 bowlers in each division qualified for Grand Finals (one-game matches).

    All three qualifiers for women's stepladder finals are first-timers on the national squad, selected during a nation-wide tournament in January. 25-year-old Haruka gave up her job to start a bowling career (Japan has men's and women's professional bowlers tour) and fulfilled her dream to become a national team member.

    Defending women's champion Haruka Matsuda, advanced to the Grand Final as the No. 2 seed. The 25-year-old flew past rising star, Suzuna Miyagi, the young hope in Japanese women's amateur bowling, in the semi-final, 277-157.

    With the victory Haruka, who shot a perfect game in the prelims, set up a rematch of last year's title match with top seeded Maki Nakano. In the 2005 NHK Cup final, Maki lost by 36 pins, 225-189. Maki topped the winning score from 2005 by one pin, but as Haruka improved by eleven pins, it was a closer match but had the same winner with Haruka defeating her opponent, 236-226, to defend her title.

    The men's championship match featured two Japanese college students, top seeded Tomoyuki Sasaki, "the new hope of the national team", and Yuta Nakagawa after Yuta had sidelined former champion, Masahiro Hibi, in the opening match, 226-192.

    It was clash of two completely different styles - Tomoyuki, a traditional bowler who throws a powerful ball, while Yuta, who masters various techniques, prefers "safe and sure bowling". However, power overcame steadiness as Tomoyuki topped Yuta, 226-182, to become the new champion and to win the biggest title in his young career.

    NHK Cup 40th Japan All-Star Invitational Championships - Men's Division

    2006NHKAllStarMen.jpg Kokubnji Park Lanes in Kokubunji-Shi, Tokyo, Japan
    May 12-14, 2006

    Men's Championship Round:
    1. Tomoyuki Sasaki, Kanagwa,
    226 (1 game)
    2. Yuta Nakagawa, IBAJ,
    408 (2 games)
    3. Masahiro Hibi, Aichi,
    192 (1 game)

    Playoff Results:
    First Match: Nakagawa def. Hibi, 226-192
    Championship Match: Sasaki def. Nakagawa, 226-182

    Top 6 after Round Robin with 7-game pinfall, average, bonus and total:
    1. Tomoyuki Sasaki, Kanagwa, 1742, 248,86, 70, 1.812
    2. Masahiro Hibi, Aichi, 1700, 242,86, 40, 1.740
    3. Yuta Nakagawa, IBAJ, 1657, 236,71, 50, 1.707

    Missed Cut:
    4. Shoji Kawada, Kanagawa, 1649, 235,57, 25, 1.674
    5. Katsutoshi Nishiyama, Hyogo, 1633, 233,29, 35, 1.668
    6. Hirotomo Abe, Aichi, 1607, 229,57, 40, 1.647

    Honor Scores:
    300-Game: Ryohei Suzuki (IBAJ)
    High Series: Katsutoshi Nishiyama (Hyogo) - 793

    NHK Cup 40th Japan All-Star Invitational Championships - Women's Division

    2006NHKAllStarWomen.jpg Kokubnji Park Lanes in Kokubunji-Shi, Tokyo, Japan
    May 12-14, 2006

    Women's Championship Round:
    1. Haruka Matsuda, Hokkaido,
    513 (2 games)
    2. Maki Nakano, Shizuoka,
    226 (1 game)
    3. Suzuna Miyagi, Okinawa,
    157 (1 game)

    Playoff Results:
    First Match: Matsuda def. Miyagi, 277-157
    Championship Match: Matsuda def. Nakano, 236-226

    Top 6 after Round Robin with pinfall, bonus and total:
    1. Maki Nakano, Shizuoka, 1659, 237,00, 55, 1.714
    2. Haruka Matsuda, Hokkaido, 1610, 230,00, 30, 1.640
    3. Suzuna Miyagi, Okinawa, 1578, 225,43, 45, 1.623

    Missed Cut:
    4. Maki Sano, Ishikawa, 1566, 223,71, 35, 1.601
    5. Ayano Katai, Shizuoka, 1542, 220,29, 50, 1.592
    6. Aki Suzuki, Yamanashi, 1485, 212,14, 40, 1.525

    Honor Scores:
    300-Game: Haruka Matsuda (Hokkaido)
    High Series: Misa Mochiduki (Hiroshima) - 747

    Pictures and results courtesy of Masahiko Kosugi, Japan Bowling Congress.