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Saki Koike wins her first JPBA title in Sky-A Ladies Rookies Cup


In her second year as a member of the Japan Professional Bowlers Association, Saki Koike of Kagawa won her first JPBA title by defeating Aya Sakamoto of Fukuoka, 229-202, in the title match of the Sky-A Cup 2017 Pro Bowling Ladies Rookies Cup at Sport Urawa Kokusai Bowl in Saitama, Japan.

Koike (right and above with the trophy), who struck eight times and converted four single-pin spares on her way to the title, threw only one double in the first eight frames to trail Sakamoto, who had a turkey in frames 3-5, by eight pins, heading into the last two frames.

Working on a strike in the eighth frame, Sakamoto (left) converted a 10-pin in the 9th frame and then got a disastrous 4-6-7 split in the last frame, which opened the door for Koike. The 25-year-old right-hander struck on her last four shots to seal the victory.

Koike, who finished her first season on the tour in 12th place in the rankings to earn an exemption for the 2017 season, received 500,000 Japanese Yen or roughly $4,530 for feat. Sakamoto, a 29-year-old right-hander, who turned pro in 2015 and was 10th in the 2016 Rookies Cup, received 275,000 JPY for second place.

The 2017 Sky A Cup for JPBA women’s rookies drew 104 players, 67 professionals and 37 amateurs, who bowled eight games of qualifying before the cut to the top 24 pros and top 8 amateurs.

The top 8 pros after six games semi-finals advanced to the single-game match play finals in bracket system, while the top two amateurs advanced to the championship match. In the amateur final, 47-year-old Hitomi Kunimoto (right) of Kanagawa edged Yuki Okada (left), 19, of Saitama, 197-195. Okada finished third in the Rookies Cup last year.

Koike entered the eight-person playoffs in seventh place and eliminated second-seeded Yuka Ohshima, 204-190. Sakamoto, seeded fifth, ousted No. 4 Ayano Iwami, 216-189.

Mika Yamada (right) of Kanagawa, a 27-year-old five-year pro, who was competing in her last Rookies Cup and took the last spot to advance to match play, stunned top-seeded Wakana Mizutani, 210-185, while third-seeded Miki Kokubo, 22, of Saitama topped Mayumi Naito, 217-194.

In the semi-finals, Koike rolled a pair of four-strike strings to dispatch Kokubo (left), 267-182. Despite starting with an open frame, Sakamoto’s turkey in frames 4-6 and a double in frames 8-9 were enough to hold off Yamada, 216-209.

Yamada received 180,000 Yen for third place and Kokubo earned 140,000 for fourth place.

Results and photos courtesy of JPBA Media Relations.

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JPBA Sky-A Cup 2017 Pro Bowling Ladies Rookie Cup

Sport Urawa Kokusai Bowl in Saitama, Japan (August 1-2, 2017)

Championship Round:
1. Saki Koike, Kagawa, 496 (2 games), 500,000 JPY
2. Aya Sakamoto, Fukuoka, 418 (2 games), 275,000 JPY
3. Mika Yamada, Kanagawa, 209 (1 game), 180,000 JPY
4. Miki Kokubo, Saitama, 182 (1 game), 140,000 JPY

Playoff Results:
Semi-final Match 1: Koike def. Kokubo, 267-182
Semi-final Match 2: Sakamoto def. Yamada, 216-209
Championship: Koike def. Sakamoto, 229-202.

Quarterfinal Round:
Quarterfinal Match 1: No. 8 Yamada def. No. 1 Wakana Mizutani, 210-185
Quarterfinal Match 2: No. 5 Sakamoto def. No. 4 Ayano Iwami, 216-189
Quarterfinal Match 3: No. 7 Koike def. No. 2 Yuka Ohshima, 204-190
Quarterfinal Match 4: No. 3 Kokubo def. No. 6 Mayumi Naito, 217-194

Herbert Bickel

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