Sweden’s Jesper Svensson
, a six-time PBA Tour winner at age 22, and EJ Tackett
of Huntington, Ind., PBA’s reigning Player of the Year at age 24, paced the opening round of round robin match play qualifying in the inaugural Main Event PBA Tour Finals at Main Event Entertainment Orlando.
The first two rounds of match play aired Tuesday night on CBS Sports Network.
Svensson (left and above), a two-handed left-handed player and PBA’s 2015 Rookie of the Year, easily defeated fellow two-hander Anthony Simonsen of Austin, Texas, 268-233, and Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., 268-217, in his first two matches in the Group One bracket.
Tackett, a high-rev right-handed power player, got past Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, S.C., 237-222, and Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga, N.Y., 227-200, in his first two matches in Group Two.
With his 2-0 start and grand total of 636 pins, including 50 bonus pins for each match win, Svensson jumped into a 132-pin lead over Rash in the race for seeding positions for the Group One stepladder finals that will air on Tuesday, June 13.
Australia’s Jason Belmonte (right) was third in Group One with a 1-1 match play record and 485 total pins. Simonsen was winless in his first two matches and sat in fourth place with 436 pins.
“I moved my hand position a little after my first three shots,” said Svensson of the three single pins he left and converted before throwing strikes on his next nine shots against Simonsen. “That did it. After that, I just tried to throw the ball good and hoped it would strike.”
Tackett (left) finished the opening round with 564 total pins, 53 pins ahead of England’s Dom Barrett and 78 pins ahead of Ciminelli, both with 1-1 match play records. Jones, who lost both of his matches, was fourth with a 467 total.
Tackett, who left eight single pins to go along with 16 strikes in his two matches, said, “There were a couple of shots where I got around the ball a bit, but I haven’t had anything worse than a nine-count. Basically, in this format you have to win matches. If you win all four, you don’t have to bowl big games to be in it at the end.”
Round One qualifying will conclude with Svensson meeting Belmonte and Rash (right) bowling Simonsen in Group One, and Tackett vs. Barrett and Ciminelli vs. Jones in Group Two, followed by a position-round matches in each group.
The final Round One matches will air on CBS Sports Network on Tuesday, June 6, at 9:30 p.m. EDT. Group One and Group Two stepladder finals will air on June 13 and June 20, respectively, followed by the Main Event PBA Tour Finals telecast on June 27.
PBA returns to CBS Sports Network with Main Event Tour finals
Main Event PBA Tour Finals – Round One Standings
Main Event Orlando, Orlando, Fla., USA (aired Tuesday, May 30, on CBS Sports Network)
Round Robin Standings after two matches, including 50 bonus pins for matches won:
1, Jesper Svensson, Sweden, 2-0, 636
2, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 1-1, 504
3, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 1-1, 485
4, Anthony Simonsen, Austin, Texas, 0-2, 436
Match Play Results:
Rash def. Belmonte, 237-215
Svensson def. Simonsen, 268-233
Belmonte def. Simonsen, 220-203
Svensson def. Rash, 268-217
1, EJ Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 2-0, 564
2, Dom Barrett, England, 1-1, 511
3, Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 1-1, 486
4, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 0-2, 467
Match Play Results:
Tackett def. Jones, 237-222
Ciminelli def. Barrett, 236-212
Tackett def. Ciminelli, 227-200
Barrett def. Jones, 249-245