ARLINGTON, Texas - For the first time since 2015, the Professional Women’s Bowling Association returns to Minnesota when the BowlerX.com PWBA Twin Cities Open begins this week at Cedarvale Lanes in Eagan.
A pre-tournament qualifier is set for Thursday with competition rounds on Friday and Saturday. CBS Sports Network will have live coverage of Saturday’s stepladder finals at 5 p.m. (Eastern) and BowlTV will live stream all rounds leading up to the televised finals.
The PWBA Tour’s last visit to Minnesota was during the first season of the revived tour, which not only gives the world’s best players an opportunity to realize their dream of winning a title on the competitive tour but provides young stars a chance to set their course for professional stardom.
In 2015, one of those young players was Latvia’s Diana Zavjalova. Now, the 27-year-old right-hander enters this week’s tournament on the heels of capturing her third PWBA title, the Pepsi PWBA St. Petersburg-Clearwater Open, last week.
And Zavjalova has been eyeing the return to Minnesota this season.
“With having the entire month of July off, I had lots of time to think about my season,” said Zavjalova, who now resides in Austin, Texas. “And, out of all the regular (tour) stops, Minnesota is the one I was looking forward to the most because that's where I won my first ever PWBA title. The win in St. Petersburg-Clearwater is still fresh and feels surreal, but I'm definitely looking forward to Minnesota to see if I can capture another win there. That would be so sweet.”
Zavjalova can recall many items about winning her first title, the PWBA Minnesota Open held at Island Xtreme Bowl in Welch, but it was the lane condition used for the event that stood out.
“I remember everything about that tournament because it was special,” Zavjalova said. “But I was very impressed with my performance because we bowled on an extremely long pattern and it was far from my A-game. I bowled outstanding.”
After a successful collegiate career at Webber International, which included Intercollegiate Team and Singles Championships, she won her first major title pre-PWBA at the 2013 United States Bowling Congress Queens.
Following the Minnesota win in 2015, many might have expected Zavjalova to win often, but that wasn’t the case in 2016, after finishing one spot away from the TV finals on multiple occasions.
She again broke through in 2017 to win her second USBC Queens title, and, after last week’s victory, now has won a title in back-to-back seasons for the first time in her career.
If you were to describe Zavjalova’s career, you might use the old cliché, “it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.” She wowed the fans with her early success after bursting into the spotlight, much like an elite world-class sprinter. But, as time has passed, and she’s handled some obstacles, Zavjalova has shown resilience and trust in herself and her game.
She’s put the time into overcoming hurdles, both physically and mentally, much like she did in July, which helped her win last week. Now, her career is starting to resemble that of a marathon runner and she’s prepared for long-term success.
Her maturation is evident.
“I’ve grown quite a bit and I’ve learned a lot about myself throughout these years,” said Zavjalova, who is one of only 10 players to win multiple USBC Queens titles. “I have become a more mature, more open-minded and patient player, and that's very important on our tour.”
The BowlerX.com PWBA Twin Cities Open is the second of three elite-field events on the PWBA Tour this season. Following the U.S. Women’s Open, the top 24 players on the 2018 PWBA Tour points list earned exemptions for the events.
Elite-field events feature a 32-player field, and each week an eight-game pre-tournament qualifier will complete the field. Elite-field events have 16 qualifying games before a cut is made to the top 12 advancers, who bowl six additional games. The top five in total pinfall after 22 games advance to the stepladder finals.
BowlTV, the YouTube channel of the United States Bowling Congress, will live stream all rounds leading up to the live televised finals on Saturday at 5 p.m. (Eastern) on CBS Sports Network.