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Hannan wants to bowl over the men

Teen prodigy has dreams of turning professional and playing for British national team

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Samantha Hannan came out as leaders in the Open and U-23 competitions at the end of the seventh day of qualifying for the 3rd Dubai International Bowling Tournament being played at the Dubai Bowling Centre
Gulf News

Dubai: Samantha Hannan will be competing for honours in the Dh50,000 Abu Dhabi Country Club Bowling Open on October 5, buoyed by a successful defence of both ladies’ and junior titles at the National Drilling Company’s Ramadan Bowling Tournament last month.

The 16-year-old England-born prodigy averaged 232 to secure a final score of 1,405 and claim the juniors event. She then finished sixth overall in the competition, and top of the ladies’ section, averaging 228 with 1,824 in last month’s tournament at the Khalifa International Bowling Centre.

She now wants to match her male rivals, eyeing a top-three finish in Abu Dhabi, with qualifying for the ADCC event having started this week. A good performance will keep her on course for the UAE National Day Open, also in the capital this December, along with February’s Dubai Open, where she finished fifth overall last year.

Serving notice of her potential, she secured a bronze medal in the ladies’ division of Egypt’s Sinai Open in April and in the U18 and U21 category of the Indonesian Open in Jakarta last summer.

But now the English College student’s dream of turning professional in the US and making the British national team within two years depend on her closing the gap on her male counterparts in the UAE.

To this end, her coach Hussain Al Suwaidi, himself a UAE national team member, has been working her hard in training ahead of a season of sustained competitive events.

“It depends on the oil pattern, but I can normally average 245 a game,” said Hannan, in reference to the sport’s varying lane set-ups. “On a hard oil pattern, I average around 190.”

There are four main oil patterns devised to protect various areas of the lane. With 16lbs bowling balls hitting the panelling at a force of over 2,000lb per square inch, oil is used to protect the arena from frictional wear and tear.

Proving there’s more science to her sport than initially meets the eye, Hannan, who is looking to up her average, added: “There are definitely things I can work on to improve my game. These are minor changes in my positioning and release, or small things such as sliding on the lane. I can’t change those things immediately; they’ll take more time to adjust.”

Working on her approach and entering as many competitions as possible to garner valuable experience, Hannan is improving at regional level at a time when the World Tenpin Bowling Association prepares to hold both the 2014 men’s and 2015 women’s world championships in Abu Dhabi.

Last hosted here in 1999, Hannan, who has lived in the UAE for 10 years and been bowling for the past eight, has clearly benefited from the nation’s growing enthusiasm for the sport and will continue to do so as competitions increase in the run-up to the world championships.