LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Ukraine's Dasha Kovalova delivered one of the most iconic moments since the relaunch of the Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour in her last visit to Executive Strike and Spare, and she'll be back this week to defend her title at the PWBA Louisville Open.
The Louisville Open will begin Thursday with the official practice session, and competition will get underway Friday with two six-game qualifying rounds.
The top 32 athletes will advance and bowl another six-game block Saturday to determine the top 12 players. A final six-game round will determine the four players for the stepladder finals, based on total pinfall for 24 games.
The finals of the Louisville Open will take place Saturday at 6 p.m. Eastern, with the winner earning $10,000. All qualifying rounds, and the stepladder finals, will be broadcast live on BowlTV.com.
The 26-year-old right-hander rolled a perfect game in the title match at the 2019 Pepsi PWBA Louisville Open to defeat Liz Johnson of Niagara Falls, New York, for her second title in 2019. She became just the fourth player to record a 300 game in a championship-round appearance.
The moment was captured live on CBS Sports Network, and while the admiration from fans around the world and an energy drink-soaked celebration courtesy of her fellow competitors are things Kovalova won't forget, the memory was made by being able to have her mother, Oksana, in attendance for her historic performance.
Kovalova's 300 was the first in a championship-round appearance since 2001, when Johnson rolled 300 in the title match of the PWBA Paula Carter Classic. Johnson recorded the fifth perfect game in a championship-round appearance in May during the semifinals of the 2021 PWBA Lincoln Open.
"It was pretty insane," Kovalova said. "It was pretty cool that my mom was there, and it was an amazing opportunity to share an amazing moment with her."
As she prepares for her return to Executive Strike and Spare, Kovalova isn't going to dwell too much on her past success at the center. She'll keep her process the same heading into the final event of this stretch of the 2021 season, which started in April with her victory at the PWBA Twin Cities Open for her third career title.
The PWBA Tour event schedule nearly has been non-stop each weekend for the last two months, and Kovalova has experienced ups and downs along the way.
The win at Cedarvale Lanes marked her third championship-round appearance through four events in 2021, starting with the PWBA Kickoff Classic Series in January, and the strong start created some additional pressure for Kovalova.
After missing her first cut of the season at the PWBA Albany Open, she bounced back last week at the PWBA Greater Nashville Open to finish in 15th place, and she's ready to take on the challenges of the tour for the rest of the year.
"With how I started the season, I felt like I had to keep it going," said Kovalova, who enters this week fifth in points with 60,610. "When I struggled, it all kind of weighed down on me. I'm usually a slow starter, and it takes a couple of tournaments to get in my groove, so the fact that I started so well startled me a bit. I found some redemption this past week in Tennessee after Albany, and I'm excited to see what I can do in Louisville before getting ready for the next stretch of the season."
The PWBA Tour season will take a brief hiatus after the Louisville Open, with competition resuming at the end of July with the Professional Bowlers Association/PWBA Striking Against Breast Cancer Mixed Doubles event in Houston.
Kovalova's parents will join her during the break, and she's excited to continue to work on her game alongside her family.
"The last time they were here was for New Year's, so I'm excited to see them," Kovalova said. "We'll go through my arsenal, and I'll work with my mom on some physical stuff in my game. It will be nice to have them around as I focus on getting ready for the second half of the season."