Standings: Match Play Round 1
ROHNERT PARK, Calif. - Of the 24 competitors remaining at the 2021 U.S. Women's Open, Stephanie Zavala of Downey, California, had the shortest trip to Double Decker Lanes, and she's representing her home state of California very well through 40 games of competition.
The 2021 U.S. Women's Open marks her debut at the storied tournament, and while there were some initial nerves due to the magnitude and history of the event, she's certainly showing that she's not intimidated by the long format or world-class field.
Instead, she is drawing on the experience she has gained during her memorable rookie campaign on the Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour and the success she has had against the sport's best to help keep her calm as she takes aim at her first major title and third PWBA Tour victory overall.
The 25-year-old right-hander has made a steady climb up the standings over the last four days, and she's inching closer to her first appearance on live TV, though she knows how much still can happen over Monday's final 16 games.
All rounds of qualifying and match play are being broadcast on BowlTV.com, and the event will conclude live on CBS Sports Network on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Eastern.
After 24 games of qualifying on three lane conditions, eight additional games on a fourth oil pattern and one round of match play, Zavala is second among the 24 competitors still in contention for the tournament's coveted green jacket, iconic trophy and record $100,000 top prize.
In the rounds leading up to match play, where 30 bonus pins are awarded for each win, she was 15th, 11th, second and second. She turned in a 7-1 record Sunday night in the first of three rounds of round-robin match play to maintain her place in the standings, while cutting the deficit between her and Cherie Tan of Singapore.
Tan, who went 4-4 in the opening round of match play, leads with an 8,541 total. Zavala is 57 pins back with 8,484 and followed by Singapore's Shayna Ng (8,380), Josie Barnes of Hermitage, Tennessee (8,366), and defending U.S. Women's Open champion Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, New York (8,364).
"I did have some nerves coming in, since it is my first U.S. Women's Open, and I know how mentally and physically challenging it can be," Zavala said. "The rest of the season definitely has helped me be prepared and confident coming into this week, and I'm happy with how it's going so far. I know a lot can happen in 16 games, but it was nice to finish the night strong. I hope to keep that momentum going tomorrow."
Zavala, who is a two-time winner on the PWBA Tour this season and the front-runner for PWBA Rookie of the Year, ended the night with a pair of wins and will join the rest of the competitors back on the lanes Monday at 1 p.m. Eastern.
The final round of match play is scheduled for Monday at 8 p.m. EDT, and the 56-game pinfall totals will determine the five players for the championship stepladder.
Earlier this month, Zavala had a chance to test her endurance during the three-event PWBA Summer Classic Series in Arlington, Texas, where she bowled 55 games across three oil patterns during the week.
The early part of the U.S. Women's Open was been much of the same, as she endured oil patterns of 36, 40, 46 and 42 feet over the first 40 games. With the final 32 games all taking place on the same 42-foot pattern, she'll now have the opportunity to lock in a strategy.
The Summer Classic Series also gave her the chance to experience the ups and downs of 24 games of match play, since the final event consisted entirely of head-to-head matches.
"The Classic Series showed me what match play is all about and how to bounce back from a miss or a loss, which is so important with this format," Zavala said. "As far as the conditions here, the first three days definitely were a grind, but not flipping patterns anymore the rest of the way definitely helps with developing a game plan."
The week started with 71 competitors, who bowled 24 games over three days, before the field was cut to the top 24 for Round 4 and match play.