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April 14, 2010 > Fremont man hopes to bring hook to Las Vegas

Fremont man hopes to bring hook to Las Vegas

By David J. Nicolas

Amateur bowler Anthony Vicini outlasted 44 competitors in AMF Bowling Center's National In-League Tournament and will represent San Francisco and Sacramento in the national championships in Las Vegas on Friday, April 16, and Saturday, April 17.

Vicini will face 26 opponents from around the country who are vying for a national title in the 159-pin and below category, and a $50,000 prize.

"I pretty much fell over," Vicini said about qualifying for the national championships. "I thought someone was playing a joke on me."

There are 108 bowlers who are competing in the In-League amateur tournament. The group is broken into four divisions based on average scores: open division (200-300), Division A (180-199), Division B (160-179) and Division C (159-0).

The 34-year-old scored a 125, 169, 122 and 140 in the district finals at Mowry Lanes. His 152-pin average qualified him for the national championships, the first of its kind.

"I was a little nervous when I heard the national anthem and I thought, 'Wow, I'm playing against hard people.' Everyone was cheering. When I bowl I like to zone everybody out. It was difficult to do," Vicini said.

Vicini decided to give bowling a try in June of 2009. The sport gave him something to do in the summertime and, more importantly to Vicini, allowed him to use the bowling balls his father gave him.

He soon joined summer and winter leagues and began bowling up to twice a week. He tried his luck at the AMF qualifiers and eventually made his way into the center finals for the In-League tournament where he won first place.

"We are really excited to have someone from here advance," said Ally Shelden, general manager of Mowry Lanes who has seen a slight drop in the number of league bowlers. "Of all the AMF centers in the district, Mowry Lanes is one of smallest, so it's even more exciting because our staff really knows our league bowlers."

Vicini doesn't have a game plan for his national tournament debut.

"I'll do what I know I can do and try to win something, I don't want to think about the money because then I know that I won't do good," Vicini said. "I want to go out there and have fun and hopefully come out in first place."

His string of victories leading up to Las Vegas were due to Vicini sticking to what works. The right-hander doesn't look at the pins when he throws his 15-pound clear plastic ball that has a dice in the center; he doesn't go for strikes in each turn. Instead he keeps his gaze on the small arrows slightly ahead of the lane's foul line, aims for the third arrow from center and throws with only his pinky and ring finger in the finger holes.

This technique helps him create a hooking motion that coaxes more pins to fall.

The biggest challenge for Vicini will be acclimating his big hooking ball from the wooden lanes of where he usually practices to the synthetic lanes in the Orleans Hotel and Casino. At least he will be in the proper attire.

"I went to the district finals with shorts and a tank top and someone told me, 'You can't wear that in Vegas.' "

The rules on the AMF In-League tournament's Web site doesn't specify a dress code for bowlers, but Mowry Lanes found out about Vicini's dress situation. He will be wearing khakis and a shirt with his name on it.

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