Bowling

Top bowlers set to compete in 51st Lee Evans Tournament of the Americas

 

jvarsallone@MiamiHerald.com

Some of the world’s top bowlers converge on South Florida, beginning Sunday and rolling through Aug. 3, for the 51st Lee Evans Tournament of The Americas at Strikers Lanes in Sunrise.

The weeklong event features national teams from the Americas (North, South and Central and the Caribbean). Approximately 140 bowlers — adults, seniors, super seniors and juniors ages 12 to 15 and 16 to 19 — will represent Aruba, the Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curacao, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, the United States and Venezuela.

The draw includes national and international stars such as Colombia’s Manuel Otalora and Andres Gomez (both on the PBA Tour) and Team USA’s Dana Mackie-Miller, Paula Vidad, Char Hammel, Steve Smith and Eddie Vandaniker. Junior bowlers, who medaled at the prestigious American Zone Junior Tournament last week in Puerto Rico, will also participate.

Competition includes singles, doubles, mixed doubles and team (two men and two women).

The tournament was the brainchild of the late Lee Evans, who was the news-bureau director for the City of Miami. He wanted to unite the Americas (North, South and Central and the Caribbean) through an amateur bowling tournament.

“It was an impossible dream as no one thought this tournament would start at all, because bowling was a recreational sport in Central and South America back then,” said Paulette Watson, the third director in the tournament’s history. “Bowling is now a major sport in Central and South America, and they keep coming here.”

The inaugural Tournament of The Americas started with 16 players from 10 countries, counting a Miami man and woman who represented “Free Cuba.” Canada, Peru and Nicaragua were represented by one male bowler each. Guatemala, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, the United States and Chile each had one man and one woman, with Honduras represented by one female bowler.

That historic debut tournament was at Cloverleaf Lanes in North Dade County, where it continued to grow until those lanes closed in 2004. So the tournament moved to Fort Lauderdale for three years, then Orlando the next three and returned to South Florida in 2011.

“I never thought it would go 51 years. No one did,” Watson said, “but it’s the oldest tournament of its kind, and we continue to bring in the best of the best.”

The best of the best bowl each day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., except for Aug. 3 when the competition ends around 1 p.m. The public can attend. Admission is free. Visit www.bowlingamericas.com.

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