He was in pain and the hot television lights made him nervous, but Ross Hopkins of Westminster didn't mind.
"My wrist hurt, really hurt, and I was nervous because it was the first time that I was bowlingunder television lights and then, too, I was being watched by one ofthe bowling legends," Hopkins said of his recent brush with fame. "It was wonderful."
The tournament was the National Amateur Bowling Inc. Judy Soutar Open at Forest Hill Lanes in Harford County. Hopkins must have had a hunch about this tournament, because he's only been bowing the NABI tournaments for about six months.
Of course, an added attraction was the chance to meet Professional Bowlers Association members CharlieTapp and Danny Wiseman, as well as Judy Soutar.
Well, Baltimore native Wiseman was supposed to be there, but he was inconsiderate enough to stay in St. Louis and win the Toyota Classic -- his fourth PBA title -- that weekend. He earned $27,000 for his effort, so I guess we'll let him off the hook for not showing up at the Judy Soutar Open.
Tapp is probably best remembered for being a founder of the Touring Players Association that took on the PBA in an attempt, Tapp said,"to get the freedom to do some things we weren't allowed to do." At 6-feet-5, Tapp is one of the tallest pro bowlers. He hails from Kalamazoo, Mich., and has won three PBA titles.
Judy Soutar, a Hall of Famer since 1976, has been bowling as a professional for more than 30years and is on the Brunswick corporation's staff. It would take a couple pages to list all of her bowling accomplishments.
She is, simply, one bowling's legends. And a nice lady.
It was that legend who did the commentary while Hopkins bowled his first game under the lights.
"By the time that the television finals started," Hopkins said, "my wrist was killing me. As it turned out, I only lost by five pins, so I don't feel too badly."
That fourth-place finsh was worth $125.
When Hopkins visited his doctor, he was diagnosed as having carpal tunnel syndrome, which is thought to come from repetitive action. The doctor told him to stop bowling.
Of course, Hopkins willprobably ignore this advice. Hey, the guy's a bowler.
Hopkins bowls at County Lanes in the Wednesday Night Scratch League and the Thursday Trophy League. His average is 174, and his high game is 265, with a high series of 635.
He started out bowling duckpins, as so many of Maryland's bowlers have, and switched to tenpins just four yearsago. Throwing a Blue or Pink Hammer, Hopkins has progressed rapidly in building his game.
"My game's picked up a lot since Chuck Ludwig drilled my last ball for me," Hopkins said. "Now my release is muchbetter, I get out of the ball much easier."
The winner of the Judy Soutar Open was Mark Brown of Bel Air, Harford County. First prize was $1,000.
Steve Rothenberger of Westminster is thinking about turning pro, but right now it might cost him money.
Rothenberger, a 203 average bowler, bowls in the Monday Night League at South Hanover (Pa.) Lanes and the Tuesday Night League at Hanover Bowling Center, plus a night in the York County (Pa.) Travel League.
"I'm bowling probably 40 to 50 games a week," said Rothenberger, who turns 20next month. "Maybe more, if you add in the tournaments, and I'm thinking about turning pro. I have the papers all ready to turn in, but it's a big step. And I am making money as an amateur."
Adult amateur bowlers are not prohibited -- as in some sports -- from earning prize money, and just recently Rothenberger and his partner, Bob Spaulding of Mechanicsburg, Pa., took good advantage of that. They placed second in the Hanover Bowling Center doubles tournament and pocketed $900 each for their effort. Their combined four-game score of 1,345 wasjust three pins from tying the winners of that event.
At the samecenter, Rothenberger placed third in the singles tournament with games of 279-216-225-204, for a 924 series and $1,300 in prize money.
That's why it might be a while before he goes out on the pro tour --he can't take the cut in pay.
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundationwill play host to its 14th Annual Bowl U.S.A. from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Dec. 1.
Twenty-eight centers across Maryland will sponsor the event. Participants collect donations or pledges for every point they score in a three-game series of bowling, which is open to bowlers of all ages.
In Carroll County, the event will be held at Thunderhead Lanes in both Taneytown and Westminster.
Tournament notes: Fair Lanes Middlesex will play host to the greatest men duckpinners when the Fair Lanes Men's Masters takes place Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 9-10. About 150 bowlers will be rolling for the $4,000 first prize.
Jeff Pyles of Hyattsville, Prince George's County, is the defendingchampion.