Australian feels at home competing in U.S. events

November 03, 1994|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun Staff Writer

In Carol Gianotti's native Australia, bowling does not come cheap.

To roll a single game costs $4.50, balls are expensive and equipment is generally substandard compared with its American counterpart.

But that hasn't prevented Gianotti from rolling into prominence on the Ladies Pro Bowlers Tour with career earnings approaching $300,000.

"The sport is not as big [there]," Gianotti said yesterday at the $75,000 Hammer Eastern Open at Country Club Lanes. "But there are a lot of bowling centers, and I was lucky because one was built right next door to my house in Australia."

She got hooked on the game, so much so that she represented her country in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. From there it was a simple matter of turning professional.

"I decided I couldn't do much more as an amateur," said Gianotti. "I wanted to bowl big-time, and the only way was to come to America."

Now in her seventh pro season, Gianotti, 27, blossomed into a top contender two years ago when she was the LPBT season runner-up to Tish Johnson in earnings and points, finishing second in the Player of the Year race. Later, she was named the Women Sportstar of the Year in Australia for 1992-93.

And she is a popular tour member with a reputation for sometimes marching to the beat of a different drummer -- in an appealing way.

Seven months ago, though, she tore a muscle in her right forearm (she bowls right-handed) while water skiing. She tried to continue while undergoing treatment, but the injury recurred and surgery was required.

After being sidelined a month, Gianotti resumed serious competition Oct. 16 in Pittsburgh and now bowls with a support brace that covers the forearm from the wrist almost to the elbow.

This week, she appears to have regained her 1992 form.

After qualifying for the Top 24 on Tuesday morning, she came back that night with a sizzling 1,906 eight-game block in the first round of match play, averaging 239.4 per game to temporarily take the lead.

Gianotti qualified third for the stepladder finals behind runaway leader Anne Marie Duggan of Edmond, Okla., and Kim Couture of Titusville, Fla.

"I thought I could bowl when I was hurt, but I couldn't. I knew something was wrong in there [the arm]," she said. "My arm feels really good now, so much so that I went to a 15-pound ball [heavier than her normal one] this week. Luckily, my timing didn't go away."

Duggan, who compiled a 300 game yesterday morning, has to win only one match to take the championship.

Gianotti trounced Duggan in their head-to-head game last night, 242-161, but that was about the only thing that went right for her in the final eight games, six of them losses.

The stepladder finals will be televised on a tape-delayed basis by ESPN at 12:30 a.m. Saturday.

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