ON SATURDAY night, Singapore bowler Jazreel Tan hunkered down in her basement as tornados whipped through Wichita, Kansas.
The 22-year-old former Sportsgirl of the Year did not panic. Even as warning sirens went off outside her home, she spoke calmly over the telephone about her latest accolade – being named 2011 female Amateur Bowler of the Year by the Bowling Writers’ Association of America (BWAA).
‘It’s really cool, especially for a Singaporean to win it,’ said Miss Tan, who is the first non-American to bag the award since it was introduced in 1991.
More than 30 million amateur bowlers in the US are eligible for this nationwide award, of whom over 50,000 are collegiate bowlers like Miss Tan. Nominees are picked by the BWAA awards committee and the eventual winner is decided by an internal vote.
Miss Tan – whose bowling form was as fearsome as the twisters that pounded the central US over the weekend – came out tops.
‘Last year was probably my breakthrough year, and it was probably my most consistent year ever,’ she said.
Last month, she won her first individual title in almost four years in the women’s Masters at the Kuwait International Open. Over the last year, the Singaporean took part in eight US collegiate tournaments, winning three of them.
At the World Championships last September, she took home a silver medal in the doubles with teammate New Hui Fen.
The third-year sports management undergraduate at Wichita State University is currently the top female college kegler in the US, averaging 213 pinfalls in each game.
‘I could feel the change in my physical and mental game since I arrived in the US,’ she said. ‘My swing and my timing have improved. I’m more calm mentally and I make better decisions now when I’m playing.’
Earlier this year, the reigning US Collegiate Bowler of the Year picked up her third consecutive Academic All-American award, given to student-athletes with a grade point average of 3.5 or higher on all course work.
She is also the US National Collegiate Bowling Coaches Association’s Most Valuable Player.