Daphne's first title as a pro bodes well for SEA Games
Daphne bags first title as a pro, win bodes well for S'pore chances at August's SEA Games
Daphne Tan has been a bowler for 14 years, but had never won an individual title as a professional.
Yesterday morning (Singapore time), the 26-year-old broke her duck in a big way, clinching the Brunswick Ballmaster Open title and claiming the winner's cheque of 12,000 euros (S$18,170) in Finland.
Daphne, the women's singles gold medallist at the 2015 South-east Asia (SEA) Games, beat teammate Jazreel Tan 232-225 in the step-ladder final of the tournament, considered Europe's most prestigious bowling competition.
"It felt like a long time for me to get to this point," Daphne told The New Paper yesterday.
"I have wanted this (an individual pro title) for so long, and it better be great. And it was.
"I felt more relief when I first realised that I won; it was only after a few seconds that it hit me. I was like, 'Oh, my God. Wow'."
With 5,077 pinfalls from 10 games, Daphne was the top seed going into the step-ladder final, while teammate Jazreel was second with 5,070.
Denmark's Carsten Hansen (5,028) and Finland's Sanna Pasanen (5,019) completed the top four in the step-ladder finals.
The Republic's Shayna Ng and Cherie Tan finished in the top 12, while Tracy See and Jasmine Yeong-Nathan also competed in the tournament, one of only two Platinum events on the European Bowling Tour (EBT).
The Platinum tier is the highest of four competition levels on the EBT.
Singapore Bowling Federation executive and technical director Mervyn Foo was happy with the team's showing, and heartened by the fact that the likes of Ng and Cherie also led the field of about 500 bowlers at different points in the tournament.
"The Finnish bowlers, as well as the Swedes, are among the best in the world, along with the Americans, South Koreans and the Malaysians," said Foo, a former national bowler.
"I think the team did really well as a whole."
He added that the women's team, which won three gold medals at the 2015 SEA Games, are a "different animal" now - the bowlers are more confident and independent in their games now.
"The coaching staff behind the bowlers are like caddies, the players are the ones making the shots. We give them the information, they own the shots and, as professionals, they know what they need to do."
Daphne agreed with the assessment, and added: "We feel stronger and capable of achieving more."
Both Daphne and Foo said the team are still "very sore" after losing the 2015 SEA Games team gold to Malaysia, but stopped short of promising revenge in Kuala Lumpur in the biennial Games this year.
Foo said: "The Malaysians are very strong; they probably have the biggest feeder system (of young talents) in the world, bigger than even South Korea.
"I can guarantee that our bowlers will go out and do their best, but that's the norm; our programme will push them to go beyond their best."
Daphne added: "It's good that we are off to a good start this year, but we will not take things for granted."