Junior Team USA girls and boys advance to doubles finals at 2019 World Bowling Junior Championships


The Junior Team USA girls and boys doubles teams advanced to the finals at the 2019 World Bowling Junior Championships, and they will bowl for gold medals under the bright lights of a special TV setting in the center of Paris.

Saturday's matches will be part of an all-day extravaganza that will include the doubles, team and Masters finals of the inaugural World Junior Championships, all contested on two lanes being specially installed inside Paris' Institut du Judo.

The custom venue will be ideal for accommodating in-person spectators and countless bowling fans around the world who will be able to tune in to the television broadcast.

The action will kick off at 7 a.m. Eastern (noon in Paris) with the girls doubles final, featuring Junior Team USA's Mabel Cummins and Kamerin Peters against top-seeded Hong Soree and Jeong Youngseon of Korea.

The boys match also will see the United States and Korea face off, as Junior Team USA's Anthony Neuer and Solomon Salama meet Korea's Park Donghyuk and Ji Geun. Ji rolled the event's only perfect game Tuesday in the singles semifinals and went on to claim the gold medal.

"This means a lot because me and Solomon are best friends, and it will be something we'll always be able to look back on," Neuer said. "It will help our bond as friends, for sure, but for the bowling part, it means a lot that we could work together and get to the finals. We also know it's more than an individual or doubles thing - it's about having the USA on our backs and representing the country the best we can."

The Junior Team USA boys, both left-handers, led their qualifying squad Tuesday but dropped to third place after the second half of the field bowled Wednesday morning. The top four teams after six games of qualifying advanced to the semifinals.

Neuer (185) and Salama (264) defeated Germany's Paul-Sullivan Purps (190) and Patrick Weichert (208) in one semifinal, 449-398, while Ji (278) and Park (220) beat top seeds Pyry Puharinen (223) and Jesse Ahokas (228) of Finland in the other, 498-451.

"Communication for the doubles aspect is really big, especially with both of us being on the same side of the lane," Salama said. "We may throw the ball differently and at different speeds, but both can learn from watching the other person's ball reaction, and that can help us make moves quicker. We work well together, and I'm confident we can continue to be competitive."

Cummins (240) and Peters (203) cruised into the final with a 443-332 win over Germany's Franziska Czech (179) and Natalie Groll (153), who were unable to bounce back from a handful of open frames early in the match.

The Koreans were the high qualifiers by more than 100 pins and carried that momentum into their semifinal against England. Hong (265) and Jeong (264) downed Isabel Allen (167) and Rhian Dobinson (192) by a sizable margin, 529-359.

The doubles success for Cummins and Peters came after some trial and error helped them make the right equipment and strategic choices after a challenging singles event.

"Being in situations where you're under a lot of pressure definitely helps prepare you for this, though neither one of us really has any experience in doubles finals," Cummins said. "I really love bowling with Kam, and having someone to lean on definitely makes it a little less stressful."

Peters, who is making her Junior Team USA debut this week, offered similar thoughts about the importance of being a supportive teammate.

"I'm going to make the best shots I can, and having her behind me the whole time will be great, because I'll have someone else to rely on, too," Peters said. "It has been that way the whole week so far, and it's nice to be able to communicate and work together."

All qualifying rounds and semifinals at the World Junior Championships are being held at Plaza Saint Maximin and livestreamed by World Bowling. The event includes more than 100 bowlers, ages 13-18, from 35 countries.

The four Junior Team USA members in France this week all are 16 years old. Neuer and Salama both are left-handed, while Peters and Cummins share the right side of the lane. They're hoping that being able to share those perspectives will help them find success in the coveted team event, which got underway Wednesday before the doubles semifinals.

The group will have some work to do Thursday at Plaza Bowling Saint Maximin, after a slow start in the team event left them in fifth with three games to go. Six-game pinfall totals will determine the four semifinalists.

Korea again set the pace and leads the team event with a 2,860 three-game total. Singapore is second with 2,734, Finland is third with 2,720 and Mexico is fourth with 2,701.

Junior Team USA's 2,665 performance included a 748 series from Neuer, 692 from Peters, 634 from Cummins and 591 from Salama.

"It was nice to see the boys continue their momentum today and for the girls to have the turnaround they did after struggling in singles," Team USA head coach Bryan O'Keefe said. "We're excited to have both teams in the televised finals, and this all really is a once-in-a-lifetime experience they'll never forget. Now, we'll focus on the rest of the team event and trying to improve on today."

All teams will return to the lanes Thursday morning for the final three games, which also will determine the all-events medalists based on their 18-game pinfall totals. The top 24 from the all-events standings will advance to Masters match play, which will begin Thursday afternoon.

Another twist for the first edition of the tournament is the use of the Current Frame Scoring system, where a strike counts for 30 pins, a spare counts for 10, plus the first-ball count and an open frame counts for actual pins knocked down. The 10th frame counts the same as all other frames, and with only 10 first balls each game, the maximum score still is 300.

For complete details about the World Bowling Junior Championships, visit WorldBowling.org.