By Matt Cannizzaro and Casey Smith
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Michael Coffey of Melbourne, Florida, and Zachary Hattori of Henderson, Nevada, may not be adding a second consecutive doubles title to their list of accomplishments, but they are leaving the 2018 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships having enjoyed what comes with being champions.
The two made a special march to the lanes at the Oncenter Convention Center, where they received their championship watches Monday prior to their team event.
In their 2018 doubles campaign Tuesday, the former collegiate standouts posted a 1,249 doubles total, where Coffey contributed games of 213, 172 and 247 for a 632 series, and Hattori added 200, 214 and 203 for a 617 set.
Richard Eighme of Waterloo, Iowa, and AJ Chapman of St. Paul, Minnesota, lead Regular Doubles this year with 1,457.
At the 2017 event in Las Vegas, Coffey, and Hattori, both former members of Junior Team USA, earned the Regular Doubles title with a 1,478 effort on the second to last day of the 149-day event.
Hattori led the way with games of 248, 289 and 279 for an 816 series, the highest overall series of last year’s event at the South Point Bowling Plaza, while Coffey contributed games of 231, 227 and 204 for a 662 series.
“I don’t think we ever thought we would win this early,” said Hattori, who made his fourth USBC Open Championships appearance this year. “It was cool to be able to win in my hometown. I had all my family and friends there, which was really meaningful.”
The history and tradition of the Open Championships also is not lost on the teammates, and Coffey’s road to the victory was a painful and difficult one that included hearing from doctors that he might not ever bowl again after a series back injury.
“It is really cool winning something as prestigious as an Eagle,” said Coffey, a 23-year-old right-hander who made his third tournament appearance. “To work really hard and have it pay off, feels great. If you believe in yourself anything is possible. All the doctors that told me I was never going to bowl again were wrong.”
Returning to the championship lanes to see their pictures on one of the masking units in the 48-lane venue was special for the pair. It was another opportunity for the magnitude of their accomplishment to sink in.
The first may have been when they got to hold their Eagle trophies for the first time.
“The Eagle was a lot heavier than I thought it was going to be, and I am very appreciative that they (USBC) took the time to make something this special,” said Coffey, who bowls regularly at Brunswick Zone Harbour Lanes in Melbourne, Florida.
Hattori’s Eagle presentation was pretty memorable, too.
“I couldn’t believe I was holding an Eagle” said Hattori, who works for Haynes Bowling Supply Pro Shop. “I hugged my Eagle when I first got it. I even put my head between the wings.”
Bowling in the Open Championships is something Hattori looked forward to for a long time.
“Growing up, I couldn’t wait to be an adult and bowl at Nationals,” said the 25-year-old right-hander. “I feel like winning an Eagle is on a bowler’s bucket list. To have one already is nice. There are so many great bowlers who haven’t won one.”
The 115th edition of the Open Championships will conclude Sunday after a 107-day run at the Oncenter Convention Center, and new Regular Doubles champions will to experience what Coffey and Hattori did in 2017 and 2018.
Regular Doubles features teams with combined entering averages of 419 and above.
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