By Fran Piraino
SYRACUSE, N.Y. - To become a champion, you have to beat the best, and that's exactly what Char Hammel of Las Vegas did at last year's USBC Senior Queens in El Paso, Texas.
Hammel dethroned defending champion Janine Primrose of Gardnerville, Nev., in back-to-back matches to capture the coveted title, and the victory was her most memorable bowling moment.
"It was definitely my greatest win," said Hammel, who won the opening three-game total-pins match, 590-554, to force a deciding match, which she won, 705-520. "I can't believe a year has actually passed since El Paso. I look forward to bowling the Women's Championships and Senior Queens every year."
This week, Hammel looks to become the first woman to repeat as Senior Queens champion when the showcase tournament for women bowlers age 50 and older kicks off at Syracuse's Oncenter Convention Center on Saturday. Competitors will be bowling for a $3,000 top prize.
Hammel, a poker dealer at Green Valley Ranch in Las Vegas, realizes repeating won't be easy.
"So many things have to go your way to win a tournament," Hammel said. "I think as much as getting good breaks, you have to side step the unfortunate bad breaks, too. Nothing would make me happier than to defend my title."
The Senior Queens consists of 10 qualifying games for all contestants on April 23 and April 24. The top 40 advance to an additional five-game qualifying round on April 25, after which the top 31 will join Hammel in the three-game, double-elimination match-play bracket.
The tournament concludes Wednesday, April 27 at 10 a.m. Eastern with the championship match, which will be broadcast live on BOWL.com.