by Fred Eisenhammer
WINNETKA – “I was shocked,” Debbie Stelle said. “I was very surprised,” Richard Melendrez said. To be sure, the two bowlers from Canoga Park were unlikely champions of a no-tap doubles tournament July 9 at Winnetka Bowl.
They certainly weren’t the most feared pair of bowlers in this event that featured a large assortment of some of the elite players in the San Fernando Valley area.
The 80-year-old Melendrez entered the tournament with a 138 average. The 69-year-old Stelle carried a 135 average. Yet, they were nothing short of spectacular in this three game handicap tournament.
Melendrez crushed a 616 series (210, 230, 186) and Stelle chipped in with a stellar 537 series (145, 154, 238). With their sizable handicap, Melendrez and Stelle rolled up a huge total of 1,584 that proved too much for the 200-average-plus bowlers to match. The dynamic duo won $446 for its first-place effort, outdistancing teams that boasted such elite bowlers as Tim Tripp, Johnnie Englehart, Charles Kenny and Matt Jones.
Melendrez said he had bowled previous 600 series but it was a “long time ago. I had bypass [surgery] three, four years ago. I used to have a 15-pound ball and now I use a nine-pounder.”
Altogether, Melendrez took home more than $350 because of his additional winnings during the day. This marked the second of three no-tap doubles tournaments scheduled for Winnetka Bowl during the summer.
A whopping 106 bowlers took part, exceeding last month’s event that drew 76 players.
This month’s participants included a large turnout of top-caliber Valley bowlers on the challenging Professional Bowlers Assn. Viper oil pattern. Finishing 26 points behind the champs at 1,558 was the team of Bob Englehart and Mark Levine, who won $360 for placing second. Englehart, a Valley legend with his towering left-handed backswing, was at his enthusiastic best during the event, spurred on by his opening 297 game. He finished with an 812 scratch, adding scores of 276 and 239.
Susan Cortez and Joannie Petiya finished third at 1,513 and won $200. Brad Graeff Jr. and Jim Gibbons took fourth at 1,508 and won $100. Dino Reyes and Jackie Herndon scored 1,505 to claim fourth, winning $60.
Jeff Monzella and Matt Jones were the lone bowlers to rack up perfect games. Jones also recorded a 254 en route to a 752 series. Johnnie Englehart turned in a solid effort with scores of 250, 210 and 278 for a 738 series.
On the heels of that strong performance, Englehart went on to blister an 818 series (259, 300, 259) during league play at Winnetka Bowl. At one point, Englehart posted 22 strikes in a row.
Tripp recorded one of the top scores of the no-tap tournament with a 274 en route to a 735 series (244, 274, 217). Kenny had a 690 series, but his big highlight came a day later when he smashed back-to-back perfect games in another no-tap tournament.
Winnetka Bowl will host its third no-tap doubles tournament of the summer on Aug. 13.