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By John Bassetti
As of last Monday, the number of entries for the third annual PBA Hubbard Open was in the 40s.
But, as the deadline for entries approaches, the PBA Central Region director expects twice as many, if not more.
“They have until Monday [March 11] midnight to enter without penalty,” Bobby Jakel said of the event that will be Friday through Sunday at Bell-Wick Bowl. “They had around 100 the last two years and I don’t expect any different,” he said from his office in Chicago. “The vast majority of people will sign up the last 3-4 days and over the weekend,” Jakel said. “I’m thinking 100.”
The response depends on the time of year and the tournament’s slot in the schedule, as well as geographic location to some extent.
“We’re fairly early in the regional tour season,” the director said of the PBA Hubbard Open’s date on the calendar. “This is, basically, the first of the year for both the Central and East regions so, actually, it’s a pretty good tournament. Sometimes, if the place is less populated, there aren’t as many entries.”
In a season that runs Jan. 1-Dec. 31, Hubbard falls early and is only the second regional for the Central and first for the Central and East combined.
An over-under 50 [years of age] doubles tournament was already held in early January in Cuyahoga Falls.
“This [the Hubbard Open] is the first singles event of the year that we have combined with the East Region,” Jakel said. “As of now, it’s the only regional [on the schedule] that we have combined with the East.”
After the Monday midnight deadline, the Central Region director will analyze details and post a Hubbard Open roster on the pba.com website on Tuesday afternoon.
According to Jakel, inaugural Hubbard Open winner Ryan Ciminelli and touring pro Ryan Shafer have already signed up.
“I haven’t talked to Rhino yet,” Jakel said of 2012 champion Rhino Page. “He’s working through a wrist injury. He’s aware of the date, but a lot depends on his wrist. He has the Tournament of Champions a week-and-a-half after Hubbard, so he may want to rest his wrist, but we’ll know more when I talk to him.”
Jakel was complimentary of Bell-Wick’s co-hosts Francis Zitnik and Jim Bryant.
“Jim and Francis do a terrific job getting everything together, so I’m looking forward to another great tourney.”
The PBA Central Region director said that mid-March is a slow period.
“Hubbard is our next regional, but two weeks after Hubbard, there’s a dual event in Fort Wayne [regular and senior] and three events in April. Once that rolls around, the regional season will be in full swing.”
The Central Region comprises five states: Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia.
Although the official name of the event is the PBA Hubbard Central/East Open presented by DV8, the title being used locally is the 3rd annual PBA Hubbard Open, presented by The Trumbull County Tourism Bureau.
Bryant said that Ciminelli, Page and Shafer are certain to return.
“They all told me they will be here,” said Bryant, who added: “Page told me, personally, he was coming. I also expect to see Mike Machuga, Brian Kretzer and others from previous years to return.”
A minor change to the weekend itinerary was made, Bryant said.
“We opened the high school pro-am to any junior bowlers,” Bryant said. “The experience by those who participated was so positive that we want all kids to be able to participate.”
Bryant also said the Quaker Steak and Lube in Sharon would be the site of a meet-and-greet from 6-8 p.m. Thursday with Ciminelli, Shafer and Page.