As Jessica DeCrescente prepares for one of life’s major milestones, she continues to expand her impressive bowling resume.
A left-hander known for her natural, uncomplicated approach to the game, DeCrescente will marry fellow scratch bowler — and now her regular doubles partner — Lee Aiezza, on May 29.
Besides the wedding plans, it’s been a year of transition for the talented DeCrescente, who gave up her job as a physician’s assistant to take care of her ailing grandmother, who has since passed away. Now, DeCrescente is doing public relations work for her father’s beverage company, DeCrescente Distributing.
“Overall, I would say my game has been sub-par this season,” she said. “Not only have I been very busy with the wedding plans and my grandmother’s illness, but a couple of my bowling balls were off, and I discovered that my span needed to be lengthened on all of them. Once I lengthened the spans and switched to the new interchangeable thumb holes that the pros are using, I have the same feeling in all my bowling balls. It made a big difference.”
DeCrescente was never a big equipment buff and preferred to make slight adjustments with her line and speed.
“I never switched bowling balls before, but I’m more comfortable switching balls now, after Lee helped me get to know my equipment better,” she said. “I used to have just three bowling balls. Now, I’ve got at least six that I bring with me to tournaments.”
When asked to explain why she has been so successful over the last decade, the 29-year-old DeCrescente tries to downplay her abilities.
“I’m left-handed, so I guess I’ve got an advantage there,” she said with a laugh. “But actually, I feel I’m a pretty consistent bowler with a consistent release. I go through my good and bad times, but overall, I’m a pretty good spare shooter. I don’t have a very complicated game. I have a down-and-in shot. Instead of changing the shot, now I can change a ball to get a different reaction.
“Nobody really understands my game. I look down at the foul line, and I really don’t have a mark that I’m aiming at. I’m more of a feel bowler. I can visualize what I want to do, and then do it. That’s the strength of my game.”
Few area women can compare with DeCrescente’s achievements on the lanes. The Mechanicville native won two national collegiate team championships while competing at Morehead State, and was the 2000 Bowling Writers Association of America Collegiate Bowler of the Year.
She returned to the Capital Region to obtain her master’s degree at Albany Medical, and continued to excel on the lanes despite concentrating on her studies. She compiled the highest female bowling average in the country a few years ago and remains a dominant force, averaging a league-best 228 in the DV Greco Insurance Women’s Doubles league at Towne Bowling Academy and a 218 in her other league at Del Lanes Monday nights.
DeCrescente recently won her first Huck Finn Capital Region Bowling Show title, teaming up with Aiezza to win the scratch doubles crown.
“Lee has no choice but to make me his regular partner now,” she said. “I didn’t give him any choice. I’m not going to be his backup. I think we’re a pretty good team.”
DeCrescente, who has 23 perfect games and 18 800 triples, said her most memorable performances on the lanes were back in college.
“I’m proud of winning the national average title, but those two national championships at Morehead State were really something,” she said. “I never had such fun on the lanes. That was the best thing I ever did. I had a little attitude back then. I was an individual bowler, and that’s all I cared about. But going out as part of a team really matured me. You really learn what bowling is all about when you’re part of a winning team like that. You have other people to pick you up, and you all share in the glory.”
DeCrescente learned the game from her mother and picked up some pointers here and there from Kenny Hall and Hugo McGroty.
“I haven’t changed my game all that much down through the years,” she said.
For now, DeCrescente is satisfied with league bowling, competing in a few area scratch tournaments and making a few trips to national events like the Queens Tournament.
“Eventually, I would love to try out for Team USA, but every year they are taking fewer and fewer amateurs,” she said. “I would love to get one of those three or four spots they save for the amateurs. It would be a great opportunity for me.
“But I’m planning on starting a family soon, and bowling, at least tournament bowling, will take a back burner to that.”
STRIKES & SPARES
* The following were elected to three-year terms at the Schenectady-Scotia USBC Women’s Bowling Association annual membership meeting: Millie Kielmann, president; Lisa Rathbun-Read, Lena Becker, Shirley Burgess and Deb Truelove, board of directors.
* Spare Time Clifton Park will host the Empire State Junior Gold Qualifier April 18 at 11 a.m. At stake will be a berth in the Junior Gold Nationals. Entry fee is $55. There is a $5 processing fee for walk-ins. There will be male and female divisions. Bowlers will roll six games, moving pairs every game. Call tournament director Chris Martinek at 459-7806 or 859-5691 for more information.
* Christopher Hanson, a freshman at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School, rolled his first 900 series, a 257-908, in the Burnt Hills Saturday Classic.
* Sportsman’s Adult/Child Tournament will be held April 10 at 1 p.m. and April 11 at 10 a.m. Entry fee is $14 per team. Divisions will be Class A (350 team average and above), Class B (301-349 average) and Class C (300 and under). One in five teams will receive trophies.
* Andrew Mank, 22, of Belleville, Ill., became the 15th bowler to roll a USBC-approved 900 series last week.
* The final scratch singles event of the season for the “Capital Region Bowling Show” will have have qualifiers at 3 p.m. on Saturday at Del Lanes and at 5 p.m. Sunday at Spare Time Clifton Park. Only bowlers with three tournament credits are eligible for the season-ending Jack Scaccia Sr. Memorial Tournament.
* Two new tournaments have been added to the Huck Finn schedule. There will be a Tournament of Champions at Town ‘n Country Lanes immediately after the live TV finals of the Jack Scaccia Sr. Memorial on May 2. Entry fee is $55. There will be one squad, with a five-game qualifier. The top four advance to the stepladder finals to be taped for TV that night. On May 1, there will be a non-winners tournament at Uncle Sam Lanes in Troy. Entry fee is $20, and there will be three qualifying squads: 9:30 a.m., 10:45 a.m. and noon. Special prizes from Huck Finn’s Warehouse will be available for those who enter the first squad. Call Jeff Segel at 439-7629 for more information.
* Vitalo Classic league franchises are available for the 2010-11 season. The league bowls Saturday nights at 6:15 at Sportsman’s Bowl. For more information, call league secretary Dave Mennillo Jr. at 382-5463.
* There will be a second 2001 Central Insurance Team Baker Challenge at Redwood Lanes on Saturday. Entry fee will be $125 per five-person team. One in six teams will cash. Top prize will be $1,000 for the top handicap team and $500 for the top scratch team, based on 24 entries. The tournament will consist of 12 games in the Baker format, where each bowler only bowls two frames. Call 869-3581 for more information.
* The annual Schenectady-Scotia Women’s Bowling Association City Championship will be held at Boulevard Bowl April 26-30 and May 4-7. Entry forms were sent to each league secretary. If you did not receive your envelope, contact Anne Torak at 356-3281.
* Towne Bowling Academy will conduct a Summer PBA Doubles league beginning April 21 at 6:30 p.m. The league will run 10 weeks. The average cap will be 460 per team. Entry fee is $20 per week. There will be five different PBA patterns used. An organizational meeting will be held April 14 at 7 p.m. For more information, call 355-3939 or e-mail Towne [email protected].
* The Capital District Youth Scholarship Tour Kickoff Tournament will be held May 15 at Town ‘n Country Lanes. Entry fee is $25. Qualifying will consist of four games, with one in three bowlers advancing to the semifinals, where they will bowl three match games. The top four bowlers then advance to a stepladder final. Call 393-8296 for more information.
* Towne Bowling Academy will hold a Saturday Sport Classic next season with three-person teams competing on four challenging lane patterns. The league will bowl for 28 weeks and is limited to the first eight teams that register. Entry fee will be $23. Call 355-3939 for more information.
* Albany’s Chris Fedden made the semifinals of the PBA East Region Rossi Lanes Open in Elmira and earned $675. Karl Wolf (Saratoga Springs) and Bob Kavanaugh (Clifton Park) took home checks for $500, while Bob Faragon (Schenectady) finished 20th and earned a check for $400.
* The Schenectady League is looking for four-man teams for the 2010-11 season. The league bowls Monday nights at 6:20 p.m. at Rolling Greens in Scotia. The season runs 28 weeks. Call Cliff Ruth at 847-8089 or Rolling Greens at 381-4848.
* The 15th annual Blizzard Bowl will be idle this weekend, but returns April 11 with an 11:45 a.m. squad. Entry fee is $60 per four-person team, with optional doubles and singles divisions available. Call 374-4171 for reservations.
* The final regular-season event on the Western Diner Northern Bowlers Association schedule will be at Spare Time Clifton Park April 11 at 9:30 a.m. The season-ending Bob Guild Memorial Championship will be held April 18 at Del Lanes.
* The Schenectady Bowling Association’s City Championship will continue Saturday with a squad at 2 p.m. at Sportsman’s Bowl. There will be no bowling on Sunday.
* Sportsman’s Bowl will conduct a 10-week PBA Experience league beginning May 13 at 7 p.m. Entry fee is $10 per week. Call Sportsman’s at 355-4330 for more information.