Spring Hill's Joe Correa is very selective when it comes to which bowling centers he competes at on the NABI tour, but he has no qualms about competing at Mariner Lanes. That's his home house.
Correa, 36, put his knowledge of lane conditions to good use and picked up $1,000 for winning a NABI tournament Sept. 25-27 at Mariner Lanes. He also received a white championship jacket with black lettering, and free entry into next year's NABI Tournament of Champions at Las Vegas.
"I'd never made the top five before," Correa said. "I was really cold during qualifying and made the semifinals by just one pin. But I got hot in the semis."
His best previous NABI finish was sixth.
Correa rolled games of 256, 202 and 203 to enter the finals as top seed. In the championship match on lanes 21-22, he downed Palm Harbor's Don Wells 222-199 (adjusted scores with handicap and bonus pins). Wells was the No. 5 seed, and had cruised through three matches before facing Correa.
"(Wells and I) were going spare for spare until the sixth frame, when he opened and I doubled," Correa said. "I felt I was in control at that point, but I opened in the ninth.
"He needed to go out to force me to mark, but (Wells) had a spare and seven count on the fill ball. I needed five pins on two balls to win, so I struck and got it over with."
Correa, who owns and manages Long Island Carpet in Spring Hill with his parents and wife, grew up in Lindenhurst, N.Y., and didn't take up bowling until 1984. But he's quite active now and competes in leagues three nights a week, averaging 194 in two of those leagues.
Will the tournament victory and current league success inspire Correa to try to get into a PBA Southern Regional event?
"Not until I'm sure I can average 200 this season," Correa said. "If I can do that, I'll take a look at the regionals, but I have to finish all three leagues at 200 before I might be ready."
There are three more NABI tournaments scheduled in Citrus and Hernando counties before the end of the year, and Correa said he'll probably compete in all of them. Events are scheduled for Manatee Lanes in Crystal River Oct. 24-25 and at Mariner Lanes Nov. 21-22 and Dec. 11-13.
Senior event: Members of the Citrus County Senior Bowlers Club will have their next competition Saturday at 1 p.m. at Beverly Hills Bowl.
It will be a Mixed Singles No-Tap event. Club president Helen Schmitz said 105 entries were received.
Hall of Fame: Who will join Dick Hocking, Bob Simon, Gloria Ogles and Thelma Deugaw in the Citrus County Bowling Council Hall of Fame?
Nominations for induction will close Oct. 15. The aforementioned bowlers were inducted earlier this year, with Ogles and Deugaw entering posthumously. Their names appear on walnut plaques at all five bowling centers in Citrus County.
Council secretary Helen Schmitz said anyone who wants to nominate a bowler as an inductee should stop by the control desk at any bowling center in the county and ask for a nomination form. Fill in the requested information, put the form in the attached envelope, and mail before the Oct. 15 deadline.
The Citrus County Bowling Council will meet Nov. 15 to consider all nominees. An announcement of who will join the present four inductees will be made in February.
Team event future in question? Bowling proprietors in Citrus County will be watching the size of the turnout this weekend to see what the future is for the Late Nite Team Tournament.
Last month, the event had to be canceled at Parkview Lanes in Holder when only one team from Sportsmen's Bowl in Inverness entered. This month's event is scheduled for Sportsmen's Bowl on Saturday at 10:30 p.m.
"We're hoping the tournament will have a better turnout in our house than it had (at Parkview Lanes)," Sportsmen's Bowl manager Mark Lodgek said. "People may have had other places to go and things to do last month. Eight to 10 teams would be a good turnout."
Sportsmen's Bowl is one of four houses in Citrus County that plays host to the Late Nite Team Tournament on a rotating basis. The event was last conducted at Sportsmen's Bowl in mid-June when 10 teams showed up, and Sun Country Chemical won.
There were 11 teams on hand when the tournament was put on at Manatee Lanes in Crystal River in July, but the turnout fell to six teams in August at Steve Neff Lanes in Homosassa Springs. However, two other tournaments (NABI and Senior Mixed No-Tap) were held in Citrus County the same weekend as the Neff Lanes event and might have hurt attendance there.
Five-member teams may register for this month's Late Nite Tournament at Sportsmen's Bowl by calling 726-2873. The entry fee is $100 per team and the winning team is guaranteed $750.
League openings: Steve Neff Lanes has openings for league bowlers most nights, but most notably on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Bowlers are needed for the Wednesday Morning Senior Strikers, which begin this week at 9:30 a.m. The Wednesday Night Men at 7 p.m. also has spots available, and an entire team is sought for the Night Owls that roll each Friday at 9 p.m.
For league information, call 628-3552.