Hart of a Champion: Emily’s Rapid Tenpin Bowling Rise

By Matt Stevens
October 11, 2023

Meet Emily 👋

There is a strong chance this may not be the first time you have heard the name Emily Hart.

The last few years have been glittered with mentions and images of Emily’s infectious smile lifting a trophy or two at ranked events. Or, maybe it was as the youngest bowler at the inaugural Tenpin Premier League? Or maybe it was this year when she became the second Australian to win a silver medal at a girl’s singles event at an Asian Junior Championship?

No matter where you may have seen her, Emily has been heavily involved in the sport of Tenpin Bowling since she was little, and her achievements are the cream on the top of a long, inspiring journey in the sport.

A league bowler at Bowland Salisbury, Emily has progressed through the Tenpin Bowling Australia pathway at a rapid rate. As is the case with most success stories, the journey has not been without its challenges. Yet, Emily has remained patient and committed on her path to becoming one of the many Australian junior rising stars in Tenpin Bowling.

“I started bowling at the age of four with one of my friends from kindergarten,” shared Emily on her journey commencement.

“I began bowling in a regular junior league on a Monday night, I got my own bowling ball, which was a Tropical Breeze, and then started receiving coaching.

“Shortly after that, I was bowling in the state championships and junior circuits around South Australia”, explained Emily.

Keen to expand her involvement in the sport, Emily began attending the Australian Junior National Championships and has been a regular since she was nine years old. Slowly but surely, Emily was hooked on the sport, and her rapid rise through the pathway began to take shape.

Stepping Stones: Emily Hart with her finalist medallion from the 2016 Junior Restricted Cup

“My first National Junior Championships was in 2016 and 2017 where I not only bowled 50 games in the championships in 2017, but I bowled 14 of the 18 games of President’s Shield and now have logged 88 games in the event”.

Jamie Phelan with a young Emily Hart at the 2017 National Junior Championships

Progression in the pathway continued as she travelled around Australia for Junior, Youth and Adult tournaments. The combination of regular league participation, one-on-one coaching and tournament play saw rapid development in her game.

“I improved my shot after taking advice from many people”, explained Emily. “I could now change and adjust to a condition when needed, even if I’m not 100% comfortable”.

Several podium finishes in the 2019 tournament season saw Emily invited to join Tenpin Bowling Australia’s National Training Squad (NTS). Things began to crystalise at only 13 years old, with opportunities appearing everywhere.

A forced pause in 2020 due to COVID was not ideal timing as the young South Australian began to branch out her involvement in the sport. Now a part of the NTS, Emily focussed on what was in her control and remained committed to improving in any way she could.

“I have made some amazing friends on my journey, and I believe that I have become a better bowler through all the experiences that have come with being an NTS bowler,” said Emily.

The year was 2021, and following the forced break, Emily took all her learnings from countless Zoom meetings and educational resources and applied it to her tournament season, where she experienced a break-out year.

Claiming back-to-back South Australian Open Junior Master Champion titles, Emily also became victorious in the SA Youth Masters, winning her first youth event title. Runners-up at the QLD Junior Cup, then named an All-Star with first place in the All-Events race at the President’s Shield at the Nationals, Emily was on a roll.

2021: Runner-up at the Queensland Junior Cup

The year became even better when Emily claimed the Australian Junior Masters title and second in the TBA21 Masters. The incredible year topped off with being awarded the Junior Ranked Bowler of the Year.

The following year, in 2022, Emily continued her hot form, winning her third straight SA Junior Masters title, runners up at both the Werribee Youth Cup, QLD Junior Cup, and Sydney Junior Cup; the accolades began to draw attention with Emily awarded South Australia’s Female Bowler of the Year and Junior bowler of the year.

The national body acknowledged the long list of achievements and invited Emily to participate in the inaugural Tenpin Premier League (TPL). Emily would be the youngest bowler on the roster yet didn’t look out of place rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest names in the sport by finishing in 8th place of the 32 in her first TPL event, making a television show.

“It was an amazing experience bowling alongside some of Australia’s best athletes,” said Emily. “Having never spoken or bowled against some of them to bowl against them at a high level and being on TV was a lifetime experience that I will never forget”.

Emily competes in the inaugural Tenpin Premier League event – the Wodonga Classic

Now 17 years old in 2023, the year has been busy for the junior from Adelaide, South Australia.

Winning the QLD Junior Cup and placing in the top ten of several junior and youth events, Emily was selected for not one but two Australian teams. Emily became one of three bowlers selected and competed in the Asian Youth and Asian Junior Tenpin Bowling Championships.

At the Asian Youth Championships, it was a case of near misses for the South Australian, but Emily performed superbly. Narrowly missing out on a medal in the girl’s singles event, finishing in 4th place, a mere four pins from fellow Australian Hannah Clark, who clinched the bronze medal.

Hart would finish just outside the top 16 cut line in the All-Events to finish in 17th place. Still, the experience would support Hart’s quest at the Asian Junior event when bowling against those her age.

“Being able to compete in the Asian Youth contributed massively toward my performance at Asian Junior”, explained Hart. “Just missing a medal at Asian Youth, I felt my stress levels were much lower at Asian Junior, which allowed me to be more comfortable”.

Heading into Singapore, Emily was calm. Relaxed in the sense that she had already been to an Asian Championship for the ages above. It didn’t take long for Emily to have an impact.

Entering the first Championships event, Emily bowled incredibly in the girl’s singles event, averaging 207.17 in her six games, including an event high of 264 in the sixth and final game.

Emily had done it.

Emily Hart was now a silver medallist at an Asian Junior Tenpin Bowling Championship.

“It didn’t feel real”, explained Emily.

“Once completing my last game and knowing I was in medal position was crazy. My emotions were uncontrollable, I just couldn’t stop crying with excitement.

“As soon as I finished my games and released, I rang my mum with so much excitement and shock that I would be receiving a silver medal”, added Emily.

Winners are Grinners – Emily wins silver at the Girl’s Singles Event at the 22nd Asian Junior Championship in Singapore

The silver medal was Australia’s first in a girl’s singles event since 2017, when Emily Johnston achieved the same feat in Malaysia. Amazingly, the two girls are the only two Australians to win silver medals in a girl’s singles event in the history of the Championships and two of four who have won medals (two winning bronze medals).

“Receiving my medal and having my teammates by my side was an incredible experience that will never be forgotten”, shared Emily.

With a commendable 5th-place finish in the Doubles with Shanae Key and a 6th in the Girl’s teams event, Emily qualified for the masters, finishing in 8th position in the All-Events race. Emily would finish in 7th position on the master’s to close the book on her Asian Junior Championships campaign.

Team Australia celebrates Emily’s silver medal

Not one to remain complacent, Emily has big goals to continue growth in the sport and is already clear on her post-school pursuits.

“I want to move overseas to complete my studies in America on a nursing scholarship,” explained Emily. “Once I complete my studies, I want to travel the world in the PWBA”.

Always grateful for the support she has received, Emily was quick to shout out some of the many names who have helped her along her Tenpin Bowling journey so far.

“Bob Pryor, Mick Phelan, Jaimie Lee Spiller, Matt Krinis, Leon Brady, Robert Alexander, Adam Sims for all their support and training they have provided me” started Emily. “Also, a shoutout to Lorraine Brady, Adam Spencer, Crystal Hart, Troy Hart and Belinda Sims for all the support and encouragement on and off the lanes”.

The scary part of Emily’s story?

At 17 years old, 2024 will see her return as a junior bowler. Emily’s future seems limitless. As we follow her promising career, one can’t help but feel excited about what’s next for this young powerhouse.