Ranked Recap: Australian Open 2021

By Matt Stevens
April 7, 2021

Porto Joins Elite Company by Claiming Third AO Title

Victorian David Porto produced a dominant bowling performance at Zone Bowling Keon Park on the weekend to capture his third Australian Open (AO) title. A feat only accomplished by two others in the 45-year history of the event.

Known to many as simply ‘Porto’, the left-hander’s AO win is his first ranked event win since the 2018 Australian Masters. The weekend’s performance saw Porto lead from start to finish. The 2021 AO title may end up being one of Porto’s best performances in his career.

“With every tournament I bowl, I go in with a vision of winning. I imagine what it would look like if I won, and I carry that forward with me every day,” explained David. “While I have never gone into a tournament with the expectation of winning, I think having that belief is key in motivating myself. I feel like this is the best I’ve ever bowled (I’ve never led from start to finish), and I believe that that motivation was a key factor in it”. Porto had a weekend to remember. David led the field in qualifying with an 18-game total of 4,144 (avg 230.2). A highlight in qualifying was achieving a perfect 300 game in the 12th game.

The event saw another 300 on day one from young Bendigo based Tyson Key, who sat in 4th place at the end of qualifying. Amazingly another pair of left-handers were not far behind the leader Porto at the conclusion of qualifying. Kegel Qld Open champion Jarrod Langford sat in second place, only 18 pins back (4,126) and Trent Cage (NSW) posting an impressive 4,116. The cut line for the top 24 to progress to match play was Steve Carman with 3,737, avg 207.6.

Stage 1 of finals on Sunday saw the remaining bowlers bowl six games to qualify for the top 12 to progress to match play. Porto would once again lead the charge heading into the final stage of match play.

Paired against Jarrod Langford in the first of eleven match play games, Porto would win 249-192 creating a little breathing space between himself and the King of the North.  Porto would go undefeated in match play, continuing his unbeatable form and cementing the 2021 AO title.

A now three-time winner of the event (2006, 2013 and 2021), Porto joins elite company as one of only three people who has won the illustrious tournament three times. The others being Cara Honeychurch (2001, 2002, and 2003) and Sam Cooley (2016, 2018 and 2019).

“That hasn’t completely sunk in yet,” said Porto. “I honestly don’t feel like I am worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence as a legend and future legend of our game, so it’s an absolute honour to have won my third”.

The AO is known as one of the more gruelling in the country. Eighteen qualifying games to make a top 24 to bowl another six games before cutting to 12 and bowling 11 match play games. A total of 35 games for those progressing through all stages. A marathon that Porto enjoys taking on for several reasons.

“The fact that the Australian Open was the first tournament I won back in 2006, even before I had won a youth title, makes this event even more special to me, and I feel as though that gives me a little more energy in taking it on. The 35-game format has definitely left me a little worse for wear though, as I’m currently unable to fully straighten my arm!” explained Porto.

On top of his mindset entering the tournament, a home-cooked meal fuelled the three-time champion to glory.

“On Thursday night, I whipped up about 4kg of mushroom and spinach risotto. I figured that if I came home to some decent home-cooked meals, I wouldn’t have to resort to either fast food or fixing something up in the kitchen. Happy to share the recipe with anyone interested,” offered Porto.

Porto likes a joke, and that’s what makes him one of the more loveable characters in the bowling community. Following a year cruelled with COVID restrictions in 2020, Porto had his doubts about the 2021 bowling season and how he would compete. The power of teaching and coaching would become the motivating factor for Porto. A group of kids would ultimately change one’s intentions and direction on the lanes in 2021. 

“After the restrictions in Melbourne ended late last year, I had no intention of bowling any tournaments and was just happy with bowling league once per week,” said Porto. “That changed when I went down to watch some juniors that I coach bowl State Championships in mid-Feb. Seeing them bowl so well and even having some make their respective state representative teams somehow made me determined to start training again. So, in having time to reflect, I owe a huge thank you to those kids that I coach. Without them and their amazingly positive attitudes to the sport, I don’t think that I would have put in the effort required to bowl as well as I did on the weekend”.

David Porto has previously represented Australia four times, claiming two Bronze medals from the opportunities. A High School Teacher of Business and Accounting off the lanes, Porto realises his job will make it hard to represent his country again in international competition. The inability to dictate annual leave makes it hard to have time off required for representation. For Porto, it’s a small sacrifice to pay to enjoy a career that he loves.

“Teaching/coaching are my true passions, and I’m continuing to learn and develop as both. I’d love to coach more as I actually enjoy seeing the kids that I coach succeed more than I enjoy my own personal achievements, but time doesn’t really permit with the weekly demands that present as a teacher. Hopefully, at some point in the future, I can expand on what I’m doing in that area,” said Porto.

For now, David Porto goes in the history books as a three-time winner of the prestigious Australian Open. An achievement that only two others have accomplished in the 45-year history of the event. Spurred on by the AO win and the kids he coaches, Porto is excited for what the rest of 2021 will bring.

“I’m especially keen on getting down to Hobart for Nationals, with the Melbourne Cup and NSW Open on the list too”.

The next Open Division ranked event is the Melbourne Tenpin Cup, scheduled for the 12th-13th June 2021 at Oz Tenpin Chirnside Park, Victoria.