by Fred Eisenhammer
WESTMINSTER – The West Coast Senior Tour has four more bowling tournaments to go this season before it concludes 25 years in operation.
So is the WCST ready for another quarter-century of events? “Absolutely,” says Dick Sanders, who has presided over the WCST’s two-and-a-half decades as the tour’s feisty director and owner.
Sanders hasn’t wasted any time getting the 2018 season planned out. In late July, he announced the tour’s schedule for next year with eight events planned for Southern California and four for Nevada.
Still to go this season are tournaments Sept. 2 at Westminster Lanes; Oct. 15 at Linbrook Bowl in Anaheim; Nov. 4 at South Point Bowling Center in Las Vegas; and Dec. 9-10 at Riverside Casino Lanes in Laughlin. Westminster Lanes will be serving as a WCST tournament site for the first time since 2001.
The tournaments in Las Vegas and Laughlin are expected to climax the WCST season. Sanders estimates he’ll get 35-40 entries in Las Vegas and 40-45 in Laughlin.
Overall, Sanders says the WCST entries have held steady this year. “We’ve had about the same as last year,” he said. The tour is open to eligible players 60 and older.
Sanders has maintained the same number of entries despite a disappointing break-up with the TVS Television Network Company. TVS, a syndicator of American sports programming, was expected to tape the finals of WCST tournaments and distribute the content to various TV channels and other media formats. That deal, however, never really got off the ground.
Still, Sanders has kept WCST interest up with several novelties, such as creating a round-robin format for the tournament finals. He’s also changed rules to benefit the 70-and-older segment, whose membership in the tour has been growing.
Additionally, Sanders has been encouraging women bowlers to take part in the tour, allowing women to compete starting at 55 years. One woman who has taken advantage has been United States Bowling Congress Hall-of-Famer Robin Romeo.
Sanders said Romeo has bowled in two WCST tournaments this year. “Robin Romeo is the most wonderful lady I’ve ever known,” said Sanders, whose tour has paid more than $4 million in prize money over more than 400 events. “She’s the classiest person I’ve ever met.” Romeo won the first WCST tour in which she competed – in 2001 at AMF Bowling Square Lanes in Arcadia.
Behind Sanders, the WCST has fought to boost entries since its heyday in the mid- 1990s when the tour averaged more than 100 bowlers a tournament. The tour attracted a staggering 233 players to Ventura for one tournament in 1995, Sanders said.
Those grandiose events were two- and three-day affairs in those years, unlike the primarily one-day events now. The tournaments attracted bowlers from Northern and Southern California and Nevada those years. Now, the tour basically gets its players from the Southland and Nevada.
In any event, Sanders is focused on providing bowling tournaments for senior bowlers – and sees plenty of decades of WCST competition ahead. “If I’m not there, cover it anyway,” he joked.
For more information on this scratch bowling tour, call Sanders at 760-363-1164