Ben Pettit King of Tenpin Bowling over Queen’s Birthday Weekend


Story courtesy of College Sport Media

Ben Pettit from Hutt International Boys’ School created history in June 2021 when he became the youngest ever winner of the New Zealand Open Men’s Tenpin Bowling Championship. He was 13 years old.


Over Queen’s Birthday weekend in Tauranga he proved his success was no fluke, becoming the first bowler in two decades to successfully defend the title. The field featured ten former National champions. 


“It’s awesome to win again but nothing compares to the euphoria of the first, that’s a feeling I’d never had before,” Pettit said.


“There was a target on my back after last year so there was more pressure this time. We got to see the oil patterns four weeks before the tournament and on paper it was expected to be a high scoring event but it didn’t happen that way.”


After 12 games of qualifying Ben qualified in third equal place for the final, 16 pins off the lead.


The top 16 qualified for the finals, contested over 15 consecutive head-to-head games without a break. That’s over four hours of bowling. Pettit jumped into the lead in the first six games and although the chasing pack caught up at times he held his nerve to prevail by over hundred pins. His highest score in a game was 263 and his average score 209.


“I bowled consistently without setting the world on fire. Some guys were bowling 150 or less and if you can maintain scores of 210 or 220 that gives you a big advantage. 


“I was happy to go into the finals in third place. It removed some pressure, and I wasn’t too far behind.”


Ryan Julian from Auckland finished in second place. The first-year varsity student bowls with a single left hand unlike Pettit whose mastered a double-handed technique. Julian is ranked second in New Zealand and has emerged as a genuine rival for Pettit.


“In January I bowled in Tauranga against Ryan in the Junior Youth Nationals. I got second in the Under 18 and 21 competitions and he got first. We have bowled against each other four times and we’ve had two wins each. 


“Left-handed bowlers are unusual but have an advantage in that they get transition with oil patterns but they properly don’t hook or turn the ball as much.


“I first heard about Ryan on YouTube. He has a channel with over 140,000 followers. It has nothing to do with tenpin bowling. He’s a really likeable guy. We are good mates.”


Pettit’s success in the past 12 months saw him win the Young Sportsman of The Year Award at the Hutt Valley Sports Awards and he is a finalist in the Emerging Sportsperson category at the upcoming Wellington Sports Awards.


Next Thursday he will fly to Helsingborg, Sweden as a part of the New Zealand team to contest the World Under 21 Championships. He is joined by eight other Kiwis who will participate in the following categories: Singles (Four athletes), Doubles (Two Doubles), Team (One Team) and Mixed Team (Two Teams).

“I don’t have any expectations on how I will go but if the team came back with a medal that would be huge. I know who the American bowlers are, but there are about 35 countries competing so it will be an awesome experience.”