Archive for August, 2009

Beijing Chaoyang 朝阳 tennis club in New York

Li Qiang their neat t-shirt

We hosted the Chaoyang Tennis Association 北京朝阳网球协会 from Beijing today at Roosevelt Island Racquet Club. Chaoyang is quasi governmental club, the players’ trip is paid for by the club or the government (not sure if I got this right..). The Sunday game was arranged by the USTA, United States Tennis Association. About week or two ago, USTA reached out to Bill, the 4.0 captain asking if any of the Chinese clubs/players would like to play with them .. so we got involved. USTA reserved and paid two courts at the Island fm 10-12 noon.

The arrangement leading up to the day was bit confusing. I have expressed interest to meet/play with the BJ team since, well they’re from my hometown. But I wasn’t on the list. When I questioned it, the organizer shot back a nasty e-mail to the group ..


can you tell any of these names are females?








Well, I haven’t seen this Beijing list before and now that I’ve seen it I couldn’t tell their gender .. but I did see the organizer put two our girls down for 2.5 .. hence I asked.

4 some

What did I ever do to this organizer to deserve being scolded in public? I don’t like the feel of it. Tennis is just a game, should be fun and enjoyable. Few in the group seem to have more spare time on hand, like to play sissy and politics. Can we all act like A MAN, have bit more tolerance? As if Irene wears pants here.

It’s just so amusing, few in the group likes to make a small match-fire into an inferno then come in as a hero or the problem solver, it doesn’t give the person more right to lay claim on this club. This club belongs to everyone. No one should try to stronghold it as a personal guild.

Then the last e-mail informing us that Beijing would only have 6 players on Sunday so our list scaled down to 6 players as well. I was not on the rotation. I understand. No problem. I just wished the organizer would mention if we could go to meet them regardless on the playing list. There was none.

The night before, one of the players I contacted earlier for car-pooling said he’ll pick me up at 9:10am the follow day.

after a gameDidn’t he know he’s no longer needed?

He was being cut as well. When I asked him, he paused. Either he or other players received other instructions or they just decided to go.

If it’s the former, it proved the organizer in deed playing politics here. If it’s the later, it shows poor organizing skill, very confusing.

I decided to go knowing well I was not invited and unwelcome.

My intention was to check out my hometown players and also being from the same city that would make them feel more comfortable. It’s beyond me that the organizer failed to see eye to eye with me.

As it turned out, the Beijing team sent more than a dozen.

Our group had more than a dozen showed up.

The CatsNY got two more courts to accommodate the mass.

Cheers .. the group came armed with a journalist Tennis World Magazine fm BeijingI have always favored an open forum (vs e-mail) for group activities where it’s easier to keep truck of what’s up and been done (with polling feature), that way can also reduce e-mail traffic. Of course, the big downside, the organizer would obviously lose ‘control’, the ability to manipulate.

Playing tennis in China is expensive, still considered a luxury sport, as with golf – the green opium.

The Beijing tennis group is very interesting.

The licensing of NRTP.

I was dumbfounded to hear a tennis rating could be licensed. The BJ players told me that as an individual they didn’t pay to be rated, but the club paid. The USTA even sent a representative to Beijing to do the rating.

“Was there training involved?” I wondered.

They didn’t know.

“Was the person white?”

“Yes. She was.”

“Does she speak Chinese?”

“No .. “ but there was an interpreter.

Why can’t the Chaoyang club read the description and rate the players themselves? Can’t they find a knowledgeable player to do so?

after lunch .. fr left: couple ... father and daughterA down payment for a future alliance?? But tennis being so international, USTA certainly doesn’t represent the world of tennis. It’s only one of few major components. There are Wimbledon and Roland Garros. .. with the Aussie in the distance.

One of the members mentioned that the Chaoyang club did consider and decided to reach out to the Americans. The USTA logo is prominently displayed on their site.

I didn’t have complete score but BJ won most matches. Few players ..

Li Qiang 李强 (top .. serving) is a 46-year old PhD candidate at Beijing Athletic Academy, 北京体育学院. He works at Normal University, my mom’s Alma mater. His path to tennis was during his teaching years at Dongbei Nongye Daxue 东北农业大学 Northeast Agriculture University where he was a martial art master, or kung-fu master. When school wanted to start tennis program, they turned to him who knew nothing about Love 40. With innate athletic ability, he learned the game then taught. He was HelongJiang Provincial single champion.

This couple (pic above .. husband to my right wife to my left) work at Beihang 北航, 北京航空学院 Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics. The wife visited Moscow in 1992 after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and brought back two tennis racquets. They both plagued into the sport, and primarily play at Beihang where they work and live.

A sign and sight in New York

The PhD team (to my left .. Dad and his girl). Dr. Dad is professor at Beihang’s Research Center for Condensed Physics and Materials Physics – phew .. may I get my PhD degree now ?? after I copied down this long string of alien stuff from his business card :). Dr. Daughter is a life cycle analyst, taking the title of Director at the Dairy Management Inc. in Chicago. She doesn’t play but came down to see dad for a few days.

Wang Jihong is the correspondent. Yes, the BJ club came armed with a 26-year old journalist who writes for Tennis World Magazine.


Unfortunately I didn’t get to talk to everyone on the Beijing delegate.

We filled three tables at East Buffet in Elmhurst for lunch. It happened the organizer sat at our table who hardly said anything throughout the meal. Speaking the same dialect doesn’t mean you’ll have common language.

This McDonald ad was opposite to the East Manor Restaurant in Elmhurst, New York. Not Beijing .. mind you.

More pics on FB
More trouble follows

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Poorly disguised Nash joins Beijing pick-up game

nashThis is pretty cute ..

Suns guard Steve Nash showed up in disguise at a Beijing pick-up game over the weekend, hoping to shoot some hoops incognito. Unfortunately, he forgot his fake mustache and monocle.

Nash is in China for the week doing promotional and charity work. After a few three-on-three half-court games with local regulars, Captain Canada crossed over to the nearby soccer pitch to play a little footy.

Check out more photos here.

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Hu Na 胡娜 or 胡闹

On the way to meet the Beijing club yesterday, the four of us talked about Chinese tennis players. One of them asked if we still remember Hu Na.

So funny. I thought about her too recently.

According to this friend who’s husband learned his tennis while attending Zhongshan University in Guangdong Province, from Hu’s coach.

Apparently after the asylum episode, the coach was being reprimanded, demoted from coaching the national team. .. .. But he still had a job 🙂

My gut feeling was that she harbored no political ambition at all, rather than economical one. Golfer and I jokingly called her 胡闹 hu’nao run wild; be mischievous.

Later that morning, we met up with a club traveling from Beijing to New York. One of the members said he met Hu Na few times in Beijing. That she’s coaching in Taiwan.
“Cashing on her fame or she’s indeed a good coach?” I wondered.
It seemed all the old grudges had forgotten, or she wrote multiple repenting letters like that movie starlet Bai Ling of Red Corner fame?
This delegate member (who asked not to be identified) denied that Chinese government had demoted the coach.
“Is she married? Any children? .. .. how does she like Taiwan .. Moving back to China eventually? .. ”
The member demurred, “I didn’t ask .. that’s too personal .. ”

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Why do I have to change my camera ..

Casio Exilim EX-S5, 10 mg, $130 ~ . ~ Nikon CoolPix S630, $218

The 4th Casio digital camera I purchased is Exilim EX-S5 with 3x optical zoom (picture above, left). I ran into Larry at the US Open who just purchased his Nikon Coolpix S630 (right). His last camera got stolen.

hi .. dude ..
The EX-S5 is slow – the shutter speed.
The flash tends to over bright the picture

The battery/SD card door sleds open easily without intend. Actually Casio has improved over the years because the previous ones’ battery slot had no guard like the later models. I lost my second Casio’s (after breaking the screen/LCD I still managed to use it) battery while riding for the MS Tour in the city.

Look at the pictures above .. my decision to dump the Casio is wise, isn’t it?

.. my g/f thinks I’m abnormal .. to prove that I’m a third sex, a man who wears pants .. neither gay or lesbian, so here I found one good looking dude – a GQ model? to show off, with Larry’s lens .. hi dude, look my way pleeeaaassse?

.. .. and I think she likes tennis ..
.. .. maybe just a little ..

does she like tennis?
tattoo on the leg

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Donald Young

I’ve seen him few years ago, in SI. The large picture was taken from above while he was about to strike out a powerful serve. It captured the motion beautifully, as well as the greenish eye color. Really cool.

“Please do better than James Blake.” I remembered thinking to myself.

Ph of .. fill in the blankAfter the BBQ, I returned to collect Pumpkin at USTA. We agreed to see one more match. Donald it is.

We were waiting for the break to enter the court. One young Asian boy holding the huge fizzle ball elbowed his way to the front while his dad looked on.

The Donald won the game in 2 sets.

I went down to take a picture, hoping for a frontal. Couldn’t forget his eyes.

The Asian boy was down there too. I heard the father telling him in Chinese

“Get his signature. He’ll be a star.”

I laughed to myself.

At age 20? Not likely.

I wished he were in top 5.

USA is really lacking behind.

Where is the next generation of players?

Couple of good looking players .. Ksenia Lykina of Russia in blue trim, and Andrea Hlavackova of Cze in one piece and the phantom of … fill in the blank 🙂

Ksenia Lykina 0CIMG8340

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The qualifying rounds at US Open 2009

0CIMG8275 0CIMG8289 0CIMG8285 0CIMG8290

Kai-Chen Chang 張凱貞 in black skirt of Taiwan vs Sharon Fichman, in black top of Canada.

Chang was leading 5:1 when we arrived. Then she lost that set in tie break. Second set she was 3:0 when I returned. Quickly it became 3:3. Somehow she held her ground and won. I left for a BBQ before she finally took the match at 6:1 in 3rd set.

Sharon looked to her coach all the time, finally the coach left.
Be independent girl. You’ve got to figure out a way to handle the situation .. to win.
The guy who dispensed opinion of the Canadian said that the top 100 can make a comfortable living.
I remembered Tony said 50. Guess each one’s standard of living differs.

Zhang Shuai was about to take the Court 8. Pumpkin didn’t want to mingle with us, so she stayed, reporting Zhang’s match .. who lost 6:2 and 6:3.

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Zhang Shuai 1989 张帅

Zhang Shuai (21 January 1989) is from Tianjin, ranked 6th in China in 2008. She’s playing Irina Buryachok (07/05/1986) of Ukraine on court 17 at 2009 US Open, Qualifying Round on Wednesday August 26, 2009. She had bit trouble closing out the first set .. but nevertheless won in two sets.

She looks like a very promising player, has right physique; very easy on the eye.
a sweet girlChinese girls are definitely making an inroad in tennis.
Any one still remembers Hu Na 胡娜 who requested political asylum in the USA in 1983 now settled in Taipei? Taiwan? I’m skeptical of people from China end up in Taiwan – most likely they can’t make it in the open world.

Zhang and Buryachok’s match was very enjoyable, both are sleek and pretty, and don’t grunt. We spotted Irina miles away. Her outfit is striking, she wore them well. They traded many long rallies, corner to corner. Many seemingly impossible shots only followed by stunning returns. Up close and personal, those girls hit so hard and accurate. Pumpkin loves Zhang’s backhand.
All baseline.
Bit boring.
I MISS Boris Becker, Patrick Rafter, Pete Sampras ..

Wondering if Zhang Shuai has changed her name?
Huang Shuai (the school girl who rebelled against her teacher during the Cultural Revolution) was the name she was born with ..
What about Peng Shuai (born in 1986)?
A quick serve game from Zhang below..

I went with Pumpkin plus few more friends and kids. Ran into countless buddies. Sandy told me ..

“I figure it out, your daughter looks like Mu Lan.

The couple who sat next to me,

“She’s your daughter?” the wife pointed to Zhang Shuai.

kids .. .. Then few moments later, Pumpkin reappeared across the court, sat down with other kids.

“That must be your daughter.” The wife said triumphantly.

ha ha ha ..

This couple’s daughter who’s working now played tennis in high school, and had reached the national level.
“Did she get scholarship?” I asked, thinking of the Lady Red last weekend.
“No.” The Ivies do not dole out athletic scholarships.
“Where did she go?”
The wife added that it required 3 hours of practice daily. “No money no play.”
She told her daughter .. the mothers 🙂

The weather was nice. The SheaCitiField commuter parking lot, that was free during the qualifying round in the past is now charging $18. The commuter rate now is $4 (used to be $3 for many many years) and has to be in before 9am. Used to be 10am on a game day. The parking lot E is still free. There is a miniature golf attracting many spectators who got bored with tennis overdoes.

smack .. eyes on the ball ..

After the game’s over, Zhang is patient with autography seekers as well as photo requests. One man in his 30 or possible 40s asked,
“你府上是那里?” Where are you from.
She paused, because the usage is kind of old, deferential to a senior.
“From Tianjin.”
Irene’s thinking: man, get hold of yourself.

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An incestuous affair

2007 2008 2008 2009

The current and last two years’ of t-shirts sporting by Mr. Gorgeous .. 2007’s very striking; 2008’s theme was Roland Garros because they went to the French Open that May.

~ . ~

Day 2 at Tatang’s Memorial Cup 2009 by Metro Tennis Club of New York, Inc. at Cunningham Park.

It rained again, so we started late, at around 10:30am. As Ernie promised, there were 8 mixed doubles teams on the horizon. Our first match on Sunday (Aug 23) was the quarter final, having played the first match yesterday.

girls ruleOur opponents were 16 years old girl with her uncle, an older gent. We won 8:1. I double faulted once, due to my own amusement. Sorry, it wasn’t a close match, so my mind was wondering around. The girl was very athletic, retrieved a good lob from me down to her left corner and amazingly lobbed back cross-court. I had sort of given up that point, and running toward right. Simon was upset and yelled at me.

When I went to hang out with the girls after the match, few of them were talking … about me.

“Irene, you should never let your partner treat you like that.”

“??” Irene frown.

“I won’t.” Another added.

“Don’t let him call you stupid.”

“No he didn’t.” I protested. Stupid isn’t in Simon’s dictionary nor features in his vocabulary.

“Yes he did. We all heard.”

Either I’m used to the abuse or deaf to the unflattering compliment.

“I’ve been called worse.” I joked, but the ladies didn’t find that aaamusing.

What’s wrong with me?!

Errrhhhh … whatever.

I know I like a talking partner (even I write I in doubles game a lot b/c all my partners are great .. ), who tells me what to do since I don’t really know what I am doing, on court. Running like wild rabbit. Playing singles? ha ha ha .. that’s funny.

the sister actWe lost our next match 8:6, the semi final against two youngsters, she’s on St. Johns’ team (about 3.5 .. kind of low, don’t you think?) and her boy friend is a solid 5.0 – lethal, powerful, fast, clean and precise. Ya, I heard you, hit to the girl but he’s too speedy who covered the entire court. Few times she was at net and didn’t even know where the ball was, when he would hit around her. Amazing.

Out of courtesy, he never once hit to me with a deadly force when I was at net but served up plenty aces. He toyed with us from the get go then dropped his façade when we led 5:3. I held serve, wasn’t a bit nervous and didn’t double fault – I should try to play like that all the time! But he was just too good for us.

The two seemed enjoying each other very much. They giggled and talked; fist-pumped and finger-pumped. Their affection would fill the five courts there. Young love.

the woman in redThe story about The Woman in Red:

The two young ladies are sisters from a small Ohio town. Lady Red is attending St. Johns (and the other Rutgers) who discovered this university from the Internet. She said there wasn’t any schools near home she liked.

They changed outfits few times during the day. The pic above (men in black) was when they were playing for the 3.5 semi final against two girls on the USTA Manhattan team. The 3.5 Ladies Manhattan (captained by Harris) also is going to Tucson this October, having won 5:0 at Syracuse early this month. The two pairs played very well but when the match gone into tiebreak, both side became nervous, mooning and nursing the ball and messing up the scores. So a linesman/referee (to the right in pic) was dispatched.

Cool sneakers
When the girls again got into an argument the audience asked the referee what he’s doing there. He shouted back,

“They didn’t tell me that I should call the lines.”

All the people there (quite a few were just watching) were knowledgeable tennis fanatics and they’re fair and friendly, they wanted a fine game.

“Are you on St. Johns team?” Having seen the St. Johns’ boys played yesterday, the difference is too dramatic. The sisters are on the same level, about 3.5.

“Yes I am. .. I practice few hours a day.” Lady Red replied.


in action ... look at the cheering squad “Are you on a scholarship?” I asked.

Explaination: the question was just as it is, because long time ago, Pumpkin’s first coach had said tennis scholarship in Division III’s easy to come by. I know Division III, but I don’t know if St. Johns’ Div I or II or III. I knew it has good basketball team.

Lady Red paused a few second, then replied,

“Yes, I’m on scholarship BUT for academic. I’m science major.”

IF she didn’t pause, I would not have thought otherwise, nor feel compiled to explain myself here.

Both girls are very likable, reminds me of the Venus and Serena Williams. Lady Red actaully looks like Serena. No? Oh well ..

Lady Chablis
Lady Red entered singles and both of them into the mixed too on Sunday. They came with their boy friends for the second day. Funny, when I saw them on Saturday, my first thought was, ..

“Are they hustlers?”

Anyway, let’s talk about fashion. Lady Red’s single opponent was in an identical outfit who instantly reminded me of Lady Chablis in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Just an impression.

Lady Red won.

Good tactics.
trophy presentationThe trophy presentation: they don’t have ceremony after the conclusion of the final match but present the winner and runner up cups prior to the match: both teams seem happy and hopeful, all smiles. IF the cups were present after the match, the loser(s) are likely to be sour faced.

After our loss, we chatted briefly before they left the court first. Lady Red volunteered the info that she ranked 3.0 and he ranked 3.5 by USTA.

Hmmmmm .. that’s bit 不打自招 make a confession without duress, or 做贼心虚 have a guilty conscience. 真是 此地无银三百两 No 300 taels of silver buried here (the sign put up by the man in the folk tale over the place where he had hidden some money) – protest one’s innocence too much.

Then Simon and I lingered little, talked about our match. As we were talking, next match came up: an older Filipino couple vs Lady Red’s sis and her b/f. The couple came to us directly and said,

sitting pretty .. who's prettier .. the girl or the flowers?“I’ve complained to Ernie. You should too. He doesn’t belong here.”

I wasn’t going to complain. One it sounded like sour grape. Two what was done has been done. Take it like a man. I might not as a good player as I want to be but I view myself a very decent and fair sportsman. Three the youngsters were likeable and four, every one saw it in plain sight .. it’s organizers’ problem to make it fairer next time around.

a trophy husbandAfter we left court, many spectators padded my shoulder, saying ..

“You played well .. ..”

So Irene must looked like a total loser out there 🙂 .. like the ugliest girl always wounds up winning the Miss Friendship in a beauty pageant.

One guy even asked us ..

“Are you 8.0?”

a fanSimon lost his cool and talked to Ernie, he played his heart out. Ernie said he would only award them the trophy not the cash prize.

Hmmmm .. I don’t know about that. He might just trying to pacify us. Needn’t.

Give kids the $$ and tell them be honest next time around.

Claiming USTA ranking is laughable. There is fairness that we all value.

a king
The Manhattan team girls:
During their loss to the sisters, one of them was fanning herself throughout the match with the t-shirt like a guy. At first, I thought a bee or fly got into her t-shirt.

As soon as they came off the court after the match, one of the girls came to the group and complained about her partner.

“I have to baby sit her all the time ..

She always has some excuse, like today, she has to go to USTA after the match .. has to rush to elsewhere ..

She said she’s hot .. .. “

So that’s why she was fanning. Sounded so spoiled only she didn’t looked the part.

Team work. Team spirit. Team .. be like a man perhaps? At least acts like an adult? I’ve never heard my teenage daughter complains about hot when she has to play.

a queen
The pair played well from get go but melted when the score got close.

Later the fanning girl came and asked us if we saw her undie while she flipping her t-shirt up and down.

“Underwear .. not sure but we all saw your six pack ab ..” one of the girl replied.

The 3.5 Lady Team as whole’s smart to enter the tourney, getting ready for the National in October – playing with strangers and under the pressure. But I don’t know how they map out a partnership for doubles. Those two clearly don’t care for each other.

By the time we left, I saw the bickering pair was sitting side-by-side, eating dinner and watching the games.
the little tiger

About the title: don’t take any offense, it means very family orientated, a big happy family where every one knows your name. I hope under the sunny surface, there isn’t any internal strife.

There were many yongsters playing, like this cute 11 years old boy (he’s on the small side) entered the main draw, playing with big people while others, totally fluent in match, played among themselves.

Many of them travel together, to Montreal, Las Vegas, CA, Florida, Paris .. playing tennis with other Filipino groups. I suggested they invite Simon next time.

the tigerThey asked,

“Does he drink?”

Boy, not sure if Simon drinks!

The 16-year girl’s mom came to chat with me few hours late. She herself is a 4.5 player and had gone to National twice. She mentioned that there is lot of politics in Metro tennis, and the Long Island team is far better, just tennis. Which is the way suppose to be, leave the bickering and reprisal at home. The only scores that needed to be settled is the 40 Love.

Tattoo .. cool guy and rice cooker .. We Asians don’t like riceI leave the food to the last this time. Although they only advertise the breakfast and lunch, but the food was non-stop at the site. The family had a memorial on Saturday evening and they provided Chinese take out (we left after noon when there wasn’t any mixed doubles team in sight) to those remained. On Sunday, again, they served the whole cracking pig, and many other delicious stuff. I particularly enjoyed the sesame red bean ball. They didn’t provide drink.

Ernie said the entrance fee only covered part of the cost.

“My sister who’s doctor donates the food and my brother-in-law who’s also a doctor donates the prizes.”

It’s really a nice way to honor their Tatang, family unity and done in style.

0CIMG7899 Have you ever wondered what’s going on inside of your food ..

As we were leaving for home at dusk, Pumpkin called, asking how we did.

“Mom, did you win?”

“No .. ” Then a huge guilt surged.

The common Alzheimer’s disease affecting people, in general 65+ .. however, Irene has it since her 30s. I suddenly remembered why I shunned tourney and leagues:

I didn’t have the time.

For two days, I neglect my children and family, lounging in a park, waiting for my next match. Sure I read my Times but I felt at fault, double fault.

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According to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, it takes an average U.S. citizen a shade under four years to earn $100,000. Alex Rodriguez does it in six pitches.

New York Yankees Alex Rodriquez watches his off the wall single in the fifth inning against the Boston Red Sox during their baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Friday Aug. 21, 2009.

Here’s how long it takes several star athletes to make approximately $100,000, based on the amount of money they’ve earned this season.

Alex Rodriguez, MLB 6 pitches
Ben Roethlisberger, NFL* 4 snaps
Tiger Woods, golf 11 holes
LeBron James, NBA* 21 minutes
Roger Federer, tennis 28 games
Tony Stewart, Nascar 125 laps
Norm Duke, bowling* 2,360 frames
*last full season

Mr. Rodriguez has seen 1,593 pitches entering Monday’s game, so after prorating his $33 million salary, he earns roughly $15,856 every time he sees a pitch. But the Yankees’ third baseman doesn’t necessarily do the least amount of work in sports to pull down $100,000.

Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers may have him beat. If you include his signing bonus, Mr. Roethlisberger brought in 100 grand for every 3.6 snaps he took in 2008 (many of which were hand-offs). But at least he helped his team win a Super Bowl. Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James played 3,054 minutes in the 2008-09 regular season and made $100,000 every time he passed the 21.2 mark.

Despite not winning a major this year, Tiger Woods has held his own, too. He’s made roughly $100,000 for every 11.2 holes he’s played. That’s also good for $2,329 each time he’s swung a club. Of the sports elite, Nascar’s Tony Stewart may have to work the most to pay his bills-needing to navigate the oval 124.8 times to make $100,000. But he’s still better off than those trying to bowl for a living. Norm Duke, the 2008-09 money leader of the Professional Bowlers Association, has earned much closer to the average U.S. citizen. He needed to roll 2,360 frames to make $100,000. That’s less than two bucks for every pin he knocked down.

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ntdtv coverage of our celebration 新唐人電視台










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