- Advertisement -

Giulia Gallo speaks out on inspiring other women to enter PBA qualifiers

Forty-one-year-old Giulia Gallo from the USA was the only woman qualifier in this yearโ€™s open singles. The senior data scientist at Microsoft, a member of Long Beach BC, California, spoke to Ceris Hewlings about how she hopes her debut appearance in the event will encourage other women to enter the PBA qualifiers.

BI: How did you start bowling and when?
GG: In summer of 2016, after I attended a team-building event at the Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club, organised by my coworkers at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.
BI: What are your achievements to date?
GG: 2024 World Mixed Pairs semi-finalist with Mark Dawes, 2023 USA Open Pairs Champion and, 2023 USA Open Fours runner-up.
BI: What made you enter the USA PBA qualifier?
GG: In 2023, I was super determined to qualify for one of the three events our branch organised (Scottish, World Open Pairs/Singles), because the year prior, I had lost both World Open Singles and Pairs finals. I entered my first USA PBA qualifier in 2019 after I moved to Southern California, from the San Francisco Bay Area, and I have competed in all the PBA qualifiers ever since.
BI: Can you tell me about winning the event?
GG: It honestly felt unreal, because I had only dreamed of winning the event, and to competing in the singles, after I had been so close to winning one of the events already, and never making it past the finish line.
BI: Have you ever played bowls in the UK before?
GG: No, I have only played bowls in the USA, Canada and Australia up to now. I would love to play in the UK, especially indoors, to improve my game, to learn how to become more consistent and to have the opportunity to play against great bowlers.
BI: How was your World Indoor Bowls Championships and Potters experience?
GG: This has been the best bowls experience of my life, and I am very thankful for this opportunity. The players, the officials, the WBT staff, and the Potters staff have made this trip most memorable, from a personal and bowls perspective. Being around the best in the world, playing against them and getting their encouragement and support meant so much for me and got me inspired to work as hard as possible in the future. The social aspect of bowls, in between games and/or after, was also really fun, including getting to chat and joke around.
BI: Did you have any supporters with you?
GG: The other USA qualifiers in the open pairs, Jesse and Rachel, were there with me and they watched my first singles game against David Bolt along with the Israeli qualifiers Zvika and David (Hadar), Martin Kreft, and my night practise partner/coach Ceri Ann Glenn in the arena. As the time went by, I made more new friends who watched my games in the arena and at the bar, and by the time I played my last game against Ceri Ann in the World Ladies Matchplay, I had a small contingent all rooting for me both in the arena and outside, including players and their friends. My friends in the USA also sent me many messages throughout the tournament, and I never really felt alone.
BI: What have you learned from the experience in both the open singles and mixed pairs?
GG: How many pages can you write? Jokes aside, I faced my open singles game, the first one on the blue carpet, as if I was playing outdoor, which is the only game I know. Clearly, not the best outcome nor performance, but you must start from somewhere and from a place of comfort, and I have no regrets. I knew I could improve, and I really wanted to take up the opportunity to practise and to learn from my mistakes. After the match, Ceri Ann Glen and I analysed the game, and she and many others helped me think about how to change my mentality from outdoor to indoor, how to work on lines, weight and how important the first two bowls are. You canโ€™t squeeze 30 years of experience in a weekโ€™s time, so I did my best to practise during the night and early morning, and to adapt as quickly as possible to the indoor conditions. As it happens in life with other things, thereโ€™s no amount of reading, watching games, that can prepare you for the real experience. The mixed pairs felt less overwhelming, because I felt part of a team with Mark, and I put 200% focus into my bowls, as much as possible, to play well for him and for us. I do love team sports, as I have played volleyball for all my life before moving to the USA in 2014, and pairs and fours are my favourite disciplines. I hope one day to have the opportunity to play again in the mixed pairs with him or another top eight player, to get to the final or to the title.
BI: How did it feel being the only woman to have qualified in the open singles?
GG: I didnโ€™t really think about myself as the only woman to have qualified in the open singles, in all honesty. In my own experience, playing with and against men can only make you improve your game, because of the way certain players think and play shots. Thatโ€™s why I enjoy mixed competitions because I can get the best out of my bowls. However, as we have seen during the years and in this competition, there are outstanding women bowlers who can play at the same level as men bowlers, and best them โ€“ Katherine and Julie are a fine example of that. Bowls, in this regard, is really a sport where we can achieve equality in opportunities, if we keep encouraging young women to take it up, and we promote it the right way.
BI: How did you enjoy playing in the mixed pairs with Mark Dawes?
GG: Mark has been outstanding with me, on and off the green, encouraging me to bowl at my best, and to be calm and relaxed on the rink. His relaxed attitude and encouragement on the rink, has helped me get a hold of my emotions and allowed me to strive to bowl my best. I still cannot believe I played with an international super star like Mark in two world class games; itโ€™s one of those opportunities that change your perspective in bowls forever and inspire you to become better and better. I would also like to thank the WBT staff, Jason, Tom, Martin, Gordon, Anne, and the amazing ITOs (Sue, Francis, Dan, Mike, Allan) for their support throughout the competition; they are the unsung heroes of the entire competition.
BI: What would you say to any woman bowler thinking of entering the PBA qualifiers?
GG: I hope you will enter the PBA qualifiers, and when you make it to Potters, enjoy the experience to the fullest. Go practise, seek out feedback, and get out of your comfort zone. Youโ€™ll never forget it!
BI: What are your aims for 2024?
GG: I want to work on my delivery, to make it smoother and more consistent, and I will work to improve my consistency of my first two bowls. I am hoping to enter the 2024 PBA USA qualifiers again, to get another chance to qualify for the Scottish International Open or for the world pairs/singles.

Caption: Action from the portable rink. Credit: World Bowls Tour

Bowls Internationalย is the worldโ€™s most respected bowling magazine, available monthly in both digital and print formats.

A 12-month print subscription to Bowls International is priced ยฃ35.99 โ€“ thatโ€™s less than ยฃ3 per month and includes FREE POSTAGE.