Having come in second at the same event twice, and after a barren run for close to a year, it was no wonder that victory yesterday at the 12th Euro-Med Storm International Masters Challenge was especially sweet for national bowler Cherie Tan.
That it came against some of the biggest names in the sport, and against a man, made it all the more satisfying.
The 26-year-old kegler beat Biboy Rivera of the Philippines 276-248 in the second match of the step-ladder final to lift the crown in the mixed-gender event. She also won 800,000 pesos (S$24,000).
It marked a quick recovery from a disappointing 191-229 loss in the first match of the final against Rivera, a former world champion and 2010 Asian Games men's singles champion.
Tan had a one-game advantage as top seed in the final. The women bowlers are also given a handicap of eight pins for every game.
In a telephone interview from Manila, she told The Straits Times: "I haven't been getting results for the past few months so, to finally win this, shows me I'm going in the right direction."
Tan was part of the winning trios team at the SEA Games in June but her last individual win came at the Daejeon International Open in November last year.
She added: "I'm really happy with this win, given the field and level of competition here, with the South Koreans and the pro bowlers.
"The lane conditions made it really high scoring and after coming in second twice for this competition, I'm just really glad that I finally managed to win it."
Other than Rivera, the field also included Malaysia's former world champion Esther Cheah and Finland's Osku Palermaa.
The latter recently took the men's singles title at the lucrative Bowling World Open in Japan.
National coach Remy Ong commended his charge not only for staying composed but also open to options. He said: "We got her to change balls and we used the last frame to do a bit of trial and error.
"At a higher level, we need to get out of our little box and do something different from what you've been doing. If something is not working, I'd rather we learn from it.
"At the end of the day, Cherie is a very hard-working player.
"Most importantly, she's also much more open to getting out of her comfort zone. That got her to her success today."