At 10 o'clock yesterday morning, Cindy Coburn was so sick from a night-long bout with food poisoning that she very nearly decided to skip the national championship of the Women's Professional Bowlers Association in which she had placed first in the qualifying rounds.

"I really felt like I wouldn't be able to do it. I had had only two hours of sleep and I didn't have the strength to get out of bed," she said later, rejuvenated by her first victory in six professional tournaments and a $4,000 check that went to the victor.

"It's my best finish and it's very special because it's the national championship. What a title to win the first time," she said of her 393-354 victory over Patty Costello.

Besides feeling like an underdog because of her illness, Coburn also had to contend with a hometown crowd of about 300 rooting for Costello who, five years ago, regularly bowled at Bowl America Shirley in Alexandria, the tournament site.

While her father Frank, also a food poisoning victim, and her mother Doris, a Hall of Fame bowler, sat nearby with medicine bottle and spoon in hand for the queasy stomach, Coburn prepared for her match of the day against Donna Adamek, the WPBA's bowler of the year.

In the first game of her match against Adamek, Coburn said, "I felt a little shaky." But she went on to tie at 198 points all, before shooting ahead in the second game for a 23-pin edge, 192-169.

"I felt looser after that match against Donna," Coburn said. "I felt if I could just keep grinding it out and keep my cool, everything would be all right."

Costello is a formidable opponent and, based partly on her 19 career wins, has been voted the eighth best woman bowler in history. But Costello's game yesterday was not up to par.

In the first game of the two-game match play, the two were neck and neck in the first four frames, until Coburn emerged to dominate the game, winning 189-149.

The turning point for the match came in the first game as Costello left frames seven and nine open, assisting Coburn to her 40-pin advantage.

Costello, a left-hander, rallied in the second game for a one-pin victory, 205-204. But Coburn's 40-pin edge was too much to overcome.

Coburn might have tied the second game but left the ninth frame open. For the victory match, she threw 10 strikes to Costello's seven.

A June graduate of the University of Syracuse where she majored in business administration, Coburn said, "I might go back to school eventually but for now I want to stick with the bowling."

A right-handed bowler, Coburn said she is a "four-stepper" who used to have "quite a loopy shot. But I throw harder now and get more turn with it." h

She practices regularly with her mother and father, who gave up bowling five years ago to coach the family.

"He's quite a man," she said of her father. "Not many men would give up as much for a woman. I really admire him for that."

Her father, beaming nearby with the ever-ready medicine bottle and spoon in his hand, said, "This was pretty good medicine. I was going to make final arrangements right after we were through, but the win took care of that."