Sidmouth Herald published 19 September 2019
Photo: Stuart Smith with Trophy [Pictured added May 20 copyright with Northwest croquet]
One of Sidmouth Croquet Club’s newest members, Stuart M Smith, travelled up to Pendle and Craven Croquet Club, north of Bury, to compete in the Kate Jones Memorial England CA Selection Second 8 tournament, writes Chris Donovan.
Stuart was joined by two other competitors from the south coast area, Steve Leonard from East Dorset and Stephen Custance-Baker from Taunton-Dene as part of an eight player event.
As the name might suggest, competitors are within the top 16 selection of players within the UK as chosen by the Croquet Association and are invited to participate.
Over the three day tournament, all players play each other in the best of three games to win (which is then termed the match) and the top four of the eight players with the most match wins then contest for the title in a semi-final and final.
Steve Leonard and Stuart M Smith both made it through to the semi-final knockout stages, where sadly Steve Leonard was beaten by Tim King from Ashby Croquet Club in Leicestershire.
However, Stuart M Smith took an early lead in the semi-final against Raouf Allim from High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, and took the match 2-0 securing his place in the final.
The final was against Tim King, where Stuart took a decisive win 7-1 from the first game, with the second game finishing at 7-6 giving Stuart the match win 2-0, and overall tournament victory.
Having moved to Devon with his family earlier this year from Northamptonshire, Stuart and his wife, Louise, are relatively new to croquet having taken up the game in 2015, but both enjoy playing at a high competitive level around the country.
Stuart won the Spears Trophy in 2018, awarded to the most-improved player in the UK, and has also won the high level Golf Croquet A Level Series tournament this year.
He is now ranked in the top 20 best players listed in the UK and 103rd in the World, with a win ratio of 69 per cent.
It is therefore likely that Sidmouth Croquet Club, which already has a long prestigious history as one of the best clubs in the game of croquet, will add a few more victories to its name.