By Louise Smith
A fabulous weekend of weather and Croquet as 16 players competed for the Sidmouth trophy as part of the new 0+ tournaments. The core group of locals from Sidmouth and Budleigh Salterton were joined by competitors from around the country and as far out as Hunstanton on the north Norfolk coast.
The tournament format was two blocks of 8 with the top 4 from each block going through to a knockout for the top prize, with the plate tournament consisting of the remaining 8 players playing cross block single 13pt games, followed by semi-finals and final.
Block A was dominated by Aston Wade (Hamptworth). At only 18, Aston is already showing composure and consistency, winning all 7 of his block games only conceding 14 hoops in the process. Louise Smith (Sidmouth) continued her current run of form after winning the 0+ at Hamptworth a few weeks prior, by taking second spot winning 5 of her 7 games. Jane Humphreys (Sussex) and Stephen Pearson (Sidmouth) both played well to also progress into the knockout with 4 wins each.
Block B was a much tighter affair. Michelle Leonard and Colin Britt played some inspired croquet both winning 5 of their 7 games, with Michelle topping the group by 1 net hoop. Third and fourth place became interesting, as three players ended on 4 wins. Peter Chadwick (Budleigh) took third and after the final result came in, Neil Humphreys (Sussex) proceeded to the knockout by 1 net hoop finishing on 0 to Paul Bradley’s -1 hoop.
The Knockout stages moved along really smoothly and at pace. Wade beat N. Humphreys 10-4, Britt beat J. Humphreys 10-6, Smith beat Chadwick 10-6 and Pearson beat Leonard 10-6. In the best of three semi-finals Wade proved too strong for Britt winning in two 7-2, 7-4. Britt put up more of a fight than the score suggests, but Wade was just too strong. In the other, all Sidmouth Semi-final, Smith triumphed over Pearson 7-3, 7-5 after being 2-5 down in the second game.
This set up an Aston Wade v Louise Smith final. The final produced some good quality croquet mostly in Game Two. Wade was always in control of Game 1 and won it comfortably 7-3 how ever after a flying start in game two Smith found some form and began to push Wade making a fight of it, but Wade kicked on and won game two 7-4 to take the trophy and earn himself the new CA Gold Merit Award.
Meanwhile, in the plate tournament locals Philip Harris and Paul Bradley over came all opposition to progress to the plate final, with Philip Harris winning 7 – 5 to take the plate.
1st Aston Wade (Hamptworth)
2nd Louise Smith (Sidmouth)
3rd Colin Britt (Camerton & Peasedown)
4th Stephen Pearson (Sidmouth)
The magnificent new, solid silver trophy was found by Louise Smith on a well-known auction site and bought at a bargain price. Stuart Smith, who ran the tournament and is, by the way, Captain of the England Golf Croquet team, turned it into a unique and distinguished trophy.