Beware the Germans!
To add to Joern's report on the German Open, I thought I'd post a few thoughts about this top quality tournament.
The BBC weather once again ALMOST got the weather prediction right. The sun, promised for much of the weekend, was evident for most of Friday morning, making way for intermittent showers and thunderstorms for the rest of the tournament. The sun shone briefly between each soaking, enough for us to all to take our coats and jumpers off until the next onslaught!
The more mature players (in a croquet sense rather than any other) of the tournament suffered from variable play - with Martin Murray beating Colin Irwin with a tidy triple to move on to a defeat to Felicitas Olk, and Andrew Hope turning around from an early loss to Christine Irwin to qualify for the final stages.
Allen Morris suffered a tough weekend culminating in a last minute defeat by Guy Towlson who was also struggling to find form. Guy hit in after time to complete a 6 hoop break from an unlikely position to steal the match. Guy's previous biggest break for that game was about 3 hoops. Allen was understandably disappointed, but came back from that disappointment to beat the manager in his final game - ensuring that no players left without a win (or for that matter no players left undefeated).
It is probably safe to say that a good time was had by all. The only person to be seen leaving a court in tears, was Smilia (age 3), the daughter of the manager, who was attempting to be an outside agency and was distressed at being prevented from this endeavour.
Colin put in a solid display to retain the title with a TP in all but one game (excluding the loss, in which Martin did the TP). He did at times seem a little distressed that Klaus hit almost every shot in the final.
Throughout the tournament there was a health focus on good food and drink, which always put the croquet in perspective!
German croquet is on average a little younger than the UK and consists of a small pool of rapidly improving players. It was evident that the likes of Klaus, Felicitas and Jeorn had all improved much since last year Frisian Rough - and their shooting is particularly impressive. Although stroke execution is a strong point, their tactical awareness and their ability to build a break from broken play let them down on occasions. The lack of a German edition of Wylie can only be seen as a good thing for maintaining UK dominance in croquet! With a little more tactical awareness, the German croquet scene will become quite formidable!
Another great side to German croquet is their ability to generate publicity. A newspaper article was published just prior to the tournament and the local TV crew spent most of Friday morning with us - including an interview with the great Martin Murray.
And, with a wine-maker as a sponsor, Germany could become the next Somona-Cutrer!