Jonathan Hills won the Spencer Ell Cup 2010 with two rounds in hand.
The lawns were quite flat with a few slopes, Lawn 1 fairly slow (10.7 Plummers) and the others medium paced (11.3 Plummers). Hoops firm but fair: easy if you are reasonably close in front, but rejecting inaccuracies if not.
At the start, everyone was asked to record openings and first break but at this level the opening seemed to have little influence on who gained control first. Good shooting perhaps being the decisive factor.
Jonathan was pretty solid throughout; far from error-free but making fewer than others, which is all that's needed to get the job done. Martin's classy play, with fantastically accurate croquet strokes and rushes to get precision pick-ups, deserved a better position in the table, perhaps lapses of concentration held him back. Campbell's straight and powerful hitting proved very useful (particularly for big rushes), as did Jim's amazing big pass rolls - he often manages 2:1 over 15+ yards and a queue formed for coaching after the event. Ian and Paul played well enough but were perhaps being unlucky. Dave seemed to sort out how to swing the mallet most days but did not shoot quite as well as the others. Gabrielle is the one to watch for the future - a very solid swing and a style that always looks like she's going round and stopping under control. More championship-level experience will surely develop her confidence and tactics and make her a top player.
On day 3, Dave completed 4 TPs in a row, and Jim was victim to 3 in a row on day 2. On day 4, Dave managed a six peel break but bevelled the 3-yard peg-out to produce a split shot with just enough pull to miss the peg :( from the same spot he missed a TPO peg-out in the final game, losing a few turns later without taking croquet.
Sidmouth proved to be a good place for the event with Elaine Woodward taking care to make sure the players got all they needed and the many club volunteers were organised to open up, prepare the lawns, set hoops, and the myriad of things many of us don't notice get done. Most days, play didn't finish until well after 7PM but there wasn't any complaint.
Entertainment wise, most of us went to see an excellent production of Charlie's Aunt by the Charles Vance Theatre Company. The Old Ship provided great value good food and ale, with Brown's producing a quality tournament dinner on Saturday night.
Four debuantes, Campbell (whom no one else had played before), Gabrielle, Jim and Jonathan, helped to make it an interesting week.
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