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Ashby beat Surbiton at Wrest Park to win the 2010 Golf Croquet Inter-Club Championship 4-3

[<<] [>>] by Tim King at Wrest Park
18th September 2010 (GC - Inter-Club)

Results (Ashby names first)

Morning legs

Will Gee (0) & Mike O'Brian (1) beat Howard Cheyne (0) & Don Beck (1) 6-7, 7-4, (completed in afternoon) 7-3
Tim King (1) lost to John Spiers (1) 6-7, 3-7
Rachel Rowe (2) beat Samir Patel (1) 7-6, 7-5

Afternoon legs

Will Gee beat Howard Cheyne 7-6, 7-6
Mike O'Brian lost to Don Beck 3-7, 6-7
Tim King lost to Samir Patel 6-7, 7-3, 6-7
Rachel Rowe beat John Spiers 6-7, 7-2, 7-4

Report (by the Ashby team)

On their fifth appearance in the finals, Ashby finally became Champions, "Wrest-ing" the Inter-Club Golf trophy from the hands of holders and four-times winners Surbiton.

On paper, Surbiton had a slight edge in terms of handicaps and rankings but Ashby's youngsters Will Gee and Rachel Rowe proved to be the difference between the two sides. The Surbiton team included Samir Patel and John Spiers for the first time in 2010, bringing the total number of players who had represented the club in the season to nine. In contrast, Ashby had only used five players, all of whom had a strong claim to play in the final, leaving captain Ray Mounfield with a selection dilemma. This dilemma remained until the weekend prior to the match, when Rachel earned her place through an outstanding performance in Ashby's annual Bottle Challenge, including beating guest player Reg Bamford on her way to taking home the bottles of wine (the pooled entry fees of one bottle of wine per participant). As a consequence, Ray decided to act as reserve and driver, so, with the additional help of Rachel's mother acting as chauffeuse, the Ashby players arrived at Wrest Park relaxed and ready for action.

The weather was good, the surroundings superb and the first three games went to the 13th hoop, indicating that a tight battle was in store. However, this is not the full story, as in the doubles leg, Surbiton took a 5-0 lead before Ashby clawed their way back to win the next six hoops. In the end, Surbiton held their nerve to win 7-6. Meanwhile, Rachel and Samir played with great expedition, Rachel taking down her opponent despite him being fresh from his excellent performance in the President's Cup [match position: Ashby 1-0 Surbiton]. In the other singles leg, John Spiers made some crucial clearances, which set off the typical GC pattern of building his own confidence while denting that of his opponent. John won in two straight games [match position: 1-1]. Ashby had found their rhythm in the doubles, coming back with a solid 7-4 win. As often happens in GC Inter-Club ties, this had all taken some considerable time, so the decision was to take lunch with the match poised one leg each and with the deciding doubles game to be finished as necessary.

Unsurprisingly, the first afternoon leg to finish was between Will and Howard, despite both games going to the 13th hoop. This is becoming one of the feature rivalries in top-level GC and on this occasion Will triumphed [match position: 2-1]; the battle will potentially resume next weekend with them both competing in the Ascot Cup. However, soon after Don Beck delivered just the result that Surbiton had need of, another victory in two straight games [match position: 2-2]. This freed up the doubles players to resume their deciding game. At this stage, neither of the other two legs had resolved their second games. Surbiton had won the first of each (once again with 13th-hoop victories) but Ashby came back strongly, and the doubles players watched to the point of knowing that they had drawn level in both. Thus, the position was still a dead heat, two legs each and one game each in the three remaining legs.

Ashby drew first blood. Despite blobbing some short hoops, Rachel continued her devastating consistency at controlled, 6 to 8-yard clearances and took her deciding game against John [match position: 3-2]. Both Tim and the Ashby doubles team seemed to take confidence from this, beginning to take some control in their own games and almost being able to believe it was now a race to see who would deliver the decisive victory. In the end, the doubles team were the ones who fulfilled the task in hand [match position: 4-2], winning just after Tim went 6-5 up against Samir.

In the end, Samir just missed out on being one of the all-time top winning stories in GC Inter-Club history. In the middle game, he suffered at the hands of some consistent long-distance hitting by Tim. But in the first game he had won 7-6 after Tim went into the jaws of hoop 13 but Samir then succeeded with an eight-foot, second of two jump shots. In the final game, Samir won hoop 12 to draw level and again Tim ended up in the jaws of hoop 13. This time, Samir's two jump shots were both from the boundary. Again, he succeeded with his second, playing a perfect, low-trajectory "Barnes Wallis" [match position: 4-3]. Very satisfying but somewhat bitter-sweet when the match had already been decided.

For the third year in a row, Wrest Park proved to be a wonderful location, the host club being warm in hospitality, organising the courts and other facilities without fuss.

Final facts

Handicap changes

Rachel Rowe to 1



 

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