Jacob Carr, playing in his first competition since the GC Worlds in Cairo, won the 18th Yorkshire open at Ripon in great style, beating previous Yorkshire and World Champion, Salah Hassan, 7-5, 7-4. All matches this year, including the blocks, were best of 3 games. Always well attended by Egyptian players, this year 6 of the 16 entry were from Cairo.
Jacob lost to two Egyptians in the block, El Mahdi 0-7, 4-7 and Hassan 2-7, 5-7, and one game 6-7 to Sherif Abu Osbaa. This left him third in the block with the top four going through to quarters. In the quarter final, he met Khaled Younis who, although not at his World Champion best form, played well with a few uncharacteristic mistakes. Playing a contained, mature game, Jacob was always in position to take advantage of these mistakes, taking the match 7-2, 7-6.
In beautiful weather on Sunday morning, many spectators from croquet clubs as far away as Alnwick and Sheffield, plus 30 guests of one of the sponsors, Batchelors Cars, gathered to watch the semis; first on the show court was Carr versus El Mahdi (most players pre-match favourite for the trophy); the quality of play in this semi exceeded that of the quarter final, with few mistakes. Both games went to the thirteenth hoop, with Jacob winning 7-6, 7-6. Whatever Jacob was feeling inside, he appeared calm and in control, while El Mahdi in the second game, with the match at stake, showed some nerves, making a poor approach shot to thirteen. Jacob took advantage of this and ran the hoop from the boundary.
Meanwhile, the other part of the draw had seen Ryan Cabble come third in his block, losing to Khaled Younis and Mohamed Karam, both 7-6, 7-6 scores. He met Salah Hassan in the quarters, losing the match 7-6, 5-7, 7-6. The only games Ryan lost throughout the competition had him on the wrong end of 7-6, including one game against Carole Jackson, although he won that match; brings a whole new take on "unlucky for some"! This left Salah Hassan beating his fellow Egyptian, Sherif Abu Osbaa, 7-3, 7-5 in the other semi.
The final started in front of a good crowd of spectators, enjoying the sunshine and looking forward to another close match. Jacob continued to play well; Salah, carrying the hopes of his fellow countrymen, made more mistakes than usual and seemed to succumb to the pressure at times; Jacob was often in position to take advantage and, playing in at his controlled best, ran out the winner 7-5, 7-4, a scoreline that reflects his dominance.
Amongst the also-rans were some individual triumphs, most remarkably that of Maggie Cowman beating El Mahdi 4-7, 7-5, 7-6. Maggie, a Ripon member, joined the competition at the last moment when a player had to withdraw, and although she has accounted for herself well previously in minor competitions, this was her biggest challenge by far. Her win was no fluke; she played really well, persistently making vital clearances and running hoops consistently. Stunned by her win (her expression), she is now the proud possessor of a signed Egyptian shirt donated by a gallant El Mahdi.
The plate was closely contested and eventually it was decided that 3 players should be presented with bottles of wine; Freda Vitty 3/3, David Hopkins 3/4 and Maggie Cowman 3/4.
Many of the players and spectators voted this the best Yorkshire Open ever, due in no small part to the presence of 6 Egyptians and their quality of play. The weather was good, the lawns were well-prepared and ran very accurately; as ever, the food and hospitality was first class and despite double-banking, with scorers for every game and no time limits, most results reflected the true standard of play. Many thanks from the competitors to all who helped with the running - the manager, the scorers, the groundsman, the hoopsetter and, for his overall organisation and good humour, Fergus Thompson.