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Lionel Tibble won the 1st London Masters Tournament

[<<] [>>] by Don Beck at Surbiton Croquet Club
19th August 2014 (GC)

Lionel Tibble won the 1st London Masters Tournament, beating James Hopgood in the final, 7-5, 7-3
Twelve players, including past European and National Champions, took part in the 1st London Masters Tournament. The event was drawn into two blocks the format was for five rounds of best-of-3 13pt games with a final between the two block winners.

Saturday saw a couple of quick games in the firsts round as some players took longer to acclimatise to the faster lawns and firm hoops (thanks George). The standout result was Andrew Dymond, 11th seed, taking the first game off Will Gee (second seed) 7-4, before eventually losing 7-6 in the 3rd. The spectators were hoping Andrew would take his chance and shoot a long 13th but he went for the safer option of removing Will's ball but then lost control of the hoop and Will ran from the boundary.

Andrew then faced the third seed James Hopgood and took the first game in that match as well. There was to be no real chance of an upset as James had control in the next two games.

In the third round James (3rd) again lost the first, this time to Nelson Morrow (6th)before running-out a clear winner. In the other block Lionel Tibble (4th) fought a very close battle with Martin French (5th) on lawn 2 in front of the clubhouse. The many spectators were left bewildered by Lionel's tactics at 11. Martin shoots the hoop , rejected. Lionel strolls up, reconsiders, thinks again and plays towards 12 hitting the peg. Martin is stunned, confused and Lionel suddenly realises his error. Both players corpse . The laughter is heard on every court. Martin composes himself wins 11 but loses the match 6-7,6-7.
Overall Saturday matches had gone with the rankings. Would Sunday hold any surprises?
First thing everyone noticed was a change in the weather, cooler and partial cloud cover with rain promised
In the fourth round Stephen Mulliner (1st) Lionel and Will, James all won in two games. All the four top seeds were undefeated going into the final block games. Heavy rain delayed the start after lunch by 30minutes and the lawns were noticeably slower. Would the top two Will and Stephen still progress to the final?

James took the first against Will 7-3 on lawn two and a fight back was expected but Will never put together a series of good shots. His spectacular clearances were followed by misses or poor approach shots. James's steady play prevailed and he took the second 7-4.

Our attention then swung to Lawn one where Lionel had taken the first at the 13th hoop. Knowing Stephen had won the first hoop of the second game it was a shock to see the score 5-1 to Lionel, then 5-2 and 5-3 but Stephen missed his shots at the ball at 9 and Lionel went on to win the game 7-3.

The third seed James was to meet the fourth seed Lionel in the final on Lawn 3. The match was between players of similar styles; very accurate, not wanting to use full power and very good at hoop running.

In the early stages the match was even but gradually Lionel got the upper hand winning 7-5 then taking the second 7-3.


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