Sarah Melvin Won the Nailsea B-Class Advanced Weekend
Sarah Melvin won the Nailsea B Class WE.
This was a memorable tournament. The conditions at Nailsea had been getting progressively more difficult because of the hot dry weather making the clay soil very hard. The day before the tournament, the lawns were quite playable. The hoops were firm and the speed was about 12 Plummers in the heat of the day but breaks could be made. On Saturday, however, it had become exceedingly difficult and the players really struggled to control the balls or to run hoops. The resulting scores were low and the players took any opportunity to run a hoop and get a point. Play was in four Blocks of four and three of the Blocks produced outright winners who had won all their games. These were Adam Moliver, Ian Anderson and Geoff Hughes. In the other Block, Sarah Melvin and Clive Goode effectively played a quarter final in their last Block game with Sarah coming through on a +5T win.
Then it rained! The conditions early Sunday morning were benign and much better progress was made. The Manager breathed a sigh of relief and settled down to await some results. Then some puddles appeared and then they got bigger and it became impossible to play at all. Geoff Hughes had been playing his semi-final match against Ian Anderson but immediately had an innovative idea. The Club had recently bought a Sarel roller and Geoff wanted to get it out and spike the lawns. As a mere lady, an image of Christmas cakes and sherry appeared in my head. By then the rain was heavy and the prospect of getting all the machines out was truly awful. After a minute's phone conversation with the lawn manager, Geoff donned his old coat over his whites. Out came the Toro mower; the Sarel roller was attached behind it and behind that came the light roller On each lawn there were 6 hoops and a peg to dodge and 8 balls to dodge. (My suggestion of marking the balls was considered particularly stupid). Other Club members ran round removing stop nets, flags, yardline markers and various other obstacles.
In the meantime, the members on catering duty worked wonders to produce a very early, but still spectacular, lunch and the lawn manager had appeared to take over the manning of the tractor allowing Geoff to return to the role of a player eating his lunch.
The plan worked magnificently. The photographs of the tractor and its trailers show just how much water the light roller was pushing round. This dispersed the water and the holes created by the spikes on the Sarel roller allowed it to drain away. Some of the players must have been a bit oblivious because when they strolled out to resume their games, one of them told me that one of their flags was missing - not noticing that all the flags had been taken out to make turning easier for the tractor and that I was just beginning to replace them!
The semi final winners were Geoff Hughes and Sarah Melvin and the Final got underway by 2pm. Sarah got off to a flying start and Geoff had only a few chances to catch up. Sarah won +16 and also claimed the prize for the fastest win - 1 hour 50 min. Ian Anderson was declared 3rd and also won the prize for the biggest upset when, as a 4.5, he took 16 index points off a 1.5.
The consolation Final for those who had come second in their Blocks was an all Nottingham affair between Clive Goode and Dave Gunn. This produced a nail-biting finish with both players trying hard to throw the match away in their final turns. With one hoop needed for a win, Dave managed to do a hoop approach that put a ball a few inches behind the strikers ball. The resulting hampered shot was watched by referee Sara Anderson who had changed out of her sodden whites and was resplendent in a billowing orange skirt! The shot was declared clean and Dave claimed his prize with a +1T win.
The attitude of all the players in the testing conditions of drought then flood was exemplary. No-one moaned or criticised - they just got on with it as well as they could, often laughing and joking.
This Tournament has always been popular but the demand for places was even greater this year as several ladies saw it as an opportunity to have a Nailsea experience the week before the Qualifier for their World Championship. More rain has fallen since Sunday and with a reasonable forecast from now on, conditions should be much more normal than they were at the weekend.