Following on from his successful Swiss campaign, Englishman John Moore continued to make an impact on continental croquet this past weekend, beating local player Edoardo Lualdi to win the Italian Golf Croquet Open; 1-7 7-4 7-5. English players also took third and forth places, possibly due to their superior experience in the mildly wet conditions.
In effect, Saturday morning was spent perfecting our Noah (or Mrs Noah) impersonations, as we waited for the waters to subside, the two new lawns at Cascina del Lupo, near Busto Arsizio, being submerged in almost 10cms of rain water. Play finally, and miraculously, got underway at about 3pm and, with the general acceptance by all present of the need for double-banking (not usually recommended for golf croquet), the preliminary round matches were all completed in good time for the gargantuan evening meal organised by our Italian hosts. The 12 players were split into four blocks of three, with two qualifying from each group. Block winners were: Paolo de Petra (Italy), John Moore, Sam Curry (England) and Edoardo Lualdi. Peter Payne (Switzerland), Andrea Pravettoni (Italy), Hossam Fares (Switzerland/Egypt) and Chris Sheen also qualified for the best of three knock out stages.
The brief calming of the heavens of Saturday afternoon came to an abrupt halt early Sunday morning and most players, if not the lawns, were soon waterlogged and the planned doubles event was abandoned, due to the elements. Back in the singles, some tightly fought matches resulted in Chris Sheen and John Moore lining up for one semi-final while Sam Curry and Edoardo were paired for the other. There were straight sets wins for the two finalists and, after Edoardo went one up in the final, he was close to having a perfect weekend, with no games lost, having been drafted in at the last minute for the absent Gianpietro Donati, detained elsewhere. John had the last shout however, and after a scare in the first leg, regained his shooting confidence to bounce back, winning the last two legs and claiming the silverware. Chris Sheen, no doubt disappointed not to be in the final, nevertheless took third place, beating Sam Curry in straight sets.
Despite the inhospitable atmospheric conditions, our Italian friends once again looked after us famously, and a fun, if somewhat wet, time was had by all.