Cheltenham lost to Ashby 2-5
Cheltenham played well to make for a tight match but, in the end, Ashby showed enough experience to win.
The main feature of the Cheltenham team was being able to field Mark Suter and Sarah Hayes at one and two. These two players have long and distinguished careers in croquet but Hayes had no games in the GC ranking system until 2017 and Suter had a break between 2001 and 2017 of any such games.
Meanwhile, with Rachel Rowe unavailable for their strongest team, Ashby fielded Tim King at two, reflecting some better success for him in 2017. He last made the top two in the team in 2015 (a gap of nine matches) and last played doubles with Will Gee in 2013 (a gap of 11 matches).
Reflecting the gap since last playing together, Gee and King started poorly in the doubles but, from 2-6 in the first game, won 11 of the next 13 hoops to level the rubber at 1-1 (6-7, 7-1). Their initial struggle did not weigh quite so heavily as David Bell (7-1) and Mike O'Brian (7-5) started strongly in the singles, winning first games against Tony Forbes and Richard Thompson, respectively.
As the tide turned in the doubles, however, the singles ran in the opposite direction and the three rubbers all reached 1-1.
The courts were fast, with the hoops not too challenging but having no rabbit runs. In these conditions, the play was tight but Suter and Hayes remembered some of their best play from the first game to take the doubles (7-4 in the third).
Once again though, the three rubbers were in anti-phase, so Ashby prevailed in the two singles to take a 2-1 lead at a lunchtime that was later than often for an Inter-Club match.
While play remained tight in the afternoon session, only Hayes and King took their rubber into a third game. They were halfway through that game when Gee took the honours of gaining the winning point for Ashby.
Cheltenham were close enough to have caused some consternation among the Ashby travelling support but lost four games on the golden hoop in the afternoon. These games, if reversed, would have swung the result of the match.
Ashby go through to the semi-finals to play the winner of the match between Belsay Hall and Bowdon.
Cheltenham: Mark Suter (-1), Sarah Hayes (-1), Richard Thompson (0), Tony Forbes (1)
Ashby: Will Gee (-3), Tim King (-1), David Bell (-1), Mike O'Brian (1)
Results (Cheltenham Names First)
Suter & Hayes beat Gee & King - 7-6, 1-7, 7-4
Richard Thompson lost to Mike O'Brian - 5-7, 7-5, 5-7
Tony Forbes lost to David Bell - 1-7, 7-6, 3-7
Mark Suter lost to Will Gee - 5-7, 6-7
Sarah Hayes lost to Tim King - 6-7, 7-3, 5-7
Richard Thompson lost to David Bell - 6-7, 6-7
Tony Forbes beat Mike O'Brian - 7-4, 7-5