Bernard Neal Challenge - Advanced Weekend - Cheltenham 19-20 May
A sun-baked Saturday morning at Cheltenham Croquet Club, and a draw of 36 entrants, saw a couple of major upsets with the number one and four seeds bowing out of the competition in the first round. The holder and number one seed, Mark Suter was knocked out by an in-form Dave Gunn +10 on time. Whilst Robert Wilkinson, seeded fourth, was defeated by local member and tournament Manager David Foulser +26, in an error-free match. Another local member who was impressive was Wendy Wu, in her first ever A-class event; she sailed through to the quarter-finals. Wendy is rapidly improving her croquet skills, and is definitely one to watch out for in the future. As expected, number 2 and 3 seeds, Chris Williams and Sarah Hayes respectively, romped through to the semi-finals fairly comfortably.
Sunday saw more glorious sunshine as the temperatures rose to a comfortable 23 degrees. In the semi-finals, Sarah defeated Chris +22 and David beat Louise Bradforth +17. The final saw old Cheltenham rivals, Sarah and David, go to battle; however, Sarah who was described by some spectators as a 'machine', put on a clinical performance and beat David +25. Overall the conditions were inconsistent between all the 9 lawns.
Some lawns were very quick and some more easy-paced. This saw very few peeling turns and only Robert Wilkinson and Mark Suter finishing the event with 2 TPs each. One of Robert's TPs was against Mark in the final of the plate where Robert put on an excellent performance and completed his TP with a very well controlled turn to win the plate. For full results, please see croquetscores.com.