Midweek Veterans: Association Croquet Advanced Handicap Singles Tournament, 4 to 6 September at Hurlingham
22 players entered this three day open singles event, played at a leisurely two games a day pace befitting the relatively advanced age of the competitors! They represented 12 different clubs across the UK and an age range of mid-60 to early 80s, with handicaps from zero to 14, 14 players in the range two to five. A five-round Swiss was completed in two separate blocks, drawn randomly compared to some previous years of basing it on age; this seemed to work well. The weather was good throughout and the lawns were surprisingly fast, catching out many when approaching the boundaries or hoops, even after two days of trying.
In the Red Block of 10 four were on three or four wins after four rounds, Andre Machell (Watford, 7) winning all his games, but he lost his last match to Charles Martin (Ramsgate, 3.5) and it became six players on three or four wins by Thursday lunch-time. Terrey Sparks (Hunstanton, 3) came up on the rails to pip Charles and Andre based on quality of wins to take first place, with Charles, Andre, Sue Davies (Roehampton), Hugh Carlisle and John Culhane (both Hurlingham) in the other top places. The Blue Block of 12 was more of a local affair and a bit easier to resolve with only 4 players on 3 wins going into the last round. Andrew Wise (Hurlingham, 0) won, Veronica Carlisle (Hurlingham, 3.5) beat manager Tony Bingham (Hurlingham 5) in a close game effectively determined by taking her second ball most of the way round in her last, successful turn, and David Houston (Edinburgh, 4) lost. As Andrew had beaten Veronica he took the block with Veronica second and Tony third having beaten David, both on day one. After David the next places were taken by Robert Pennant Jones (Hurlingham), Ray Hall (Sussex County) and Anne Stephens (Hurlingham).
In the final, and winning two Hurlingham Glass Whiskey Tumblers, Andrew beat Terrey 26 - 18, fully justifying his lowest handicap position. Charles beat Veronica 26 - 5 to take third place. All had a good time and thanked the manager for a very well run event, Hurlingham for their usual hospitality and the Club's Ground staff for their immaculate preparation. Sign up early for next year's tournament when the time comes!