Tony Butcher won the Ryde A-Level Series GC Tournament
As late summer turned distinctly autumnal after the September equinox twelve dedicated low handicap players gathered at the Ryde Tennis and Croquet Club on 25th and 26th of the month for the last all-play-all A level tournament of the 2021 season. It has been a busy month for the club with three CA tournaments over three weekends.
The weather was mild with some light drizzle to keep everyone moist on Day 1 and a fine, cool partly sunny day on Sunday. After a great amount of diligent work by the host club lawn maintenance team under the direction of Steve Hayns, the lawns were in great condition and greatly improved after some challenges earlier in the season; an improvement remarked upon very favourably by several of the visitors.
It was a pleasure for the hosts to welcome five visiting players and several accompanying partners from the mainland, otherwise known as 'the north island'. They joined seven players from the Ryde club for the tournament. The rather less welcome visitors were a host of crane flies across the lawns apparently committed to laying their eggs in the turf and heralding a leather jacket infestation for next summer.
Managing the event were a dedicated volunteer team under the direction of Tournament Manager Roy Tlllcock, ably assisted by Vernon Gibbs. Club Croquet Chair Pam Sim was on hand to assist. Pam, Roy and Vernon served as referees as well as participants, and were kept busy adjudicating on some close in-hoop congestion, and a few instances of wrong ball confusion.
The club prides itself on its hospitality, and a sincere vote of thanks is due to Joan Grove and Debra Hayns for their hard work in the kitchen preparing lunches and teas. The crowning glory in this department has to be Debra's spectacular chocolate cake that greeted the weary players at the end of the tournament after two days of great competition.
On the lawns 66 games were played over the two days of which 12 were decided by closely contested 'golden hoop' climaxes. The standard of play was high with plenty of long-range hoop running and ball clearances providing inspiration to the numerous club members and visitors, who turned out to support the event as spectators.
Throughout the event it was apparent that there was one stand-out competitor who displayed great accuracy and consistency in each of his matches and conceded only 37 hoops in his eleven convincing wins. Our congratulations go to our worthy winner, Tony Butcher (Southchurch) who carried the event in a great display of concentration and skill. His progress over the season from handicap 2 to -2 is a remarkable achievement and a great example of dedication to his sport. He will be missed in the A level tournaments in 2022 and we wish him every success in the open series.
Our runner up was Geoff Johnson (Watford) with 7 wins and a net hoop advantage of +16. He was followed at third place by Steve Hayns with 7 wins and net hoops of +10 and Roy Tillcock with 7 wins and +9 hoops.
The event was a great success and was conducted in a warm and convivial spirit. Congratulations and thanks to all the organisers and players for their contributions to an excellent tournament atmosphere. Croquet and sporting competition at its best!