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Stephen Custance-Baker rises to the challenge

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pictureStephen Custance-Baker

by Stuart M Smith at Budleigh Salterton
7th September 2022 (GC)

Budleigh Salterton hosted their GC Open tournament on the 3rd- 4th Sept.

A field of 14 Players was split into 2 blocks of 7 in a cross-block format, with the top 4 from each half progressing to the knockout on day 2 and the remaining 6 going into an all-play-all plate block.

Some strong play on the Saturday saw Block A won by Les Heard with 6 wins from 7 only losing to Stephen Custance-Baker on hoop 13 to stop a clean sweep. Les was joined in the knockout by Louise Smith (4 from 7), Colin Britt (4 from 7) and Richard Brand (3 from 7).

Block B was much tighter with Dominic Aarvold also taking 6 wins from 7 only losing to Les Heard. Dominic was challenged for top spot all the way by Stephen Custance-Baker who finished on 5 from 7. The battle for 3rd and 4th qualifying spots went right down to the last game with 3 players on 4 wins from 7. Positions were finally defined on hoop difference with Peter Balchin in 3rd place and David Cornes 4th. Local Player Niall Litton from Budleigh only just missed out by 3 hoops.

Day 2 continuously threatened rain, but this did not dampen the quality of the Croquet. The quarterfinals saw Dominic Aarvold just get the better of David Cornes taking game 3 at the 13th (7/4, 4/7, 7/6) whereas Stephen Custance-Baker breezed through against Peter Balchin, 7/2, 7/3.

In the other half of the draw Richard Brand got the better of the in-form Les Heard over 3 games (5/7, 7/6, 7/4) and Colin Britt overcame Louise Smith relatively comfortably in 2 games (7/4, 7/2).

And so, to the Semi-finals. The first saw two players in tremendous form so far this weekend go head-to-head. Stephen Custance-Baker showed all his experience and beat Dominic Aarvold 7/4, 7/4. In the other semi, Colin Britt fought off a very strong showing from Richard Brand to win it in the third (6/7, 7/6, 7/5).

Meanwhile in the Plate Competition David Bell was finally finding some rhythm and put in a good performance to win 4 from 5 and pip Niall Litton by 3 hoops (AGAIN!) to win the Plate competition.

David Cornes won the Shield (5th- 8th) playoff beating Les Heard for the Budleigh tankard.

In the 3rd/4th place play off Dominic Aarvold beat Richard Brand for 3rd spot.

Unfortunately, the rain started to come in off the sea and threatened to get heavier, so the decision was made with agreement (and relief) from the Players that they would play through the rain but contest a single 19pt game as the main Final. This, however, did not decrease the standard whatsoever. In a repeat of the Sidmouth A Level 0+ Final, (and proving that both players can step up a level), Stephen Custance-Baker again kept Colin Britt at bay, and won the tournament with an impressive 10/8 victory - dropping to an impressive -2 handicap in the process.

1st Stephen Custance-Baker (10 points)

2nd Colin Britt (6 points)

3rd Dominic Aarvold (4 points)

4th Richard Brand (2 points)


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