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James Death & Samir Patel win the AC Open Doubles Championship 2024

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pictureAC Open Doubles Champions 2024 (Photo: Dave Fuller)

by Alison Maugham at Cheltenham Croquet Club
9th July (AC - Championships)

Congratulations to James Death & Samir Patel, the Association Croquet Open Doubles Champions 2024. The pair were a winning force from the off, completing the entire Championship without dropping a single game.

The Open Doubles started with a deluge, meaning that no sooner had players finished their 10 minute warm-up practice that play was suspended for an hour. Once resumed the quality of play left something to be desired with no games finished before lunch. And in one game, only seven hoops had been scored. Fortunately play improved significantly from there in most matches.

The match of the round was Reg Bamford & Mark Suter against David Goacher and David Fuller. Reg and Mark were fourth seeds and clear favourites, but whilst Reg had an early ball to four-back in game 1, Mark was having an off-day and couldn't get a break started. The two Davids were both resilient and persistent, but it seemed that the hitting in was far better than break play, with the first game finally finishing some time after the four-hour time limit was reached, with a 22-18 win for the Davids. Reg and Mark fought back with a 21-17 win of their own in game 2 after a further three hours. By now it was getting late, but David Fuller and Mark Suter exchanged early breaks in the decider. With time approaching, David Goacher embarked on what could have been a winning TP but wisely decided to have a safe break to the peg. The crowd had expected at least one peel on the way and (with what was clearly going to be less than five minutes left on the clock), pegging out his own ball. However, after discussion they opted to leave all four balls on the court with a reverse diagonal spread. With only a couple of minutes left, Reg took his time over his lift, hit the shot and completed a TP for a -4t +4t +5tp win.

The semi-finals were one-sided affairs, with 3-0 wins for James Death & Samir Patel and Jenny Clarke & Stephen Mulliner, both of whom were playing Alternate Stroke (ASD). James & Samir had played that option for all matches, with Jenny and Stephen starting in the semi-final. Both pairs continued ASD into the final.

James and Samir had first opportunity in the final, but missed a rush after hoop 1. Stephen hit a 6-yard shot to pick up a break, but missed his own rush before 1-back. From there James and Samir had a run, with five un-answered breaks to take game 1 +20tp, game 2 fifth turn +26tp and first break in the third game. Jenny and Stephen were heard to remark that their new game plan was for James and Samir to not take croquet again, but then embarked on a TPO which would have conceded a contact! However, that never got started, so they settled for a break to 4-back. Samir hit and what would have been a winning TP was well underway before a misapproached 3-back brought that to an end. However, the favour was returned when Stephen managed to get strikers ball back into hoop 5 in the croquet stroke after running rover, leaving Jenny to try to make a roquet through the jaws of the hoop. That failed, given James and Samir their second opportunity to finish, which they took. +20tp +26tp +4.

This win was James and Samir's fourth Open Doubles title.


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