PICKERING PREVAILS IN AUSTRALIAN NATIONALS OPEN SINGLES,
AGGY READ IS WINNER IN MEN'S, SHIRLEY CARR IN WOMEN'S
by Tony Hall, Australian correspondent
MONDAY, 10 MARCH, 1997 - WOMENS SINGLES BLOCK PLAY
We daren't try to edit our valient correspondent's report on the past seven
days of the 16-day Australian National Championships, so we leave this third
report in journal form and recommend it to you not just for its wealth of
information, but for the light it sheds on the life of the correspondent, one
of the most admired figures in our sport and one of the hardest workers in
the cause of croquet in his native New South Wales. As an administrator, a
coach, a referee, a friend, and a tough competitor, he is hard to beat. At
the last minute, he was drafted to play on the Tasmanian team in the
Interstate portion of the Nationals which follows the singles and doubles
play, so we may have to wait some time for his next report. Read his
serialized personal account, and put yourself into the middle of the Ozzies'
big event - the Australian National Championships of 1997.
Group A, Eastwood: A single block of four dominated by Helene
Thurston, who only lost a total of 20 points in her three games.
Group B, Eastwood: Two blocks of three, as were all the remaining
groups. Merryl Garrod from WA surprised by beating New Zealand champion
Madeline Hadwin in her block and then Robyn Pierce from Queensland, who won
the other block.
Group C, Chatswood: Betty Belz, a former WCF World Championship
competitor, won her block easily but went down to the other block winner,
Diana McCready from WA.
Group D, Chatswood: Wendy King (SA) and Kathy Frey (Qld) won their
blocks easily and Wendy won the final.
Group E, Hurstville: Creina Dawson (SA) and Chris Prater (NSW) came
through without loss, and Creina beat Chris.
Group F, Hurstville: Shirley Carr (SA), fresh (?) from her wins in
the Cammeray Classic, won her two games on time and then beat the other
block winner, Jan Murdock (Qld).
Group G, Mosman: June Hutton and Cynthia Durbridge, both from
Queensland, won their blocks, and June won the final.
TUESDAY, 11 MARCH - WOMEN'S SINGLES FINALS IN TEMPE
Quarters: Helene Thurston beat June Hutton 26-16, Wendy King beat
Creina Dawson 26-7, Shirley Carr beat Diana McCready 26-10, Claire Bamford
beat Merryl Garrod 26-14.
Semis: Thurston beat King 26-10, Carr beat Bamford 26-8.
Final: Carr beat Thurston 26-11. The critical mistake was when
Helene hit in a long shot from the East boundary to her partner ball only a
few yards from the West boundary. She took off to Shirley`s balls in corner
IV but rolled past them to go out by only a few inches.
I should have watched some of these matches but became embroiled in
sorting out why my printer was sulking and refusing to print. I still don`t
know but eventually brought it to heel!
TUESDAY, MARCH 11 - AGGY READ SURPRISE WINNER IN MEN"S SINGLES
At the same time as the Women's Singles, the Men's Singles was being fought
out at Killara.
Quarters: Aggy Read, playing better than for some time, had Bob
Jackson (NZ) down with five minutes to go when I arrived. Aggy made a
mistake (stuck in rover, I think) with one clip on rover and one on 4-back.
Bob, well known for his gentle strolling around the court, actually ran (I
have witnesses!) onto the court with one clip on 1-back and one on 4-back.
He played the forward ball, making 4-back and penult and laid up near
1-back. Aggy hit to a corner, leaving a ball near 3-back. Time was called
and Bob only had to make three hoops to draw and four to win, with a short
rush to his hoop. To our utter amazement, he bounced off 1-back from one foot
directly in front!
To our utter amazement, he bounced off 1-back
from one foot directly in front!
Greg Bury beat Brett Hewitt 26-10. Bruce Fleming beat
Mark Kobelt 26TP-9. Mark Prater beat Max Merlin 26-17.
Semis: Aggy Read beat Greg Bury 26-1. This game started with both
players very wary of the other. Greg kept hitting his balls from corner to
corner and allowed Aggy to make five hoops, one by one, until Aggy left a
half court shot that Greg quickly gobbled up but failed to make more than
the single point. Mark Prater beat Bruce Fleming 26-0.
Final: With half an hour to go, Aggy had both his clips on the peg,
he had pegged out one of Mark`s balls and the other was on 4-back. He should
have finished quickly but at Tempe we waited and waited for the telephone to
ring to tell us the result. It took the full half hour, and Aggy triumphed
It has been announced that the winners of the Men's and Women's
Singles would be automatic Australian selections for the WCF World
Championships in Bunbury WA from 7 to 16 November this year. So Aggy Read
and Shirley Carr will be two of those representing Australia.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 12 - OPEN SINGLES CHAMPIONSHIPS
It is now late afternoon on Wednesday and the Open Singles groups
have been completed. The first six are simple blocks of four and the last
ten are groups of six, each divided into two blocks of three. The round of
sixteen will be played as a best-of-three tomorrow, quarter finals on
Friday, semis on Saturday and the final, still best-of-three, on Sunday.
Block A, Tempe: Bob Jackson won all three games with one triple and
Sandy Bartlem tripled against Judith Speers, who got to 23 against Bob.
Block B, Tempe: Colin Pickering won his three games with three triples.
Terry Regan tripled against Leon Adams.
Block C, Tempe: Bruce Fleming won all three (with one triple, victim
Tony Hall) after a tense last game against John Davis.
Group D, Eastwood: Brett Hewitt won all three with one triple.
Stephen Meatheringham came second.
Group E, Eastwood: Greg Bury won all three with one triple.
Group F, Chatswood: Mark Kobelt won all three games.
Group G, Chatswood: This is the first of the six player groups. Max
Merlin did two triples to win his block. In the other, Doug Amey beat Bruce
Caldwell who beat Trevor Hamersley who beat Doug Amey. Trevor won on net
points and then beat Max 26-20.
Group H, Chatswood: George Latham and Nick Macoun won their blocks,
Nick beating George 26-9.
Group I, Hurstville: Jeff Newcombe won his block beating Aggy Read
23-22. Aggy also lost to Michael Bidencope 17-13. (But Aggy is off to Bunbury
as a consequence of winning Men's Singles.)
The other block was won by Greg Burnes, who becomes an honorary Tasmanian
next week. Jeff beat Greg 26-1. [Hall is referring here to the drafting of
players from other states - including Hall himself - to play for Tasmania,
who came up short in their representatives to the Interstates.]
Group J, Hurstville: Jerry Guest and Mark Prater both won their two
games and Mark beat Jerry 20-15.
Group K, Mosman: Martin Clarke beat Dean Paterson and won both his
games in one block and Chris Prater won her two games. Chris beat Martin
Group L, Mosman: Ashley Faulkner won both his games with one triple.
The other victim was Shirley Carr, who thus ends a marvellous run. Alan
Sands won the other block and was beaten 26-2 by Ashley.
Group M, Sutherland: Barrie Chambers and Creina Dawson were the
block winners, both with two wins, and Barrie beat Creina 26-18.
Group N, Sutherland: Helene Thurston and Wendy King were the block
winners, Helene beating Wendy 26-12. (Helene has recently been elected
President of the WA Croquet Association and won their Gold Medal. Not often
are the best players also leading administrators.)
Group P, Strathfield: June Hutton won her two, including beating
Madeline Hadwin of NZ 26-12, and John Eddes won his two. John beat June
Group Q, Strathfield: Bryan Dawson (maker of Dawson balls) won both
his games, including beating Rosemary Graham 18-13, and Ian Bassett won his
two. Bryan beat Ian 26-7.
So the field for the Open is down to the last sixteen. Five of the
NSW team are through, all four men and one woman, so NSW has
most through. Queensland has three men, Western Australia two men and a
woman and South Australia just two men. Victoria has only the one
representative and the only New Zealander, Bob Jackson, is through and
Tomorrow we have the block round for the Plate, with all
non-qualifiers included in sixteen groups, fourteen with four players and
two with six.
SUNDAY, MARCH 15 - OPEN SINGLES RESULTS REPORTED
I have been playing every day until today so have had no opportunity
to report results of the Australian Open Singles Championship
Thursday, Round of Sixteen (all best-of-three from here on), Killara:
Bob Jackson b Bryan Dawson 23-19, 25-17. Jeff Newcombe b Nick
Macoun 26-4, 26-24. Sutherland: Colin Pickering b John
Eddes 26TP-18, 26TP-0. Mark Prater b Trevor Hamersley 11-26, 26-2, 26-19. Mark Kobelt b
Chris Prater 26-8, 17-26, 26TP-10. Chatswood: Helene Thurston b Bruce
Fleming 26-22OTP, 0-26, 26-1. Brett Hewitt b Barrie Chambers 1-26TPO,
26TP-3, 26-12OTP. Greg Bury b Ashley Faulkner 26-1, 21-26, 26TP-10.
This last match was a titantic struggle,
particularly the end of the last game.
Friday, Quarter-finals, Tempe: Greg Bury b Brett Hewitt 26-7,
26TP-7. Mark Kobelt b Helene Thurston 26-0, 26-3. Colin Pickering b Mark Prater
26-2, 26TP-1. Jeff Newcombe b Bob Jackson 26-9, 15-26, 24-23. This last
match was a titanic struggle, particularly the end of the last game. Jeff
pegged out his forward ball with his other clip on penult with twenty
minutes to go when Bob was on 3 and penult. Bob got in and time was called
while he was taking his back ball to the peg. He tried to rush his other
ball back to penult to win but the peel failed and he had no option other
than to peg out the forward ball.
Two dramas then ensued, one on the court where the players jockeyed for
position, and one in the manager`s office where the Tournament Manager and
Tournament Referee considered the different ways of resolving an impasse. On
court the initial positions were Bob between penult and 4-back and Jeff on
the South boundary with Jeff to play. He shot and missed to B baulk. Bob
moved to the East Boundary, opposite penult. They both then moved only small
distances for some time until Bob went a little way towards corner III. Jeff
took position in front of penult wired from Bob by 4-back, a brave and
accurate stroke. Bob tried to jump 4-back but his ball just touched the top
of the hoop. Jeff ran penult for the win. There had been no need to resolve
an impasse in the 34 minutes that play had continued after time, but a
manager and referee are better prepared than before!
Saturday, Semi-finals, Tempe:
Greg Bury b Jeff Newcombe 26-9, 0-26TP, 26-3. Colin
Pickering b Mark Kobelt 22-26, 26TP-0, 26-3.
Sunday, Final, Tempe: Colin Pickering b Greg Bury 26TP-9, 26TP-0.
THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN PLATE - IN WHICH OUR CORRESPONDENT IS KNOCKED DOWN BY
JERRY GUEST OF ENGLAND, WHO IS BEATEN BY MAX MERLIN
The Australian Open Plate event is held for all those eliminated
from the Australian Open Singles Championship on the first day`s play. It is
designed to give more games to players who have often travelled long
distances to the championships. There were sixteen groups played on
Thursday, the first fourteen with a single block of four and the last two
with six players in two blocks. (This meant that with the eight courts being
used for the first knockout round of the Open, there were 24 courts needed
on this day - quite an effort!)
Group A, Eastwood: Steve Harden from Tamworth in Northern NSW won
all three games.
Group B, Eastwood: Terry Regan lost to Creina Dawson but Shirley
Carr beat Creina and Terry won the block on net points, 2 wins +25 to 2 wins
Group C, Cheltenham: Wendy King won all her games.
Group D, Cheltenham: Stephen Meatheringham won his three games, all
Group E, Mosman: With two withdrawals, Sandy Bartlem won a
best-of-three contest 2-1.
Group F, Mosman: Rosemary Graham won three straight games.
Group G, Hurstville: Tony Hall won three straight games.
Group H, Hurstville: With one withdrawal, Simon Watkins won both games.
Group I, Tempe: Kathy Frey won her three games.
Group J, Tempe: With one withdrawal, Peter Tavender (Secretary ACA)
won both his games, one close one against Greg Burnes, 25-24.
Group K, Tempe: With one withdrawal, Jerry Guest won both his games
with the loss of a total of only three points.
Group L, Marrickville: John Philpott won three games.
Group M, Cammeray: Another withdrawal saw Aggy Read win his two games.
Group N, Cammeray: Alan Sands won three.
Group P, Manly: George Latham won two straight games in his block
and Martin Clarke won two. George beat Martin.
Group Q, Manly: Max Merlin won two and beat Betty Belz who won two
in her block.
Friday, Killara: Round of Sixteen: Max Merlin b Steve Harden 26-20,
Simon Watkins b Kathy Frey 26-15. Quarter-final: Max b Simon 26-14.
Eastwood: Round of Sixteen: Aggy Read b Steve Meatheringham
26-21, John Philpott b Sandy Bartlem 26-1. Quarter-final: John 26-18.
Hurstville: Round of Sixteen: Alan Sands b Wendy King 26-16,
Jerry Guest b Rosemary Graham on forfeit. Quarter-final: Jerry 23-22.
Sutherland: Round of Sixteen: Tony Hall b Peter Tavender
26-1, Terry Regan b George Latham 26-16. Quarter-final: Tony 26-3.
Saturday, Tempe, Semi-finals, best-of-three: Max Merlin b John
Philpott 26-18, 26-11. Jerry Guest b Tony Hall 16-26, 26-11, 26-24. We both
"lost" this last game several times. Towards the end, after Jerry pegged out
one of my balls, with Jerry peg and peg and my ball for rover, I hit in
across the court at his balls on the far boundary supposedly wired by the
peg. My ball missed the peg by a small amount and hit the edge of a ball. I
jammed in rover to lose the match.
Sunday, Tempe, Final: Max Merlin b Jerry Guest 26-18, 26-11.
MID-EVENT CEREMONIES SET THE STAGE FOR STATE TEAMS
Both the Open final and the Plate final finished before noon, having
started at 9.00am. We set up a Japanese Gateball court and played some
lighthearted instructional games while others had some practice until our
Patron, His Excellency The Honorable Gordon Samuels, AC, Governor of New
South Wales, arrived at 4.00pm.
A retired opera singer and croquet player,
Elizabeth Allen (NSW), then led us in singing the National Anthem, "Advance
Australia Fair". Dr. John Castle welcomed our patron and he addressed the
hundred or so gathered for the occasion. Then the Governor received the
Presidents of the State Associations who were present and presented the
winners of the state gold medals with their medals. Dr. Ian Reid, President
ACA spoke, welcoming everyone to the championships.
We set up a Japanese Gateball court and played some lighthearted
instructional games until the arrival our our Patron, His Excellency The
Honorable Gordon Samuels, AC, Governor of New South Wales.
Captains of state teams then called out and introduced to the gathering their
teams and drew a number from the Eire Cup, which is the trophy competed for
over the next week between teams of four men and four women from each state.
The draw decides who plays whom, on which courts and on which days.
At the conclusion of formal proceedings we had tea or coffee and the bar was
open for a few drinks. The official photographer took photos of each team in
their colourful state blazers. As usual, the bright red South Australian
jackets won the day, although the light blue of NSW, the maroon of Queensland
and the green of Tasmania did compete. The Victorian navy blue and WA black
seemed a little sedate in comparison. At about 5.00pm the Vice-Regal party
departed with a minimum of formality, leaving us to get on with the party.
Ultimately, Colin Pickering has triumphed again, with the established
players showing their class.
It is now 11.30pm on Sunday night, and I will do my best to get
this off to you tomorrow. I`m sorry it`s a bit fractured - I`m very tired
due to so much play - would that I had more!
TUESDAY, MARCH 18 - THE BURGLARY AT CHELTENHAM
I arrived at Cheltenham yesterday morning to find that
burglars had ripped out the telephone system for the whole suburb, trashed
the clubhouse and stolen $2000 from the safe. I had to play until 8pm, then
had a meeting until 10pm, got home 11pm. This morning I was again at
Cheltenham with no phones. I`m now at Tempe, and you will soon have the big
PPS: I`ll try to put together a report on the Interstate Cup, but have
little time for it when playing, administering and enjoying it all, on this
wonderful day for croquet: sunny, 24 degrees, gentle zephyr breezes...
As the croquet world waits with bated breath for the next report from our
valient correspondent, we can only wish him well in the Interstates as one of
two non-Tasmanian men drafted to fill out their four-man, four-woman state
team. Still to come are reports on the Interstate team results and the
Silver Medal results, contested among the six individual state champions.