Ten doubles teams survived the 25-team block-of-five doubles block play begun on Sunday to advance to Monday's play-off rounds, six with double life, four with single life. None of the single-life teams survived the play-offs, and neither did the strong team of Carl Mabee and John Phaneuf (national champions in both 1994 and 1996), who entered the playoffs undefeated only to be eliminated in successive losses to Osborn/Mehas and Johnston/Wolman.
USCA president Dan Mahoney and partner Bob Cherry of Georgia are the only team to have suffered no losses in either the blocks or the play-offs. Nevertheless, considering their long and distinguished playing records and recent playing form in singles, the partnership of John Osborn and Mik Mehas - who lost one of their block games to Sheely/Fusz - would have to be considered the strong favorite, now that Mabee and Phaneuff have been eliminated.
Osborn is the sport's winningest player in American rules, having been victorious this year in the Palm Beach Invitational, the Delaware Invitational, and the USCA Mid-Atlantic Regionals. Mik Mehas is coming off a big victory in the USCA International Rules National Championship last month in Oakland, California, and he's on the American team for the World Championships in November in Bunbury, Australia. (Osborn and Mehas are ranked #1 and #2 respectively in CROQUET WORLD's "New American Grand Prix", which tracks and cumulatively measures individual performance of players in America's most important croquet events.)
Doubles Playoff ResultsChampionship Doubles semi-finals and finals on Thursday
Four teams have emerged to play off a complete double-elimination face-off ladder. John Osborn and Mik Mehas, with no losses in the play-off rounds, will face the father-and-son team of Bubby and Doug Grimsley of Virginia, who lost their game against the team of Dan Mahoney and Bob Cherry. Mahoney /Cherry are the only team undefeated in botht he blocks blocks and the play-offs. The Mahoney/Cherry team will face Steve Johnston and Alan Wolman, who were undefeated in the blocks but narrowly lost to Grimsley/Grimsley in the play-offs.
Championship Doubles Block Results and Commentary
BLOCK ONE Osborn/Mehas 3-1 Sheely/P Fusz 2-2 +5 T Hughes/J Young 2-2 -2 J Jones/Uhlman 2-2 -17 Waters/Welden 1-3
Osborn/Mehas were on track to go 4-0 and receive a bye until falling to Sheely and Fusz. Mehas went to stake with red early in the game, but Phil Fusz hit in, took black around and staked Mehas out. However, when trying to clear his rover off yellow, Fusz stuffed penultimate, leaving yellow wired. Johnny lifted to blue near rover and began a three-ball break, but over-rolled #5.
Sheely missed a hoop early, letting Johnny get to 1-back. In last turns, score tied and all three balls together on the east boundary, Fusz rushed Sheely to the stake and staked out, but didn't get blue hidden from yellow. Johnny hit in, made 2-back, leaving a two-ball game, both for 3-back. Johnny got south boundary position, Sheely keeping his distance. Johnny shot 3-back from the boundary, but missd cleanly, allowing Sheely to set up. Johnny returned to the south boundary when Sheely cleared 3-back and went to the north boundary. Osborn made 3-back this time to tie the score again, but continued on out of bounds near blue. Sheely made 4-back after the long take-off for the 23-22 victory. Unfortunately for Sheely and Fusz, their 2-2, +5 record left them 2 net points shy of the playoffs.
BLOCK TWO Wolman/Johnston 4-0 J Hughes/Kroeger 2-2 +39 Berne/Berne 2-2 -7 Nelson/Ruby 2-2 -8 Dill/Mitchell 0-4
A come-from-behind 26-24 victory for Johnston and Wolman over Hughes/Kroeger on Sunday cinched their block lead.
BLOCK THREE J Phaneuf/Mabee 4-0 Grimsley/Grimsley 3-1 Brackett/Houghton 1-3 Griffith/Lloyd 1-3 Robinson/Nicklasson 1-3
Mabee and Phaneuf looked good with four wins to the stake and the Grimsleys got double life by being the best second-place team in all the blocks.
BLOCK FOUR McBride/Cumming 2-2 +12 Shaffer/Curtis 2-2 +7 Mayer/Passarelli 2-2 -1 Koenig/Stettner 2-2 -6 Larkin/P Phaneuf 2-2 -12
Phanuef and Larkin beat Mayer and Passarelli 21-13 in the final game to send McBride and Cumming to the #1 spot in this tightly contested block with an all-round 2/2 win/loss tie.
BLOCK FIVE Mahoney/ B Cherry 4-0 Mead/ Scoggins 3-1 F Jones/Curington 2-2 Bridges/K Jones 1-3 J Spoonhour/Bennett 0-4
Bill Mead and Ken Scoggins won their first three on Sunday before falling 26-3 to Mahoney and Cherry.
[CROQUET WORLD ONLINE MAGAZINE will continue timely coverage of the USCA nationals through the finals on Saturday.]
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