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FOUR TEAMS STILL UNDEFEATED IN DOUBLES PLAYOFFS, WHILE FORMER CHAMPS ARE THROWN INTO LOSERS BRACKET
by Nate Weimerskirch; photography by David Gladstein


Of 24 Championship Flight doubles teams, only eight partnerships remain after two days of play. With a clear advantage are the four teams who won their first game in the double-elimination playoff ladder and thus still have two lives: Osborn / Grimsley, Mabee / Phaneuf, Powell / Beckstead, and Curtis / Shaffer.

Clinging to a single life after losing the first round of the doubles playoff are: Rodoni / Mehas and Hughes / Kroeger, two highly favored doubles teams who must face each other Thursday morning in a survival showdown.

Of the four third-place block finishers who won the right to a single life in the doubles playoff, two of those teams survived to continue playing on Thursday: Dill / Rudy and Mead / Najarian.

PROMISING ROOKIE TEAM WIPED OUT IN BLOCK ONE
Day One leaders Rick Sheely and Phil Fusz met their demise on Day 2, losing 26-2 to Wayne Rodoni and Mik Mehas, then 21-20 to John Dill and Britt Ruby. Against Mehas and Rodoni, Sheely played blue and laid up for #1; Mehas knocked him away, and Fusz and Rodoni entered. After a turn, Sheely took position again. Then Mehas, attempting to send blue away again, just ticked it, caromed through #1, and proceeded to run a long break. Fusz hit in to score one more point, but never shot again in the 26-2 romp.

In their next game, Sheely ran a break in last turns against Dill and Ruby to close the gap to one point, leaving a twice-dead partner in position at 3-back. A 50-foot partially wired hit-in by Dill saved the day, putting Dill and Ruby through to the playoffs and sending Sheely and Fusz to an early afternoon at the beach. Sheely and Fusz were the only team at 3-2 to not make it out of the block.

BLOCK ONE FINAL STANDINGS, CHAMPIONSHIP DOUBLES
Mehas / Rodoni4-1 +60
Cherry / Curington 3-2 +6
Dill / Ruby 3-2 -4
Sheely / Fusz 3-2 -15
Mayer / Thomas 2-3 -10
Houghton / Houser 0-5 -37

THIRD SEEDS GO UNDEFEATED IN BLOCK TWO
Richard Powell and Gar Beckstead survived two nail-biters to complete block play undefeated. In the first game, Beckstead played single-handed for the latter portion of the game and needed a last turn hit-in to score the winning hoop in a 19-18 victory over Harold Brown and Alan Wolman. Beckstead and Powell then scored a narrow 18-16 victory over Jackie Jones and David Barr.

FINAL BLOCK TWO STANDINGS, CHAMPIONSHIP DOUBLES
Powell / Beckstead 5-0 +29
Osborn / D. Grimsley 4-1 +29
Brown / Wolman 3-2 +18
Burchfield / Parker 2-3 +15
Brackett / Passarelli 1-4 -25
JJones / Barr 0-5 -66

IN BLOCK THREE, JONES PLAYS ALONE WHILE HALL GOES TO COURT
Bill Mead and Mark Najarian received little reward for a strong showing, beating Tom Hughes and Bill Martin 21-17, and then toppling previously unbeaten John Fournier and Pat Roach 24-13, finishing 4-1, but no better than third in the block. (The top two teams in each block advance with two lives, while the third-place team also advances to the playoffs, but with only a single life. More on Mead/Najarian in the playoff results).

Fred Jones proved he was a fighter, by scoring 9 points against Fournier and Roach while his partner, Jim Hall had to return to Orlando to testify in court. (No, Jim is not in trouble with the law; it's a land development case.)

FINAL BLOCK THREE STANDINGS, CHAMPIONSHIP DOUBLES
Mabee / Phaneuf 4-1 +70
Fournier / Roach 4-1 +51
Mead / Najarian 4-1 +4
T.Hughes / Martin 2-3 -25
B. Grimsley / Oehrle 1-4 -47
Hall / F. Jones 0-5 -53

IN BLOCK FOUR, CURTIS/SHAFFER CONTINUE TO ROLL
Rich Curtis and Greg Shaffer finished the block undefeated, beating Jim Hughes and Bob Kroeger 24-16 and Bill and Billie Jean Berne 16-12.

FINAL BLOCK FOUR STANDINGS, CHAMPIONSHIP DOUBLES
Curtis / Shaffer 5-0 +55
J. Hughes / Kroeger 4-1 +31
Berne / Berne 3-2 +34
Young / Hoy 1-4 -23
Cumming / Robinson1-4 -38
Degnan / Larkin 1-4 -59

DOUBLES PLAYOFFS BEGIN WITH LAST-TURN HEROICS
Last-minute heroics were the norm on Court 4 at Palm Beach Polo. Britt Ruby ran a break from 6 to the stake, having to pick the third ball out of the corner, to beat John Fournier and Pat Roach. Minutes before, Bill Mead ran from 5 to the stake to topple John Curington and Bob Cherry, 23-22. Cherry and Curington arrived in that loser's bracket game after their last-minute run was spoiled. Cherry ran to rover, left twice-dead partners in position at 6, then dug out the spent ball for partner's three-ball break. It was all for naught however, as Greg Shaffer hit in on Curington from near the #1 corner to preserve a 19-16 win.

CHAMPIONSHIP DOUBLES PLAYOFF STANDINGS AFTER MONDAY PLAY
WINNERS BRACKET
Osborn/Grimsley def. Mehas/Rodoni 26-7
Mabee/Phaneuf def. Hughes/Kroeger 23-20
Powell/Beckstead def. Fournier/Roach 22-18
Curtis/Shaffer def. Cherry/Curington 19-16

LOSERS BRACKET
Mehas/Rodoni def. Berne/Berne 26-11
Hughes/Kroeger def. Brown/Wolman 26-14
Dill/Ruby def. Fournier/Roach 24-22
Mead/Najarian def. Cherry/Curington 23-22

CHAMPIONSHIP DOUBLES PLAYOFF TO BE COMPLETED THURSDAY
Doubles play on Thursday will determine the two finalist teams to meet for the 1996 USCA National Doubles Championship .at 4:00 PM on Thursday at the Palm Beach Polo Club.

In the first round of the Winners Bracket, Powell / Beckstead will play. Curtis / Shaffer; Osborn / Grimsley take on Mabee / Phaneuf

In the first round of the Losers Bracket, it's Mehas / Rodoni vs. Hughes / Kroeger; and Dill / Ruby vs. Mead / Najarian.

The luck of the ladder has brought two of the top teams into confrontation at the beginning of the day Thursday in the Losers Bracket, both teams having already lost one game in the double-elimination play-off: the defending champions (Rodoni / Mehas) and the 1993 championship team of Kroeger / Hughes. Only one of them will survive that game on Thursday morning to continue fighting up the ladder.

FIRST FLIGHT DOUBLES BLOCK RESULTS
BLOCK ONE
Koenig / Stettner 5-0
Morse / Summers 4-1
A. Connelly / Yeilding 2-3, points -5
Stephens / Kent 2-3, points -14
P. Currier / J. Currier 1-4, points -22
P. Phaneuf / Pinkerton1-4, points -25

BLOCK TWO
Bridges / K. Jones 5-1
Spoonhour / Spoonhour 4-2
Mitchell / Wyatt 3-3, points 0
Nelson / P. Parker 3-3, points -17
Baker / G. Fusz 2-4, points -3
H. Currier / N. Young 2-4, points -3
Fleitas / Murphy 2-4, points -16

Round 1 of Thursday's playoffs in First Flight doubles will see Koenig / Stettner facing Bridges / Jones, while the Losers Bracklet will bring together Morse / Summers vs. Mitchell / Wyatt and Spoonhour / Spoonhour vs. Connelly / Yeilding.

SECOND FLIGHT HIGHLIGHTS
Block play in Second Flight singles will continue through Wednesday. At the end of two days of play, Minnesotans George Funk and Ron Eccles lead Block 1 singles with 3-0 records. Funk beat Andy Kozusko 15-10, Eccles beat Lou Fusz 23-15. Fusz and Kozusko are both 2-1. In Block 2, David Maloof and Missy Ramey have 3-0 records, and Art Parsells is at 2-1.

Andy Kozusko and David Maloof lead the doubles block at 3-0.

THIRD FLIGHT HIGHLIGHTS
After two days of play, Ray Cope leads Block 1 singles at 2-0, with Tad Cassidy and Kenny Horne, both 2-0, squaring off Tuesday in Block 2.

Carole Birkhead and Tad Cassidy lead the doubles block at 2-0.


Watch this space for continuing coverage of the USCA nationals in CROQUET WORLD ONLINE MAGAZINE. The next story will feature first reports of Championship Flight singles block play.


 
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