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PROFILING STEVE JONES
CROQUET WORLD'S SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT IN NEW ZEALAND


Steve Jones was born in 1951 near Liverpool, England. His croquet roots were nurtured by his grandfather, who as a parish priest played croquet on the inevitable vicarage lawn. His parents also played backyard croquet, and Steve had much early practice at despatching opponents into various shrubberies as the family moved to Newcastle and then to Bristol.

Unknowingly, Steve was living in Bristol at the time Nigel Aspinall was in his heyday at the Bristol club, but it wasn't until ten years later that Steve wandered into the Cheltenham Croquet Club. By this time he was married, had three young children, and was studying for a PhD, which he obtained in 1980. In 1982, Steve and his family emigrated to New Zealand, where he went to work at the government's scientific and industrial research institute.

Steve had to wait until 1987 before winning his first national title - the President's Invitation. Since then, honours have come more readily. He has won the New Zealand doubles title twice (with Tony Stephens and Paul Skinley), was runner-up in the NZ Open to Bob Jackson in 1992, and finally winner of the Open Championship in 1996. In 1988 he made his international debut playing in the Sonoma-Cutrer World Singles Championship for the first time; in 1989, he won the Sonoma event without losing a match. He was runner-up in 1990 and played there once again in 1992.

He has played in four World Croquet Federation world championships, two winning Trans Tasman Test series, and three MacRobertson Shields. He is a religious record-keeper, having completed 261 triple peels to date in his career. He is at present writing a book on triple peeling tactics and anecdotes, which he aims to finish by Christmas - and for which, he says, he is already accepting advance orders.

Steve, coached by his wife Barbara, is currently a member of the Wellington, Waimarie and Naenae croquet clubs and has just completed a stint of 11 years as an executive member of the Wellington Croquet Association, of which he was Handicapper, Referee and President (though not all at the same time). He does have a little time left for non-croquet pursuits - including appreciating good food and wine, and traveling to exotic locations in New Zealand and around the world.



 
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