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Rothman scores first-ever consecutive Grand Prix titles

Photos courtesy of Leo Nikora and Ben Rothman
Posted February 12, 2011

Related Links
Ben Rothman's breakthrough year, Croquet World
Rothman and Grimsly 1-2 in 2009 GP, Croquet World
2011 Grand Prix, ongoing, USCA Website
2010 USCA Grand Prix, top 100


Former USCA president Rich Curtis directed the laborious work of re-tooling the Grand Prix for its re-introduction in 1999, and has written the story of the year-long contest each year. The new Grand Prix as well as the old one awards points to anyone who shows up with a mallet in a sanctioned tournament, and every sanctioned USCA event is included. But the re-invented Grand Prix includes a vital provision that only the top six tournament results of each player can be computed in the final tally Ė ensuring that winners cannot top the list merely by playing in every event to rack up an accumulation of points. The winner of the Grand Prix is, necessarily, a very good player. As Croquet World has noted in the past, Rothman Ė a recent finalist in the World Championship Ė is a very good player.

Ben Rothman, croquet pro at Mission Hills in California, is living a very croquet life at the age of 27. In the summer season, he teaches in Maine and competes in top-level tournaments.
In 2009, Ben Rothman won the Grand Prix and with it, the first of what may be many Player of the Year awards. In that year, he fell a mere 265 points short of the record for most Grand Prix points set by the 2008 winner, Doug Grimsley. But in 2010, Rothman left nothing to chance as he racked up 35,150 points, shattering the previous record of 31,720 and becoming the first player to win in consecutive years since the Grand Prix was re-instituted in 1999. The only other players to garner more than two Player of the Year titles are John Osborn and Jeff Soo.

Rothmanís path to the title was simple and direct: big tournament wins, including both the USCA American Rules Single and Doubles National Championships, the USCA Association Rules Doubles National Championship, the USCA National Golf Croquet Singles Championship, the Selection Eights, the Merion Invitational Association Rules, the Greenwich Invitational and the Mission Hills Desert Classic.

Spoiler Number One: Danny Huneycutt can be counted on to give Rothman and other top players a tough contest in any form of the sport.
Rothman was a finalist in the only two major events he contested and didnít win. In the USCA Association Rules Singles Championship and the Mission Hills Invitational he was second to Danny Huneycutt and Bob Van Tassell, respectively.

Huneycutt spoiled Rothmanís bid to become the only player to ever hold the singles and doubles titles in both American Rules and Association Rules, but he was a distant second in the Grand Prix with 22,098 points (up from third in 2009). Rich Curtis was third, Tim Biting was fourth and Chris Patmore was fifth. Curtis and Bitting had their best ever Grand Prix finishes.

Spoiler Number Two: ďSandyĒ Bob Van Tassell shocked the crowd by beating Rothman with consistently excellent play in the Mission Hills Invitational.
Patmore, although only in his second year in the Grand Prix (he was 36th in 2009), was a top player in Great Britain before relocating in the United States. He put together an impressive string of singles victories in 2010, capturing the Beach Club Invitational, the Piping Rock Invitational, the Clayton Cup and the combined Mid-Atlantic/Northeast Regionals.

Completing the top ten were Peter Just, Fred Jones, Derek Wassink, Doug Grimsley and Jackie Jones. Fred and Jackie were one of three husband/wife combinations of note in last yearís Grand Prix. With the exception of Grimsley, who fell from second in 2009 (partly due to his commitment to the MacRobertson Shield), each of these players also improved over their 2009 performance. For Jackie Jones, it was the ninth consecutive year in which she was the top female player and the tenth time overall, a dominating performance. The only other women to hold the honor are Billie Jean Berne (1999) and Audrey Willie (2000 and 2002).

Itís Bill Hamilton in the 3-5 category

In the 3-5 handicap competition, Bill Hamilton took top honors, partly on the strength of his First Flight Singles win in the Palm Beach Invitational and carrying home the coveted Presidentís Trophy. Charles Christian of North Carolina was second and Jan Balson, a singles winner at the Merion Invitational, was third. The next two places were a family affair with Reine Bitting fourth (matching her husband Timís placement in the overall) and Conrad Rugart, Reineís brother-in-law, fifth.

Rodenberg, Fey, and Glowacke excel in 6-8 group

Mary Rodenberg, a member of the Mission Hills Croquet Club and the winner of the USCA Association Rules First Flight Singles Championship, was first in the 6-8 handicap category. Second and third places went to Chris Fey and Chris Glowacki, respectively, both of whom are from Connecticut. Scott Kennedy and Marvin Selles rounded out the top five.

Fierce competition in the 9-11 range

Zack Watson won the 9-11 handicap grouping, coming third in the first flight of the Virginia/West Virginia State Championship. Rebecca Bergovsky of the New York Croquet Club is always in the hunt in the 9-11 Grand Prix category. She was first in 2009, fourth in 2008 and second in 2010. Randall McAndrews of the Woodside Croquet Club in Maine was third. Fourth was Danna Huneycutt, who with Danny, was the other husband and wife combination with high finishes in the Grand Prix last year. Peter Timmins, also of the New York Croquet Club, was fifth.

Erica scores for the USCA staff

The USCA Tournament Services Director, Erica Sherman, was first in the 12 and over handicap category. Erica was a newcomer to tournament croquet in 2010 and won this distinction despite her nine-to-five job at USCA headquarters at the National Croquet Center in West Palm Beach. Ralph Heinz of North Carolina was second and Tom Stoner of Maryland was third, followed by Ken James and Warren Phillips.

Membership in the USCA and participation in a sanctioned tournament is all that is required to compete in the Grand Prix. The number of members participating in one or more tournaments in 2010 was up by about 7.5% over 2009, a good sign of health for the sport in America in difficult economic times.


Top 100 in the 2010 Grand Prix
 
RANKING                 SINGLES DOUBLES  TOTAL
  
1. Rothman, Ben		  21950 13200	35150	
2. Huneycutt, Danny	  16590  5508	22098	
3. Curtis, Richard G.	   9750  9650	19400	
4. Bitting, Kenneth (Tim)  9116  9283	18399	
5. Patmore, Chris	  13892  3930	17822	
6. Just, Peter		  12440  5115	17555	
7. Jones, Fred		   9960  6515	16475	
8. Wassink, Derek	  12390  3990	16380	
9. Grimsley, Doug	   8980  7200	16180	
10.Jones, Jackie	   9302  6685	15987	
11.Mitchell Jr., Johnny	   9780  6105	15885	
12.Cumming, Brian	   9020  5850	14870	
13.Brackett, Richard	   7935  6860	14795	
14.Young III, John	   7830  6290	14120	
15.Chilton, Bob		   9615  2765	12380	
16.Bast, Jim		  10850   750	11600	
17.Van Tassell, Robert	   6570  4840	11410	
18.Hunter, John		   5787  5345	11132	
19.Summer, Steve	   3800  7188	10988	
20.Osborn, John C.	   7500  3350	10850	
21.Maloof, David	   6100  4740	10840	
22.Ruby, Britt		   6464  4202	10666	
23.Whitmore, Robert B.	   2457  8003	10460	
24.Morehead, Ben	   6602  3830	10432	
25.Huxtable, Linda	   6185  4100	10285	
26.Gibbons, Michael	   7292  2715	10007	
27.Huxtable, Ron	   5600  4370	 9970	
28.Hayworth, Horace W.	   3929  5919	 9848	
29.Soo, Jeff		   7580  2100	 9680	
30.Ekstrom, David	   4082  5510	 9592	
31.Davis, Blaine	   4945  4468	 9413	
32.Lamm, Rich		   7090  2100	 9190	
33.Hughes, Tom		   4605  4165	 8770	
34.Lawrence, Stuart	   8350   360	 8710	
35.Loat, Christopher	   5612  2945	 8557	
36.Gillmarten, Charles	   7660   850	 8510	
37.Martin, Bill		   5127  3370	 8497	
38.Scalpone, Steve	   7215  1230	 8445	
39.Johnston, Stephen C.	   4360  4078	 8438	
40.Scott, Paul		   4350  3900	 8250	
41.Whitlow, Charles	   4275  3965	 8240	
42.Simonds, Jane	   5700  2535	 8235	
43.Cherry, Bob		   6475  1344	 7819	
44.Dixon, Donna		   3810  4005	 7815	
45.Quimby, Ted		   3285  3825	 7110
46.Lawrence, Vic	   3365  3698	 7063	
47.Smith, Matthew B.	   5082  1904	 6986	
48.Caldwell, Jeff	   4032  2800	 6832	
49.Spoonhour, James M.	   6740     0	 6740	
50.Gibson, Barry	   4860  1800	 6660	
51.Lloyd, Ron		   4000  2348	 6348	
52.McCoy, W. David	   3350  2865	 6215	
53.Taylor, Mike		   4287  1904	 6191	
54.Hendry, Ron		   3600  2570	 6170
55.Wilhoite, Richard	   3659  2436	 6095	
56.Butts, Jim		   4910  1130	 6040	
57.Harrington, Tommy B.	   4460  1402	 5862	
58.Bennett, Paul T.	   3500  2100	 5600	
59.Billings, Paul	   3455  2100	 5555	
60.Rapuano, Timothy	   2040  3440	 5480	
61.Bent, David		   2450  3000	 5450	
62.O'Laughlin, Edward	   4348   975	 5323	
63.Moore, Douglas P.	   2140  3070	 5210	
64.Turner, James	   2324  2680	 5004	
65.Yoder, Joe		   3520  1400	 4920	
66.McBride, Leo		   2934  1875	 4809	
67.Carmichael, Michael	   4800     0	 4800	
68.Griffith, Matthew	   2482  2184	 4666	
69.Hamilton, Bill	   1609  2955	 4564	
70.Taylor, Jim		    981  3570	 4551	
71.Bidencope, Damon	   4500     0	 4500	
72.Settlemyre, Norris	   2400  1910	 4310
73.Bayard, Rufus	   2902  1395	 4297	
74.Goodwin, Mark Lewis	   3575   700	 4275	
75.Baird, Matt		   3796   476	 4272	
76.Herzog, Jim		   2490  1680	 4170	
77.Williams, Barry	   2808  1288	 4096	
78.Beck, Micah		   2230  1838	 4068	
79.Bake, Robert		   1055  2975	 4030	
80.Warlick, John	   2820  1200	 4020	
81.Cuccia, Russ		   3410   568	 3978	
82.Krause, Tom		   3000   960	 3960	
83.Curington, John	   2100  1840	 3940	
84.Essick, Jon		   2004  1736	 3740	
85.Todorovich, Michael	   3160   540	 3700	
86.Franz, Joe		   1456  2240	 3696	
87.Cooley, William	   2805   778	 3583	
88.Houghton, Neil	    640  2840	 3480
89.Knopf, Ted		   3325     0	 3325	
90.Newton, Kelley	   3145     0	 3145	
91.Seward, Jim		   2592   528	 3120	
92.Ramey, Martha	   1985  1110	 3095	
93.Sheely, Richard	   2640   450	 3090	
94.Christian, Charles	   2670   416	 3086	
95.Nelon, Keith		   2283   772	 3055	
96.Balson, Jan		   1180  1800	 2980
97.Bitting, Reine F.	   1488  1430	 2918	
98.Rugart, Conrad	   1676  1201	 2877	
99.Montgomery, Jack	   1824  1051	 2875	
100.Berbig, Justin	   1487  1340	 2827	


 
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