Saturday, 15 May 2021

Roberts loses out to former champion

MEMBERS of Phyllis Court Croquet Club raised £325 for The British Heart Foundation last week when they hosted one of over 40 heats in the Croquet Association’s National Charity One Ball handicap competition.

Half of the field played in a morning session which was won by an undefeated Robin Coates and, in the afternoon, the improving Rick Lilley turned the same trick.

Raghu Iyer was the runner-up with the better record and he joined the two winners in qualifying for the Charity One Ball national final next month.

The first tournament in the National Open Series, held at Cheltenham Croquet Club, saw Phyllis Court members Chris Roberts and Roger Goldring well seeded in mixed field of 29 that included former World AC Champion Stephen Mulliner.

Both men did well on Saturday when Roberts won his block of eight and Goldring finished fourth in his group to also qualify for the second phase knock-out, only for the pair to be pitted against each other in the first round of 16.

Goldring could do little wrong and hit Roberts from all over the park to take their first game of three 7-3 with the match then suspended overnight.

Roberts controlled the second and then deciding game 7-3, 7-4.

Star turn Mulliner had surprisingly been beaten into second place in his block and so took up an unfamiliar place in the knock-out draw, appearing as an opponent for Roberts in the quarter-finals rather than the semis. Despite the Henley man keeping Mulliner at bay for more than two hours, he eventually succumbed to the world number nine in straight games.

Monday at Phyllis Court saw the first of the club’s two handicap singles tournaments.

Fairly close games throughout confirmed the robustness of the club’s handicap regime as Allan Henderson (handicap 10) and Lilley (five) won their blocks, and Coates (one) and Dianne Browne (three) also qualified for the senior half of the afternoon action.

The end of the day resulted in a three-way tie having to be resolved on net hoop scores where Coates’ zero tally put him in third place behind Henderson on plus two and event winner Lilley on plus five.

Lilley and Henderson will now face off against the winner and runner-up of next week’s heat in a round-robin play-off for the Phyllis Court White Ball trophy, and all four will progress to the area finals stage of this years All England Handicap competition.

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