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Newcomer’s composure key to doubles win

The Barry Memorial Croquet Club’s recent handicap doubles tournament was the first big contest for some of the club’s new members, and they took to the lawns with gusto.

There were nine pairs split into two pools.

In Pool A, which had five pairs, Dave Newton and Mary Dixon went through unbeaten but they had to fight for their points.

They beat Ross Thomson and Klaus Sorensen 5-4, drew with John Wilson and Karen Hollamby 4-4, beat Christine McCullough and Murray Woods 5-4, and scraped in again 5-4 against Chris Newton and Robyn Chaffey.

Runners-up were Christine McCullough and Murray Woods. They defeated Thomson and Sorensen 7-5, Newton and Chaffey 7-4, and Wilson and Hollamby 6-4, losing 4-5 to Newton and Dixon.

Pool B with four pairs was won by Per Elzen and Francis Yates on a countback over Jenny Barns-Graham and Maurice Allan. Each pair had two wins and a loss but Elzen and Yates had a superior hoop differential.

They defeated Barns-Graham and Allan 7-3, Muriel McMillan and Ina Elzen 7-2, but went down to David McEwan and Richard Rice 5-6.

Although Barns-Graham and Allan lost the one game, they beat McEwan and Rice 6-4 and McMillan and Elzen 7-2.

The finals were torrid affairs. In the play-off for third and fourth, McCullough and Woods were very active in hitting the balls of Barns-Graham and Allan away to dominate the hoop, but their opponents ran some good hoops, keeping them honest right to the finish.

In the end, McCullough and Woods wore their opponents down, winning 7-4. The play-off to establish the tournament winners saw unbeaten Newton and Dixon pitted against Elzen and Yates.

Both pairs battled for dominancy at each hoop, running neck and neck. The difference in the end was new member Dixon’s accuracy in following her more experienced partner’s advice on shot options.

Time and again they were in a seemingly hopeless position and her composure and accuracy turned their defending into an attacking opportunity, and they consequently ran the hoop. Newton and Dixon finally won 6-4.

The most valuable player of the tournament was voted on at the end of the day and Dixon was the unanimous choice. The improvement in her play since a coaching session a few weeks ago was astounding and it is hard to believe she only commenced the game a few months ago.

The Barry Memorial Croquet Club in Aberdeen Road is one of the few that can continue croquet throughout the winter, unfazed by the weather due to great soil conditions and drainage.

Club days continue on Friday and Sunday afternoons from 1pm, and those wishing to try the game are most welcome to come along.

HANDICAP DOUBLES FINALISTS: Runners-up Francis Yates (left) and Per Elzen, and winners Dave Newton and Mary Dixon. Dixon was also named the contest’s most valuable player. Picture supplied