Cliff-hanger Win At Doubles Tournament
12 pairs of players contested Bath Croquet Club’s recent Walter May national doubles weekend tournament. Players came from as far away as Cornwall and Kent, as well as players from Cheltenham, Poole, Kington Langley and Bath.
The standard of play was high, and the games were very close, but by the end of the first day Bath players Richard and Connie Stopforth were clear leaders with three wins from three games in their section. On the final day, the Stopforths playing with great skill and care increased their lead in the morning by winning their fourth game.
The final pitted the Stopforths against the winners of the other section, tournament manager Cliff Jones and his partner Julie Horsley. It was an exciting final with the Bath pair going ahead early on due to their higher handicaps and skilful use of their bisques (extra turns) against the more experienced Jones and Horsley. When time was called, the Stopforths were both for the final rover hoop with Jones and Horsley both two hoops behind.
In his final turn Jones managed to engineer a break from an almost impossible position, and peeled his partner’s ball through a hoop whilst also running three hoops with his own ball in order to level the score. It was now required for one of the teams to score a ‘golden hoop’ to win the tournament. Connie Stopforth came onto the lawn and shot at the opponents balls, but narrowly missed. In a nail biting finish Horsley rushed Jones’ ball to the hoop, took croquet and then scored the hoop with her continuation stroke to win the match and the tournament by just one point.
The final was a fitting tribute to a keenly fought tournament, enjoyed by all the players and for the first time for several years there was no rain.
(Article also published in the Bath Chronicle)