PHYLLIS COURT CROQUET
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30 April - Robinson springs surprise on Day 1 of our A-Level (0+) Series Tournament

Russell Robinson put in an unexpectedly good performance today that made light of his outsider seeding, to qualify for the senior 'Cup' half of this tournament tomorrow.
Playing in the Phyllis Court based block (the other one was at co-hosts High Wycombe), Robinson secured the third of four qualifying places behind Helena Fensome who lived up to her high billing by topping the block.
Richard Peperell also qualified (via the High Wycombe base block) giving Phyllis Court representatives still in the hunt for the Cup tomorrow.
Missing the cut this time were Raghu Iyer, Robin Coates, Bill Pitkeathley and Rick Lilley, who will all play in the 'Plate' event tomorrow.
1 May - Disapointment for Pc players at Day 2 of our A-Level (0+) Series Tournament

There was disappointment for Phyllis Court players in both the Cup and Plate events today at High Wycombe CC and at home respectively.
Helena Fensome's good form of yesterday (when she won 6 out of 7 games) deserted her and along with surprise package Russell Robinson, the pair only managed two wins between them in today's cup event at High Wycombe.
Richard Peperell faired a little better but no Phyllis Court players got near Winner Paul Gunn of Wingrave.
In the 'Plate' event at Phyllis Court, Robin Coates swept aside all before him until a last round showdown versus Charlie Sale of Ealing, where even a narrow loss would have been enough for Coates.
But uncharacteristically he lost that crucial game 2-7 allowing Sale to pick up the 'Plate' on net hoop count.

7 May - Phyllis Court 'D'    7 - 9    Blewbury 'D'   - Mulcahy's return to form

Phyllis Court 'D' played their second fixture of the 2021 Advantage GC League campaign today but lost narrowly to their Blewbury counterparts.
The understandable nerves show by the team of debutants in their season opener were nowhere to be seen this time and the side were truly competitive throughout the fixture which included some memorable moments, none less than Liz Smith (11 handicap) taking Blewbury's John Garnett (2) to the last hoop and battling it out with the very much senior player for a full 15 minutes before Garnett eventually scored the winner.
Top scorer for PCC 'D' was Patricia Mulcahy who bounced back to form after a disappointing outing at the Watford C-Level (7+) Series tournament in the previous week.
She scored three good wins, including one over Garnett, and this should be excellent confidence booster ahead of her appearance in next week's Ryde C-Level tournament on the Isle of Wight, which she is attending along with Phyllis Court club mate Carol Wadsworth.
Hugh Baylis gave a solid two-win performance, and both Julia Green and Liz Smith scored first league game victories and the result of the whole fixture was in doubt right up to the last hoop of Green's fourth and final game, when Blewbury's David Long squeaked the narrowest of 7-6 results.
PCC 'D' - Hugh Baylis (11), Julia Green (11), Liz Smith (11), Patricia Mulcahey (11)
8 May - Phyllis Court 'A'   v High Wycombe 'A' (away) - Postponed

Phyllis Court 'A' were frustrated to have their much-awaited fixture at local rivals High Wycombe postponed due to the poor weather on Saturday, and an early new date is being arranged for a reconvened contest.
PCC 'A': Charlie von Schmieder (-2), Chris Roberts (-3), Roger Goldring (-1), Ian norris (-1)

Looking not too far ahead, Phyllis Court 'A' have drawn an away tie at Watford in the National Inter-Club Championship in a match to be played before the end of 14 June.
And also, on the national scene, Phyllis Court entertain Croquet Durham on in the GC Federations Shield (for the regions' Handicap League Champions) on 29 June.
The north-east team will set a new domestic record as the side who have come from furthest away to play at Henley.
10 May - Phyllis Court 'C' 12,  v Harwell 4  - Pitkeathley is PC top dog

Phyllis Court C swept aside Harwell to record an impressive 12-4 victory on Monday which took them to the top of the Southern Croquet Federation Advantage League (North) table.
Coming hot on the heels of their big win over Phyllis Court D two weeks ago, the C have really laid down a marker for all their league opponents to take notice.
Particularly impressive was their clean sweep of games in round three which put the fixture result beyond doubt at that point with four games still to play.
Bill Pitkeathly was the pick of the PCC 'C' side and was unbeaten in his four games, as he hit a career high in reducing his handicap to 5 for the first time.
Colin Morgan and Michael Christmas pitched in with three wins each and although Kevin Ward recorded only two wins, his other two games were incredibly close affairs, both ending in a 6-7 reverse.
PCC 'C' - Bill Pitkeathley (6), Colin Morgan (6), Michael Christmas (6), Kevin Ward (9),
13 - 14 May - Henderson wins plaudits and (with partner Roberts) wins the AC Barnses Cups

The very welcome resurgence of Association Croquet (AC) at Phyllis Court was in evidence last week at the Club's Spring tournament where numbers were sufficient to enable a return to its traditional doubles format for the first time in six years.
AC novice Allan Henderson took the plaudits with an unbeaten performance alongside the experienced Chris Roberts to lift the Barnses Cups ahead of a field of five 'master and apprentice' doubles pairings.
Henderson showed a good grasp of the two-ball croquet stroke which is unfamiliar to golf croquet players taking up AC, and he combined this well with the patience needed to construct a break which, just like in snooker, is all important in this game, rather than scoring an odd easy single point.
Organiser Raghu Iyer has been battling away for some years with barley enough AC players to keep the older form of croquet alive at Phyllis Court and fielding teams for inter-club matches has been very difficult.
Now with Michael Christmas, Roger Goldring, Rick Lilley and Russell Robinson all showing promise at this introductory guided tournament, the hope is that together with others such as Phil Johnson, Patricia Mulcahy and Carol Wadsworth a new wave of enthusiasm will breathe new life in to the AC code.
17 May - Ward comes third The Phyllis Court National C-Level (7+) Sereis tournament

Kevin Ward was the pick of the Phyllis Court players at the Club's hosted tournament in the national C-Level (7+) Series competition on Monday.
Despite getting a late call up from the reserves list, Ward showed no sign of nerves at this, his first non-internal tournament, and finished in an excellent third place, earning four Series points and an initial place on the national rankings, which will aid any other entry applications for other C-level Series tournament around the country.
Ward was only one win behind the tournament winner, Naomi Whitehead from Cheltenham, who finished on five wins ahead of four players. that included Phyllis Court's Tony Peperell, all tied on four, in a close tournament that was punctuated by frequent rain showers.

               - Our Bowdry machine saves the day again - what a good purcahse!

Like the AC event a few days earlier, the event was only able to take place thanks to the timely arrival of the Croquet Club's new Bowdry water removal machine, which has proved to be wise investment already.
The manually propelled Bowdry has a large sponge covered roller which soaks up standing water which is then squeezed in to a collection vessel with a mangle roller. It is marvellously efficient and, as demonstrated twice already, enables tournaments and team matches to be kept on the road rather than facing cancellation.

17 May - East Dorset 'B'    5 - 3    Phyllis Court 'B'

Monday's rain was not localised either, as Raghu Iyer's Phyllis Court B found out when they travelled to Poole near Bournemouth for their first league match of the season against East Dorset CC.
The hosts were favourites on paper, fielding three players on the limit of the handicap restriction for this SCF B (3+) League fixture and a fourth player on 4, to Phyllis Court's team of two 3s and two 5s.
Yet the Henley side rose to the challenge well with Rick Lilley making light of a two-step handicap difference in demolishing the experienced Hannes Hamman 7-2, 7-6 and Dianne Browne scoring an excellent 7-5, 6-7, 7-2 win over the high ranked Michelle Leonard, being the pick of the morning results.
Russell Robinson added a third win for Phyllis Court B in the afternoon when he took out Hamman, 7-2, 6-7, 7-5 but East Dorset closed out a 5-3 result in this tight fixture in which only two of the eight rubbers were won in straight games.
PCC 'B' - Raghu Iyer (3), Dianne Browne (3), Rick Lilley (4), Russell Robinson (5)

19-20 May - Richard Peperell wins Watford AC B-Class tournament

Richard Peperell dropped only one game in seven as he won the B Class at the Watford AC Advanced midweek tournament, where he also finally reduced his handicap to 2.5Meanwhile, Chris Roberts outplayed his low seeding in the A Class to record three good wins against much higher ranked opponents.
21 May - Phyllis Court 'D'     6 - 10     Caversham 'A'

Phyllis Court 'D' were left still looking for their first league win.
This time is was Caversham 'A' who won the contest 10-6 thanks to undefeated displays by David Dibben and Anne Small, which made all the difference against a Phyllis Court 'D' team giving Steve Morton a recall selection and Gillian Symons a team debut.
PCC 'D' - Steve Morton (10), Hugh Baylis (11), Julia Green (11), Gillian Symons (11)
22 - 23 May - Roberts beats international players on way to third place at Budleigh Open

Chris Roberts beat two England international players on his way to an impressive third place at the National Open Series tournament at Budleigh Salterton in Devon this weekend.
In driving rain and a howling gale, Phyllis Court's Roberts focused accurate centre ball clearances made light of the elements to beat both Lionel Tibble, a seasoned international from Northampton, and new England selection Steve Leonard from Somerset, in an impressive second day performance that out performed his seeded position.
He lost in the semi-finals to new England captain Stuart Smith of Sidmouth but this return to form bodes well for Roberts and his Phyllis Court first team, who get their National Inter-Club Championship campaign underway at Watford tomorrow (Saturday).
The Henley side will be a full strength with Irish International Charlie von Schmieder at number one, Roberts, Roger Goldring and Ian Norris,

                      - Goldring beats 'England call-up' Euan Burridge at the Hunstanton Open

Roger Goldring was also in Open Series action thisweekend but on the other side of the county at Hunstanton, West Norfolk, where he beat another England call up in 18-year-old Euan Burridge on a mixed first day where he missed the cut for the knock-out stage by the slim margin of net hoops.
He won six out of seven plate games on day two but again missed out on the event win due to a tournament format complexity.

                      - Lilley has a 'mixed bag' at the East Dorset B-Level (3+) Series - but reduces his handicap to 4

In the National B-Level (3+) Series, Phyllis Court's Rick Lilley returned to Poole in East Dorset after a gap of juts five days and found the now familiar courts to his liking.
He bounced back superbly from a shock first game defeat to win his remaining six first day games to comfortably win his block and earn what should have been a favourable position I the seeded knock-out.
However, day two opened with a narrow 9-10 defeat for Lilley and later closed in further disappointment with an eighth-place finish, tempered only by a triggering of his handicap to 4, which is a first-time achievement.

24 May - Phyllis Court '0+'     5 - 2     High Wycombe '0+'  - Coates and M.Fensome are undefeated

Phyllis Court got one over on rivals High Wycombe in a first stand-alone fixture for players with handicaps of 0+.
Mike Fensome and Robin Coates were the pick of the Phyllis Court players, each winning both their 'bets of three' rubbers, with Fensome undefeated, as Phyllis Court won 5-2, and High Wycombe thanked the hosts' Rick Lilley for standing in for their absent fourth team member.
PCC '0+' - Robin Coates (0), Mike Frensome (1), Helena Fensome (1), Raghu Iyer (3)
* Our Rick Lilley (4) was a guest player for High Wycombe!
20 May - Henry Sless wins evening taster tournament for beginniers Class of 2021

Russell Robinson reports:
Eight of this year's newly-trained members turned out for our first evening tournament, managed by Russell Robinson.
Thankfully, the afternoon rain eased off to just the occasional drizzle, although our brave malleteers were somewhat blown about and chilled to the core by the rather strong wind.
The tournament commenced with a group stage of three games timed at 30-35 minutes plus eight strokes. Pleasingly, all players won at least one game.
In group one, Aly Warren started really well with 6-3, 5-3 wins, before faltering in her final game to Jean Forster, but her two wins were enough to top the group.
Maureen Ward and Sue Rumford shared the spoils in their final game, but Maureen finished second in the group on net hoops.
In the other group, Henry Sless swept all aside with three wins, although he needed the last of the eight extra strokes to defeat John Farrall, 4-3.
With the other three players (Ian Forster, John Farrall and John Rumford) on one win each, it was John Rumford blistering performance in his final game, when he ran out of pegs and scored eight hoops, that took him to second place in the group.
The evening finished with full one-hour games to decide the overall positions.
In the third-place play-off, John Rumford prevailed over Maureen Ward, 6-3 and the final between Aly Warren and Henry Sless was very keenly contested; after initial tit-for-tat left the score at 3-3, Henry powered into a 6-3 lead, pegged back to 6-4 with Aly's second successful long hoop shot.
There was then a very long battle for hoop 11, eagerly watched over by the other four players who were rounding the evening off with a convivial game of doubles, but had to wait patiently at their hoop 6.
Ultimately, the final was won at the hoop 13 by Henry, 7-6, so congratulations a bottle of vino go to him!
The evening achieved its objective of introducing some of our beginners to other members of similar calibre and was played in very good spirit, with the right balance between conviviality and competition.
The overall standard of play was remarkably good, considering all eight players are so new to the game, so very well done to all. The crowd of five were well entertained!
The second evening tournament, with another eight of the 'Class of 21' takes place on Monday 31 May, when I am hoping for a warmer evening!
27 May - First 'pre-booked' Mix-in enjoyed today - Book in for the next one now!

17 out of a maximum 20 members attended our first 'Pre-booked Mix-in' session today.
It is intended to run these on Thursday afternoons for now on - so please bookfor the one of bouth of the sessions on 3 June an/or 10 June - it's first come forts sereved and currently we can only take 20.
28 May - Russell Robinson regains the Red Ball Trophy
                 with win at our 3+ Singles day-tournament
                  (and he reduces his handicap to 4)

The club's best mid-handicapped players were in action on Friday, contesting the 3+ day tournament for the converted Red Ball trophy.
The early exchanges were mostly close affairs and by round three, all eight players had lost at least one game and by the mid-afternoon three players, top seed Raghu Iyer, Russell Robinson and Michael Christmas were still I the hunt on only one loss.
Robinson looked the stronger as each round went by and, as the field set off for the last of their seven games, the tournament was his to lose as he faced the tricky challenge of the fast improving Rick Lilley needing to win to hold on to his one game advantage over Iyer.
He duly saw off trophy holder Lilley and reclaimed the title that he'd won in 2019.
Christmas got a special mention from Manager Frances Colman for seriously outplaying his lowly seeding and Robinson was congratulated on his victory which was made all the sweeter by a resulting first-time handicap reduction to 4
Block A
RI
DB
RR
RL
CM
BP
MC
KW
net hoops
WINS
Rank
  Raghu Iyer

7
6
7
7
3
7
7
+13
5
2
  Dianne Browne
4

7
3
7
7
6
7
-4
4
5
  Russell Robinson
7
6

7
7
7
7
7

6
1
  Rick Lilley
3
7
3

7
7
7
5
+2
4
3
  Colin Morgan
3
6
0
4

7
5
7
-12
2
7
  Bil Pitkeathly
7
6
5
5
6

2
7
-3
2
6
  Mike Christmas
4
7
3
4
7
7

7
+1
4
4
  Kevin Ward
3
6
5
7
3
4
4


1
2
29 May -   PCC 'A' knocked-out of National Inter-Club Championship 

Phyllis Court made an unaccustomed early exit from the National Inter-Club Championship at Watford on Saturday.
The 4-3 defeat was unexpected for the Henley side who had reached two national finals and one semi in the past three seasons, and although they gave a good account of themselves, taking six of the seven rubbers to a deciding game, they came up just short.
Watford got off to a great start with Jason Carley defeating Phyllis Court's Ian Norris in 7-4, 7-6 in remarkably quick-time, just as the other morning matches were commencing their second games.
Phyllis Court number three, Roger Goldring, had to come from one game down to sneak past Geoff Johnson 3-7, 7-4, 6-7 and in the doubles match between the clubs' top two players, Phyllis Court's Charlie von Schmieder and Chris Roberts had to turn the same trick to score another narrow victory.
The turning point of that doubles rubber was when Watford's Simon Hethrell tried a deft promotion of his partner's ball in to the jaws of hoop 11 of the deciding games, which, had it worked would have given the hosts a commanding position for the crucial last three hoops.
However, the promoted ball veered off as it slowed and ended up coming to rest against the hoop leg with just enough room for a scoring stroke to get by.
Von Schmieder than played to stoke of the match to score from a tight angle and in doing so, he cleverly avoided disturbing the Watford ball to leave it hampered for the contest for the next hoop.
With two balls against one, and a solid routine clearance from Roberts, von Schmieder had the easiest of tap-ins for the match 5-7, 7-6, 7-5, to give Phyllis Court a 2-1 lead at half-time.
Both sides had seen enough to think they could win the fixture in the four afternoon head to head rubbers but neither could be over-confident of success as the slow pace of the courts improved markedly as the temperature slowly increased in to a lovely afternoon.
The blue skies were matched by the Phyllis Court team finally being able to show off their new sky blue kit, and good they looked too, as they took advantage of a relaxation of the predominantly white clothing tournament regulation for team ware this year.
Norris was first to finish his afternoon match again, and his 2-7, 7-3, 7-6 win put Phyllis Court in to a strong position at 3-1 up with just one win required in any of the remaining three rubbers.
Goldring did well to bounce back from a quick first game loss, to win the second in his match but, just as he had done in the morning session, Carly scored another win for Watford 2-7, 7-6, 5-7.
Von Schmieder had the tough job of trying to contain the high ranked Nick Archer, who's big claim to fame, is having knocked out reigning Champion Reg Bamford form the most recent World Championships.
Archer was handful all day with accurate clearance strokes and audacious long-range hoop scores.
Von Schmieder took the first game but was then on the receiving end of Archer's confident high-risk/ high reward style of play which paid off well with a 7-5, 5-7, 3-7 win to level the fixture at 3-3, as all eyes fell on the remaining Roberts v  Hathrell match.
Roberts had been unfortunate to 'peel' his opponent (croquet's own goal) through hoop 12 in the first game, throwing the game result in the process, and had it not been for that would have secure a Phyllis Court victory when he dominated the second game.
Instead the deciding game turned at hoop 9 when Hathrell managed to nestle in the jaws of the hoop and then position superbly to score hoop 10 too, leaving Roberts needing all the reaming hoops.
Ultimately Roberts had the most difficult of 'clearance or hoop' decisions to make with the centre peg all but obscuring both, after much thought and re-thought, he eventually he chose the long hoop shot option, missed, and win with that stroke, Phyllis Court were out of the cup.

PCC 'A' - Charlie von Schmieder (-2), Chris Roberts (-3), Roger Goldring (-1), Ian Norris (-1)

29 May - Ruth Raunkiaer wins second evening mini-tournament for the beginners Class of 2021

Russell Robinson reports:
Another eight of this year's newly-trained beginners enjoyed a beautifully warm, sunny evening on the croquet courts in the second evening tournament for the 'Class of 21' , in very much better weather conditions than the first group had endured eleven days earlier.
As before the players were divided into two blocks, each playing the other three in their block in a game timed at 30-35 minutes plus eight strokes. 
Ruth Raunkiaer and Danny Hall dominated block 1, each winning two games but their opening game against each other was a 3-3 tie.
Ruth won the block by virtue of a net hoop difference of +6 compared to Danny's +5 - it would thus have gone down to a "closest to the peg" shoot-out, were it not for Ruth peeling her black ball through with blue with the final stroke of her third game!  Elsewhere in the group, Sandra Dent prevailed by one hoop in a very tight contest with Alan French.
Colin Hall swept aside Diana Wildman, Sue Lambert and Andy Jones in block 2, winning each game by two or three hoop margins. Diana won her other two games to come second in the group.
The military-precision timing of the block games meant there was an hour available for the final games.  The "consolidation" games were won by Sue and Andy, while Diana beat Danny for third place.
The final between Ruth and Colin was a very closely fought affair, with some very good croquet being played.  It was nip and tuck for the first half of the game, before Ruth romped away to win 7-4, from being 4-3 down.  Congratulations and a box of chocolates to Ruth!
All players equipped themselves well in closely contested games (only four of the 16  were won by margins of more than two hoops). The tournament was played in excellent spirit and succeeded in its objective of introducing some of our new members to others of similar ability.
The third tournament, with a further eight of this year's cohort is scheduled for the evening of 17 June.