SA Croquet National Tournament – Talk of the Town

BRIAN MCLEAN

The Port Alfred Bowls and Croquet Club recently hosted a very successful South African Croquet National tournament with a record 65 participants from across the country.

Sadly, one of the contestants, Vince Atterbury, was killed in a car accident near George on his journey to Port Alfred and a minute of silence was observed on opening night.

Another point to be made is that C Burrows and P Fanner were together 180 years old, 93 and 87 years old respectively.

Competition was fierce, but everyone enjoyed it, according to Port Alfred croquet president Roger Darkes.

“Due to the number of players we had to use five lanes, meaning four greens had to be used so no bowls could take place during the competition. Many thanks to the bowlers for stepping down.

“Otherwise the weather conditions were excellent apart from a little rain on Friday,” Darkes added.

Of the local players, Ria Burger and Ellen Wolmarans lost their category semifinals. Helmut Hartleb lost in the play-off in the limited handicap singles and Peter Wansell was eliminated in the open singles by Peter Dreyer. Dave Venter from East London emerged as the winner.

As expected, the final match of the tournament, the open singles, was played between two players representing South Africa at the World Cup, Judith Hanekom from Somerset West and Victor Dladla from Johannesburg. After an exciting match that ended at 6:30 PM, the winner was Hanekom, a former world champion.

The competition concluded with an awards ceremony and finger soup with awards presented by SA Croquet president Mike Moore and Port Alfred croquet club convenor, Noeline Kirsten.

Social croquet is still played on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons from 1.15pm. For potential new players interested in learning how the game is played, the Port Alfred Bowling & Croquet Club offers free croquet lessons. For more information, please contact Roger 082-373-8181 / Peter 071-552-9780.

Former World Champion tries Port Alfred’s croquet greens

“One shot at a time.” That is the advice that former women’s croquet women’s world champion Judith Hanekom has for all players.

TIME TO CHILL: Former croquet world champion Judith Hanekom recently relaxed before a match in Port Alfred

Hanekom, from Somerset West, was crowned world champion in 2014 after beating New Zealand’s Jenny Clarke in the final in Cairo.

Hanekom, who recently took part in the SA Nationals croquet in Port Alfred, said that while she played hockey, tennis and squash at school, she never really got into these sports.

So how did her interest in croquet come about?

“At school I joined a youth group on Friday evenings and met Charles Barlow, who was a croquet player. One day I saw him exercising while walking and he invited me to come along.

“Then I was invited by a player to play in doubles, which I did and once I understood the basics of the game, the croquet bug bit off,” Hanekom said with a smile.

Hanekom, whose favorite food is sushi and whose hobby is acrylic painting, has competed in two world championships, both in Cairo. The first was a combined men’s and women’s challenge and the second was a women’s only challenge where she became the champion.

“I remember that the final, which eventually ended under floodlights, lasted almost six hours,” she said.

The former world champion who is a deputy economist at a private school in Somerset West and who owns three dogs has been playing croquet for some 30 years.

Asked about the different playing conditions, Hanekom said that wind can be a problem for some people, but you have to believe in yourself.

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