Phyllis Court’s Iyer claims runner-up spot at England handicap final

RAGHU IYER topped some fine performances in national finals by fellow Phyllis Court players last weekend when he finished runner-up in the Association Croquet All England handicap final at Watford.

He won four of his five games, to be clear of the field in second place, having only succumbed to the eventual undefeated winner Phil Snowdon from north-west club Fylde.

Iyer’s achievement is all the more merited given the substantial entry numbers for this national competition which passed through club and regional rounds before the field was whittled down to 16 for the final.

Also playing in national finals last weekend were Phyllis Court club mates, Chris Roberts, Andy Jones and Patricia Mulcahy who had all qualified for their respective end-of-season showpiece tournaments, through achievement during the year.

Roberts played to above his ninth seeding to qualify for the quarter-finals of the English National Singles Championship (ENSC), which is the culmination of the championship series, at Cheltenham last weekend. He got a game off UK number seven James Death in a 2-1 best of three match defeat, then beat outsider David Thirtle-Watts fairly easily 2-0, before meeting former England international Lionel Tibble for a winner qualifies/loser doesn’t showdown in their last block match.

Tibble won their first game 7-5, but Roberts’s deft flick-off to position at hoop 13 gave him a 7-6 win in the second and he dominated the decider to win 7-1.

Sunday morning’s quarter-finals lineup pitted Roberts against another England international, Richard Bilton, with the latter winning 7-4, 7-5. Roberts finished seventh overall.

Jones finished in third place at the C-Level Series national final at Camerton and Peasedown. He won six of his seven games on Saturday to top his block, qualify and get a favorable draw for Sunday’s knockout phase.

Jones beat Jon Carrington 10-8 in the quarter-finals but then lost to Mark Innes 7-6, 6-7, 3-7 in the semi-final before bouncing back with a 7-4 win against Colin Spencer in their third- fourth place match. Mulcahy had a disappointing first day at the same C-Level Series national final but did much better in Sunday’s plate event winning four of her seven games.

On the teams front, Phyllis Court A rounded off a mildly disappointing Southern Croquet Federation (SCF) League season with a 6.5-1.5 victory against High Wycombe last week.

This was the first outing for the first teams of both clubs since the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the occasion was marked by a minute’s silence and the wearing of black ribbons.

Phyllis Court captain Chris Roberts beat Richard Peperell 7-4, 7-6 while Ian Norris and Roger Goldring beat the visitor’s Ian Shore and Alan Clarke in two and three games respectively. High Wycombe answered with one last hoop match win for Michael Bowker against Helena Fensome.

The 3-1 half-time lead was strong and Goldring and Fensome recorded straight match wins against Bowker and Clark in the early afternoon to secure the fixture win.

Roberts competed his second straight match win to defeat Shore while the Norris/Peperell rubber has halved at one win apiece.

Elsewhere, Phyllis Court D scored an 11-5 victory aainst visitors Ryde, from the Isle of Wight, in the semi-final of the SCF Advantage League. The win takes the D side into the league final against Phyllis Court C this week.

The D side wasted no time in establishing a 3-1 first round lead with wins from captain Patricia Mulcahy, Jeff Smith and Paul Franklin and they then turned the screw in the second round, winning all four games to go into lunch 7-1 up , needing only two more wins from the remaining eight games to win the match.

Ryde rallied and won the third round 3-1 with Carol Wadsworth providing the only home win for a match score of 8-4, meaning that Ryde could tie the match with the last four results.

Ryde won the first of the last round games to finish, but then Smith won his game, giving the D team the crucial ninth victory to secure the fixture result, before extra wins for Mulcahy and Franklin. Mulcahy has now seen her handicap cut down to five for the first time.

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