Friday, June 19, 2009

An Epic Doubles Playoff Ladder

At last weeks Southeast Regional, young punk Charlie Gillmarten and I played together in the championship flight doubles. It was tons of fun and we even managed to win a few games. Here is my memory of the eventful final day:

The semi-final match, Sunday morning, was back and forth between locals Bob Cherry and Frank Thompson and the young guns Ben Rothman and Charlie Gillmarten. After a prolonged out game between Ben and Bob, Ben pulled off an attack in a very tricky corner four, nearly rolling his ball out of bounds on the pass roll to the opponents. Charlie took the break around, but before he could peel his partner, he made 4-back and went out of bounds. Bob and Frank seized the innings and played a shrewd deadness game. Even as they failed a croquet-out play, they retained overall control and made several difficult attacks until Bob had a game ending break chance. Before the break was fully realized (no pioneer) Bob chose to attack back near that risky corner to get the fourth ball, but his roquet rolled off. The bearded boys got clean and took the lead going into last turns leaving Bob one last chance. As last last ball, the former National Champion went ball to ball to get a rush as close to wicket 5 as he could. Bob needed only score 1-back for the win, but missed the roquet after making hoop 5 giving the finals spot to the twenty-something croquet bums.

The other side of the ladder which had the lone dominant result, with the only team to score over 20 points in a game, was another Pinehurst combination of Horace Hayworth and Mike Taylor who managed to effectively handle the team of John Knott and Barry Williams 25-10 in the semi-final.

In the doubles final, the kids tried a croquet out while Horace and Mike were separated by 12 feet across corner 1. Horace said, “this is when Ben likes to screw with your head” and promptly hit the line ball to take the break using only opponent balls. All was well until Horace stuffed hoop 6, handing Ben a laid 3-ball break with the spent ball. Ben went around but stopped after penultimate with a leave that nearly wired the danger ball and left a rush for his partner-dead teammate. Mike took the hail mary shot from 100 feet and while missing the peg, he hit hoop 3 and stayed on court. Charlie started strong, peeling partner through rover on the second attempt (a rush peel after making wicket 6) but missed the following wicket. Horace took the reins again and made it count by staking out Ben's ball. With around 20 minutes remaining, Mike went about his slow and methodic two balling. The home team needed a mere six wickets to take the lead. After some jockeying, Mike took the lead and separated. Charlie managed to get in position at 1-back and with only one minute remaining, Charlie made the go ahead wicket. The precise hoop shot left Charlie 1 foot past position at 2-back, so he escaped to corner three as time expired. To begin last turns, Horace was in corner two while Mike was out of bounds a few yards north of corner four and for wicket 2-back. Needing the game tying point, Horace shot at the peg with just enough pace so that if he missed, which he did, it set a straight six foot rush for Mike. Mr. Taylor, who was recently lowered to a 2 handicap showed that he has ice water running through his veins as he made a great rush and tied the game. He shot so well, in fact, that he made the hoop cleanly and went out of bounds! This left Charlie the slimmest of hopes.

No comments: