Thursday, September 17, 2009
Big Lobster 2009
For the 7th time in the last 12 years, perfect weather graced the Big Lobster Invitational the week after labor day in Downeast Maine. Once again the Mount Desert Island Croquet Club, with great support form the Woodlawn Croquet Club, opened its arms to guests from Massachusetts, Florida, Colorado, and Ontario. Visitors and local contenders were treated to amazing views of Acadia National Park, delicious Maine lobster and a unique blend of six and nine wicket competition by the sea.
With four flights of six wicket singles, including four players under a two handicap, the Big Lobster marries competitive singles and a busy schedule of cut-throat nine wicket doubles. Most of the nine (that's right, nine) doubles games in the block were on the back lawn of the historic Claremont Hotel, a beautiful home to croquet tournaments since 1976. The inherent difficulties in transitioning the tactical divide between the defensive American rules and extremely offensive Claremont rules was well negotiated while sipping coffee in adirondack chairs on the hillside or during lunch at the boathouse literally on the water.
The singles flights each had a nice inland excursion for a day to the burgeoning Woodlawn Museum. The play was highlighted by unfettered play of three players. Tim McCormick, Sturgis Haskins and Linda Huxtable each managed to go undefeated. While the Huxtables controlled the championship flight there was a bit of drama in the race for a spot on the podium. The father of croquet in Maine, Larry Stettner, needed to upset top seeded Tom Hughes in the last game of the day to steal away third place. It took last turns but the local guru took down the favorite by one wicket 12-11 to take home the hardware. The closest battle for first divided the loving Pearson couple who split time between Maine and Phoenix. Jim edged Janet out of first on net points alone, but they reunited for the doubles competition.
Local politics were put on hold while Hancock County Commissioner and croquet instructor Fay Lawson took time off to dominate the First Flight doubles with Fran Martin. The familiar partnership exhibited a firm grasp of the game as they defeated the visiting Gallaghers 30-15 in the final. Thankful for the many block games Dolores and John surprised themselves with a semi-final victory “We were just glad to be in the final!” exclaimed Dolores as the happy couple raised their hand crafted 2nd place platters.
As for the championship flight, the top half of the draw favored the seasoned 9-wicket team of Alan Madeira (a prodigious croquet collector and the man behind the Clarkpoint Croquet Company) and Eileen Holberg (a well travelled socialite in Palm Beach and San Miguel). Alan and Eileen made their way to the finals by defeating Ben Rothman and his patient partner Barbara Rappaport 26-24 in the last turn of the semi-finals. Alan and Eileen were finalists in the recent Claremont Classic 9-wicket doubles tournament while Alan took the Claremont singles title for the fourth time; not exactly a light-weight.
On the other side of the final match-up was Claremont veteran Dave Nelson and his rookie partner, Gerry Lancto, who showed her daughter what's what defeating Linda and her husband Ron in the semi-final. The final match was a dog fight, with the lead flip-flopping back and forth until a critical error in last turns gave Dave control. After taking the lead, Dave cleaned the court only to watch Eileen hit-in and nearly steal the championship but failing to score the game tying hoop in last turns. Dave and Gerry took the title 21-20 as the crowd applauded as sailboats crossed the sparkling sound reminding them all that playing croquet in Maine is “the way life should be.”
Championship Flight Singles
First Flight “A” Singles
First Flight “1” Singles
Second Flight Singles
Championship Flight Doubles
1.Dave Nelson + Gerry Lancto
2.Alan Madeira + Eileen Holberg
3.Ben Rothman + Barbara Rappaport
3.Linda + Ron Huxtable
5.Sturgis Haskins + Charles Alexander
6.Randall McAndrews + Don Lancto
7.Tom Hughes + Oakley Johnson
8.Jim + Janet Pearson
First Flight Doubles
1.Fay Lawson + Fran Martin
2.Dolores + John Gallagher
3.Marko Schmitt + Barbara Entzminger
3.Tim McCormick + Connie Perin