National Championship Won by Jeff Soo, and Jeff Soo & Paul Scott
With the advent of instant communications, e-mail, web sites, most of the routine information about the USCA Nationals has already been disseminated.
Yes, Jeff Soo did win the Championship Singles, and Jeff Soo and partner Paul Scott did win the Championship Doubles. This marked the fourth time that each has won their respective event.
Rick Alderson from Oregon won first flight singles, while the team of Jane Beharriell and Harold Menzel took the doubles.
The week started with open practice Sunday afternoon that included the opening get together for cocktails, renewing old acquaintances, and checking the program. The count was down this year, championship ending up with three blocks of ten, while first flight split thirteen players into a block of seven and a block of six. Two additional doubles players brought the total to forty-five.
Monday was the kick off for the doubles matches, with two blocks of seven in championship, and a block of five in first flight. If we have to discuss the weather, this was the day to do it. Two showers (heavy horizontal rain) lasting five minutes each kept everyone scurrying for their rain gear. It appeared to the man in charge of the weather that this was not to deter croquet players, so in early afternoon the torrential rain came down for about thirty minutes. This did stop the play, as the courts were completely under water. The oasis was the shelters by the courts. Archie Peck informed the Tournament Director not to fear, as the courts would be playable 30 to 40 minutes after the rain stopped. Believe what you will. The rain let up a little, and then stopped. In fifteen minutes we were back on the courts, with very little evidence that it had rained. By double banking some of the doubles games, we were able to finish the day ahead of schedule. Due to the small size, the first flight doubles block was completed with four teams advancing to the finals on Saturday.
Tuesday, as well as the rest of the week dawned sunny and comfortably warm. Tuesday and Wednesday were devoted to singles block play, each player having four games each day. With eight previous National Champions, and a downsizing to sixteen for the double elimination ladder, there was some exciting play in the blocks. Jeff Soo emerged unscathed, with no losses in the block, while close on his heels with eight wins were Doug Grimsley, Leo McBride, and Ben Rothman. All were top seeds in their respective blocks. Danny Huneycutt, who lost one game to Jeff Soo, pegged out in every other game. Of 126 games played in the singles blocks, 61 ended in peg-outs.
There were three women in Championship flight contending for the Peyton Ballenger Award, Linda Huxtable, Jackie Jones, and Eileen Soo. Jackie, with five wins in the block was the sole woman advancing to the ladder play. To finish out the day on Tuesday, a toast and tally, with passed hot hors d’oeuvres was appreciated by all, and most stayed around the Center until well after darkness.
On Thursday the doubles block matches were finished, with the team of Jeff Soo and Paul Scott being seeded number one, having won every game in their block. Fourteen teams became eight teams in the ladder. In first flight having finished their block play on Monday, there were additional cross block games to insure that first flight played eight singles games before the downsizing.
Friday was the day of reckoning. Singles double elimination face off ladders with eight players on each side. The seeding by record sent Jeff Soo and #1 against his partner Paul Scott #16 in the opening round. Jeff was victorious sending Paul to the losers bracket. In the sixth game of the day Paul Scott had worked his way through the losers bracket to again face Jeff Soo who was undefeated. Jeff emerged 26-14, again beating Paul. Jeff had managed during the day to also defeat Johnny Mitchell, and Doug Grimsley. On the other half of the face-off Ben Rothman had gone undefeated until the last match of the day, having defeated Peter Just and Brian Cumming. The last game of the day was held over, as the starting time would be after 6 PM. Daylight was a problem so the game was planned to play Saturday, after the day’s doubles games.
First flight spent Friday in their double elimination ladder. Bill Taft, seeded #1 did very well until he met up with Rick Alderson in the quarterfinals. Sent to the loser’s ladder, Taft then met and defeated Charlie Gillmarten to again meet Alderson in the finals on Sunday.
Friday also saw Plate events for both flights. Horace Hayworth taking the honors from John Curington 26-4 in Championship, while Sandy Walsh edged out Geoffrey Mattison 13-12 in First flight.
Friday evening the players were treated to an enjoyable evening with dinner in the Supper Club room at the Center.
Saturday was devoted to the Doubles ladders. As a start, Soo and Scott were defeated by McBride and Osborn, so taking the long road back, Soo and Scott defeated, as they entered the losing ladder, Cumming and Huneycutt, Just and Wassink, Ruby and Sheely, McBride and Osborn to meet undefeated Ben Rothman and Johnny Mitchell in the finals on Sunday. . In the First flight doubles ladder Jane Beharriell and Harold Menzel were victorious over Rick Alderson and Charlie Gillmarten. The final being played Saturday afternoon
We then switched to the final face off single. Doug Grimsley, who had crossed over on his loss, played Ben Rothman who was undefeated in the ladder. The first game went to Doug 26-2. In a face off if the loser wins the first game there is a rubber game. Doug took the second game 26-4, to play Jeff Soo in the finals on Sunday.
Sunday was dedicated to three games; the First flight singles finals, the Championship Doubles and Singles finals. As the players on the field diminished, the gallery increased, so by Sunday there was a fairly well established cheering section. For Bill Taft, in First Flight Singles final, it was not to be. Rick Alderson edging out a victory 14-13. Championship Doubles saw Scott and Soo, when they gained control of the game, put it away in a double break fashion, winning 26-15, taking their fourth National Doubles Championship. Singles was more of the same. Doug Grimsley, who had done so well, just the day before, lost control early in the game, and Jeff ran two breaks to the peg to win 26-4, for his fourth National Singles title.
Immediately following the finals, and during a Sunday brunch put on for the players, Rich Curtis, as President of USCA, made the awards to the winning players and the finalists. Also was the presentation of the Peyton Ballenger Award to the top finishing woman player in the Nationals. Jackie Jones received the award for the ninth time.
A list of the final standings follows.