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Merion Cricket Club Invitational Won by Peter Just, Jane Simonds, David Lyon, and Ben Rothman

American Croquet Singles and Doubles, and Golf Croquet


Association Croquet Singles

24-26 September 2010
Merion Cricket Club, Haverford, PA
by John Osborn

According to the sunshine streaming through the multiple windows, along with that audible rumble echoing within my stomach, it must have been just about noon. My guess was actually 12:24 PM, a reasonable assumption given that for the past two days I had been sequestered within this eloquent room, my mind tumbling numbers, my fingers blazing across a keyboard and the aspirin supply quickly dwindling within a Bayer bottle. Seven capsules left - I knew that without looking. I also knew it was Thursday, and that the fourth seed in the third block of the Second Flight had nine tracking points attached to an eight handicap. And that this player was only one of 160 participants probably arriving about now, two eyes gazing upon the 24 courts set like a surrealistic painting upon the never ending expanse. I knew this player's nickname, first lawn assignment and home Club, that he was attending the Barnes Museum outing Friday and bowling in the basement later that evening; that he was a vegetarian, but unable to attend Saturday's gala dinner. In fact, there was not a number or detail I could not recall effortlessly, but a vegetarian? For the first time in 48 hours, my thoughts suddenly drifted...a hotdog was what I needed.

Packing up my boxes, charts, printers and computer equipment, dreams of spicy brown mustard and toasted buns roqueting about my brain, I glanced now at the many people who had suddenly invaded my previously secluded cell. A dozen or two in force, in their hands they grasped at the printed product. Charts were divided into piles, colored folders were arranged like a rainbow upon the tables and sheets of information filtered from one volunteer to another. It was perhaps the largest group of volunteers I have ever seen, and given that this would probably be the largest USCA sanctioned tournament ever scheduled, each helping hand would further the certainty that those in attendance were well equipped. This was not work for those blocking the sunshine previously filtering into what was now a 'war room', but a celebration. An Anniversary actually, the 20th year of one of the most successful tournaments ever to be placed upon a USCA calendar...The Merion Cricket Club Invitational. There in front of me, within the controlled chaos, and some occasional confusion, were smiles. And as I left the room, I smiled too, and left the aspirin bottle...just in case.

I am not certain how much 144 wickets weight. Don't really care, honestly, but I do know that to place precisely so many pounds of equipment onto a beautifully manicured lawn takes a monumental effort. (The lawns were actually rested for two weeks in preparation for this event!) And while this says the world about the incredible Merion grounds-crew, it speaks equally about the Cricket Club in general. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is taken for granted.

Known for both awesome cuisine and personal service, one cannot help but feel honored to be in attendance. No, there is nothing continental about the hot and steamy breakfasts, or the multiple choice five-star lunches. Treats keep coming and your napkin is always folded to perfection. Naturally, one has to love daily tea...with all that might come with it! And the waitress you were about to look for is already there by your side, and that martini you are so desperately in need of is already chilling within the tumbler. You may lose matches, but you will not only gain weight, but feel that you have had a wonderful day, no matter what the outcome of those matches may have been.

Every night of the event was filled with festivities. While most opening receptions seem like a 'pick-up-my-charts' drive-through window, Merion offers you dinner. While many Player's Dinners seem like a visit to KFC, Merion allows you to dine with both style and amazing cuisine. Bowling? They have old-fashioned lanes on the premises. Sophistication? This year Merion was very pleased to offer access to the Barnes Museum, the largest collection of privately held masterpieces in the world. It may have been a dream, but I swear that a Merion waiter woke me up at 2:00 AM one night with a platter of shrimp! Yes, that may have been a dream, but one that the atmosphere allowed...assisted with the open bars now seldom seen. No, the entry fee to The Merion Cricket Club Invitational has never been low, but in 20 years, no one has ever said that they did not get well more than their money's worth!

Of course, even though my aspirin supply was gone, there was some croquet to play. Did I say 'some' croquet? Well, let's put a little detail to that. Bob Kroeger was there to give three days of Clinics for those new to the game. Stuart Lawrence oversaw an Association (International Rules) Tournament which boasted some of the best players in the world! A Golf Croquet event floated throughout the weekend, thus allowing all interested not only more optional play, but the chance to capture (maybe) another trophy! In fact, no matter how much or of what form you wished to hit balls, Merion offered something for everyone. And never have so many options ever been offered in a USCA sanctioned event.

In the main event, three Singles Flights were played, each Flight divided into Blocks of eight. In other words, 15 different tournaments were going on simultaneously. Likewise, four Flights of Waterford Doubles were underway, thus creating a slew of activity. And play was aplenty, players moving from Singles to Doubles and back and forth like bees distracted by, well, other bees.

If this sounds confusing, it actually wasn't. Players, in general, had three games a day. With the potential of 48 results coming in simultaneously, experts Archie Peck and David Bent oversaw the action upon the very large lawn, thus making certain that all results were reported promptly. Walkie-talkies were constantly in use and golf carts moved the court supervisors along with grace. Well, moved them along.

Matches were timed at one hour and fifteen minutes and while some courts were slightly undersized, the differential was so small that I doubt that anyone noticed. While board keepers were hard to find, given that everyone was playing, problems were virtually nonexistent. I was on the veranda putting in results quickly and smoothly, like the professional I am. Except, of course...

Unexpected things do occur. Things that do not really fall into my pay scale...or that I was not given a great deal of advance warning of. The first one was the picture. Now normally everyone gets together and smiles. You know...everyone move a little left, or get 'that small guy' up front. But, in this case, Merion hired a cherry picker to go high in the air and grab reality from the sky...while everyone was actually in the middle of a match. And so the plan was to stop play, for me to talk to the guy in the sky and have him direct me in regard to who had to move to get into the picture. The really hard part? I had to do this with the use of a bullhorn!

Alright, without making jokes about what the guy in the sky's confidence level with me was, everything worked great. I sounded like I needed a Bayer, but everyone moved properly, games resumed without complaint and hopefully this photo will be prominently exhibited.

While I was feeling relaxed now, things would change quickly when Ridley Rhind dropped off the score from his last game. Apparently, he and his opponent, Mike Piche, were both completely awed by each other's play. Their score sheet, dropped into my 'Incoming' basket, with a 13-13 score, did more than confuse me. I probably knew everything there was to know about them. Favorite color. Social Security number. Crispy or Original KFC. But this one finally broke my mathematical mind.

I would like to think that I handled it properly, but my memory involved this statement: Get your ^*^ a* out there to the %$^#* lawn, shoot at the stake or shoot at each other's %**&#" and give me a &^%% result! And they did. And what I thought, though I didn't say it, was that this was the best example, and the best representation, of this tournament's spirit that I have seen in 20 for the joy of play. I have framed the result form.

When I write croquet articles I usually poke some fun at some good people, congratulate others and thank those who have put in all of the work. It is a simple formula, written not by design but directed by the way things usually proceed. If you offer a great product, people return. If you have a good heart and can take a joke, you are the type of player that most tournaments want. If you care about the game, people care about you too.

Please notice that I have mentioned no winners. You can see the blessed below or in the results section. While I have won many events myself, many long forgotten... those memories that stay are due to circumstances stemming well beyond the croquet lawns. Merion is such a place, where aura outpaces accomplishment, and where camaraderie, amongst so many, prevails.

For two weeks Neil Houghton lived sub-level at the Merion Cricket Club. Invites, reminders, plans, possibilities, budgets, special requests, desires and wants...his desk was small and cluttered. His tooth brush never lurked far away. Questionnaires, follow-ups and phone calls...he and Jim Armour planned this event even before the previous endeavor had been completed. Whitney Thain, voice of the Merion Cricket Club, not only directed the movement, but was there throughout the event. And the numbers I now know now by heart...they were all supplied by those who worked so very hard. No participant would be left behind. And no,  this event was not only going to be the best ever, but a spectacular never to be forgotten.

To add a first, there is a possibility that this landmark event may be listed in the Guinness Book of the largest sanctioned croquet event ever! And why not, for I have never seen so many players upon such a majestic venue ever competing or partaking within a USCA event. Never. If needed I will detail the numbers in detail...on my own terms. I will need a hotdog and a bottle of Bayer. Maybe a beer for the end of the day. Maybe two. Oh, who's kidding one runs an event like Merion...and doesn't beg to do it again. This was, and will be, paradise.


1. Peter Just        
2. Ben Morehead 
3. Derek Wassink         
4. Rich Curtis               
5. Dick Brackett            
6. Tom Krause              
7. Jane Simonds            
8. Tim Bitting               


1. David Lyon               
2. Tom Hughes             
3. David McCoy           
4. David Ekstrom         
5. Blaine Davis             
6. Neil Houghton          
7. John Hunter              
8. Rufus Bayard           


1. Doug Moore             
2. Michael Todorovich  
3. Barry Gibson            
4. Ruth Summers          
5. Casey Knoll
6. Mark Goodwin         
7. Art Parsells               
8. Bob Whitmore          


1. Don Heerens             
2. John Warlick            
3. Holly Currier   
4. Ted Kemp                 
5. Maryholt Maxwell    
6. Ruth Nicolaci            
7. Ron Shiftan              
8. Ceci Shiftan              


1. Jan Balson                
2. James Dushek           
3. Sean Hartley             
4. Ken Northrop           
5. Peter Oleson             
6. Jodie Rugart    
7. Jim Armour              
8. Rich Greulich  


1. Conrad Rugart          
2. Jeffrey Lee                
3. Tyler Hathaway        
4. Reine Bitting                                
5. Jack Montgomery
6. Sheila Davis              
7. Evan White               
8. Dick Wyrough          


1. Ben Lowry                
2. Chris Fey                  
3. Betty Anne Brine
4. Lloyd Hadden           
5. Bob Bozeman           
6. Howard Holdsclaw
7. Lee Hanna                 
8. Joe Knoll                  


1. Darlene Brotzman                        
2. Hank Schilling          
3. Martie Ekstrom        
4. Sara Low         
5. Ed Wilford      
6. Scott Kennedy          
7. Jim Wyer         
8. Ken Lindh       


1. Bill Blakesley            
2. Patricia Duncan        
3. Bill Cole                    
4. Ron Atkins               
5. Norma Shaughnessy 
6. Jim McLaughlin        
7. John Woodside         
8. Joy Bradford            


1. Bob Chenoweth        
2. Lauren Hammond     
3. Eileen Holberg          
4. John Dainton            
5. Rebeca Bergofsky     
6. Eric Turner               
7. Polly Moore              
8. Kay Schneider          


1. Peter Timmins          
2. Rob Franks               
3. Kathleen Dainton      
4. Elsie Maxam             
5. Michael Piche            
6. Ridley Rhind   


1. Rodney Calver          
2. Connie Van Housen  
3. Iris Chenoweth         
4. Ted Hilles                 
5. Carla Rueck              
6. Karen Kaplan           


1. Stephen Morgan       
2. Tom Stoner     
3. Roy Morgan             
4. Will Field                  
5. Betsy Atkins             
6. Bobbi Shorthouse     


1. Kelso Sutton             
2. Lois Holdsclaw
3. Penny Ferraro           
4. Melissa Hernan         
5. C.A. Knoll                
6. Cecily Greenaway                        


1. Cody Aichele            
2. Cynthia Rugart         
3. June Brubaker          
4. Patricia Cunnington  
5. Jane Osgood             
6. Sally McGrath          
7. Constance Perin        
8. Mary Lou Wagner    

Also Played: Anne Licursi                 


1. Jane Simonds
2. Rich Curtis
3. Jan Balson
4. Peter Oleson
5. Ceci Shiftan
6. Barbara Leeming
7. Sean Hartley
8. Bob Whitmore
9. Jim Armour
10. David Ekstrom
11. Doug Moore
12. Tom Krause
13. John Hunter
14. Barry Gibson
15. Tim Bitting
16. John Warlick
17. Blaine Davis
18. Holly Currier
19. Dick Brackett
20. Derek Wassink       
21. James Dushek
22. Mark Goodwin
23. Ken Northrop
24. Ben Morehead
25. Ted Kemp
26. Ron Shiftan
27. Peter Just
28. Rufus Bayard
29. Michael Todorovich
30. Don Heerens
31. Neil Houghton
32. Casey Knoll
33. Ruth Summers
34. Rich Greulich
35. Maryholt Maxwell
36. David McCoy
37. Art Parsells
38. David Lyon
39. Tom Hughes
40. Larry Moore

Also Played: John Oehrle


1. Rebeca Bergofsky
2. Ben Lowry
3. Howard Holdsclaw
4. Eileen Holberg
5. Rilice & Al Paul Lefton
6. Darlene Brotzman              
7. Frank Tatnall
8. Betty Anne Brine      
9. John Dainton
10. Lee Hanna
11. Scott Kennedy
12. Joy Bradford
13. Jack Montgomery
14. Bill Blakesley
15. John Woodside
16. Lloyd Hadden
17. Patricia Duncan
18. Polly Moore
19. Jim Wyer
20. Evan White
21. Dick Wyrough
22. Bob Chenoweth
23. Jeffrey Lee
24. Sheila Davis
25. Cecily Greenaway
26. Tyler Hathaway
27. Eric Turner
28. Ken Lindh
29. Chris Fey
30. Bob Bozeman
31. Joe Knoll
32. Kay Schneider
33. Bill Cole        
34. Jim McLaughlin
35. Martie Ekstrom
36. Ron Atkins
37. Sara Low
38. Lauren Hammond
39. Hank Schilling
40. Reine Bitting


1. Melissa Hernan
2. Cody Aichele
3. Lois Holdsclaw
4. Kelso Sutton
5. Rob Franks
6. June Brubaker
7. Connie Van Housen
8. Kathleen Dainton      
9. Penny Ferraro
10. Roy Morgan
11. Michael Piche
12. Iris Chenoweth
13. Tom Stoner
14. Stephen Morgan
15. Polly Scott
16. Will Field
17. Rodney Calver
18. Peter Timmins
19. Anne Licursi
20. Sally McGrath
21. Carla Rueck
22. Elsie Maxam
23. Bob Brubaker
24. Betsy Atkins
25. Mary Lou Wagner
26. C.A. Knoll
27. Cynthia Rugart
28. Osgood/Hilles/Greenaway
29. Bobbi Shorthouse   
30. Ridley Rhind
31. Karen Kaplan
32. Constance Perin

Also Played: Polly Moore


1. Bill Krause
2. Jeb Bell
3. Denys Shorthouse
4. Nancy Krause
5. Wink DelDuca
6. Sidna Mitchell
7. Julia Wallace


23-26 September 2010
Merion Cricket Club, Haverford, PA
by Stuart Lawrence

Ben Rothman won the first-ever [Association Croquet] AC event to be held as part of the Merion Cricket Club Invitational in Haverford, Pennsylvania, September 23-26, 2010.

Eleven players competed in the AC singles tournament on two dedicated courts alongside 140+ players on 22 courts in the USCA rules singles and doubles event, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. Conditions were not testing, with hoops set in well-watered ground and the grass on Merion's 8-acre Great Lawn (mainly used for tennis, cricket, and other sports) cut quite high. The slow and sloping lawns did present challenges on occasion, however; long approaches to yard-line balls frequently came up well short and to make long hit-ins one often had to predict the ball's curving trajectory.

The main event was played as a double elimination tournament, with best of three matches in the winners' bracket, single game matches in the losers' bracket, and a final match played as a best of five starting 1-0 in favor of the undefeated finalist.

Ben marched through the winners' bracket with wins over John Young III (+23tp, +23), Brian Cumming (–17, +17tp, +10), and Doug Grimsley (+25tp, +26tp). Chris Patmore was sent down to the losers' bracket by Grimsley (-22tp, -25) but then beat Young (+17tp), Cumming (+26), and Grimsley (+15tp) to reach the final. 

In the opener of the final, Chris negated Ben's 1-0 advantage with a +6 DPO [double peel of opponent] win on Saturday afternoon, but Ben won two of the next three to secure the win. The final scoreline was –6, +26tp, –17, +17.

Tim Rapuano won the plate event with 4 wins in 5 games.

[See complete results for International Rules singles.]





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