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1997 Westralian Sands WCF World Croquet Championship Begins in Bunbury
by Wendy Davidson
Posted November 10, 1997

RELATED LINKS: for daily results and player profiles:
World Croquet Federation Website
Western Australia Croquet Association

In the first report of Day One results, writer Davidson comments that the three women in the tournament all won their first-day games. Our background story made mention of only two women - Australians Shirley Carr and Helene Thurston. We now make amends by noting the presence of a female competitor from New Zealand, Jane McIntyre.

The Western Australia Minister for Sport and Recreation officially opened the championships on Saturday afternoon (8 November) before a large crowd of local, interstate and international players and supporters. The flags of the 15 competing countries, and the official flags, were raised by local naval and air force cadets.

Competition commenced at 8.00 AM on Sunday, using the six courts at Moorabinda Croquet Club, and eight tennis courts converted to four croquet courts at the nearby tennis club. Cat-and-mouse tactics and first-game jitters led to few hoops being scored in the first hour. As the day progressed, the number of hoops made in each turn increased and the games were completed more quickly.

There are only three women competing, and all won their first games. The West Australian spectators were proud to see their President, Helene Thurston, win her first match against highly ranked Phil Cordingley (England). The English are currently the strongest in the world, and Cordingley gained the fourth English place for Bunbury in a qualifying competition. Thurston played precision croquet, and continued her form in her second game, beating Fernando de Ansorena from Spain, making breaks of nine, twelve, and five to win 26/0, the first time in the tournament an opponent has not made a hoop.

Shirley Carr (South Australia), current Australian Women's Champion and a member of the Australian team which beat New Zealand in the Trans Tasman Women's Test in May, from the holiday centre of Tumby Bay, won against Wynand Louw (South Africa). The only overseas woman competitor, Jane McIntyre from New Zealand, won the longest match of the day against Jonathan Lamb (Belgium). McIntyre was the No. 1 player in the NZ team in the Trans Tasman Women's Test.

Ashley Faulkner, formerly from Albany and Western Australia, currently living in Victoria, thrilled the crowd with his delicate placement of balls, and had completed 10 hoops with his yellow ball while peeling his red ball through two hoops, when the yellow ball did not run penultimate hoop cleanly. This gave Reg Bamford (from South Africa and ranked in the top 10 in the world) the innings, but not the game. Faulkner regained the innings after Bamford had made one long break, and completed the game to win 26-10.

The Fournier brothers from the USA, Don (37 years old) and Jacques (16) won their first-round matches against seasoned Australian international players Colin Pickering (South Aust), current Australian Singles Champion, and Greg Bury (Qld) respectively. Many spectators gathered to watch the young 16- year-old in his first match, and he did not disappoint them.

Steve Jones (NZ) completed the first triple peel of the tournament, while Robert Fulford (England), a former World No. 1, peeled out Colin Pickering's forward ball with a display of precision croquet not equaled by any of the other 39 players.

The two surprise results of the morning were the win by Jerry Stark (USA) against the seasoned New Zealander Bob Jackson, and Scotland's Andrew Hope's success against David Maugham (England). Hope used the tactic of taking his first ball all the way to the peg, giving Maugham contact.

Most games were completed by the end of the hot, sunny day - sunburn was an extra obstacle for many of those from cooler climates.

[Wendy Davidson is editor of the official magazine of the Australia Croquet Association, CROQUET AUSTRALIA.]

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