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Kiwi Bob Jackson wins
curtain-raiser to the Australian nationals
by Bob Alman,
from reports of Tony Hall (2/9/97)

The biggest prize money croquet tournament ever in Australia attracted a strong field of players to Sydney in an elegant prelude to the Australian nationals beginning March 8 - the 4-day Cammeray Classic singles tourney ending March 7. New Zealand's Bob Jackson (victor in New Zealand's national championship for the 11th time, as reported by Steve Jones in CROQUET WORLD's recent story) won the biggest share of the $4,000 purse in a 26-9 final over Shirley Carr of South Australia.

The 21 entrants played in three blocks leading to a knockout finals on the two lawns of Cammeray and three lawns at Chatsworth. The Cammaray Club overlooks a park just north of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and Chatsworth lies a few miles further north along the Pacific Highway. They are only two of a dozen venues to be used in the 16-day Australian nationals.

"It's all happening here today. Everyone who is anyone in croquet in Australia is here."

The nationals begin with Open Doubles, Men's, Women's, and Open Singles, continuing through interstate teams, and concluding with a six-way tourney among the state champions. CROQUET WORLD will publish several reports on results of all these events in the croquet world's most elaborate nationals.

Drawing players from all over Australian continent, the nationals rotate each year among the six states. The Sydney nationals, set near Australian's biggest population centers, will draw more than 300 player participants this year. As correspondent Tony Hall commented at the barbecue following the Cammeray finals, "It's all happening here today. Cammeray Classic, referees' briefings, laws meetings, registration.... Everyone who is anyone in croquet in Australia is here."

Good competition, the promise of glory, and money are a hard combo to beat in any sports tourney. The $4,000 purse for the Cammeray Classic was donated by Jose Sanz-Tonnelier, a member of the Cammeray CC who was secretary of the Australian Croquet Association from 1983 to 1987, and a figure well known for his travels throughout the croquet world. Sanz-Tonnelier has said that he will continue to donate a substantial purse to ensure that the Cammeray Classic maintains the high standard of the 1997 edition.

The large purse was not the only distinction of the tournament, which provided a lavish array of food and entertainment exceptional by the normal standards of croquet in the Southern Hemisphere. Add to that an unusually steep $100 entry fee, and the event could be a carbon copy of American tournaments in all respects except for the International Rules and the 2 1/4 hour time limits.

$4,000 is a hefty purse in the 90's, even by U.S. standards, where purse play has declined dramatically since it's high point in 1988. In that year, U.S. purses totaled $75,000, as reported by the NATIONAL CROQUET CALENDAR. But last year's total was less than $12,000, with $8,000 coming from a single tournament - the Firestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio. (See CROQUET WORLD's story on the Firestone Invitational.)

Jackson received $1600 for his win; Carr took home $800, the semi-finalists earned $400 each, and the quarter-finalists got $200 each.

Jackson survived the biggest upset of the tourney in his 26-0 defeat at the hands of England's Jerry Guest to finally reach the finals by beating Mark Kobalt (NSW) 26/2. Carr beat Brett Hewitt (Queensland) 26-0 in the semi-finals.

Watch for continuing coverage of the Australian nationals based on reports of Tony Hall and other Australian correspondents in Sydney.

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