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by Rhys Thomas

Playing doubles on the opening day of the 5-day Solomon Trophy test matches, the British lived up to expectations by rolling over the Yanks in two out of three matches. But Rodoni and Mehas kept American hopes alive by achieving a 2/2 tie in a marathon match before calling it quits for the day. The tie will be broken on Wednesday, the next doubles day.

THOUSAND OAKS, CALIFORNIA. Bullishly charging from the gate, the heavily favored croquet team from Great Britain assumed an early lead over the United States in the 1997 Solomon Trophy. The Brits jumped ahead, 2-0, in this test match with first-day victories in doubles play.

Inspired by excellent lawn conditions, both teams agreed to expand the test to best-of-five games in singles and doubles for all 21 matches. The test is customarily best-of-three matches.

The top GB pairing of Robert Fulford and team captain Chris Clarke crushed the US #3 team of John Taves and Don Fournier, Jr., +21TP, +26TP, +17TP. None showed mid-season form in this early match, but Fulford and Clarke prevailed when Taves and Fournier could not capitalize on British errors.

The second-ranked team of Steve Comish and Mark Avery struggled to win their match against Jerry Stark and Phil Arnold, +18, +10, +15.

Mik and Wayne planning their next move.
The third match on opening day was for the spectators. Wayne Rodoni and Mik Mehas, arguably the best doubles team in America, managed a tie versus Ian Burridge and David Openshaw before the match was suspended in the twilight. After eight hours of play, the match stands two-all, GB+16, US+15, GB+22, US+25TP. To get the tie, Rodoni completed an arduous triple-peel, leaving himself numerous hampered strokes along the way. The match will resume with other Doubles play on Wednesday.

The Solomon Trophy is being held at the Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, CA. Presiding at the official opening ceremony was the Honorable Judy Lazar, mayor of Thousand Oaks. Prior to the kickoff, Sherwood founder David H. Murdock made a rare appearance to welcome the US and British teams to the club.

What are the betting odds of this underdog Yankee team beating formidable Britannia? According to the on-site tout, it's 16-1. Sounds high, but all agree this is the best team ever fielded by the Americans.

The next story in this series will report on the games and results for Tuesday and Wednesday.

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