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Aussie Blaise Northey and Atsushi Mitsui repeat Japan Open Doubles win in Tokyo
by Pierre Dunn
Posted July 19, 1998
 • 1997 Japan Open, Croquet World Online Magazine

A year after walking off the court with the winner's trophy for the Japanese national doubles championship in 1997, former Australian champion Blaise Northey returned to Tokyo, paired again with Atsushi Mitsui, and defended the cup quite handily over the weekend of July 4th and 5th.

Akira Matsumoto finished in third place. The sign in the background reads "Japan Open". (Photo by P. Dunn)
Temperatures hovered around a humid but sunny 95F (35C) both days of the championship, and the Barlow GTs seemed reluctant to part company with the hoops, but with plenty of barley tea in the shelter at Tokyo's Show Memorial Park, the players persevered and finished the tournament in generally good condition.

Play on Saturday paired each team with two others from among the five teams contesting the title. Games were limited to 100 minutes. The top four teams were seeded into a semifinal ladder on Sunday for two two-hour games each. The top finisher in Saturday's play met the third-place finisher in the semis, and went on to meet the winner of the contest between the second- and fourth-place finishers.

Former Australian champion and 1998 Japan Open Doubles champion Blaise Northey. (Photo by P. Dunn)
The most distinguished play of the weekend came from Northey, who in his second game on Saturday ran a break of 11 hoops while peeling his partner ball twice, then concluded by pegging his own ball out and granting contact to his opponents, who stepped onto the court for the final turn of the game needing to run a 3-ball break through ten hoops to the peg while performing four peels of partner in order to win. Yes, it was possible; no, position was not obtained for the first of the hoops required. The final score was 18 - 4.

Northey made a similar run granting contact in the final game of the tournament, but left two balls in the jaws of 2 and 4 instead of pegging out. Against more distinguished opponents, Northey's play might have been considered less than ideal, but his offerings tested the capacities of the still-improving Japanese to the full.

Results for Saturday, 7/4/98

Northey/Mitsui      beat Nozaki/Naka         5-1 
Northey/Mitsui      beat Dunn/Matsumoto     18-4
Yamada/Kushida      beat Tanaka/Yoshimura   12-7 
Nozaki/Naka         beat Yamada/Kushida     11-7
Dunn/Matsumoto      beat Tanaka/Yoshimura   14-8

Results for Sunday, 7/5/98

   Northey/Mitsui    beat Nozaki/Naka        6-5
   Yamada/Kushida    beat Dunn/Matsumoto    13-11.

Third Place Match: 
   Dunn/Matsumoto    beat Nozaki/Naka       16-9.

   Northey/Mitsui    beat Yamada/Kushida    16-12. 
Winners Blaise Northey and Atsushi Mitsui (from left to right) and Second Place finishers Kazuo Kushida and Toshio Yamada. (Photo by T. Nozaki.)

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