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Scoring his 12th Win, Jackson Becomes New Zealand's All-Time Champion
by Steve Jones [CROQUET WORLD exclusive]
Posted January 24, 1998

On 14 lawns in and around Wanganui, North Island, 44 players began the weeklong national championship of New Zealand on January 10. Since 1996, the event has begun with preliminary single-game block play, qualifying a "last 16" elite to procede in a best-of-three seeded draw. Steve Jones concludes his day-by-day account of highlights in this CROQUET WORLD exclusive.

Day 5 - John Prince Plays Like a Champion

John Prince continued his triple peeler feast when he dispatched luckless Steve Jones in straight games, both with triple peels. This gives Prince seven in a row as he marches on towards his 8th open title. His main obstacle will be Aaron Westerby, in the next round.

Jones was the first seed to fall and could do little about the outcome. Westerby and Jackson also had straight game wins, but the other seeds had more trouble. Graeme Roberts found some of his old form of the 1980's to take a game off 5th Seed Shane Davis, Davis recovering well in the 3rd with a triple. Richard Baker was also taken to three games by an in-form Pete Landrebe, while the other youngster - Toby Garrison - had a marathon cliffhanger against John Versey, finally coming to grief 23-26 in the 3rd.

Further scrutiny of the doubles results revealed that 1 "tea pot" and 1 "odd pot" were achieved.

Day 6 - Unseeded Players Have Their Day, and Prince Falls

Unseeded John Versey in his first National Championships today played the game of his life against 4th seed Richard Baker to reach the semi-finals. Versey hit well and rolled some great hoops but, despite his nervous finishing, Baker was unable to gain a decisive advantage. Chris Shilling, also unseeded, quietly disposed of 7th seed Peter Couch.

The match of the day, though, was the eagerly awaited clash between President's Cup winner John Prince, with seven consecutive triples behind him, and world ranked Aaron Westerby. It was Westerby who produced the goods, winning in straight games - although the second was by the nailbiting score of 26-25!

Bob Jackson proved too strong for Shane Davis, setting up the probability of a Jackson / Westerby final and the possibility of a record 12th Open win for Jackson. Later in the day there was an upset in the doubles when the Wellington pair Garrison & Jones, playing solid croquet, defeated favourites Jackson & Westerby in the semi-final.

Day 7 - Unseeds Fight Hard, but Fall to Jackson and Westerby

Both singles semi-finals began predictably with Jackson and Westerby gaining early advantages. The 2 unseeded players soon hit back, however. Versey gave Westerby several headaches before losing the first, and more strife in the second before eventually succumbing to a Westerby TPO and inevitable defeat. It was a good effort from Versey despite Westerby being a little below his excellent best.

Shilling bounced back magnificently from a 26-0 TP first game loss to inflict the same score on Jackson in the 2nd. The third game started in rain which completely changed the match and contributed to long, drawn-out drudgery. In the end, experience told, and Jackson pegged out to reach the final for the 21st time in 24 years.

Day 8 - Jackson Grinds Out a Match Win and Scores a National Record

The weather for our finals day was fine and sunny, with not too much wind. There was a fair smattering of spectators - maybe 50. Local press coverage was good. The final match proved to be a somewhat boring affair,. with both players a little below par, but Jackson appearing very keen and motivated. Jackson kept everything as dry as possible, and what little opportunity Westerby had, he was unable to capitalise on, as Jackson took the first game.

This trend continued in the second game until Westerby seized on an opportunity and made nine hoops. These were his first and last points, however, as he squandered further chances, enabling Jackson to grind to an amazing 12th Open Championship victory - a New Zealand record.

Jackson received a cheque for $750 from the sponsor, Guardian Trust. Chris Shilling took third place with two excellent triples over John Versey.

In the doubles final, 20 year-old Toby Garrison and the experienced Steve Jones proved too strong for Richard Baker and Shane Davis. Jones just missed his triple in a comfortable win to record Garrison's first New Zealand national title and Jones' third success in four years.

"Last 16" Singles Scores
Couch b. T.Bassett 26-20; 26-3
Shilling b. P.Jones 1-26, 26-8 TP, 26-16
Davis b. Roberts 0-26, 26-13, 26-9 TP
Jackson b. C.Jones 26-4 TP, 26-2
Westerby b. Reyland 26-18; 26-11
Prince b. S.Jones 26-0 TP; 26-0 TP
R.Baker b. Landrebe 19-26, 26-17 ODP, 26-9 TP
Versey b. Garrison 9-26, 26-12, 26-23

Singles Quarter-Finals Match Results
Shilling b. Couch 11-26, 26-0 TP, 26-21 TP
Jackson b. Davis 26-10 TP, 26-0 TP
Westerby b. Prince 26-10 TP, 26-25
Versey b. Baker 22-26, 26-11, 26-7

Singles Semi-Finals Match Results
Jackson b. Shilling 26-0 TP, 0-26 TP, 26-14
Westerby b. Versey 26-16, 26-15 TPO

Open Final Match Results
Jackson b. Westerby 26-0 TP, 26-9
3rd/4th place:
Shilling b. Versey 26-9 TP, 26-3 TP

Y Final (Losers from the "Last 16" of the Open Singles)
Garrison b. Roberts 26-0 TP, 26-9
3rd/4th place:
S.Jones b. P.Jones 21-26, 26-9, 26-3 TP

Z Final (Losers of "Last 8" and First Round of Y)
Davis v Prince 1 game all - shared
3rd/4th place:
Baker b. Couch 26-0 TP, 26-0 TP

Heenan Plate Final (For Those Not Qualifying for Last 16)
Lowe b. Filbee 26-0 TP

Championship Doubles Results

Block 1
1. R.Baker & Davis 6 wins
2. Hadwin & P.Jones 6 wins
3. Bulloch & Lamm 5 wins
4. Browne & Filbee 4 wins
5. Couch & Duncan 3 wins
6. Batchelor & Reyland 2 wins
7. Dawson & M.Fenwick 2 wins
8. Kroll & van Saarloos 1 win

Block 2
1. Garrison & S.Jones 6 wins
2. Hoddy & Shilling 5 wins
3. Edwards & Landrebe 4 wins
4. McIntyre & Prince 3 wins
5. Gellatly & Smith 2 wins
6. B.Baker & K.Fellows 1 win
7. Bonner & Stutz 0 wins

Block 3
1. Jackson & Westerby 7 wins
2. Guest & Lowe 5 wins
3. Curtis & Versey 5 wins
4. Bassett & Bassett 3 wins
5. Edmonds & Roberts 3 wins
6. P.Fellows & Young 2 wins
7. Yeates & Yeates 2 wins
8. C.Jones & Le Masurier 1 win

Championship Doubles Semi-final Results
Garrison & Jones b. Jackson & Westerby 26-5

Championship Doubles Final
Garrison & Jones b. Baker & Davis 26-2

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