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USCA National Championships

By Bob Alman
Posted October 12, 2016


Jeff Soo has compiled and reported the 16 qualifiers for the singles knockout as originally announced: the top four in each of the four blocks comprise the seeded double-elimination playdown. Some of the placements--between competitors who each had won three or four games--had to be determined on the basis of very narrow differences in points.

BLOCK A: Huneycutt, Lawrence, Bach, Spradling
BLOCK B: Morgan, Cumming, Abdelwahab, White
BLOCK C: Wassink, Cardo, Sullivan, Cooper
BLOCK D: Grimsley, Van Tassel, Griffith, Curtis

It should be noted that for each block, as few as 3 and as many as 11 of the games saw the winners claiming their victory at the peg.


American Rules doubles are notoriously volatile, compared to singles. But in this tournament, some doubles teams excelled in getting to the peg. The paired of Lawrence and Cumming was especially impressive: They took six of their seven wins at the peg, settling for a 23-16 win against the second placers in their block, McBride and Osborn. Both McBride and Osborn narrowly missed making the singles knockout, on points.

Curtis & Grimlsey
Cardo & Huneycutt
Todorovich & Wassink
Abdelwahab & Knuth-Walsh
Griffith & Mitchell
Bennet & Landry
Hartman & Huxtable

Cumming & Lawrence
McBride & Osborn
Chilton & Ruby
Morgan & Pailas
Sullivan & Van Tassell
Cooper & White
Brown & Spradling
Bach & Rodeberg


In doubles, the placements are:
Grassbaugh & Millican
Cooper & Sudderberg
Millican & Spradling
Chiltion & Licursi

Singles are not quite complete, but here are the standings after the end of play Wednesday:

D. Millican
R. Millican

The weather has been kind to the tournament, so far. Clouds have helped to moderate the heat and reduced the direct sunlight--important because the one remaining effect of Hurricane Matthew is the loss of the shading in the gazebos while the canvas coverings are being cleaned before re-installing them. As for rain, there has been little more than light sprinklings so far.

I'll make a further update tonight, after visiting the courts.

- Bob Alman, Editor

Preview & Players

"Nothing of any particular interest happened at the National Croquet Center on the first day of the week-long National Championship in American rules."

That's a lead you'll never see in a newspaper. Actually, it's not quite true. Because In mid-afternoon on Sunday, when I decided to keep deadness board for my friends Bob van Tassel and Dick Sullivan (I played with them in the North Carolina mountains this summer), Leo McBride, one of the two Canadians in the event and one of their doubles opponents, came up and asked me NOT to keep the board. He explained that keeping his own board helps him stay "in the game." I couldn't object to that point of view, because that's one reason I like to keep a board for friends at major tournaments. Naturally, I retired. I will keep a board in singles later in the event. (Singles began on Tuesday; and I DID keep a board on Tuesday.)

The first thing I had noticed when I visited the lawns at the NCC on Saturday morning were the bare frames of the gazebos on the court, their canvas tops removed for Matthew. After Wilma, they had been ripped from their moorings and discovered blocks away. (They won't be put back for some time. Matthew might return in some form towards mid-week; AND this is the occasion to get them cleaned.)

But the sun is still hot in early October. So four Ten x ten tents have been installed in the gazebos, courtesy of SandyJames, to provide shade for players. And though the start of play was delayed until 1:00 PM on Sunday, all the elements of the week-long event remain intact.

The lawns have never--NEVER--been in better shape than for this event. That's mostly due to the great new (for the last year or so) three-man grounds crew, taking care of all the plantings on the place, including the turf. So you won't find many "safe boundaries" on these courts--maybe a couple of corners on the south side the southern tier of four courts, but nothing you can count on. So players: Make the most of your breaks and your grooms!

Once again, the USCA's top team of managers and directors are running this one: Jeff Soo assisted by Rich Curtis and Doug Grimsley. Grimsley and Curtis as playing, but Soo isn't. In fact, Soo is in North Carolina trying to straighten out the player's roster and the schedule, after some people didn't show up following Matthew. Jeff Soo has worked very hard to get the Players List below together, in the face of all the uncertainty caused by Matthew.

But the Players List below (which isn't accurate, exactly) includes almost 40 players, with handicaps ranging up to nine, and six or more players with handcaps better than Minus 2.5. So Huneycutt, at Minus 4.5 will have some competition, we'll assume, including local champ Derek Wassink, at Minus 3.

The Championship Flight singles is divided into four qualifying blocks--two of eight and two of seven--from which 16 players will emerge for the knockout. Doubles is in two qualifying blocks, again culminating in a double-elimination playdown. The finals are on Saturday. (You can see why this tournament takes a week to play!)

Rick Landry--who has finally moved his family to Florida for his year-round gig as NCC pro--told me that the Dawson balls have been graded for uniformity on each court, with the hoops set for a clearance of 1/16 to start. "Superhoops" are being used for the Championship Flight.

Landry has had another Great Idea. (No, really!) He's found out that a set of "croquet cards" can be produced for less than $10.00 each, with 20 players in each set. For a prototype, he's testing the Rick Landry card, complete with photo and vital statistics. If it works, I wouldn't be surprised to see the cards being offered at auction or even in the pro shop. Who knows: mid-century, some kid on Facebook may be offering to swap two Grimsleys for one Rothman.

Shereen and the USCA staff are at the Center all day each day to welcome players and guests and manage the social events. AND THE PLAYERS ARE....

Sherif   Abdelwahab -2.5
Peter    Bach        1.5
Gary     Bennett     2.5
John     Brown       3
Randy    Cardo      -1.5
Missy    Chilton     9
Bob      Chilton    -1
Loretta  Cooper      4.5
Thomas   Cooper     -0.5
Brian    Cumming    -3
Richard  Curtis     -1.5
Stephen  Grassbaugh  5
Matthew  Griffith    0
Doug     Grimsley   -3
Bill     Hartmann    0.5
Danny    Huneycutt  -4.5
Linda    Huxtable   -1
Sandra   Knuth-Walsh 4
Rick     Landry      1
Stuart   Lawrence   -2
Anne     Licursi     7
Leo      McBride    -3
David    McCoy      -0.5
Deborah  Millican    7
Ron      Millican    4.5
Johnny   Mitchell   -1
Stephen  Morgan     -2
John     Osborn     -2.5
Daniel   Pailas      3
Mary     Rodeberg    2.5
Britt    Ruby       -2.5
Scott    Spradling   2
Suzanne  Spradling   7
Lynda    Sudderberg  4
Dick     Sullivan   -1
Michael  Todorovich -1
Robert   Van Tassell-1.5
Derek    Wassink    -3
Macey    White      0.5

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