2019 USCA National American Six-Wicket Championship
November 3-9, Mission Hills Country Club, Rancho Mirage, CA
See the Player Information Page for downloadable player instructions and personalized block schedules.
Sunday, 11/3: A daily briefing section has been added.
Tuesday, 11/5: A photo gallery has been added.
See below for daily reports.
CARDO WINS FIRST NATIONAL SINGLES TITLE; ABDELWAHAB AND MORGAN UNTOUCHABLE IN DOUBLES
Sherif Abdelwahab and Stephen Morgan finished a clean sweep of the doubles, winning the double-elimination final in a single game, 26-3 over Rich Lamm and Jeff Soo, to cap a run of ten straight games in which they pegged out for 26 points. Three of those wins were against former champions Lamm and Soo. Abdelwahab and Morgan become the only pair to win USCA national doubles titles in all three versions of the game.
Abdelwahab then met Randy Cardo in the best-of-three singles final. Cardo used a croquet-out to take the initiative in all three games. In Game 1 his break ended with a hampered position after 1-back, allowing Abelwahab to attack and take control to close out the game 26-11.
In Game 2 Cardo’s first break ended when he ran 2-back off the court. Again this gave Abelwahab the opening to attack and take control. He went round with blue, leaving black in position at 2, and Cardo missed. But Abdelwahab’s shot through 2 barely cleared the hoop, forcing him to retire. Cardo soon had a break and pegged out blue, with black for 3. He nearly came to grief by momentarily forgetting that red was for 3-back, not 4, but realized his error in time to clear the hoop. Still, this gave Abdelwahab a short hit-in and an attempt at a massive roll-up to create a match-winning break. But he failed to reach position at 3, allowing Cardo a comfortable finish after regulation time to win 23-15 and level the match.
In the decisive game Cardo used another aggressive croquet-out to attack. He controlled the entire game, preventing Abdelwahab from ever taking croquet, winning 26-2 and claiming his first national singles title. He adds this to the two American-rules doubles titles he won with Danny Huneycutt in 2015 and 2016.
Abdelwahab has had a most impressive year, winning all three national doubles titles along with the GC singles title.
Neither player had a particularly strong start to the event. Abdelwahab lost two block games, then lost his first playoff game to Dick Sullivan, knocking him into the losers‘ bracket, AKA “the jungle”. Cardo barely qualified for the playoffs with a 4-3 record.
Abdelwahab then won six straight games to reach the final, including wins over former champions Huneycutt, Doug Grimsley, and Soo. Cardo had a shorter but no less difficult path to the final. His first game was against Morgan, who had been playing the most consistent croquet of the field. He then knocked off Lamm and Grimsley, leading to a double-elimination semi-final against rising star Shane Hettler. Cardo won that game 18-14.
The Championship Singles Plate had excellent participation, with 17 of 22 eligible players taking part. The format was a modified Draw & Process, modeled after the Association Plate used in the British Open. Steve Scalpone had a remarkable run, winning seven straight games and giving him two chances to beat Macey White to claim the Plate. But White survived a scrappy first game, 17-15, and then won the Plate by winning the grand final 26-8.
In First Flight, Steve Grassbaugh took top honors in both singles and doubles (partnered with Yen Sullivan). The singles format was a full block of eleven, with only the top two advancing to the final. Grassbaugh’s only block loss was to Merle Berkshire, by one point. Grassbaugh returned the favor in the final, beating Berkshire 15-14.
Donna Dixon won the Peyton Ballenger Award for top female singles finish.
Day 1: Sunday, November 3
In Championship Doubles Block B, Abdelwahab & Morgan are undefeated on four wins and +85 net points. Soo & Lamm are on four wins, +52. Last year’s runners-up, the Bennett brothers, are in third place with three wins. Block A is more of a mixed bag, two-time champions Cardo & Huneycutt leading the block on 3-1, +35, trailed by Griffith & Sheely on 3-1, +2. Three pairs in Block A are on 2-2.
Stephen Grassbaugh and Yen Sullivan lead First Flight Doubles, having started 3-0. Second place is shared by two teams on 2-1.
Day 2: Monday, November 4
The doubles blocks have finished in both flights. In First Flight, Grassbaugh and Sullivan are top seeds with a perfect 5-0 record. In Championship Flight, Scalpone and Bach are the unlucky pair that failed to qualify despite a 3-3 record. Abdelwahab and Morgan lead the pack on 6-0, +117.
Day 3: Tuesday, November 5
First Flight is looking highly competitive. Top seed Stephen Grassbaugh is undefeated after three games, but four other players are at 3-1. With many games yet to play, there is still all to play for for all players in the flight.
The Championship Singles blocks will finish in tomorrow’s first two rounds. While most of the blocks are playing generally to form, one notable exception is Block D fourth seed Shane Hettler, 5-1 having already played the top seeds in his block.
Doubles playoffs in both flights will begin tomorrow afternoon.
Day 4: Wednesday, November 6
Congratulations to Steve Scalpone and Peter Bach, winners of the Championship Doubles Plate.
In Championship Doubles, Lamm/Soo and Abdelwahab/Morgan have advanced to the winners’ bracket final. Three other pairs are fighting it out in “the jungle”. Doubles will resume Friday morning.
The Championship Singles playoff bracket begins tomorrow. Block winners are Huneycutt, Morgan, Paul Bennett, and Hettler. They are joined by twelve other contenders in the double-elimination bracket.
Day 5: Thursday, November 7
In Championship Doubles, the Grimsley & Curtis vs. Bennett brothers match is … still unfinished.
The main Championship Singles playoff is down to seven players. Soo and Cardo have advanced to the “holder” positions, where they await players rising through the losers‘ brackets.
The Championship Singles Plate has excellent participation, seventeen players having opted in. Four rounds will be played tomorrow.
In First Flight Singles, Grassbaugh and Berkshire share the lead with seven wins each. Archiniaco is one win behind, while Gray and Yen Sullivan are on five wins. Each player has two or three games left to play; the top two block finishers will advance directly to the final.
Day 6: Friday, November 8
Sherif Abdelwahab will be looking to earn his 17th and 18th USCA national titles tomorrow. He already holds three titles from earlier this year, giving him a chance to hold five of the six major USCA titles at once.
His opponent in the best-of-three singles final will be Randy Cardo, who will be looking to add a singles title to his two American-rules doubles titles, earned in 2015 and 2016 with Danny Huneycutt.
Abdelwahab, partnered with Stephen Morgan, will play the doubles final against Jeff Soo and Rich Lamm, the latter pair needing to win twice. If Morgan and Abdelwahab win, they will become the first pair to have won USCA national doubles titles in all three versions of croquet. If Soo and Lamm win, it will be their fourth American-rules title as a pair.
In First Flight Singles, Stephen Grassbaugh and Merle Berkshire have earned spots in the final. Grassbaugh finished the block 9-1, his only loss to Berkshire.
Both players will also meet in the First Flight Doubles final, Grassbaugh partnered with Yen Sullivan and Berkshire with Nick Gray. Berkshire and Gray must win twice in the double-elimination final.
Steve Scalpone has advanced to the final of both sides of the Championship Singles Plate. He plays Dick Sullivan first, then Macey White. If he wins both games he wins the Plate outright. Otherwise, the winners of the two games will play the final game.
Day 7: Saturday, November 9
9:15 update: Abdelwahab & Morgan win doubles
In a game without significant playing errors, Sherif Abdelwahab and Stephen Morgan beat Rich Lamm and Jeff Soo 26-3 to win the 2019 USCA National American-rules Doubles Championship. They were undefeated for ten games, completing every game with 26.
Scalpone beat Sullivan 26-5 to win the Draw side of the Championship Singles Plate. He now has two chances to beat White to win the Plate.
In First Flight Doubles, Berkshire & Gray have won 16-15 to force the “if-needed” game.
White beat Scalpone 17-15 to force the Draw & Process final. In game 1 of the Championship Singles final, Cardo has had a croquet-out to attack and is now running the first break of the game with black, while red is still out of the game.
Cardo’s break ended with no shot for a roquet after 2-back. Several turns later, Abdelwahab has attacked for yellow.
Sullivan and Grassbaugh won 17-11 to win First Flight Doubles.
Abdelwahab won game 1 26-11.
White won the Championship Singles Plate final, 26-8 over Scalpone.
Game 2 of the Championship Singles final is underway. After some out-play, Abdelwahab has blue and black in the game and for #2. Cardo has yellow in for #5 and red in position at #1.
Grassbaugh beat Berkshire 15-14 to win First Flight Singles.
Cardo‘s break ended when he ran 2-back out of bounds. Abdelwahab attacked and went round with blue. Cardo missed, but Abdelwahab barely ran #2 with black and had to retire. Cardo attacked, Abdelwahab missed, and Cardo went round and pegged out blue.
3:10 update: Cardo wins
Cardo leveled the match by winning game 2, 23-15. Abdelwahab never took croquet in the decider, Cardo winning 26-2, for his first national singles title.