USCA Club Teams 2022
March 17-20, 2022
National Croquet Center
West Palm Beach, FL
If you’ve never been to the Club Teams, you may be surprised to find an ambience somewhat different than your average croquet tournament. Comrades from all over the United States congregate in groups on the NCC porch, staking out their turf and checking out the competition, not unlike game night in a pub. The first day of the competition was Saint Patrick’s Day, where everyone (except this first timer) got the memo to “Go For It”. Sandy Knuth did not disappoint, but was camouflaged by the cornucopia of green striped socks, hats, beanies, ears, masks, sunglasses and even plus-fours.
The tournament was graced by Florida perfect weather, and the sumptuous meals provided by SandyJames hit the spot. Social chairs Karen Heckman, Jeanne Branthover and Jodie Rugart made sure the participants were busy off the court; the fun opening cocktail party with entertaining games & tiny liquor bottles, and the Saturday evening pasta dinner which fueled players to dance the night away to the live band.
Do you remember the opening to ABC’s Wide World of Sports? The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat? There was a lot of that. The wickets were unforgiving and the courts were fast. Tightly seeded flights resulted in very few high scoring games, but enough triple overtimes and one point games to give a tournament director agita. The Dead Boards were colorful, and players groaning everywhere. Very exciting!
The competition and high level of play was not limited to Championship flight. John Watson reported on the Fourth Flight Finals: After jousting for much of the match, the Red and Yellow team of Carol and John Bannister took a 5 wicket lead going into last turn, Red for 4 back and Yellow for 3 back. With both Blue and Black for 1 Back, and Carl Detering’s blue ball in the jaws of 1 back, Nora Watson, on mid-court between one & two back, fearlessly shot and tapped blue. She proceeded to peel both balls through and rolling them both to 2 back and taking position, leaving black in front of the wicket. Blue, in turn tapped black and peeled both, scoring the wicket, but with a hampered shot. Final score: 17-16 Talk about drama!
In second flight, John Craddock told this story of the finals: The contenders for the Second Flight Championship had not played each other in block play. This would be their first showdown! Larry & Karen entered at the top of the bracket while John & Kit began at the bottom of the bracket yet managed to win their way to the championship match. It was going to be a classic David & Goliath battle. Interestingly, Larry & Karen had only met each other on the first day of the tournament while John & Kit have played with and against each other for several years.
The Second Flight Championship Match began with the usual stand-off on the sidelines for the second wicket until black took his partner’s rush and easily scored the second wicket but had to leave his partner’s ball at the wicket. This gave yellow the opportunity to rush red to the second wicket and score the wicket before setting up at three and sending blue to the far end of the court. This gave red the opportunity to score the second wicket while blue and black reconnected in the northwest corner. Yellow was able to score the third wicket while black gave blue a rush for the second wicket. Then the tables turned after yellow gave red a rush for wicket three, but red undershot her rush and overshot her take-off. She got off the court but had to leave yellow at three. Black seized the opportunity to use yellow as a pioneer at three, scored the third wicket and never looked back as his three-ball break led to a lead that red and yellow could never overcome. Blue and black were relentless in their attacks while methodically moving their balls around the court. In the end yellow managed to reach two-back, but red never got past wicket 3. Larry & Karen emerged victoriously with an impressive 18 to 9 victory over John & Kit and took the title of Second Flight Doubles Champions.
The porch on Sunday was crowded with brilliantly attired spectators enjoying the elegant champagne brunch and whispering about the finals taking place on the sunlit lawns in front of them, punctuated with oohs and aahs, as some spectacular shots were executed, and others failed. A tournament not to miss, with smart, nuanced play in all flights and Florida fun in the evenings. Many old friendships reacquainted and new friendships found.
As always, it takes a village, and many hands go into making a good tournament. Thanks to the generosity of Beverly & Randy Cardo and David McCoy for supplementing the food. We are especially grateful to the staff of the USCA, the NCC and SandyJames.
Although this is a competition of doubles teams, there is also the “Lyons Trophy, which goes to the best performance by a club.
The Les Kelley Award is a sportsmanship award. Check out Bernie Pattie’s ‘Weekly Croquet Break’ on the history of Les Kelley and the club teams. This year’s Les Kelley trophy goes to Jane Pflug: always smiling, always happy, win or lose, no partner or new partner.
- Belleair Country Club Croquet
- Chesapeake Bay Croquet Club
- PGA National
- Bombay Mallet & Wicket Club
- Lenox Croquet Club
- Westhampton Mallet Club
- Houston Croquet Association
- National Croquet Club
- The Beach Club
- John & Carol Bannister
- Nora Watson & Carl Detering
- Joe Leary & Boyd Parker
- Bob Duryea & Tony Sessa
- John Craddock & Kit Detering
- Karen Heckman & Larry Lynch
- Lori Matway & Brand Shank
- Dick Boger & Jeff Morrison
- Dick Sullivan & Bob Van Tassel
- Danny Huneycutt & Jodie Rugart
Club Teams Final Results
1. Richard Sullivan & Bob Van Tassell
2. Danny Huneycutt & Jodie Rugart
3. Calvert Chaney & Sherif Abdelwahab
3. Macey White & Nancy Crouch
5. David Isaacs & Templeton Peck
5. John Brown & Bob Pulitzer
5. Mary Rodeberg & Steve Thurston
5. Randy Cardo & Beverley Cardo
9. Arthur Olsen & Preston Stuart
9. Johnny Mitchell & Anne Coco
9. David Ekstrom & Ron Eccles
9. Derek Wassink & Sandy Knuth
1. Brand Shank & Lori Matway
2. Dick Boger & Jeff Morrison
3. Richard Carlson & David Kepner
3. Vicki Johnston & Craig Coats
5. John Watson & Stuart Coco
5. Charles Alexander & Tim McCormick
5. John Grabow & Liddy Chaney
1. Karen Heckman & Larry Lynch
2. John Craddock & Kit Detering
3. Penny Pressler & Charlotte Pulitzer
3. Rita McNamara & Anne Licursi
5. Lovejoy Duryea & Danna Huneycutt
5. Geraldine McCauley & Sonia Alexandra
5. Anne Carr & Linda Grady
5. John Joseph & Jennifer Joseph
1. Joseph Leary & Boyd Parker
2. Bob Duryea & Tony Sessa
3. Sheila McCauley & Freear Pollard
3. Don Chapoton & Mary Craddock
5. Frankilin Perrell & Pam Walker
5. Lynn LeBlanc & Flavia Logie
5. Euginia Wilkie & Hilary Michaels
1. John Bannister & Carol Bannister
2. Nora Watson & Carl Detering
3. Richard Corey & Connie Walsh
3. Rita Ginsky & Carol Stuart
5. Linda Guthrie & Peter Guthrie
5. John Welch & Jean Lynch
5. David Beccia & Jessica Beccia
5. Tom Hadlock & Yolanda Hadlock
9. Mary Jo Chapoton & Mathilda Hoefer
9. Jane Pflug & Jeff Cohen