The Golf Croquet Nationals and Golf Croquet 3+ Championships were completed over the weekend in Hawkes Bay and Taranaki respectively.
In the 3+ Championship it was Canterbury player, Claire Horncastle, who would be crowned champion.
After topping Block B with 12 wins from 14 games, Horncastle had to come from behind in both the quarter-finals and semi-finals to secure her place in the final.
Horncastle was joined in the final by local player, John Byers. Byers shared similar success on his way to qualifying top of Block A, also winning 12 from 14. Byers went on to win the quarter-final and semi-final in straight games to reach the final.
After having the same number of wins and net hoops in the Block stages, the stage was set for a close final. Horncastle won the first game and was able to hold her nerve at the 13th in game 2 to secure the title in straight games, 7-5, 7-6.
The GC Nationals begun with the doubles at Heretaunga Croquet Club. The Canterbury duo of Josh Winter and Levi Franks (who are the last two winners of the CNZ GC Most Improved Player) topped Block B winning 11 of their 12 games. Only dropping a game to the runners-up in Block B, Jason Hodgett (Canterbury) and Logan McCorkindale (South Canterbury).
In Block A, it was another young duo, Paul Kaiser (Manawatu-Wanganui) and Robbie Spooner (Wellington), who qualified first with 9 wins from 12 games. It was then a four-way tie for second place, all with 6 wins each and net-hoops being used to find the other 3 qualifiers.
It was the top seeded pairs from each block which would eventually meet in the final. Winter, who was trying to defend the doubles title he won in 2019-20 with Chris Clarke, and Franks booked their place in the final with a win over Duncan Dixon (Canterbury) and Vienna van Heeswyck (Nelson) 7-3, 7-3. Kaiser and Spooner lost the first game of their semi-final but fought back to beat Hodgett and McCorkindale 1-7, 7-1, 7-3.
Winter and Franks showed their class in the final, winning the best of 5 match in straight games, 7-5, 7-4, 7-5, to be crowned the 2020-21 CNZ GC Nationals Doubles champions.
Dixon then ensured that all National GC titles that were being competed for that week would return to Canterbury as he secured his 9th GC Nationals Singles title. Dixon’s 9th title means he now has 6 more titles than Bob Jackson and Don Reyland who are joint second for most GC National Singles titles with 3 each.
Dixon emerged from Block A undefeated and did not drop a game. He was joined in the quarter-finals by Franks who qualified second winning 6 of his 7 matches. Block B saw the defending champion, McCorkindale, qualify top undefeated and also not dropping a game. Kaiser secured his place in the quarter-finals qualifying second after winning 6 of his 8 matches. Block C saw Brian Bullen (Wellington) qualify top, ahead of Winter on net games after they had both won 7 matches. Helen Reeves (Hawkes Bay) and Spooner were the top 3rd place finishers in Block play and also advanced to the quarter-finals.
In the first semi-final, Winter was able to come from a game down against McCorkindale to win the match 2-7, 7-6, 7-6. Reversing the result when the pair met in the quarter-finals a year earlier.
The second semi-final saw Kaiser take the first game from Dixon. However Dixon fought back to win the next two games to take the match 6-7, 7-3, 7-4.
The final went all the way to the 5th game. After Dixon took the first game, Winter won games 2 and 3 to be within one game of securing his first GC Nationals title. Dixon showed his experience to win game 4 and force the deciding game 5 where he secured his 9th GC Title, winning the match 7-6, 6-7, 5-7, 7-1, 7-5.
Each of the games in the GC Nationals Singles final was streamed to our Facebook page thanks to Sonya Sedgwick. Across the 5 videos, they have been viewed over 3,100 times!