Felix Webby (Wellington) became the fourth player to have won both the NZ Open title and GC Nationals title following his win over Logan McCorkindale (South Canterbury) in the 2021 NZ Open final. Webby previously won the GC Nationals title in 2018.
He joins the distinguished trio of Tony Stephens, Bob Jackson and Chris Clarke as the other players to complete the feat.
The NZ Open singles were played at the United Croquet Club in Hagley Park from the 26th to 31st January 2021. With entries lower than usual, the sixteen entrants started in two blocks of eight with the top four from each block qualifying for the knock-out stage.
Tuesday, the first day of singles, provided plenty of challenges as Christchurch experienced temperatures around 36 degrees celcious. This, combined with bright sun, gusty winds, tight hoops and fast lawns once they had dried made conditions extremely challenging.
To keep the players on their toes, heavy ran on Thursday resulted in games being pegged down and play being abandoned by early afternoon.
Despite the weather conditions, Webby put on a dominant performance in Block A, winning all seven of his games including a triple peel and finishing with +146 net hoops. Duncan Dixon (Canterbury), playing in his first NZ Open since 2013, qualified second in Block A winning six of his seven games. Harps Tahurangi (Wellington) qualified third while the fourth qualifying spot came down to the final game. Mike McClure (Nelson) played John Yarrall (Canterbury) needing to win by two hoops to draw level. McClure secured the win, 22-21, which wasn’t quite enough and meant Yarrall qualified fourth.
McCorkindale qualified top of Block B, winning all seven of his games. Chris Shilling (Otago) and Josh Winter (Canterbury) both had five wins while Cole Wenmoth (Taranaki) secured the final place in the knock-out stage from Block B.
The Plate, played as a block, came down to the wire. In the final round, sixteen year old, Levi Franks (Canterbury), played McClure with the simple equation of win and he will have won the Heenan Plate. McClure on the other hand could secure the trophy with a +8 victory. Franks went on to win the game 20-16 and win the Heenan Plate.
In the quarter-finals, the top two qualifiers from Block A, Webby and Dixon, both advanced in straight games. However, McCorkindale and Shilling were forced to a third game after they both dropped game two in their respective quarter-finals.
McCorkindale then advanced to the final in straight games, beating Shilling 26-6, 26-14.
The other semi-final saw a close tussle. Webby and Dixon split the first two games with identical scores, 26-24. Webby would win the third game to win the match, 26-24, 24-26, 26-17, and set up the final with McCorkindale.
With both players making their first NZ Open final, all eyes were on who would be crowned as the 2021 NZ Open Champion. McCorkindale got off to a good start, winning the first game 26-16. Webby ensured that the third and deciding game would be required after he won the second game 26-21. Webby then went on to win the final game, to win the match 16-26, 26-21, 26-10 and secure his first NZ Open Singles title.
Winter went undefeated to secure the Bowl while Franks was also awarded the Charles Jones Memorial Salver.
The final was streamed live on the Croquet New Zealand Facebook page thanks to Duncan Dixon. The stream proved very popular and has been viewed more than 2,000 times already! If you didn’t get a chance to watch the final, head over to the CNZ Facebook page.
For full scores, click on the link below:
2020-21 NZ Open
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