10th European GC Championships 2017

For the first time this event was held outside of the British Isles. Brought about as a Spaniard won the event in England last year and the thriving croquet scene in Spain. 32 players from 10 countries took part

The tournament was hosted by 2 clubs in Spain

• Real Vista Hermosa near Cadiz

• Real Pineda, Seville

From the offset the hospitality was exceptionally warm, from a cocktail party to greet all the players,many supporters at all the games; and even before the event welcoming the players to their clubs for practice and a few drinks to get acquainted! Something new for many of the players was the level of support from sponsors, keen to see croquet continue to thrive and showcase the range of players Dulwich was well represented by 2 local members, Pierre Beaudry representing Belgium, Guy Scurfield representing England and by 2 Country members – Lionel Tibble for England and Helena Fensome for Finland.

Days 1 & 2

The 32 players were split into 4 groups of 8 playing, a round robin where the top 4 would go through to the finals knockout phase. 2 days of fierce competition took place, day 1 at Real Pineda was hot, over 36 Celsius with play going for some 8 plus hours – a very quiet bus journey home…..

Day 3

Guy & Pierre both qualified for the final 16, with Helena and Lionel going into the Plate competition.

Guy lost 2-1 to defending champion Pepe in the first round of the knockout competition and therefore moved to the Bowl competition

Pierre won his last 16 match in 2 games against Thomas from Germany and progressed to the quarter finals against the aforementioned Pepe.

Day 4

Pierre was beaten in 2 close games by Pepe and moved into the Shield reaching the final Guy played Thomas and then Joi of Sweden to make it to the final of the Bowl

In the Plate Lionel swept all before him to make it to the final.

The semi finals of the championship knockout were contested in the evening with 3 Spaniards and 1 Englishman – The Spanish had outdone themselves and played far above their world rankings in front of passionate home crowds.

Pepe was finally beaten by Stephen Mulliner, whilst the crowd was fascinated by an all Spanish affair; Basillio Iglesias vs Jose Alvarez-Sala. Two very different styles of play fought over 3 games, with Jose finally going through to the final 7-4, 4-7, 7-5 – an excellent display. On the evening of the 4th day, there was a Gala Party to celebrate the friendships made, croquet played and fun times had. A few sore heads were likely for finals day!

Day 5

4 finals to be played

Plate – a tough battle between Lionel and Roar Michalsen of Norway – Lionel holding on to win in 3 games

Bowl – Guy took on another Spaniard - Andreas Alvarez-Sala (brother of the finalist) , and after a promising start – 6-2 up in game 1, was outplayed by Andreas 7-6, 7-3

Shield – Pierre won in convincing style against Mark Stephens of Ireland

Championship Final – watched by a lot of keen passionate spectators – Jose took on Stephen. Jose took the first game 7-3, but the 2nd game was a different affair, with Stephen battling hard – but eventually Jose won 7-6, to the delight of the home crowd!

Then off to the Vista Hermosa Beach Club, for a fabulous lunch and prize giving, again a whole level above anything seen in the UK

No one was ready to go home, a brilliant week has been taken part in and everyone enquiring when Spain might host this event again. 2019 a distinct possibility

Huge thanks to both clubs, all the people involved in running them and the sponsors for putting on such a fabulous tournament…

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