Unbeaten top seed takes title
Auckland's Aaron Westerby lived up to his top-seed billing when he won the open singles title at the South Island croquet champs held in Blenheim from Saturday to Wednesday.
The current New Zealand captain, Westerby was undefeated on his way to the final, where he scored a convincing 26TPO-14 26TP-0 win over Wellingtonian Aiken Hakes. Despite losing, 24-year-old Hakes collected two big scalps on his way to the final. He beat newly crowned women's world champ Jenny Clarke, of Christchurch, in the quarterfinals before upsetting two-time NZ Open champion Greg Bryant, of Wellington, in the semifinals.
Marlborough hopeful Neil Seagar was upset in the first round of the higher handicap 4+ championship, but fought back on the final day to win nine from 10 and take the South Island title.
After their disappointment in the open singles, Clarke and Bryant had reason to smile on Wednesday as they secured their first South Island doubles title together.
The winning duo and the pair of Hakes and Paul Skinley were both undefeated after six rounds and squared off in what effectively became a final.
Clarke and Bryant eventually claimed the upper hand. After Skinley missed a 20-yard shot to save the game, Clarke pegged out to secure the title.
Tournament manager Clarke said the lawns of the Brooklyn and Blenheim clubs were in immaculate condition and, with the hoops set very tight, there were many close matches played.
The Marlborough Express