|October 8- 9, 2012
Pro-Am, Presidents Cup, Solomon Trophy Practice
|October 10 - 13, 2012
Almost every year since 1985 the US and Great Britain have played a croquet “test match”, a team competition in Association Croquet. This is the croquet equivalent of Davis Cup or Ryder Cup, an international team competition in what is normally an individual sport. In 1988 British croquet legend John Solomon donated a trophy for the US vs. GB series that had begun three years earlier, and since then the mostly annual match has been known as the Solomon Trophy.
The British have traditionally been the powerhouse of international competitive croquet. They founded the sport in the mid 1800’s. They dependably have more top-ranked players than any other country; as of this writing they have 5 of the world’s top 10. Until 2009 they had beaten the United States 22 straight times in international play.
The British team came to Mission Hills, California in 2009, confident that a victory in the Solomon Trophy match between the two countries would make it 23 in a row. But a team of six Americans stunned the visitors, defeating them 11 to 9, after four days of grueling play. In 2011, the Americans won the Solomon match-up again – this time on British soil.
This October, the American team will try to make it three in a row as they battle the British on the croquet lawns of the Bald Head Island Club on Bald Head Island, North Carolina. This is the first time a U-S-hosted international event has been held outside Florida and California. Pre-tournament events will begin on Monday, October 8th, with the Solomon Trophy play taking place Wednesday October 10th through Saturday, October 13th. As usual the match will be against teams of 6 in a mix of singles and doubles.
Each country’s Selection Committee, selects the players on their team for an international test match based upon player rankings, player results in top tournaments, and other performance measures. US team selection will be announced in May or June, to allow the Selection Committee to analyze the most recent tournament results. The competition among players vying for one of the 6 spots on the team is intense. Representing one’s country in a test match is a signal achievement in a player’s career, and a unique experience of competition at the highest level.
Playing on one’s national team in a strictly amateur sport requires a major commitment. Players must put in many hours of extra practice, travel to tournaments for match preparation, and assemble for team practices if practical. The latter can be difficult because of how spread out the US team often is, with players from all parts of the country. A coach or a team manager is considered a luxury, not usually available.
International croquet is played by Association Rules and is a grueling competition during which games can go on for hours. Each player or team plays two balls, and the first to get both balls around a circuit of 12 hoops and to hit the center peg is the winner.
The Bald Head Island Club’s croquet lawns were built in 1985 even before the current clubhouse, the pool or the tennis courts were constructed. The BHI Club Croquet Club boasts sixty-six members. It is coached by part-time by Croquet Pro Jeff Soo, who captained the U.S. Solomon Trophy team in 2009.
2011 Solomon Trophy
Jeff Soo Photo Essay And Article