2009 US OPEN, December 8-12th
Mission Hills Country Club
Rancho Mirage, California

    This years US Open follows the Solomon Cup test match.  The Solomon Cup event is played between two teams of six selected players from each of the two competing countries, US and Great Britain.  Many of us watched proudly as the US team won its first Association rules Solomon cup 11-9.

    After placing third in block play, Ben Rothman won the 2009 U.S. Open, taking the final match against Doug Grimsley two games to one after a flawless triple peel. Ben steadily plowed his way through the ladder play defeating Stephen Mulliner, Brian Cumming, Tony LeMoignan and Jerry Stark. This win tops off Ben's accomplishments for the year with 5 Association and 5 USCA tournament titles along with a notable 2nd place finish against Reginald Bamford during the Worlds at the NCC in May.

    Danny Huneycutt defeated Brian Cuming in the championship plate. In the A flight, Bob Riddell defeated Robert Coleman; in the B flight, Jean Engrebretson defeated Judy Dahlstrom.

    More detailed block and ladder play game results are posted on the ACC CroWicket Bulletin board, please contact Paul with further additions, corrections and details.

Doug Grimsley holds up an advertisement created by Genie Hendry to honor Ben Rothman's recent accomplishments throughout 2009.  Doug and Ben were partners during the US team victory in the Solomon Cup test match against Great Britain and both are likely to be selected for the 2009 US MacRobertson Shield team.  Ben is holding up his trophy for his victory over Doug Grimsley in the finals of the 2009 US Open.  Ben has won 5 Association and 5 USCA titles this year.

Danny Huneycutt, from North Carolina, won the 2009 US Open Plate defeating Brian Cumming from Canada.

Jean Engrebretson defeated Judy Dahlstrom (watching over the play) in the B flight finals.

Dick Engrebretson and Bob Riddell square off in the A flight semifinals on court 1.  Bob took early control of the game winning a spot to the finals.  Bob and Bonnie Riddell are long time members of the Mission Hills Croquet club and Bob is a tremendous contribution to the club with his management of the club equipment.  MHCC has enough equipment for 11 lawns and 22 double banked games.

MHCC uses Rodoni style hoops with blades to cut into the lawn to help them hold  firmly into the ground.  The courts are  sand based with excellent drainage, well manicured and flawlessly maintained.  The speed of the lawn was between 11 and 15 on the Plummer's index which is considered desirably fast.  These "best lawn" conditions have recently been criticized by a few of the top players as being too easy.  Thoughts as to how to "fix" the issue have been tossed about during some of the off-site cocktail parties.  It is interesting to note however, that no one managed a sextuple peel (even after a few attempts); there where probably more hit-ins than normal due to the number of TPO attempts; all the top players (except SM who continued to attempt SXPs) managed at least one triple peel.

The USTA awarded Missions Hills "Facility of the Year".  Part of this award is due to the fact that the MHCC shares some of its grass lawns for tennis.  Courts 5-10 are converted to grass tennis lawns after tournaments.  Mission Hills Country Club contains three 18-hole golf courses along with numerous clay and asphault tennis courts.

Tony Le Moignan has been a member of the Mission Hills Croquet Club for several years and has played in the US Open numerous times.  Tony and Paula live on the island of Jersey and Tony's son James has recently taken to the sport of croquet.  James has overtaken his father in the world croquet rankings being ranked 19th and 26th in the world respectively.  Tony is always willing to share his knowledge and love of the sport with fellow competitors.

Sheri Foroughi loves the sport of croquet and rapidly becoming one of its brightest players.  In the background, Steve Johnston trundles a ball while Marvin Salles walks onto the court to "double bank" with Sheri.  Double banking is where two games are played simultaneously on the same court thus allowing us to better utilize the court surfaces.  During the tournament, we had up to 20 games going on simultaneously from 7:30 AM till 4:30 PM (when the sun sets behind Mount San Jacinto).

Charlie Smith of Napa Valley is one of the best supporters of the US Association croquet team, a past member of the Solomon Cup US team and a member of the selectors.  Charlie has a true love of the game and has been playing in the US Open for most of its 22 years at Mission Hills.  He enjoyed watching and celebrating the US victory for the Solomon Cup trophy.  Charlie completed a triple peel in his first game of the US Open this year on court 5.

The Solomon Cup is awarded and passed from Great Britain for the first time to the 2009 US team.  Players were Ben Rothman, Jerry Stark, Danny Huneycutt, Doug Grimsley, Jeff Soo, Jim Bast, Ian Burridge, Robin Brown, Tony Le Moignan, Jeff Dawson, Stephen Mulliner and Samir Patel.  The event was held at MHCC December 4-7th.

Cindy Bagby and Steve Mossbrook played in the A/B US Open flight.  Here the block play was mixed with players from both flights.  After block play, players were sorted into the A and B playoff ladders.  Both Cindy and Steve won their first match in the B flight ladder.

Doug Grimsley finishing up a triple peel in his second game against Ben Rothman.  Doug made nine hoops with his first ball and then with his second ball in one turn managed to peel his partner ball through its last three wickets while making twelve wickets with his striker ball. He then pegged out both balls to finish the game, thereby depriving his opponent a chance to "come back and win".  The triple peel is one of the highest achievements in Association play and an important element of advanced play.

Tony Le Moignan marks his red ball in 1 yard from the A-baulk line.  He is looking to hit a ball that has been put strategically 17 yards away from both of the two A and B baulk lines.  By choosing the best position, he might be able to get a "double target" on the two balls that are located on the east boundary or to avoid the furniture of hoop 4 which may be blocking the shortest shot to those two balls.

Jim Butts looks on with Bob Riddell and Bob Van Tassell during the ladder playoff.  Bob Van Tassell has recently joined the Mission Hills Country Club to stay the winter months in Palm Springs and play croquet.  MHCC has been "recruiting new members" to the country club for 20 years.   Jim Butts joined Mission Hills after retiring as a physicist from Palo Alto, CA.  Bob Riddell is a long time resident of Palm Springs enjoying both the summer and winter months.

Matt Essic turned 11 years old on Saturday during the finals of the US Open.  He had his picture taken with most of the players, is eagerly learning the game of croquet, and not afraid to challenge the top players.
2009 Order of Finish
Open Flight
A Flight
B Flight
Open Plate
1. Ben Rothman
2. Doug Grimsley
3. Jerry Stark
1. Bob Riddell
2. Robert Coleman
3. Dick Engebretson
1. Jean Engebretson
2. Judy Dahlstrom
3. Cindy Bagby
& Steve Mossbrook
1. Danny Huneycutt
2. Brian Cuming
3. Charlie Smith
& Jim Butts

For more details regarding the US Open tournament,
Contact Stan Patmor, tournament manger, 602 955-1547
Jim Butts, MHCC club president, 760 328-9482
Rory Kelley, tournament director 480 990-1126
or Paul Bennett, club reporter, 602 956-8966
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