By Rubin E. Grant
Todd Russell didn’t win it, but he still considered the first United States Croquet Association-sanctioned tournament hosted by the Mountain Brook Croquet Club a total triumph.
The Mountain Brook Croquet Club hosted its inaugural Golf Croquet event June 10-12.
Arthur Bagby, the Alabama director of the U.S. Croquet Association, created the club, which features a full-size lawn adjacent to the back side of the Bagby home.
During the three-day event, seven Mountain Brook croquet club members competed with visiting players from Georgia and Tennessee. Russell was among the players representing the MBCC. Also among the group were Michael Seale, Matthew Jackson, Robert Schoel, Lee Yeilding, Miller Connaway and Tom Shelton.
Ying Benns traveled from Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, to complete and became the MBCC’s newest member.
Jimmy Huff and Kent Lovvorn represented the Carroll County Croquet Club, based in Carrollton, Georgia.
Huff and Lovvorn are seasoned veterans on the croquet tournament scene and have participated in multiple Golf Croquet National Championships. Huff is currently ranked 26th nationally, and Lovvorn is reigning Southeast Regional Champ and ranked 23rd nationally.
“I think it was a huge success overall,” Russell said. “Everyone had a great time and it was a diverse group that competed. We had two or three members from our club who moved up in the national rankings. Matthew Jackson came in unranked and was ranked 49th afterward. Seale and Yielding also moved up.”
Russell reached the semifinals against Jackson, a lifelong friend, in a match that determined the MBCC club champion. Jackson won decisively, 7-5, 4-7, 7-5.
“Yeah, he knocked me out,” Russell said. “We’ve been friends since the second or third grade, and we’re friendly competitors.”
Jackson lost a tight match to Lovvorn in the final on a Sunday afternoon with the temperature hitting the mid-90s and high humidity.
In game one, Jackson scored the first two hoops and held on for a 7-6 victory. Game two went to Lovvorn, who fought back for a 7-4 win.
Lovvorn prevailed 7-5 in the decisive third game to win the tournament title.
Lovvorn had reached the final with a 7-4, 4-7, 7-5 victory against Huff in the semifinals.
The event began with block play, during which players were divided into two separate blocks for a round robin competition.
On the second day, block play completed, and the semifinals and Cup brackets were seeded, with Lovvorn, Russell, Jackson and Huff moving on to the semifinals.
Later in the day, the remaining six competitors battled it out for the Cup championship. In the end, Schoel battled club stalwart Yeilding for the Cup, with Yielding sneaking by with a 7-6 victory.
The Mountain Brook Croquet Club holds games most Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons.
“We’re planning to hold another sanctioned event in the fall,” Russell said.
For more information or to join the Mountain Brook Croquet Club, contact Bagby at email@example.com.