Rochester Croquet Invitational welcomes players from across the US

COURTESY OF ROCHESTER CROQUET CLUB

The eighth annual Rochester American Six-Wicket Croquet Invitational was held this August at Hilton’s Grace & Truth SportsPark on North Greece Road.  

A full weekend of singles and doubles play included 18 players from Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio and South Carolina, as well as from across New York state. 

“It is a fascinating game to both watch and play as men and women of varying ages compete in a game that combines the advanced strategy of a chess game with the skillful ability to place two balls accurately as in billiards,” tournament manager Sue Sherer said. “Of course, there is the plan ... and then there is the successful (or not) execution of the plan.”  

Eighteen players from across the country vie for prizes in this U.S. Croquet Association-sanctioned tournament.

Although popularized through the 19th century in paintings and Lewis Carroll’s “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” croquet is once again a growing sport in the U.S. There are three clubs in western New York: Buffalo Croquet Club at Delaware Park, West Hill Croquet Club in Camillus and Rochester Croquet Club.  

Games are 75 minutes each, providing ample time for either opponent to win.   

“I have witnessed many a game where the tables were turned in the final strokes of the game,” Sherer said. “It makes you really happy when you are the one who comes from behind to make the win, but as I like to say, ‘Every shot makes someone happy. It may not necessarily be you.’” 

In championship flight, Rich Laging, of Hilton, edged out Bob Hafner, of Louisiana, in last ball of last turn to win 25-24 in block play. Hafner bested Laging in finals play to claim first place in singles for the flight. 

Taking the honors in championship flight singles play were first-place winner Bob Hafner, of Louisiana, and second-place winner Rich Laging, of Hilton, pictured with tournament manager Sue Sherer and director Rich Curtis.

First flight singles came down to a competition between husband and wife Ron and Deborah Millican, of Missouri. Soundly winning in block play, Deborah was defeated in finals play to take second to her husband.   

“In all the years we have been playing, this is the first time we have had to play one another in finals,” Ron Millican said.  

They were to face off again in doubles play. This time, Deborah and her partner, John Joseph, of Florida, captured first place to Ron and his partner, Peter Bowers of Hilton. 

In second flight singles, 94-year-old Byron Lee, of Annapolis, Maryland, had bested almost all opponents in block play, only to be defeated by Peter Sherer, of Greece, in finals play.  

“This game holds no favorites for age or gender when it comes to competition, and Lee’s years of experience and consistent play make him a great competitor,” Sherer said.  

Email roccroquet@gmail.com or visit roccroquet.org for information on croquet in the Rochester area.