(Story contributed by Philip Brown, VCA Gateball Coordinator. Picture: New players to VCA GB champs stroke their balls through the ceremonial gate.)
A windswept but undaunted Victorian Gateball Championships were held over 29-31 March at the Victorian Croquet Centre at Cairnlea.
For the second consecutive year Kew prevailed as the Teams Champion, though the final standings were very close this year. Kew won four games of six, as did Canberra. However Kew prevailed with a much higher net hoops score of +32 compared to the second-placed Canberra who had +10.
The matches were of high quality and with a diverse range of tactics on display. Your correspondent was both heartened and slightly miffed to see successful tactics I had used at previous tournaments being used back against my team with clear success.
The Championships continue to attract players of a large age range and with vastly different levels of experience. There were two teenagers playing, as well as octogenarians and most decades in between. There were players with decades of experience and newcomers with only a few months’ worth. The active role of Gateball captains makes the team game a wonderful way for payers to learn the sport without needing to worry about the tactics of the game. The Kew team included two of those newcomers and still secured the Championship.
In the pairs, the rise of John and Penny Park continues. The pair had previously won the NSW Pairs Championship last November and prevailed again in Victoria by going undefeated in the block. They were presented with the John Bradley trophy for winning the Victorian Pairs Championship. The runners up were Elaine Coverdale and Maxine Maclachlan.
A special mention should be given to Chas Quinn and Heather Fraser, who’s high-risk, high-return approach to the Pairs competition created some very memorable games. Their game against Geoff Crook and Trish Fazackerly looked as if it might finish at 21 all, until some missed shots at the goal pole left the final score at the still-memorable 21-17.
The rise of the South Australian Gateball players cannot be ignored. The game there is growing and they are starting to complement their already excellent hitting with a more nuanced understanding of the tactics of the game. The South Australian Gateball Pairs competition over the weekend of 13-14 April should be an excellent example of the game.
Victoria was pleased to welcome visitors from NSW, ACT and South Australia competing in this tournament. There will be even more visitors, and from further afield, when the National Gateball Championships are held at Cairnlea in late November.