Croquet: Toby Garrison defends title

By Anendra Singh

Strategy, co-ordination and family connections are the vital ingredients to Toby Garrison's success on the croquet greens.

"It's a mixture of chess with a mallet swing and the physical attributes, if you know what I'm saying," the 35-year-old Wellingtonian said yesterday not long after defending his title as the Central Premier A Silver Tournament in Napier.

Garrison, who is a business analyst with Telecom, set a scoring pace from day one on Saturday to clinch six victories from seven matches in a round-robin format to collect his third career silver badge.

"It's pretty hard to win and it comes with a bit of prestige so I'm really happy."

Aiken Hakes, also of Wellington, lost only one match but had fewer wins overall when compared with Garrison and the fact he had also lost to the champion in pool play in a field of 13 at Marewa Croquet Club went against Hakes in the countback.

Garrison, who won the title in Wairarapa last year, registered one defeat to another player from the capital city, Michael Wright, who pipped him 26-24 in games that could last about two hours.

Intermittent rain didn't bother players but the wind yesterday did a little.

Garrison started playing the game when he was 14 after his mother Sally met his stepfather, Kevin Fellows, who was croquet savvy.

"Kevin's the best coach in the world and he's a really good player in his own right," Garrison said of the 65-year-old, who was also among the competitors here at the weekend.

Does it bother the coach that his protege is stealing the limelight?

Garrison laughed before replying: "Kevin still takes great pleasure in beating but I'm sure he enjoys watching me win, too."

The 2002 World Championship runner-up in Wellington, Garrison said age wasn't a disadvantage unless players were "quite elderly".

- Hawkes Bay Today

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