Ellie Ross, of Nelson, is making the most of the undulating lawns during the the Women's Golf Croquet World Championship in Hawke's Bay. Photo/Duncan Brown
Ellie Ross, of Nelson, is making the most of the undulating lawns during the the Women's Golf Croquet World Championship in Hawke's Bay. Photo/Duncan Brown

Ellie Ross breaks any preconceived notions anyone may harbour about types of people who grace the manicured greens of croquet-dom.

That's because Ross is only a teenager taking on, for the first time, the might of the sixth edition of the Women's Golf Croquet World Championship in Hawke's Bay for the past three days.

However, the 16-year-old isn't here just to make up the numbers.

She has earned the stripes twice over as 2017-18 New Zealand women's golf croquet champion to wield her mallet alongside a world-class field in block D of the championship staged at the headquarters of Heretaunga Croquet Club, in Hastings, and the Marewa Croquet Club, in Napier, since the four-yearly competition began on Saturday.

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"I just want to be, hopefully, one of the top New Zealand women in the tournament," said Ross who had lost only one game, to leading qualifier and women's world No 3, Soha Mostafa, of Egypt — 7-4, 7-3 — when Hawke's Bay Today went to press.

She is the youngest competitor here with a couple of Egyptians in their 20s in a field of 56 from eight nations.

Ross beat Bernie Pfitzner, of Australia, 7-1, 7-2 this morning and was playing Donna Dixon, of the United States, this evening. She is thriving on the undulating lawns compared to the ones she is accustomed to in Nelson.

The pupil from Nelson College for Girls literally got into golf croquet by accident when she was 12 years old.

"I actually broke my right ankle playing netball," she explained.

Enter Nelson College maths teacher Katherine Stahl, suggesting she should take up golf croquet because taking the body's weight on her ankle would have been tempting fate.

No doubt Ross didn't warm up to the idea at all but was comfortable about giving it a shot with two other school mates.

"I thought it was really weird, to be honest," she said, her school mates had quit playing.
Primarily she couldn't grasp what it was going to take for her to become a player of note, in terms of tactics.

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It wasn't until she went to the New Zealand Secondary Schools' Golf Croquet Championship in Palmerston North in 2015 that she got some reinforcement of her worth.

Ross had toppled a big name, Edmund Fordyce, of Ashburton, after having lost most of her other games at the champs.

A rash of tourneys followed as she made incremental gains along the way to find her niche among the giant killers.

The adrenalin rush aside, what strikes a chord with her is the opportunity to meet countless number of people from myriad cultures and far flung nations.

Women's world No 1 golf croquet player, Jenny Clarke, of Christchurch, reads the lie at Heretaunga Croquet Club during the Women's World Golf Croquet Championship today. Photo/Duncan Brown
Women's world No 1 golf croquet player, Jenny Clarke, of Christchurch, reads the lie at Heretaunga Croquet Club during the Women's World Golf Croquet Championship today. Photo/Duncan Brown

Ross jets off to compete at the Under-21 Open Golf Croquet World Championship to be staged at the Nottingham Croquet Club in England from Saturday, July 20, to Wednesday, July 24, this year.

"I think I'm the only girl going to compete there."

She is relishing the women's championship here, soaking up the different styles from different parts of the world.

Born in Birmingham, she emigrated to Nelson with her mother, Jackie Tye, and father Neil Ross, as a 7-year-old in search of a better lifestyle.

However, the teenager hasn't really studied the English approach to golf croquet but suspects it's similar to what she embraces.

"I have played with some of the younger guys so I have a harder hit."

The top four qualifiers from each of the eight blocks at the end of play tomorrow, following their final game each, will proceed to the next stage of 32 after a few playoffs for third/fourth places.

Today, women's world No 1 Jenny Clark, of Christchurch, led the unblemished charge of five wins with one game to play tomorrow alongside top-ranked international Pauline Salib, of Egypt, and fellow compatriots Mostafa, Miram Nabil as well as Alison Sharpe, of Australia.

The over-50 open world reigning champion, Hanan Rashan, of Egypt, has lost her clean sheet with a loss and so has world women's No 8, Shadin Okasha, also of Egypt.

Tourney manager Geoff Young, of Morrinsville, said hometown hopefuls Sonya Sedgwick, of Haumoana, and Helen Reeves, of Hastings, were still in the running with two wins and a loss and two wins and as many losses, respectively.


RESULTS

From day 2 and 3:

Key: Australia (A) England (Eng) Egypt (Eg) Ireland (Ire) Scotland (Sco) Spain (Sp) USA NZ.

M Khoudeir (Eg) bt A Cooke (NZ) 7-4, 7-3; P Salib (Eg) bt J Pringle (Sco) 7-4, 7-6; R Newsham (A) bt A Woodhouse (A) 7-5; J Wembridge (A) bt A Brooks (Eng) 7-6, 7-4; B Elzaburu (Sp) bt S Roberts (NZ) 7-6, 7-5; S Roberts (NZ) B Elzaburu (Sp) 7-0; S Sharpe (A) bt R Saunders=Robertson (Sco) 7-2, 7-1; A Woodhouse (A) bt R Newsham (A) 7-4, 7-5; W Dixon (A) bt V Arney (A) 7-2. 7-5; V Arney (A) bt W Dixon (A) 7-6; A Mostafa (Eg) bt A Sharp (NZ) 7-6, 7-5; A Mostafa (Egy) bt A Sharpe (NZ 7-5; M Lewis (NZ) bt M Taylor (NZ) 7-3; M Taylor (NZ) bt M Lewis (NZ) 7-4. 7-5; S Cole (NZ) bt D Dixon (USA) 7-5; D Dixon (USA) bt S Cole (NZ) 7-6. 7-6; M Abdelrazed (Eg) bt K Burt (Eng) 7-3, 7-4; M Nabil (Eg) bt S Knuth (USA) 7-6, 7-3; N Melksham (A) K McLoughlin (A) 7-6; K McLoughlin (A) N Melksham (A) 7-3; N Kelly (Ire) bt S Truman (NZ) 7-4; S Truman (NZ) bt N Kelly (Ire) 7-3, 7-2; A Sharp (A) bt A Millar (A) 7-2, 7-6; M Nabil (Eg) bt M Abdelzrazek (Eg) 7-6, 7-4; S Truman (NZ) bt Rosemary Saunders-Robertson (Sc) 7-6, 7-6.