Having been relegated from Division 2.1 in 2013, South Africa is now in Division 2.2, which was amalgamated for this event with Division 3. On that basis, our opponents were Canada, Czech Republic, Germany and Sweden.
The host club for this as well as for Division 2.1 was Sussex County Croquet Club (known as Southwick) near Brighton, England.
Unfortunately, a number of our top players, including Reg Bamford, William Louw, Judith Hanekom and Lester Sullivan, were unable to play so the team eventually selected consisted of two couples, Chris and Christine Wakeham as well as Peter and Silvia Dreyer. This was the first time that a national team had consisted of two couples!
The format used meant that during the first four days, each country in our division played a test match (consisting of two doubles and eight singles) against every other country. During this phase Canada was clearly the strongest team, winning all their tests. SA had a very close test match against Sweden with two lost games that could easily have gone in our favour. If they had, we would have beaten Sweden, so SA, Germany and Sweden would all have won two tests, with Czech Republic not winning any tests. There would have been a count out on percentage of games won.
As it was Sweden went through to play Canada in the final and SA, Germany and Czech Republic had to play off for the lower places. Both SA and Germany beat Czech Republic convincingly but it was very close between the first two. Peter and Silvia Dreyer had a very close doubles on Saturday morning which just went the wrong way. If that game had been won, it would have been four all at lunchtime with two games to be played in the afternoon, both of which we felt we could win. Sadly, the weather intervened with a storm and torrential rain, resulting in lots of standing water on the courts. An hour later the games were abandoned and victory was given to Germany. Canada and Sweden were tied four all in their match and so were made joint winners of Tier 2.2.
Southwick is a very fine club with eleven excellent courts and good facilities. They also run a coaching academy there and so it is well worth a visit if anyone is in the UK.
Overall SA won about half of their games which was a fair achievement considering that most of their opponents were ranked much higher. The club members, officials and other teams were all very friendly and welcoming, so although playing three games a day for six days was somewhat exhausting, a good time was had by all.
Photos can be found using the following link: