Latvian Croquet Federation v SCA

6-7 June 2015, Ratnieki, Latvia

Normunds ZelcansThe Latvian Croquet Federation team beat the SCA by 31-20.

Scottish Croquet Association team: Malcolm Smith (captain), Dave Arnot, Chris Martin, George Geis, Kenny McIsaac and Joyce Arnot.

Latvian Croquet Federation team: Viktors Harlinskis (captain), Roberts Stafeckis (Saturday), Normunds Zelcans, Andris Usans, Andrejs Savinovs, Aija Usane and also Liga Usane and Zigurds Plavins played games on the Sunday.

Arrival was followed by some days of exploring Latvia: its museums, beaches, forests, rivers and lakes, and of course the historic city of Riga. On Friday the team managed to rendezvous successfully at the railway station in the town of Ogre to play fun croquet and eat lunch at the house of Roberts Stafeckis and Jolanta.  After this we moved to the town of Sigulda where we played on another 'house lawn' and enjoyed a barbecue with Viktors Harlinskis and Sandra.

So up early on Saturday morning to begin serious play at the University of Latvia, Rural Campus at Ratnieki: all very reminiscent of the SCA National Centre at Bush in the 1990's – except that the clubhouse has a sauna, hot tub and cold plunge!

Two lawns and six players on each side enabled two doubles and two singles to be played for most of the proposed 13 rounds of play. After the first two rounds scores were even at 4-4. From this point however, although the SCA continued to largely hold our own in the singles, we fell away in the doubles. After 7 rounds, at the end of Saturday Latvia had established a strong lead at 18-10.

On Sunday SCA lost the two doubles played but more singles were played and we continued to have more success, with the Sunday singles score a mere 11-10 to Latvia.

So overall Latvia won 31-20 (singles 21-15 but doubles 10-5).

The Scottish team agreed we were a little unready for the Doubles format in which we all played with each other member of the team: the Auchincruive contingent being unfamiliar with the playing strengths of Chris and George from Meadows  club. Also some team members borrowed mallets which was certainly a disadvantage on the first day.

Overall we were impressed with the playing strength and improvement of  the Latvian team since a year ago. This was exemplified by Andrejs Savinovs who lost all his first day games at the Meadows Open but after practising day and night won 5 of his 6 singles! Andrejs exemplified the 'Latvian Style' as we saw it: with long hoop shooting and jump shots; we were more inclined to the use of the stymie and very hard stop-shot clearances.

The match was played in a true sporting spirit and the hospitality and warmth of the Latvian croquet players and families was exceptional.

Malcolm Smith

 

Message below from Malcolm Smith on behalf of the SCA Team to Roberts Stafeckis and the Latvian Team.

“Dear Roberts,

We have all reached home safe and happy, if a little tired from all that croquet in such beautiful sunshine. All home that is except for George who is travelling on to Lithuania to research family history .

I wish you to pass on to all your team and helpers sincere thanks on behalf of the team and the SCA  for your exceptional hospitality and wonderful sportsmanship. The 'family' croquet on Friday morning at your house in Ogre and in the evening at Viktor's house in Sigulda were as good as the very best croquet parties I can remember in Scotland, except it was not raining in Latvia. I must particularly ask you to thank Jolanta and Sandra for the organisation, food and drinks at these events.

The site at Ratnieki is a wonderful facility: there can be few croquet clubs in the world with a sauna, plunge pool and hot tub! The lawns were excellent, the hoops suitably difficult - at least for me - and the planning of the sequence of matches a work of genius. Also the food and accommodation were first class. However perhaps the most important contribution of the successful match was the great sporting attitude of all your players; they almost made losing a pleasure! I am sure we will all look forward to the next match when you return to Scotland. We will definitely be practising.

It was great that we all managed to stay for around a week in Latvia and experience such as: the incredible beaches at Jurmala, Riga city and its unique architecture, markets and museums; and the rivers and countryside. We discussed together how much we are looking forward to returning. As a keen cyclist I would like to do a Baltic tour, particularly considering the lack of hills and rain.

Finally - the result LATVIA 31 SCOTLAND 20. A good win for Latvia.

But we take some comfort from the analysis by David Arnot attached below which shows a remarkably close number of hoops scored, particularly in singles.

Best wishes to everyone,

Malcolm"

 

Singles

Normunds Zelcans beat Chris Martin 7-2
Roberts Stafeckis beat David Arnot 7-5
Andris Usans lost to Malcolm Smith 4-7
Viktors Harlinskis lost to George Geis 2-7
Andrejs Savinovs beat Joyce Arnot 7-3
Aija Usane lost to Kenny McIsaac 4-7
Normunds Zelcans lost to David Arnot 6-7
Roberts Stafeckis beat Chris Martin 7-5
Andris Usans beat George Geis 7-5
Viktors Harlinskis lost to Malcolm Smith 3-7
Andrejs Savinovs beat Kenny McIsaac 7-6
Aija Usane beat Joyce Arnot 7-5
Normunds Zelcans beat George Geis 7-4
Roberts Stafeckis beat Malcolm Smith 7-3
Andris Usans beat Chris Martin 7-5
Viktors Harlinskis beat Joyce Arnot 7-5
Andrejs Savinovs beat David Arnot 7-5
Andrejs Savinovs lost to Chris Martin 5-7
Aija Usane lost to Malcolm Smith 3-7
Andris Usans beat Joyce Arnot 7-1
Viktors Harlinskis beat Kenny McIsaac 7-5
Normunds Zelcans beat Malcolm Smith 7-4
Aija Usane lost to David Arnot 3-7
Zigurds Plavins lost to Kenny McIsaac 3-7
Andrejs Savinovs beat George Geis 7-4
Zigurds Plavins lost to George Geis 5-7
Andrejs Savinovs beat Malcolm Smith 7-4
Andris Usans beat Kenny McIsaac 7-4
Viktors Harlinskis lost to David Arnot 5-7
Andris Usans beat David Arnot 7-6
Viktors Harlinskis lost to Chris Martin 5-7
Liga Usane beat Joyce Arnot 7-4
Aija Usane lost to George Geis 4-7
Liga Usane beat Kenny McIsaac 7-6
Zigurds Plavins lost to Joyce Arnot 5-7
Aija Usane lost to Chris Martin 3-7

LCF 21 - SCA 15 (Hoops: LCF 207 - SCA 196)

 

Doubles

Andris Usans & Aija Usane beat George Geis & Joyce Arnot 7-4
Viktors Harlinskis & Andrejs Savinovs lost to Malcolm Smith & Kenny McIsaac 5-7
Normunds Zelcans & Andrejs Savinovs lost to David Arnot & Kenny McIsaac 6-7
Roberts Stafeckis & Aija Usane beat Chris Martin & Joyce Arnot 7-5
Normunds Zelcans & Andris Usans beat David Arnot & George Geis 7-3
Roberts Stafeckis & Viktors Harlinskis beat Chris Martin & Malcolm Smith 7-5
Andris Usans & Andrejs Savinovs beat George Geis & Kenny McIsaac 7-5
Viktors Harlinskis & Aija Usane beat Malcolm Smith & Joyce Arnot 7-6
Normunds Zelcans & Aija Usane lost to David Arnot & Joyce Arnot 6-7
Roberts Stafeckis & Andrejs Savinovs lost to Chris Martin & Kenny McIsaac 3-7
Normunds Zelcans & Viktors Harlinskis beat David Arnot & Malcolm Smith 7-5
Roberts Stafeckis & Andris Usans beat Chris Martin & George Geis 7-5
Andris Usans & Viktors Harlinskis lost to David Arnot & Chris Martin 3-7
Andrejs Savinovs & Aija Usane beat Kenny McIsaac & Joyce Arnot 7-4
Normunds Zelcans & Zigurds Plavins beat Malcolm Smith & Kenny McIsaac 7-3

LCF 10 - SCA 5 (Hoops: LCF 93 - SCA 80)

 

Joyce Arnot and Liga UsaneThe two teams