In fine and mild conditions, the 2019/20 season got off to a roaring start with twenty‑four teams in attendance. This turn-out has not been matched since 2012 and the last time we’ve had more than that was in 2008. What makes it all the more remarkable is that this happened at a time of year when quite a number of regular players from various clubs are absent. Host clubs be warned — we might be in for some big crowds this year!
As is customary for the first round, the day began with the presentation of medals for the most outstanding players of the season just completed. Congratulations to Wendy Bensen for winning the Best Player award, and to Alexi Alexi (Best Male Player); Susan Krieg and Mark Reardon (Best New Players); and Tory McBride, Lionel Pujol & Dave Ward (Best Veterans). Wendy is the first woman to win the overall award, making it the first time the medal for ‘best player of the other gender’ has been for the ‘best male’.
At the end of the day, there was another set of medals to present. The gold ones went to the only undefeated team, the very experienced Adelaide trio, Jean-Paul Bouyer, Louis Oltarczy & Alain Rousse. They appear to have recaptured some of the form that saw them dominating the competition a couple of years ago.
Gold Team – Jean-Paul Bouyer, Alain Rousse & Louis Oltarczy
In contrast, the bronze medals went to a team containing two of the newer entrants to the game. Mark Reardon, Dave Willis & Glenis Head from the Gawler club went undefeated in the morning session and then, in the fourth round, made a name for themselves by beating the formidable ESP combination of Alexi, Selina Dally & Maurice Belz (who went on to claim silver). This was Mark’s first tournament medal and it made a nice double with the award he’d received earlier in the day, while Dave achieved the distinction of a medal in just his second Interclub appearance.
Silver – Alexi, Selina Dally & Maurice Belz
Bronze – Mark Reardon, Glenis Head & Dave Willis
A change from seeded draws to random draws this season is expected to make things a little less predictable, but the luck of the draw should even itself out by the end. Looking at the initial premiership table after one round, it is no great surprise to see ESP at the top (with five teams finishing in the top ten), followed by Club d’Adelaide. But after that, things looks very different to last season.
FAB, in particular, were rewarded for managing to field two teams (finishing 4th and 9th) to sit third on the ladder and in a strong position. Furthermore, the success of the solitary Gawler team was enough to put them into fourth. On the other hand, last year’s big improvers and eventual runners-up, Prospect, are currently languishing in sixth.
It remains to be seen whether these results signify an impending changing of the pecking order, or are just an anomaly. Either way, it looks like we might have a very interesting and competitive season ahead of us.