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Croquet Team Doesn't Practice, Still Takes Third

Club Squad Performs Well at Nationals Against Teams That Take Sport 'Very seriously'

By Andrew S. Chang

The Harvard Croquet Team, a club sport squad that takes pride in rarely practicing, finished third in national competition this weekend.

Team co-captains Lawrence A. Sacerdote '97 and Antonio F. Soler '98 took third place at the United States Croquet Association (USCA) National Collegiate Championships, held Saturday and yesterday at Smith College.

Eight schools competed at the tournament, including Yale, Princeton, Penn, Navy, Georgetown, smith and the eventual champions, St. John's of Maryland.

Sacerdote said the competition at the tournament was "pretty fierce."

"There were a lot of arguments on the court," he said.

Soler said many of the other schools take croquet more seriously than Harvard, even offering credit for courses in the sport.

"It's very interesting how we play against schools that take it very seriously and just seem naturally less able," he said.

Soler said that Harvard's team is successful because it has a tradition of practicing "as little as possible."

"We find that practices actually inhibit our game," Sacerdote said. "You start thinking too much."

"It approaches something commonly known as beginner's luck, but we like to think of it as strategy," he added.

The tradition of not practicing traces back to the team's inception, Soler said.

David P. Ross '93, Ryan K. Berglund '95 and Timothy E. Bannon--a member of the class of 1994--went to the national championships in 1991 never having played competitive croquet, and won the tournament. After their victory, the students then founded the Harvard team.

Sacerdote and Soler stressed that competition at the tournament has become more competitive in recent years.

Although the croquet team does not have a practice facility, Sacerdote and soler said they are trying to talk with Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III about getting a croquet court installed at Harvard.

"It's a real problem--sometimes we have to go out in the Cambridge Common," Sacerdote said.

Sacerdote said that if a court were installed in the middle of Harvard Stadium during the spring, Harvard could host the national championships in the future.

"There's something the school has ,about football," he said. "They don't want us to put one in the Stadium."

Sacerdote and Soler were joined this weekend by team coach Richard L. Brackett. Brackett, an entrepreneur who is also the USCA treasurer, travels from his home in New York City to join the team for matches.

In addition to the national tournament, the team has a match against Yale in November during the weekend of The Game.

"Strategy is a giant part of match play, and coaches are an integral part of that," Sacerdote said.

Much of the tournament was played in pouring rain which made the croquet court much slower, Sacerdote and Soler said.

"Like in golf, we play in all conditions except for lightning," Sacerdote said.

Last year, the team finished fourth in the tournament, even though it defeated the eventual championship team from George town.

Sacerdote, an Eliot House resident, said that many students have many misconceptions about croquet.

"Croquet is a cool sport--it's half chess, half pool, half golf," he said. "Despite it's old-boy connotations, croquet is an enduring pastime which, with new technology, has become more exciting, both to play and watch."

Sacerdote said today's competitive croquet players have mallets with graphite shafts and high-tech grips, and wear special shoes designed for lawn sports.

The co-ed team has six members, but Sacerdote and Soler were the only Harvard players at this year's tournament.Croquet team captains Lawrence A. Sacerdote '97 and Antonio F. Soler '98 display their medals won at the National Collegiate Championships, held Saturday and yesterday at Smith College.

Sacerdote and Soler were joined this weekend by team coach Richard L. Brackett. Brackett, an entrepreneur who is also the USCA treasurer, travels from his home in New York City to join the team for matches.

In addition to the national tournament, the team has a match against Yale in November during the weekend of The Game.

"Strategy is a giant part of match play, and coaches are an integral part of that," Sacerdote said.

Much of the tournament was played in pouring rain which made the croquet court much slower, Sacerdote and Soler said.

"Like in golf, we play in all conditions except for lightning," Sacerdote said.

Last year, the team finished fourth in the tournament, even though it defeated the eventual championship team from George town.

Sacerdote, an Eliot House resident, said that many students have many misconceptions about croquet.

"Croquet is a cool sport--it's half chess, half pool, half golf," he said. "Despite it's old-boy connotations, croquet is an enduring pastime which, with new technology, has become more exciting, both to play and watch."

Sacerdote said today's competitive croquet players have mallets with graphite shafts and high-tech grips, and wear special shoes designed for lawn sports.

The co-ed team has six members, but Sacerdote and Soler were the only Harvard players at this year's tournament.Croquet team captains Lawrence A. Sacerdote '97 and Antonio F. Soler '98 display their medals won at the National Collegiate Championships, held Saturday and yesterday at Smith College.

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