9 January 2009
Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand
by Alistair McMurran in Otago Daily Times, Dunedin, Otago, NZ
photo by Gregor Richardson in Otago Daily Times, Dunedin, Otago, NZ
|New Zealand croquet representative and composer Anthony Ritchie at his Dunedin home yesterday.|
Dunedin composer Anthony Ritchie will have music ringing in his ears when he makes his world championship debut at [the National Croquet Center in West] Palm Beach, Florida, in May [19th-17th].
He is the only Otago player named in the 10-strong New Zealand team for the world championships.
Ritchie (48), a senior lecturer in composition at the University of Otago, is also a freelance composer.
His works are regularly performed in New Zealand and, increasingly, overseas, most notably the Flute Concerto.
"I have tunes running around in my head when I am playing croquet," Ritchie told the Otago Daily Times yesterday.
"Croquet is a break away from my music but I also see the sport as a challenge as well."
He struck the right chord when he retained the national Edwina Thompson Silver Tray Invitation title in Hawkes Bay in November.
This performance got him the nod from the New Zealand selectors. It was a remarkable performance by the Punga club player, who is now ranked 10th in the country and has a world ranking in the top 100.
He has been playing the sport for just 12 years.
"I was surprised and delighted to be selected," Ritchie said.
"My win last November helped."
Ritchie started playing croquet to give himself a break from music and his academic work.
He has now reached international elite level in music and croquet Ritchie is one of New Zealand's most prolific composers.
His works number 140 and include symphonies, operas, concertos, choral works, chamber music and solo works.
They have been widely acclaimed by audiences and critics alike.
Ritchie, who made his international croquet debut for New Zealand A in Australia in 2005, has won six national events.
He also represented New Zealand A against Australia in 2007. "I must juggle my time between my work, family and sport and can only play in a few major tournaments each year," he said.
"I like the game. It is like chess on grass and combines the mental and physical skills. It is something completely different for me.
"The university has been very obliging and has given me leave for the world championships."
Ritchie's elevation to the elite level of international croquet means he must devote more time to the sport.
This includes getting fit for the eight- to nine-hour days necessary to be successful in the international croquet arena,"It is a long day on the croquet lawn and I am doing a lot of walking to keep fit," Ritchie said.
What is his secret?
"I just try to be consistent and play one game at a time," he said.
"I know there will be more pressure on me but I will not block out the nerves."
None of his family — wife Sandy, daughter Annabelle (10), son Tristan (22) and step-daughter Josie (22) — joins him on the croquet lawn.
New Zealand World Championship Squad