15 February 2009
Manawatu Standard, Palmerston North, New Zealand
story by Judith Lacy
photo by Jonathan Cameron
|Top New Zealand croquet player Paddy Chapman.|
Ten years ago, Paddy Chapman was passing a Christchurch croquet club and thought the game looked "fairly interesting".
Now, aged 21, he's ranked 10th in the world for association croquet.
Chapman has been in Palmerston North this week, representing New Zealand in the trans-Tasman test series, which ends on Monday.
He's now living in Adelaide but hasn't any plans to swap croquet allegiances.
A graduate of the Music and Audio Institute in audio engineering and music production, Chapman works for the Primary Music Institute teaching keyboard and piano in Adelaide primary schools.
The South Australian city is where girlfriend Miranda Morgan lives. The 22-year-old is representing the green and golds in the trans-Tasman test, but a quirk of the draw means she won't play Chapman.
Morgan has also been playing croquet for 10 years.
Chapman joined the Cashmere Croquet Club with his mother, but the game - a combination of snooker, golf and chess — didn't click for her, as it did her son.
"The more I played the keener I got," Chapman says.
He's been ranked as high as 7 in the world and is No 2 in the New Zealand team. This is Chapman's second trans-Tasman test, the first being the previous event in 2006 when he won player of the series.
He enjoys the fact that croquet isn't like any other game and that it doesn't just involve brute force.
Rather it's a thinking game, tactical, deep.
"You can spend decades trying to master it."
In 2001, while playing in a school age tournament, Chapman was spotted by John Prince, who offered to provide coaching.
Despite having watched former world champions Robert Fulford and Reg Bamford play, Chapman says Prince on his day is the best player he's ever seen by quite a long way.
"I just learnt a lot from watching him and losing to him."
Now they are pretty evenly matched.
Chapman enjoys creating novelty croquet videos for YouTube and has a statistician's mind when it comes to the results of croquet matches, those he's played in and not.
"I'm just weird that way. I don't try to remember it, it just sticks."
He's hoping for a music career and one day would like to own a Steinway concert grand. He's played the piano since he was 5, passing his grade 8 exam.