To follow-up on our prep for the rapidly approaching Solomon Trophy test (October 10-13, Bald Head Island, North Carolina), today we have an interview with British team captain Keith Aiton. He has been a member of several MacRobertson Shield teams for Great Britain and captained the team during their dramatic win in 2010. More info on this year's Solomon is available on the Bald Head Island website. Let's get to the action:
Now that the US team has posted a couple wins in the series, is the Solomon now becoming a true rivalry?
The Solomon Trophy was originally established in 1988 to provide competitive experience for US players in Association Croquet. John Solomon was the president of the Croquet Association at the time and I believe it was his vision and his relationship with Jack Osborn, the USCA president, which motivated the series of matches to be started. If you look at the results over the years, you can see that in the early matches GB won quite comfortably. But you can also see the progress that the USA was making, with the breakthrough win coming in 2009. I think it's fair to say that their win, in England, in 2011 was a "wake-up call" for Team GB. We're coming to get "our" trophy back! :-)
So then, as the home team and holders of a two-win streak, do you think the pressure falls on the U.S. team? Or as the higher ranked team does it fall back on your squad?
It's a little bit like the Ryder Cup, although on a very much smaller scale! :-) It will all come down to which team performs better when the time comes. Past history really does mean nothing.
Can you tell us how you and the rest of the GB team have been and will continue to prepare for the event?
We all play a lot of tournament croquet throughout the season in England. We haven't had the opportunity to get together as a team, but we have been in touch constantly via email, as well as having chats when some of us meet up at the same events. We're ready now, and just need some time on the lawns at Bald Head Island to get used to the conditions.
Can you describe the responsibilities of being the team captain?
The main responsibility is to order shirts for the players who don't already have them. I've been liaising with Jeff Soo about the arrangements and keeping the team informed. I'll no doubt have to do some speaking at functions. I may even play some croquet!
Okay, a couple of questions to close out: Is there anything in particular you are looking forward to at this event? And, what can we expect to see from the GB team on the courts?
I always look forward to any trip I make to the USA. I love the place, the people, and (usually) the weather. And croquet trips are the best of all. The people are so friendly and welcoming and I get to renew old friendships. I like the American lawns too, as they really suit my style of play. As for what to expect from the GB team on the courts, well, you can expect to see us on the courts, and you can expect to see us winning! :-)
Follow Croquet Network's coverage of the Solomon Trophy here: