She may have been a bit younger than her competition, but Nelson’s Ellie Ross didn’t let a lack of experience stop her defending her national golf croquet title last month.
Ellie is the New Zealand golf croquet women’s champion for the second consecutive year having only started playing in 2016.
Golf croquet is a faster and more simplistic version of the more traditional croquet.
The 16-year-old first picked up a mallet two years ago after she broke her ankle while playing netball.
While recovering, Ellie was seeking an outlet for her competitiveness when her maths teacher suggested golf croquet.
The low intensity of the sport allowed her to play even in a cast.
The Nelson College for Girls student says it was love at first whack.
“It’s quite amazing, you meet a whole different group of people, it is such a lovely sport that anyone can play.”
At the tournament in Hawke’s Bay Ellie took on Dallas Cook of Bay of Plenty in the final.
The young gun pipped her opponent in straight sets, 7-2, 7-5.
She is now switching her focus to the U21 world’s in the United Kingdom in 2019.
When asked what sets her apart she says it’s no secret, “just practice.”
She says the sport has opened up a new world for her.
“It has allowed me to travel around the country meeting all sorts of different people.”
Ellie says while there is a fantastic family-like bond within the club, “you can be competitive when you need to be.”
The Nelson Club is now setting its sights on bringing the World Championships to the city.
“The main countries that play it are Egypt, Australia and New Zealand, so to have worlds here would help promote the sport not only in Nelson but New Zealand.”
Ellie says while it is predominantly an older person’s sport, New Zealand has one of the youngest pools of players in the world.
Her special season continued when she was named most improved player in the country at an awards ceremony in Wellington.
Ellie says it was a very proud moment.
“Seeing the names on the trophy of players that had won it before, some of them I have played with, so it’s very special.”
She says she hopes to emulate some of their success and one day win a world title to add to her trophy case.
“I would love to win worlds and help keep the sport alive.”