SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Playing in an unusually late Claremont Croquet Classic, Dave Nelson’s mastery of the sport reached a new level.
This year’s edition of the tournament, which typically takes place the first full week of August, was instead held the second full week of the month. Players came from Maine and all over the country for a chance to earn a place on the Claremont’s board of champions, but after a long week of play, it was Nelson, the hometown hero, who stood above the rest.
Nelson clinched the singles and doubles championships Saturday to cap off seven days of croquet by the Clark Point shores in Southwest Harbor. That strong showing on a gray August afternoon on Mount Desert Island marked a historic personal achievement for a player who’s been a mainstay at the Claremont for years.
“This is my first time holding both of these,” Nelson told the crowd as he clutched his championship glass plates during the post-tournament awards ceremony. “I’ve never won singles and doubles in the same year before.”
In doubles play, Nelson and teammate Rick Slagter had to battle through the loser’s bracket after dropping their semifinal match to Don Parker and Bob Holden. The duo bounced back, though, winning their next two matches before earning revenge on Parker and Holden to take the title.
Nelson had no trouble making his way through singles play, beating Skip Strong in the quarterfinals and earning two straight wins over Slagter to reach the final. Surrounded by a crowd of more than 30 spectators for the championship match early Saturday afternoon, Nelson topped Parker to seal his first-ever sweep of both tournament events.
With his singles win, Nelson, who is also the tournament’s organizer, claimed his eighth championship in the flight since 2007. His doubles victory was his first since he joined forces with Dave Fox in 2012 to defeat Fox’s sons, Will and John.
This year marked the 43rd edition of the Claremont Classic. Next year’s tournament is scheduled for Aug. 2-8.