SOUTHWEST HARBOR — After one short break and two-and-a-half hours of play, Will Fox, 19, and John Fox, 16, became the 2016 doubles champions at the Claremont Croquet Classic on Saturday.
The Chicago, Ill., brothers finished ahead of Don Parker of Hancock and Larry Stettner of Southwest Harbor after a lengthy match that was watched by about 20 spectators.
Will Fox, who won the doubles championship last year with his partner and mother, Ellen Fox, helped his younger brother strategize nearly every move during the match. The mood was palpably tense at times. The Foxes keep a nearby summer residence and have been playing in the Claremont Croquet Classic for over 10 years.
“These kids are all so smart, and this is a mental game,” tournament organizer Dave Nelson of Southwest Harbor said of the Fox brothers. “When I play [against Will] it’s hard to beat him because he knows my every move.”
Nelson, the reigning singles champ, reclaimed that title for the second year in a row, ultimately beating 14-year-old Luke Fox after an hour of play in the final singles match.
“He was the last Fox to get his name up on the board,” Nelson said of the youngest brother. Winners and runners-up from each doubles and singles championship get their names permanently painted on boards posted around the hotel.
The Claremont Croquet Classic has been a summer tradition for both seasonal and year-round residents for nearly four decades. The first tournament was held in 1977, and while the number of tournament players dwindled this year, Nelson said he is optimistic about the future of the tournament since young players like the Foxes have shown interest in the game.
“We are trying to recruit some younger players and a younger generation and really keep this up,” said Nelson. “It’s such a great game and it’s so much fun.”