After their inspiring achievement of winning the 2012 biannual United States Women's National Petanque Championship tournament in Blue Hill, Maine, the Valley of the Moon Petanque Club’s Barbara Hall, Narin Garrett and Erin McTaggart raised their competitive focus for 2013 to the world championship level.
As national champions, Hall, Garrett and McTaggart, along with VOMPC coach PJ Mallette and an alternate player, Cynthia Stroud from the Maine Boules Club, represented the United States at the recent Women's World Petanque Championships in Montauban, a city in southern France near the Bordeaux wine region.
With 43 teams from 41 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America (USA and Canada) vying for the world crown, five qualifying rounds were held and on the first day of competition, the Valley women and their Maine teammate posted a 2-0 record for the USA, defeating Latvia 13-4, and beating Estonia 13-6.
Following the first round of action was the “Tir de Precision” – a shooting contest for one player on each country's team – and McTaggart represented the U.S. team in the competition, which involved taking 20 attempted shots at various distances and degrees of difficulty.
McTaggart turned in a standout effort and advanced to the second round to become the first American woman shooter to accomplish the feat, before being edged out of advancing into the third round.
In rounds three, four and five of the team world championships, the USA women came up empty in the win column, being shut out 13-0 in the third round by one of the strongest teams in the field, Spain.
Battling two more evenly matched teams in the fourth and fifth rounds, the American women ended up dropping 13-7 and 9-8 heartbreaking decisions to the Czech Republic and England, respectively.
“Spain is consistently one of the strongest teams, so our loss to that country was not unexpected. But the closely contested games in rounds four and five were heartbreakers,” said Sonoma’s Hall. “The pressure was intense in this international arena and we failed to execute in a few key moments.”
After five rounds, the top 16 teams advanced into the championship bracket, while the remaining countries dropped into the consolation bracket, or “Coupe de Nations,” with both brackets being single elimination play and the USA was nipped 10-9 by Austria and eliminated from the world championship tournament.
“The Austria loss was another heartbreaker, but we played even with everyone but Spain, and the world championship event was an exciting experience – from marching into an Olympics style opening ceremony with our country’s flag, to the competition, and the closing gala awards banquet and ceremony,” Hall said.
In the championship bracket’s title match in front of a packed bouledrome, Thailand beat hosting-country France 13-7 to claim the women’s world petanque crown.
Anyone interested in learning the sport of petanque and joining the Valley of the Moon Petanque Club or for more information, call 343-9465 or visit vompc.org.