Thursday, November 16, 2017

MONGOOSE RISING



Boasters League round 7~~

Mongoose is on the prowl. I would say they are ‘creeping’ up the standings, but in reality there isn’t much subtlety going on here. It was expected that they would overtake the idle Paddy’s Dropshots this week to take third spot – which they did without even blinking – but they did so with a league leading 46 points for the round, 6 more than the next best Butter Nutz and 8 more than the third best Vivio’s (who are an unthreatening 38 points behind). Now, they are only 4 points back on second placed Foss Nation who have to sit out with the bye for round 8.

They are still 35 points behind Butter Nutz, but that lead doesn’t look like it’s enough. Butter Nutz have the horrible task of anguishing through the last round bye and having to nervously scrutinize the team hot on their heels getting closer and closer. Make up matches are a must in order to hold them off, and they have been doing a terrific job of that – they currently have played the most matches overall and have the (equal) best winning percentage. The other team with the best winning percentage? Vivio’s. If only they played more matches, eh? This could be a great showdown come December 10.

The one thing that let Mongoose down yesterday was that they had their worst score for bonus points this season. Shame on them. Only 13. Still, they now have the most in the league overall, and that 13 was the most bonus points of the 7th week as well… so it wasn’t that shameful. Either way, I’m sure Captain Paul Huth will pull out the whip and torture devices to make sure such a feeble performance is not repeated!

Quite a few matches were played last night. Kind of off topic here, but I was asked to make a special mention of a non-Boasters League score. In the Doubles League, George Kordas and Robin Basil looked primed and ready to hand a beat down to Vikram Chopra and Mike Eugenio. Vikram mentioned to me that George was trash-talking (texting) during the day telling Vikram to prepare himself for the humiliation that was coming his way. George may have forgotten that Mike has actually won the Club Championship doubles multiple times over the years and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Well, as fate would have it, and as my mother used to tell me, “let your racquet do the talking”, George’s words inspired Vikram and Mike to greater heights and they pulled out the win 3-2. Nothing like a dish of humble pie to silence the thumbs.

Getting back to the matter at hand, Kevin Butler (Winky-Dinks) was all fired up after his first win of the season, taking the 2-1 win over Helen French (Mongoose). Nothing like a victory in the back pocket to motivate oneself! Maggie Durant (Winky-Dinks) was also very pleased with her performance – at least for the first 2 games – against Sandy Selinger (Mongoose) as she picked up her 4th win of the season with a 2-1 score line. And another win for the ladies for the Wardogs – this time Ashley Thibodeau with her 3rd victory of the season managing to get past Jim Miller (Vivio’s) 2-1.

Tom Pierce (Butter Nutz) pulled off one his best victories of the half taking down the (up until yesterday) the undefeated Chris Laenen (Foss Nation) 2-1. Chris was obviously disappointed with the loss and was already looking for when his revenge match could take place. I’m sure they will meet up again soon and Chris will get his opportunity, they are also only 1 box apart on the ladders.

A welcome rest from the league next week as Thanksgiving will be upon us. The ideal time to knock out as many make-up matches as possible. The minimum 5 matches to avoid league eviction has been reached by 76 of the 153 players so far – some of you have work to do to get there though and the December 10 deadline is looming. Let’s get proactive!

Monday, November 13, 2017

ANOTHER MACEACHERN BLITZ



Blitz Tournament November 10, 2017

I really enjoy this format. Pitting the lower ranked player against the higher ones creates an energized atmosphere and it’s the perfect rare opportunity for many members to step on court with opponents who are significantly stronger. And, as was prevalent on this day, the seldom but highly satisfying gratification of actually beating them.

Handicapping may have been a little severe now and then, but this is done by design. I purposely try to lean towards the underdog, a deliberate extra pressure placed on the higher ranked players. The lower ranked players do enjoy getting that sniff of victory. It’s also entertaining listening to the crowd cheer them on, begging for a mis-hit winner, pleading for an unforced error, imploring for the upset.

Jason "The Bagel" Currie and Peter Huthwaite
We had 25 players, five groups of 5, so 50 preliminary matches overall, 11 of which ended up 15-14 which proves the handicap to be spot-on and for at least 20% ~ish of the time, shows I know what I’m talking about. I’ll take that 20%, at home it’s close to zero.

There were, also, some rather startling blow-outs. None more noticeable than the Group 1 match between Jason Currie and Peter Huthwaite. Jason plays #1 in the Boasters League, Peter #15. So I gave Peter 13 points head start. Two rallies later (and this is why I named this tournament the “Blitz”) they shook hands. Yep, for the first time I can remember in 19 Blitz Tournaments, we have our first bagel. 15-0. Here is a photo commemorating this wonderful moment in Blitz history…

Jason’s misery didn’t end there. He only scored 3 points against Mack Gembis, 7 against David de la Torre, and then salvaged some pride against Shail Arora, albeit in a sudden-death 15-14 win. The two players that advanced from Group 1 were the two lower ranked ones - Mack Gembis and Peter Huthwaite - each with 3 wins.

In Group 2 there were another couple of surprising results. David Zack dominated this group taking all 4 of his matches. On paper some of the handicaps he received were warranted, but on court the situation should have been reversed. David demolished Maggie Durant 15-3, making his 6 point gift look completely inappropriate. He did give up 6 points to Jordan Dean and won that 15-14, the only sudden death point of the group. Jordan was the other player to advance to the knock-out round form this group, he too made the handicap he received against Maggie rather unbecoming. I guess it wasn’t Maggie’s day, but she did beat Jeff Gembis so it wasn’t all terrible news for her!

In Group 3, Paul Gormley would receive the “unlucky” award. Against the 2 strongest players in the group, he needed just a fraction of fortune to go his way. However, it was not to be. He lost both matches against JC Tibbitts and John Rogers 15-14. If he had won either of them, he would have advanced to the finals round as he crushed the other 2 matches easily. Where Paul was missing out on his good destiny, JC was taking advantage. He won 2 of his matches 15-14, and one 15-13, again if either of those results were reversed, he would not have advanced. The difference one rally can make… Joining JC to the finals was John Rogers who won 3 of 4 matches and appears to get more energized the longer he plays.

Another 3 sudden-death results in Group 4. Emphasizing again that the outcome of one rally would have changed the result of this tournament! Tom MacEachern’s 15-14 win over Chuck Doyle allowed him avoid elimination. Had he lost that point, Chuck would have moved on instead. It was a competitive group, every result was a minimum 15-11 score line. The most exciting ending was between Tom and John Mann - the result also may have changed the set-up of the knock out finals. At 14-all Tom pushed the ball into the front right corner. Desperate, John put his body on the line and dove head first to retrieve it, did so, but lolly-popped it straight back into the middle of the court and straight onto Tom’s racquet. However, instead of simply nailing the ball the back while John was still sprawled out on the floor, Tom literally lolly-popped it back onto the front wall believing John wouldn’t even try to run. John realized the ball was still sitting up, managed to recover and another desperation swing got his strings to the ball and hit the winner taking the game 15-14. Ridiculous stuff! Tom couldn’t believe what just did, John’s effort guaranteed him advancement and he redeemed himself from the one loss I have to mention:  John’s loss in the group to Curt Pedersen occurred when John was serving at 13-14 and served the ball under the service line for a fault. Ugh.

Group 5 was also closely contested. Never afraid to run and sweat, Han Peng thrives in long rallies, looks like he’s going to collapse and throw up, then shrugs it off and starts running anew. His 15-13 win against Jeff Rogers was a perfect example as Jeff also likes to run till he drops. It looked as if both players wanted to keep the rally going, never quite hitting the ball wide enough or long enough or hard enough to end the point. Run, run, run. May as well run some more. Han picked up 3 tough wins to advance. Second place ended up being a 3-way tie between Jeff Rogers, Colin Bayer and Brian Ellison all of whom had 2 wins each. The fairest way to determine these scenarios is by drawing straws. Pure luck, equal opportunity. For those who argue that head to head should be the determining factor, it would be difficult to pick the winner anyway: Brian beat Colin, who beat Jeff, who beat Brain. Straws were studied, then drawn. Brian won the lottery.

Brian’s reward? A first round final match against Tom MacEachern. A 9 point head start was perfect. And opportunistic. And worrisome for Tom. And one point too few as it turned out for Brian. Tom squeaked out another sudden death point for his second 15-14 win of the day. I sent Tom straight back on court for his next final’s game against David Zack to whom he was giving up 10 points. Once again, Tom bullied his way through the game. David did put up some resistance and reached 13 points but the pace of Tom’s hitting was too much to handle.

In the semifinal Tom was to meet up against Mack Gembis. Mack is new to squash so his presence here was a little surprising and actually such a newcomer does make the handicapping tricky. Mack beat up on JC Tibbitts in his first match 15-4, not needing at all the 11 points head start I gave him. I gave him 11 against Tom as well thinking Mack could surely squeeze 4 points out of Tom the way he was playing, Ummm.. no. he couldn’t. Just a couple only. Tom was on a mission.

Han Peng and Mack Gembis
The other side of the final’s bracket started with John Rogers running around like a lunatic against Jordan Dean. Just getting warmed up, John was giving up 10 to Jordan, and edged out the win 15-13. He then tackled Peter Huthwaite who had an 11 point head start. Peter started off well getting to 14 quickly and establishing over 10 match balls. Just one… just one… lucky shot, an error, something… the crowd urging it on… John held tight, was running faster and faster, and rolled through the remaining rallies for the 15-14 win. He then took on Han. Han swatted away his first round final’s opponent John Mann 15-4, making his 10 point handicap in that match pretty useless as well. Against John he had 9 and once again we were witnessing 2 runners that were more content to keep the ball in play rather than hit a winner. By now John was bouncing off the walls and couldn’t be stopped. Han did what he could but it wasn’t enough to avoid the 15-13 loss.

Han still had one more game to play - the 3rd / 4th play-off against Mack. I gave Mack 6 points here, but in reality it didn’t matter. Han was toast. He had hit the wall at last and Mack wasn’t letting him off the hook. He stormed to a 15-5 victory and should be very pleased with his 3rd place finish in his first ever Blitz appearance.

Tom MacEachern and John Rogers
The final: John Rogers v Tom MacEachern. I did have a handicap in mind here, but even before I could announce it, John insisted that they play straight up. He wanted no help in beating Tom. Kudos to John for the sportsmanship, he must have been feeling it for the match!

Tom was also starting to feel the effects of playing so many games back to back. This would be his (and John’s) 8th game in just over 2 hours, but John did appear to be the fresher of the two - which is maybe why he wanted to take on Tom at 0-0. He could smell a legit win coming up. Digging deep, Tom started off stronger, inching his nose in front by a couple of points and then ever so slowly increasing that lead as the rallies progressed. John kept in striking distance and as the game was getting to the end, one could see Tom’s energy dropping. An unforced error was followed by 2 more off the return of serve, giving confidence to John to keep pushing. But Tom managed to regain composure and he ended John’s campaign with a 15-11 win! For the record, I was going to give John a 4 point handicap.

Another Blitz Tournament victory for Mr. MacEachern. This is Tom’s second Blitz win which puts him in the same boat of past 2-time winner Josh Slominski but still a couple victories off the all-time Blitz leader 4-time winner Sante Fratarcangeli.



Search This Blog