Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Do you know someone who wants to try out squash? Here is the perfect setting. Starting on Tuesday, December 8, I am offering a clinic for members who have never played before and would like to get themselves started. Each session is for 1 hour from 6-7pm and runs for 3 consecutive Tuesdays.

Players will learn the rules, basic technique and footwork, and basic game play. Racquets and eye-guards will be provided.

Cost is $55 per person, with a miminum of 3, maximum of 4 players required to run the sessions.

Registration deadline is Thursday, December 3.


It no secret that squash in Michigan is struggling. The travel leagues are hanging on by a thread for its survival, membership is suffering, tournaments are far and few between. When I first arrived 5 years ago, I was aghast at the state of the Michigan Squash Racquets Association (MSRA). There was a complete lack of cohesion, lack of communication, lack of motivation, lack of basically everything needed to successfully promote and manage the sport and my support of the MSRA was, honestly, negligible to say the least.

But, as the ol’ cliché goes, “there is light at the end of the tunnel”. The MSRA’s new president, Hugh Stalker, has injected some much needed energy into the fray. Many new initiatives have been started which include: signing sponsors; establishing a junior program; holding benefit events; providing favorable pricing on equipment; establishing electronic pay; and a much needed revamping of the website.

Of course, at all means diddly-squat without the support of the actual squash players within Michigan. I appeal to each and every one of you to visit the new and improved website at: http://www.michigansquash.org and register yourselves, and sign-up as an MSRA member. Currently, the cost is only $25 per year, but the MSRA needs every penny to grow, promote, and market the sport – your sport - as much as possible. Your support will contribute to everyone’s success.

Clearly, there is a long way to go. The ball has started rolling and your help is required to keep it moving. Presently, the MSRA is not a recognized association in the eyes of the US Squash Association, (for reasons I will not divulge here) which is, I believe, a great pity. However, Hugh Stalker and the MSRA definitely see the importance and advantage of being a recognized association and doing just that is unquestionably one of the goals. It will, though, take a little time, and patience is required before the things in the MSRA are functioning suitably, properly, and efficiently.

While preaching the importance of support, let’s not forget about US Squash itself. You can visit the US Squash website at http://www.ussquash.com/ (also recently overhauled) for all the squash information nationwide. Signing-up as a US Squash member actually includes membership to the MSRA, and of course comes with added benefits which are too numerous to list here. It is certainly worth the money, and your much appreciated membership fees travel even further and help out not only Michigan Squash, but American Squash. We would all be better off.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Boasters League Round 7 –

The league leading “Defending Champs” increased their lead over second place “The Trolls” as they went head-to-head with them in week 7. It wasn’t exactly a league night bumbling with match activity; in fact the attendance level was the lowest seen all season. In the top of the ladder battle, five of the eleven matches have so far been completed, and the “Defending Champs” have won 4 of them and they collected 2 more bonus points. Their lead now stands at 8 points, which is only going to increase since “The Trolls” have their bye week coming up in week 8.

Things in the middle of the standings have tightened up considerably. Only 2 points separate 3rd from 6th, with the “Marauders” and “Duck or Bleed” (who played each other this week) gaining ground on “Stimulus Package” and “Hell’s Kitchen” but overall these four teams are slipping further back from the top two. Bringing up the rear are still the “Angry Dragons” and “The Reach Arounds” – and they too are falling more behind the rest of the field.

For round 7 match of the week, I am going with Bruce Shaw’s (“Defending Champs”) 2-1 victory over Bill Seymour (“The Trolls”). By the look of Bruce (pictured left) and his drenched t-shirt after the match, it was either very hard work or he has a severe perspiration problem. Either way, it was nothing a beer didn’t solve afterwards. Honorable mention goes to Stu Boynton’s (“The Reach Arounds”) win over Paul Ward (“Angry Dragons”) 2-1, another example of experience and grey hair overcoming youth!

Week 8 does not come up until December 2 due to a week off as we all stuff ourselves stupid with turkey, watch the Detroit Lions get annihilated by the Packers, and spend time with family during Thanksgiving. This gives all players the perfect opportunity to make up as many matches as possible, and give the standings a real shake-up.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Here is a priceless photo of a smiling Greg Davis and a not-so-impressed Patrick Petz holding a box of muffins. Click on the photo for an enlarged view and complete the following sentence:

"This is..."

A) The remains of the Muffin Man

B) The breakfast of champions

C) The result of a successful dumpster diving expedition

D) Greg Davis’ “gift” for the Holiday Tournament that Pat Petz chose — much to his disgust

E) Why I cannot eat muffins anymore

D) Greg Davis’ ‘gift’ for the 2005 Holiday Tournament was a box of muffins that were in less than stellar condition. Pat Petz, who had first pick of the ‘gifts’, went for the biggest box on the table and scored this gem. The muffins appeared to have been pre-sampled. It is also the reason that muffins are forever on the 'banned substances' list for all future Holiday Tournaments!

Monday, November 16, 2009


McQueenie Cup – Nov. 13-14

The first ever McQueenie Cup was held at the DAC in honor of the late Jim McQueenie. A passionate squash player and influential to many of the people he came into contact with, this event is the start of a hopefully wonderful tradition that brings together Athletic Clubs from the mid-west area to compete on the squash court (and then later on at the bars!) for the beautiful McQueenie Cup.

Starting off relatively small, the inaugural tournament had 8 man teams from the DAC, the Toledo Club, the University Club of Chicago (UCC) and the Union League Club of Chicago (ULC). When creating a competition such as this, teething problems are expected and this was no different. Although the weekend went very well and all the players left extremely content with the experience, one the biggest items we forgot to cement before the event started (and it ended up biting us where the sun doesn’t shine) was how we were going to count the score to determine the winning club. Head-to-head match-ups? Total matches won? Total games won? You’d think it would have been decided whilst we were organizing it. Funny how sometimes the most obvious things slip through the cracks.

Our toughest opponents were the lads from Toledo. The DAC were, however, up to the task. George Kordas, Paul Ward and Ryan Bendzinski won their matches in terrific 5-setters, John Rakolta held off his opponent to win 3-1 and Paul Doherty blanked his guy for a 3-0 victory. We lost the next 3 singles matches, but won the doubles for a 6 match to 3 triumph. Our next opponents were the UCC. We emulated our Toledo result by winning the first 5 matches, losing the next 3, and winning the doubles for another 6 matches to 3 win. Lastly, we played the ULC team. Their team had been struggling all weekend and against us it wasn’t any easier for them. We didn’t lose any matches, although we did have to hand them one forfeit as one of our team members could not play his match. In the end, that forfeit cost us dearly.

By the time all the squash was complete, the DAC had swept the competition. Three match-ups: three victories. You would think that would do it… But hold on… For some inexplicable reason after lengthy discussions earlier that day, it was decided that head-to-head matches wouldn’t hold any weight. Nor would total matches won. (This would have had the DAC win as well). It would be decided on total games won. The DAC won 64 games. Toledo, amazingly, had won 66. (Had we not handed ULC a forfeit, we should have won that match and would have won with 67 games.) And based on that, Toledo were declared the winners. Even though the DAC beat them. Hmmmm… It’s like announcing the winning team in baseball is the team with the most hits, not the most runs. Obviously, this method needs to be revisited – and concreted - for future McQueenie Cup events. For the 2009 title, Toledo has claimed the spoils, although it must feel a little hollow.

Regardless of how the final score turned out, the event was still extremely successful and I am tremendously proud of the effort from our players. – George Kordas; Paul Ward; Ryan Bendzinski; John Rakolta; Paul Doherty; Peter Shumaker; John Birgbauer; Peter Logan. The location for next year has not yet been decided on, I am hoping one of the Chicago clubs will be hosting, but if that doesn’t materialize, we’ll be more than happy to run it again.

1st - Toledo - 66 games; 19 matches; 2 wins
2nd - DAC - 64 games; 20 matches; 3 wins
3rd - UCC - 46 games; 13 matches; 1 win
4th - ULC - 9 games; 1 match; 0 wins

Thursday, November 12, 2009


December 4-6
Join me and enter into the Cleveland Open (how could you refuse!). Click on the poster above for all the details. There are categories for all singles players (sorry, no doubles!) and the entry fee allows free viewing of all the pro singles matches and pro-am doubles matches. Tournament hotels are also listed.

Registration deadline is Friday, November 20. You can register directly with the organizer, or through me. Entry fee is $90.


Boasters League Round 6 –

The standings this week look very similar to what it did seven days ago. The top two teams flip-flopped once again but still hold a commanding lead over 3rd placed “Stimulus Package” who may now have trouble holding onto that position with their bye week coming up. Four points behind them are “Hell’s Kitchen” who are now 4th, swapping places with “Duck or Bleed”. The other change on the standings happened all the way down the bottom where the “Reach Arounds” dropped from 8th to last and are now 1 point behind the “Angry Dragons” who still have every right to be in a pretty bad mood.

Next week’s matches have the bottom 2 teams battling out. If they get their acts together and manage to play all the matches, they could really help each other out with gaining on the field. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the top two teams are also scheduled to meet. This is the perfect opening for one of the teams to separate itself from the other. Only 3 points separate them. Coincidentally, the top team – “Defending Champs” - also has 3 more bonus points. Go figure.

Of all the results that have come in for week 6, over 70% of them had a 2-1 score line. I like that trend. There were a couple of contenders for match of the week. Neil Brodzik (“Duck or Bleed”) and Julie Henry (“Hell’s Kitchen”) had a great match with Julie ending up with her nose in front 2-1; James Van Dyke (“Hell’s Kitchen”) made Paul Flanagan (“Duck or Bleed”) explore all 600 square feet of the court and still lost 2-1; and speaking of covering every square inch of the court, Joe Bobzin (“Duck or Bleed”) took care of Phil Pitters (“Hell’s Kitchen”) 2-1 as well. Phil was not satisfied with the 400 or so court-sprints he made (necessarily or unnecessarily!) during the match as I spotted him on the elliptical machine afterwards mumbling and growling to himself. The photo is of the two playing. Ummm, "Let, please" anyone?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Thursday, December 3
Guess what…. It’s Christmas already!!! Yay!
To celebrate the wonderful occasion of some fat, bearded weirdo who breaks into everybody’s home dressed in a bright red suit with white frills, eats your cookies, then leaves mysterious boxes in your living room that would be taken away by a bomb squad if it were anywhere else, then climbs onto the roof of your house for a fantastical getaway with flying reindeer (what is that guy smoking, anyway?), we are running the 6th annual Holiday Squash Tournament.

A maximum 24 festive players are welcome to register – ALL LEVELS WELCOME!! You will be placed into 1 big draw and everybody gets to play 4 matches using the “Swiss System”. That means, that the first round is completely random – you could play anybody of any level. Your second round is against someone who has the same first round result as you, and so forth. All matches are 2 games to 15 points using point-a-rally scoring, there is no handicapping.

As an entry fee, every player is to bring a wrapped gift worth at least $20. At the end of the event the player with the most points will get to choose their gift first, the second player will then choose their gift, and so on. EVERYBODY WINS!! To make sure that all gifts are appropriate there is a short list of banned substances:
1. NO Cash
2. NO Viagra
3. NO Muffins

And, most importantly, what would a Holiday Tournament be without the Holiday “Cheer”? A keg will be provided for all to sample as much as needed.

Registration deadline is Tuesday, December 1. Be quick!

(Photo - Holiday Tournament players and their presents!)

Monday, November 9, 2009

City A + B Doubles Tournament

December 7-13 @ Franklin Athletic Club—

Test your Doubles skills against the best in Michigan. The City Doubles Tournament has an A and B draw only and all matches must be played at the Franklin Athletic Club.

Registration deadline is Monday, November 30. You can contact me to register or you can contact the organizer, Andy Kollin, directly at andrew.kollin@mckesson.com. You must be a MSRA member to participate.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Boasters League Round 5 –

Over half way through the fall season, and the league looks like it has turned itself into a two horse race. For the first time this season, “The Trolls” find themselves atop the standings – albeit by the slimmest of margins. One point behind them are the “Defending Champs”, and these two teams are leaving the rest of the field in the dust. “Stimulus Package” hold onto 3rd spot, but are 25 points behind. However, these three teams also have to endure one ‘bye’ week each in the final 3 rounds which should give the chasing pack the opening to catch up – but, that pack is falling further and further behind and they need to start making up ground now to give themselves any chance at all.

Once again, the difference on the standings does not translate to the difference of standard on the court. The “Defending Champs” played “The Deconstructors” this week who sit in 7th position, 36 points behind them. Of the 7 matches so far played, “The Deconstructors” won 4 of them! If only they would make up more of their matches, and pick up a couple more bonus points per week (they only received 5 this week compared to 8 by the “Defending Champs”), they would be in the thick of the battle for top team.

Match of the week goes to Tom Healy (“Defending Champs”) and Mike McCuish (“The Deconstructors”) [Pictured left]. Both Tom and Mike are new to the league this year, and they played a very tight contest. All 3 games were extremely close, with Mike taking the honors 2-1, his first victory of the season!

Monday, November 2, 2009


Doubles Select Tournament 2009

I suppose I have to admit, I was a little surprised at the result of this tournament. In the previous four years at least one of the players in the winning pair was a DAC ‘A’ ranked member (or very close to it). So when Shail Arora and Peter Fortune reached the final against John Dunwoody and Bob Bendzinski, the odds were with John and Bob, John of course being the A player out of the foursome (no offence to the other three!) John and Bob won their semi final 3-0. They were supposed to play Tom McCarthy and Sandy MacDonald but Sandy unfortunately injured himself one day before the match and had to be replaced. Paul Aubrey was kind enough to step in at the last minute. Paul himself has just started playing doubles again after hip surgery and is still feeling his way around the court, so a big thank you to him for subbing on short notice.

The Fortune / Arora team won their semi final 3-1 over Jim Stroh and John Chouinard. (To reach the semi, Jim and John came from 2-0 down in their second round against Chris Terry and Andrew Spohn to win in 5 in probably the best match of the tournament.)

The final was a terrific bout. While Peter has excellent ball control and uses his lobs and drops with precision, Shail compliments him perfectly by doing all the scrambling, running, digging, scampering and scuttling that is required. And he no doubt needed to do a lot of it because John also has great control and can read the play very well. And while Bob is no slouch to cover the court either, it appeared that the Fortune / Arora team meshed together just a little bit better and took the close match 3 games to 1. (Photo left to right - Bob Bendzinski, John Dunwoody, Shail Arora, Peter Fortune. Photo courtesy of Peter Logan)

The next in-house Doubles Tournament will be the ‘Doubles 100’ starting on January 12. With enough entries, I will be making an ‘A’ and ‘B’ draw… so start hunting down your age appropriate partner…

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