Monday, December 27, 2010

SQUASH SHOTS VIII

The “Mickies” Awards for 2010

It’s been a wonderful year. We managed to win a Cross Border Challenge versus Windsor in April (only to have it ripped unmercifully away from us in September!), we won the Farris Cup versus the BAC again, the DAC Classic has swelled to absurd proportions, and we had more people grace the squash courts than in any other year for the past decade. Spectacular moments in time were captured on film, and from these I have filtered through to a select few worth sharing and hand out utterly pointless awards. Please enjoy the “2010 DAC Squash Mickies”!

The “Look What You Missed Out On” award goes to… the entire DAC Squash membership (except Justin Winkelman, Robert Welch and Anthony Fracchia)!

While the above named members and I spent a February weekend in Toledo playing a tournament, we were treated to some extra special service. These lovely ladies were hired to serve all the players beer for the Friday night at the club. And what a magnificent job they did! There pouring abilities were second to none, never did I see them spill a drop. And I can assure you, I was watching them very closely! If this doesn’t motivate you to play Toledo next year, then nothing will!


The “Now You See Me, Now You Don’t” award goes to… Julie Anne Smith!

For one of the shortest DAC membership stints I can remember, Julie Anne joined the club in August this year and is sadly already waving bye-bye. No club likes to lose any squash players – especially female squash players – but once again work is getting in the way of pleasure. Julie Anne will be starting up a new job in Chicago starting early 2011. It was a delight to have known you – even it was for only four months. We know you’ll miss the DAC but to make you feel at home, the corruption in the Windy City is just as bad if not worse as it is in Detroit, and on the bright side, at least in Chicago you’ll have some sporting franchises worth rooting for.



The “Did You See That?” award goes to… Mark Allen!

Our DAC president certainly did! Ken Katz looks despondently on, as Mark Allen [pictured left] pulls out one of his three first half Boasters League wins. Every week, Mark questions his abilities to keep up with his opponents but manages to have very close contests anyway. The match against Ken was the only result that ended up 3-0, all other 7 scores were 2-1 (or 1-2).

First runner-up… Rick Florka! [pictured right]And to answer the question, Rick – Yes, we did see it. But I don’t know why you wanted us to. You lost that rally.



The “I Wonder What it Is?” award goes to… Anthony Fracchia!

After taking the honors in this year’s Holiday Tournament, Anthony had first crack at the gift table full of wrapped gifts. Without hesitation, he bee-lined it for the bottle of ‘Grey Goose’. I guess the lad not only knows his booze, he’s knows the shape of his booze too! His wide-eyed look here isn’t fooling anyone. A proud moment for Anthony to be sure – practically as proud as the moment when he almost broke his leg with his own racquet showboating between matches during the same event.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

THE BUDDIES BEER BATTLE!

Offer it and they will come… Once again the allure of free beer is not unlike those insects that are attracted into the dazzling light….ZAP!! Except of course we don’t electrocute our members. With 32 registrations the Beer Challenge went through hitch free and just like last year, the “Celebrity Keg Match” kept the audience engrossed until the final point. We’ll get to that match later.

Even though there wasn’t any significance to any of the other matches (other than having it entered into the on-line ranking), all the members played hard. Pride can be just a big a motivator as anything else and I am sure most of them want to feel like they at least ‘deserve’ the beers they guzzle afterwards! I am of course not including those members that also guzzled before they stepped on court. Each player was placed on one of two teams where just like individual results, which team won was irrelevant.

The closest match of the evening was Paul Flanagan and David Pontes. Paul took a 2-0 lead before David came back hard. So hard in fact, he clobbered Paul in the third game with his racquet which rattled him enough to give up the final 3 games. I guess if you can’t win by outplaying them, may as well take them out! (It was an accident.) Paul was left without serious harm or lingering affects as far as I could tell, but it could have been that the beer had numbed the pain by that stage.

In other exciting action, [pictured right] Ken MacDonald took down Mike Petix 3-1 and these two had some rallies which threw the crowd into a tizzy. At one stage, Mike was in complete control of a point, had hit the ball deep behind Ken who reacted by turning 180 degrees blind, swinging his racquet around in a ‘Hail Mary’ fashion, connected, which sent a stunned (if not horrified) Mike racing off to fetch it… and eventually losing the rally. Ken will be talking to his grandkids about that one. Mike, I suspect, will not.


[Picture: Pat Petz before the big bout]
Which (sort of) brings us to the match of the evening, our guest celebrities, Pat Petz versus Rich Stimson. These two very good friends have been known on occasion to have slight disagreements on court when it comes to ‘let’ calls. (Which is of course the reason I asked them to play this “win-or-pay-up” match!) The loser would have to pay for the keg everyone was enjoying. With so much on the line, action was guaranteed.

The first game went Rich’s way. Pat didn’t look as warmed up or as sharp as he needed to be, nor could he find the length required to keep Rich from out of the front corners. Too many drops and with a few unforced errors thrown in, Rich took the game 9-4. The second game had the same score line and the same winner. However, even though Pat didn’t score more points, he looked more competitive in the rallies. Nonetheless, a 2-0 game deficit would be tough to come back from…

… Then, without warning, the secret weapon was unveiled…! Flashes of gold reflected through the court area as Pat unwrapped his Black Knight Ion Storm racquet amid the “ooohs!” and “aaahs” of the mesmerized on-lookers. Surely, this would save the day!

The third game started.

Exactly the same as the last two finished.

With Rich winning.

The weapon wasn’t working! But wait… at 5-8 match-ball down things suddenly started to change. The magical powers of the Ion Storm had begun to penetrate Rich. He was becoming shaky, flat-footed, tin-happy. A miraculous come-from-the-dead recovery had Pat taking the game 10-8. And it continued into the fourth. Quickly Pat established a 4-0 lead. But the power was waning. Rich was getting a second wind. He caught up and the two went point for point to 8-all. In a desperation move, Pat called set-one. Do-or-die. Could this be another Hollywood ending? Errr, no. He died. Rich took the final rally on a well placed drop shot and saved himself the cost of the keg. [Picture: Post match hand shake... pucker-up gentleman!]

On a completely immaterial side-note, Rich’s win also helped his team to an 8-7 victory. All joking aside, the match was played in excellent spirits, both players exuding tremendous sportsmanship. Special thanks to Ryan Bendzinski who I dumped the unenviable task of refereeing the match on! And also to all who took part to make the evening a lot of fun – I hope you appreciated Pat’s generosity!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

PREPARING FOR ANOTHER COLOSSAL CLASSIC

DAC Squash Classic: February 3-6

The crème de la crème of tournaments! Here we go with another HUGE DAC Squash Classic! As always, we aim to improve ourselves from year to year but unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on which way you look at it!) we have maxed out on the amount of entries we can accept. Over the four days, our courts can only handle a total of 145 players. From that, there are also a couple maximum breakdowns and restrictions to take note of:

• Maximum 40 doubles teams spread over the 3 categories
• Maximum 16 teams in any one doubles draw
• Any player in registering for the Doubles ‘A’ draw is NOT permitted to play in the Doubles ‘C’ draw, regardless of partner.
• Maximum 32 players in any one singles draw
• Maximum 2 categories per player

Categories include singles from 2.5 to 5.5, and A, B, C Doubles. Any player registering after any criteria has been filled will be placed down as a sub.

Because of the enormous amount of matches, players MUST make themselves available to play during the following times:

• For players in the Detroit area, including Windsor and Toledo:
o Thursday, February 3: 4pm to 11pm
o Friday, February 4: 3pm – midnight
o Saturday, February 5: 8am – 8pm
o Sunday, February 6: 8am – 4pm

• For players outside the Detroit area:
o Friday, February 4: 3pm – midnight
o Saturday, February 5: 8am – 8pm
o Sunday, February 6: 8am – 4pm

It doesn’t mean you will be playing that early or that late, but it is imperative that you organize your schedule in case you do. With a full court schedule of matches, rearranging times is virtually impossible. Please be flexible.

The basic entry fee is $115 this year. But we have added an extra luxury for the players. An exclusive “Players Lounge” will be available for all entrants to use located on level 3 (same level as the locker rooms). All meals (except the Saturday dinner / dance) will be set up in the “Players Lounge”. Take note that the “Players Lounge” is for the players only, not friends and family members. If you have a guest who wishes to partake in any of the meals, they can do so for a fee (which varies depending on the meal).

Just like every successful tournament, the DAC Classic would not function without the wonderful support and generosity from our major sponsors. Please take the time to read the list and to thank them over the weekend:
• Skidmore Inc. – Patrick Petz
• Smith Barney – Sean Moran
• Maverick – Jim Stroh
• Corbet, Shaw, Essad & Tucciarone – Bruce Shaw
• SVS Vision – Ken Stann
• Metropolitan Baking Co. – George Kordas
• AARO Companies – Tom Fabbri
• Adlhoch & Associates – Scott Adlhoch
• Outrigger Imagine – Joe Schaden
• Kowalski Sausages – Mike Kowalski
• Holloway – Mike Doyle

One last mention must go to our friends from London, Ontario. I have been receiving regular enquiries for 12 months now – since the end of the previous Classic - from many of their members requesting to sign up early. One of them wanted me to put him in the event automatically for the next umpteen years! While it is unfair to take early registrations, I absolutely appreciate the loyalty and support they have had - and are still showing. Word of mouth advertising for this tournament is the reason it has grown to what it is and a major part of that advertising can be attributed to the Londoners. Thank you.

Registration closes on Friday, January 21. Click on the entry form for all the details. Only entries with payment will be accepted. Hope you can make it!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

TRIPLE DIGITS WITH YOUR DOUBLES PARTNER

Pick you partner carefully… and quickly! The Doubles 100 Tournament has one stipulation: the combined ages of you and your partner must add up to at least 100. There is an ‘A’ draw and a ‘B’ draw to choose from but going by last year’s results, the matches were very tight in both categories.

Bob Thibodeau and Bowden Brown have won the ‘A’ draw 2 out of the last 3 years, and were finalists in the year they didn’t win, so if these two get together again – as I suspect they will - they will be the team to beat. Andy Housey and Joe Moran won the ‘B’ draw and may be looking to retain that title too although their winning run last year wasn’t terribly easy.

The draws will be released on Tuesday, January 11. The registration deadline is Friday, January 7. You must sign up with a partner, so start hunting…! All matches will be best of 5 games, no consolation draw. Each match will have a completion deadline. It is the players’ responsibility to get the match played within the deadline or risk being forfeited. The winners of each category will receive a special ordered shirt with their names stitched on them.

Monday, December 13, 2010

NO STOPPING “THREEPEAT”

Boasters League 1st Half Final Standings~~

Close, but no cigar. Three teams were within striking distance of “Threepeat” as the deadline approached and at one stage between the final round and Sunday “Winky-Dinks” were actually in the lead, but apparently Pat Petz’s lucky charm is still working it’s magic as his team managed to score some vital last minute points to secure the first half victory.

All nine teams did well over the final 10 days making up matches and collecting significant points. However, the biggest mover in the last round was “Delta Force” as they jumped from 5th to 3rd and ended up only 8 points behind the leaders. Overall, team scoring was well up as compared to previous seasons, although some of that could be attributed to the fact we have more players in the league.
Here are some interesting statistics for the first half:
• The 8th and 9th teams on the standings were by far the least bonus point getters. Funny how that always seems to work out.
• “Winky-Dinks” had the most bonus points – 64. That’s 8 more than the next best “Speedballers”.
• Nine players received the maximum 8 bonus points. Three of those players came from the “Speedballers”, and three from the “Winky-Dinks”.
• Six players did not pick up any bonus points at all.
• Not one team managed to complete all 12 matches in any round. Only four times were 11 matches completed.
• 75% of total matches were played in the first half. An average of 12 matches per round were not completed out of a total of 48. Round 3 had the most amount of matches played with 39.
• 21 players completed all 8 of their matches – great effort! Team “Mongoose” had 5 of them.
• Only one team did not have any player play all 8 matches.
• Of those 21 players, no one went through undefeated. (That’s a first, I believe!)

One of the incentives this season to get more people to play their matches was to announce an “All Star” team at the end of the season. The “All Stars” would be the players with the most points – including bonus points and referee clinic point - overall at their respective level at the end of the season in March (not including finals). Each “All Star” will receive a stitched shirt with their name on it. Players will carry over their first half season total to the second half regardless if they move up of down. The current leaders in the “All Star” team are as follows:
1. Paul Ward ("Speedballers")
2. Brien Baker ("Winky-Dinks")
3. Mike Petix ("Delta Force")
4. Bob Rogers ("Winky Dinks")
5. James Van Dyke ("Courts and Pints")
6. Jordan Ellis ("Delta Force")
7. Justin Winkelman (Winky-Dinks")
8. Tom Healy ("Threepeat")
9. Chuck Doyle ("Threepeat")
10. Anil Kathuria ("Winky Dinks" - leads league with 28 points )
[Pictured right]
11. Ted Mabley ("Delta Force")
12. Niko Ahee ("Threepeat")
If all these players were on the one team, that team would have accumulated 276 points!

The second half of the season starts on January 5. After the teams have been adjusted, it should be a very competitive season considering that the last 3 teams will be eliminated for the finals and the top 2 teams will receive a first round ‘bye’. Up until then, have a great holiday season, get practicing, and try to stay on Santa’s nice list!

Monday, December 6, 2010

GOING FOR OUR 6TH FARRIS CUP


The longer our winning streak against the BAC lasts, the harder it becomes to maintain it. Even though we have the home court advantage this year, I am expecting a strong contingent to be challenging us at every turn. No easy matches.

This, the 7th running of the Farris Cup, is turning into a wonderful rivalry between the DAC and BAC. The event is scheduled for Saturday, January 8 at the DAC. Matches will be starting at 9.30am. All the competitors on the DAC team either won or reached the final in the 2010 Club Championships and just to tell you how much people want to play, every singles player who qualified made themselves available to represent – all 12 of them.

The three doubles matches are selected differently. The ‘A’ match still comes from the Club Championships results, but the ‘B’ match and the ‘Senior’ team are hand-picked by the DAC team captain, George Haggarty.

George, along with his long time friend from the BAC, Walter Oehrlein, created this competition in honor of another long-time friend of theirs, John C. Farris. John was a squash addict who promoted squash unrelentingly in the Detroit area. He sadly passed away in 2004.

Naturally, you are all invited to watch and support our members as fight to retain the Cup. At the conclusion of the matches, there is a coat and tie luncheon where the presentation takes place. You are also invited to join us for the luncheon (RSVP is a must) at a cost of $15 ++ per person.

DAC Representatives:

Captain: George Haggarty

Arnaud Mangin - James Van Dyke - Brien Baker
Matt DiDio - Jeff Gembis - Matt Jarboe
Scott Adlhoch - Paul Ward - John Rakolta
Peter Shumaker - Kirk Haggarty - John Birgbauer
Peter Logan - Mike Eugenio - Bob Thibodeau
Bowden Brown - Stu Boynton - Sandy MacDonald



Friday, December 3, 2010

FRACCHIA COULDN’T BE HAPPIER

Holiday Tournament 2010~~

Nothing conveys the Christmas spirit more than playing squash, drinking a keg dry, and having a booze exchange at the end of the evening. This, the 7th Holiday Tournament, had 17 competitors mixing it up in one draw. Being the festive season, everybody was supposed to bring a wrapped gift as an entry fee and after the matches each player was allowed to select one of the gifts to take home. Unfortunately, somebody (who will remain nameless) neglected to read any one of the 15+ e-mails I sent out and had no idea about the gift exchange. Oh well, at least he could play and drink!

The winner this year was Anthony Fracchia. Anthony bulldozed his way through all four opponents without dropping a game. It appeared that nothing could stop him. Not even a Patrick Petz squash ball on the back of the leg slowed him down. In fact, Anthony felt that he needed to handicap himself to even out the playing field. While hitting up on the court between matches, he decided to attempt a “behind the back” shot off the back wall but in spectacular ‘FAIL’ fashion, only succeeded in collecting the full-blooded swing on his calf just above the ankle. His loud and sudden collapse to the floor amid his yelping (and our laughing) made for good theater, but it didn’t affect his subsequent matches. Nor did it stop him from picking up the bottle of Grey Goose from the gift table…

There were 4 second place getters – Arnaud Mangin, Rich Stimson, Andy Adamo and Jon Walton - with Justin Winkelman coming in third. Special mention goes to Daniel Honer. It takes a little courage to come into these events as a beginner and not knowing anyone. He had recently completed the beginners squash clinic and has already jumped in the box ladders. His bravery must be commended, especially with the crowd we have, but I am sure he picked up some invaluable experience and learnt a few new shots… except from Anthony… [Picture: Daniel Honer (left) and Ted Mabley (right)]

As usual, alcohol was the common theme on the gift table, although there were a couple of gift cards, some DVD’s, and a shirt thrown in the mix. Thankfully the ‘banned substances list’ was adhered to and we don’t need to add any new items for next year. While some of the players may have pulled up sore the following day, (how is your leg, Anthony…?), everyone survived – with a gift – and hopefully stayed on Santa’s ‘nice’ list. If anybody is stuck in deciding what to get me for Christmas, please don’t get me a squash racquet – I have enough if those. I did tell Santa last week as I was sitting on his knee that I am a big football fan…

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

“THREEPEAT” BACK ON TOP

Wouldn’t you know it. One week to play before the half way mark of the season, and guess what? Pat Petz’ team “Threepeat” is back in the lead! With all the talk from the other captains of “just don’t let Pat’s team win again…” it seems that that is exactly what is about to happen. They only have a 2 point buffer over second placed “Winky-Dinks” and 6 points over third placed “Mongoose” – and both of those teams have a very realistic chance of catching the league leaders – but for some reason Pat’s team has been finding a way to survive all the threats. Must be something in his water… or beer…

I’m handing out an ‘Iron-Man’ award this week. Tom Fabbri (“Winky-Dinks”) has traditionally been a Handball player. He still is – but is also regularly swinging a racquet these days. After taking a 45 minute lesson with me yesterday (I do not take it easy on him!) he played 2 make-up matches back-to-back and then came back a couple hours after that to take on Tom Healy (“Threepeat”) for his round 8 encounter. He won 2 of the 3 matches (he lost to Tom 2-1), and I hope he really enjoyed his steam and beer afterwards, and the muscle soreness today! He’s back tomorrow morning for another lesson. I think I’ll teach him how to do court sprints…

The photo you see is of Anil Kathuria (“Winky-Dinks”) taking on Brian Schrage (“Threepeat”). Anil has been rather impressive this half as he has only dropped 1 game (not match) so far. He beat Brian 3-0 to continue his streak will probably be looking at a promotion next half.

So we have 1 week to play. Don’t forget, December 10 is the deadline. The half-way winners will receive a small prize, and then I will be going through everybody’s win/loss record and shuffling around the teams to make them more even. The aim is to keep as many people as possible on the same team but inevitably, some will have to be moved. The second half will start with all teams on zero points.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

BEER CHALLENGE: THE FIGHT FOR THE KEG

Last year, this event was rather well received. The purpose of the thing is to chuck two buddies on the court and let them go hammer and tongs just to see who will be paying for the keg. It’s remarkable how players find that extra gear as soon as booze in on the line.

Wednesday, December 15 starting at 5pm, is when the matches will start. Players of all levels are encouraged to enter – if you drink, you belong in this event! I will do my utmost to match you up against a player of similar level. I’ll even throw together a couple of doubles matches if we get the players since they drink too.

All matches will be best of 5 games to 9 points (box ladder scoring) and all matches mean absolutely nothing… except of course pride and bragging rights, and I’ll also enter the results on to the on-line ranking. Since there is no consequence for losing and everyone gets to attack the keg at will, the scores have little significance… excluding the final bout: the Celebrity Keg Match! This one is for all the marbles, or better said, all the beer. The loser of this contest has to pay for the entire keg – yes, that same keg you all will be selfishly and guiltlessly drinking from!

So… "Let’s get ready to rumbllllllllllllle….

In the right corner, weighing in at an estimated 215 pounds (give or take), claiming to be from the Grosse Pointe area but is commonly seen in other parts, coming in with a 2010 record of 5 wins and 15 losses (all close), the “ruler-of-the-cooler” the “will-slot all the kill-shots”, … PAT – I-can’t-believe-my-opponent got that – PETZ!!

And…

In the left corner, weighing in at an estimated (and kind) 200 pounds, probably from the US, but who knows where the red hair came from, coming in with a 2010 record of 11 wins, 6 losses, the “call-your-lets-against-Petz”, the “architect of intellect”… RICH – huff ‘n’ puff – STIMSON!!"

The sparks are sure to fly when so much is on the line with these two! The match will be scheduled to start last so as many people as possible can squeeze in behind the court, guzzle their wobbly pops, and egg on the pugilists… um, I mean protagonists.

Registration deadline is Monday, December 13 if you would like me to organize a match for you. Otherwise, you are more than welcome to come on down and drink the beer you don’t have to pay for. Be sure to thank the loser of the match for their wonderful generosity.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

THE SQUASH POET #3

We are all thankful for something. I, for example, am thankful for a job I love, an exceptionally supportive family, and all the many friends I have. Pretty much the usual. However, as an Australian, Thanksgiving does not mean a whole lot – the pilgrims never made it that far – but I am more than happy to take the day off. It seems the Squash Poet is also thankful for a few things, pretty much not the usual…

This is my favorite time of year
More than my birthday and Christmas cheer
Because without remorse and without stops
I can for hours on end stuff my chops
Sit on the couch without the nagging
And watch the football ‘til my eyeballs start sagging
Then in my gluttonous coma I begin to snore
And dream of all the things I am thankful for…


The Squash Poet



"Happy Thanksgiving"

I’m thankful for…
My physical trainer who has no concerns
To run my ass off till my lungs start to burn
Ignoring my pleas for the cruelty to stop
Forcing me to continue ‘til my heart almost stops
Calling me names when I snivel and blubber
Even when I can’t stand cause my legs turn to rubber
God only knows why you just didn’t quit
But thank you so much for making me fit!

I’m thankful for…
My nutritionist who didn’t gag at the sight
Of me waddling in, my width matching my height
For making me stop from stuffing my face
With all that good food that has wonderful taste
Changing it with all this stuff green and raw
Which is like eating cardboard and chewing on straw
But look at me now, I can call myself thin
And can run a bit further before hitting the tin!

I’m thankful for…
My wonderful squash pro with patience eternal
Working with me and my technique infernal
How he hasn’t run and jumped off a cliff
When he feeds me those balls and always I whiff
He must think I’m stupid, I forget constantly
That after every shot to get back to the ‘T’
But truth must be told, my game is quite healthy
(And he should thank me for making him wealthy!)

I’m thankful for…
My squash playing partners who laugh at my pain
As they run me around, they are inhumane
From corner to corner, with drops and with lobs
Until I dissolve into a quivering blob
But needing to win is of no consequence
(I keep telling myself, since I have no competence)
The reason I torture myself year after year
Is to play with my buddies and after drink a cold beer!

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Squash Poet

Thursday, November 18, 2010

NECK AND NECK DOWN THE STRETCH


Boasters League Round 7~~

Two rounds to go and only 11 points separate 1st from 7th. I cannot recall when the league was any closer. Even the last 2 placed teams are not that far behind and can make up ground with a few make up matches. “Mongoose” still hold onto first place even though they had the bye this week, but they have 3 teams breathing down their necks just 3 points behind. “Mr. Daniels Walking” sit just 4 points back, but week 8 is their turn to sit out which definitely hurts their chances of keeping pace. “Winky-Dinks” hold the tie-break with the most bonus points (49), which is why they are officially second place over the other two teams who also have the same point total.

Round 7 participation was a lot healthier than round 6 (it would have been a struggle for it to be worse!) and we had plenty of matches to choose from for ‘match-of-the-week’. Paul Van Tol (“The Beamers”) and Pat Petz (“Threepeat”) made a case for it as Pat took a tough 2-1 victory, as did the Brandon Dobbins (“Speed Ballers”) and Mark Monaghan (“The Underdogs”) contest which gets the ‘most entertaining’ match of the week award. These two almost spent as much time diving on the floor as staying on their feet. I’ll be picking up the skin from their knees and elbows off court 8 for a few days. For the record, Brandon took the match 2-1. But this round goes to Matthew Nichols (“Mr. Daniels Walking”) squeaking through with a 2-1 victory over Julie Anne Smith (“Courts and Pints”) who is coming back after a an injury but is getting her form back quickly. [Picture: Pat Petz steps into a forehand against Paul Van Tol in the 3rd game of their match.]

There is no league next week because of Thanksgiving so that gives everybody 2 weeks to make up some matches. With the standing being so tight, every result makes an impact. So enjoy your turkey, enjoy your family, enjoy Matthew Safford watch the Detroit Lions watch Tom Brady throw a few touchdowns, but do your best to get on court and help your team! Don’t forget: December 10 is the deadline for all matches to be completed.

Monday, November 15, 2010

SQUASH SHOTS VII

This snap was taken a few years ago during an in-house event. Many of you would remember Mike Counsman - he's the one wearing the Homer Simpson shirt. His opponent - Phil Pitters - had the giggles...

Look at the following photo and answer the question below:

Why is Phil laughing?

A) Phil loves Homer Simpson
B) He’s remembering how he posed for Mike’s t-shirt
C) Phil loves donuts… (obviously)
D) Mike is not wearing any shorts
E) Mike’s left hand is tickling Phil’s… shorts
F) He found out his ‘racquet’ is longer
G) The two are just… feeling the ‘love’

Answer: Actually, I have no idea. And, I really don’t want to know either.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

CHASING DOWN THE MONGOOSE

Boasters League Round 6~~

HELLOELLo…ellolo….lo….loo…!”

Was it Boasters League last night? I wondered that to myself as I could hear the echoes of my footsteps reverberate through the squash courts. It didn’t make sense… The Handballers were here… the keg was here… my watch hadn’t stopped and it wasn’t on Australian time… but where were the squash players? I did see a few of them congregating around the beer tap (nothing unusual there), but as the evening wore on I finally managed to catch fleeting glimpses of some matches being played.

While a decent amount of matches are being played during the week, it appeared that Wednesday was the day off! Not one single match was played on court 8, and the teams that were scheduled to play there picked up a combined 9 points for the week. As the dust settled on week 6 (or more like the pocket fluff), team “Mongoose” have streaked ahead of the pack. A 17 point lead is a healthy buffer as they go into week 7 and they’ll be needing it since they have the ‘bye’. Making major strides is “Delta Force”. They move from 6th to 2nd and take on the “Winky-Dinks” next week who are one point behind them.

I can’t really mention a “match-of-the-week” with so few of them to choose from, so I’ll give out a “drinkers-of-the-week” instead! Pictured here are John Blake, Joe Schaden, Paul Huth and Mike Petix enjoying the ‘breakfast of champions’. Which, mind you, is almost just as important as the squash itself because where would we be without the social aspect? My question is though, what is Paul looking at?

We have three rounds to go and four weeks to play them. November 24 is off due to Thanksgiving, and the deadline to get matches completed is December 10. There is time, but it is also running out.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

WINDSOR WEEKEND WARRIORS

The DAC had 5 representatives in the Windsor Tournament and the results actually made me raise my eye-brows just a little. Usually, we struggle to perform well in Windsor – their draws are strong and often the schedule has you playing 2 to 3 matches a day. Plus, it is Canada, which is a disadvantage in itself.

Now, since I wasn’t there and didn’t witness any of the matches, I can only roll off the results. Of course, we’ll start with our winner. John Dunwoody paired up with Windsor member Kevin Parent in the B doubles. They won the final over a pair from London, which is amazing since I thought all the players from London never lost (unless it’s against themselves). Paul Ward reached the semi final of the B draw (he lost that match 3-1), so I assume he played very well and picked up some solid wins. Same can be said for James Van Dyke in the C draw. He also made the semi final. David Pontes lost the quarter finals of the C draw, but it was to James. (Why weren’t these two in separate sides of the draw?) Ryan Bendzinski played the B draw and the B doubles but did not play terribly well (according to the man himself). He lost first round in the doubles and second match in the singles. [Photo: Kevin Parent and John Dunwoody: the perfect couple!]

Kudos and thank you to these 5 players for supporting the tournament! It was terrific to hear that we had 3 players make it all the way to Sunday. We are improving. But we also need to keep sending more players to these outside tournaments – not just for that support – but for your own experience and to better yourselves as squash players. Real matches are invaluable!

Regrettably for me, I had to miss the weekend. Hmph. Age is catching up. Three days before the start of the tournament, I pulled a muscle in my lower back - during a lesson no less – that left me with no choice but to withdraw. (It also left me with the conundrum for a couple of days of figuring out how to put my socks on!) As an organizer myself, I know exactly how frustrating that can be to the poor fellows that spend endless hours making the draws and schedules. At 39, my body is becoming more prone to injury, but a lot of that can be attributed to the fact that I am not playing regularly. I know that I am suddenly embarking on the same boat as many of our members… that boat is more like an ocean liner... that is sinking...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

GET INTO THE FESTIVE SPIRIT!


I love Christmas. The presents, the time off, the excitement on my daughter’s face, my wife’s turkey… all the good stuff we celebrate just because countless elves that live in the coldest place on earth have slaved 364 days of the year making toys for no pay so an overweight man with a fetish for funny red suits can invade every home in the world in one night leaving them under a tree that should be out in the garden instead of our living rooms, then raid the fridge before flying away with magical reindeer. What a wonderfully logical tradition!

Going along with tradition, the 7th Annual Holiday Tournament is one jolly fun evening of squash and drinking. At 5pm on Thursday, December 2, the keg will be ready for consumption as matches get under way. A maximum 24 players can enter this one – each player will get 4 matches against opponents of different levels. We will be using the ‘Swiss System’ - which means that everybody will be placed in the same draw. First round matches are drawn out of a hat in front of everybody to make it completely random. Each match is 2 games to 15 points. Second round matches is against someone who ends up with the same first round result as you, and so forth. (Did I mention there is a keg?) This is of course for players of all levels. (No handicapping!)

The kicker is that each entrant has to bring a wrapped gift worth at least $20 as an entry fee. After the matches, the players get to choose their gift from the pile (sorry, we won’t have a tree) in order of the final rankings. Being in the Holiday spirit, this ensures no one goes away empty handed. Also, being in the Holiday spirit, we have to make sure that all the gifts are appropriate. Over the years, some items have been added to the ‘banned substances’ list. These include:

1. Muffins
2. Viagra
3. Cash
4. Canary yellow DAC t-shirts

Typically, booze is the most common, but try to be imaginative when choosing a gift!

So don’t be a Scrooge! Get some fun squash in and fun drinking in! Registration deadline is Tuesday, November 30. (Did I mention the keg?)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

BUNCHING UP

Boasters League Round 5~~

There were two big movers this week. First, the “Winky-Dinks”, who came out firing after their bye week and jumped from 5th to 2nd and now only find themselves 3 points off the first placed “Mongoose” team. The other big mover were “The Beamers”… but in the opposite direction. They dropped from 6th to last. Given, they did have the bye this week, but with only 4 rounds left this half and 11 points back from 8th, it makes them really the only team losing touch. A measly fifteen points separate 1st to 8th which keeps all of those teams well in contention to end up on top of the first half standings come mid-December.

Match of the round would have to go to Anthony Fracchia (“The Underdogs”) versus Bob Rogers (“Winky-Dinks”). I managed to get a glimpse of a few rallies between the two and both of them had the attitude of ‘no ball too far away, no ball too difficult to get to, no rally can be long enough’. Bob also has an attitude of ‘no wall solid enough not to bounce off of’ as he pin-balled himself from corner to corner; rather effectively mind you – if not unconventional nor recommended! Anthony won 2 games to 1, 15-14 in the 3rd, and admitted he was gassed after the match – quite a statement coming from a tri-athlete! The picture you see here is from the Doug Troszak (“Speed Ballers”) v Tom Delaney (“Mr. Daniels Walking”). Doug won this encounter 2-1; this match also having its fair share of long and hard fought rallies.

Five rounds in, and we have only 2 players out of the 108 that have so far played all of their matches and remain undefeated. (Am I jinxing them now?) Tom Bergh (“Mr. Daniels Walking”) and Anil Kathuria (“Winky-Dinks”). Not exactly a great percentage, but there is just over a month left for everybody else to make up what they haven’t yet played. Take note, the deadline to get them completed is December 10.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

MEET A MEMBER - 2

Many of you may have heard about an urban squash program starting up in Detroit. This exciting and innovative program is called “Racquet Up Detroit” and is headed by new DAC member Derek Aguirre. If the world was full of Dereks, every single kid on the planet would be swinging a racquet. Truly inspirational and dedicated to the sport and helping underprivileged kids (no city needs that more than Detroit), Derek is the perfect man for the job.
MEET… DEREK AGUIRRE

The Squash Joint (TSJ): “How did you get involved with the urban squash program, and why Detroit?”

My path to “urban squash” and Racquet Up Detroit is a rather unlikely one. I grew up in the small town of Standish, in northern Michigan, where farming and the other type of squash are a big deal. But until I moved to Ann Arbor to attend University of Michigan, I had very little experience with cities and urban environments. While at Michigan, I became very involved with a volunteer group that facilitated community service opportunities for U of M students in Detroit—after helping clean up a park, tearing down an abandoned house, and working with youth in a tutoring program, I was hooked. Detroit, and non-profit work became my passion. Family, and a great after-school youth program called SquashBusters drew me to Boston, where I had my first exposure to squash and Greg Zaff. Greg, a former hardball squash champion, started SquashBusters about 15 years ago with the notion that the sport could do a lot to help kids in the inner city when combined with academic tutoring, community service, and mentoring in an after-school setting. He was right, as the successes of SquashBusters have been incredible, with nearly 100% of program graduates going to college. The model has now been replicated around the country in 9 other places, including now here in Detroit (ours is called “Racquet Up”).
When I began working at SquashBusters, I had never seen or played squash before. I was running the tutoring and community service components, but it didn’t take long for me to get the “squash bug.” I was soon playing with the kids in the program any chance I could get, and eventually playing in Boston club leagues and tournaments. After six years at SquashBusters, squash was in my blood.
I also became a true believer in Greg Zaff’s approach to youth development. The secret to his success—very personal, intensive, long-term relationships with kids over many years. Only when young people know that you are in it for the long journey with them, will they begin to trust you, listen to you, and look up to you as a mentor. I am still in touch with many of my very first students, then 7th graders, who are now seniors in college! Don’t be surprised if I recruit some of them to Detroit one day to work for Racquet Up.

So, why Detroit? I have always been a believer in this city, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to bring the “Urban Squash and Education” model here. I have confidence in the approach, and know that kids here in Detroit have a ton of untapped potential. We will hopefully help a lot of young people realize this potential through our program.

TSJ: “Please summarize for us what it took/takes to get this program underway in Detroit”

There are three essentials ingredients to the success of Racquet Up Detroit: people, funding, and facilities. Greg Zaff, who now runs the National Urban Squash and Education Association, led the charge to put together a great local board of directors (with a few outstanding DAC members!), hire me as Executive Director, and start getting people excited about our new initiative. He helped secure a major challenge grant from the Knight Foundation to spark our fundraising efforts, and we have had a good deal of success with other foundations and individuals as a result. In addition, we have secured a great partnership with the Northwest Activities Center, the former Jewish Community Center in Detroit for use of squash courts and classrooms—this will be our home base. Finally, we have built partnerships with two Detroit Public Schools to recruit approximately 35 fifth grade students to join the program this January.

TSJ: “Where does the money come from?”

The money to support the program comes primarily from philanthropic foundations, and from generous individual donors. We offer the program as a virtually free opportunity to our students and our partner schools, but that means we must raise every dollar we spend each year. Many of you reading this have already contributed to the cause—thank you! We couldn’t do it without you. If you have not yet done so, and would like to learn more, please contact me anytime at 313-600-9593, or derek@racquetup.org. You can also visit our website at www.racquetup.org (thanks to DAC member Matt DiDio’s Gyro Creative Group for outstanding work on our visual brand, logo, and website).

If you would rather give of your time, we are also in great need of volunteer squash coaches and academic tutors, Monday through Friday from 3:30-6:30pm, and Saturday mornings. Please let me know if you want to help out in this way—it is a ton of fun, and very rewarding.

We would also be thrilled to receive donations of new or used racquets and eyeguards.

TSJ: “Which NFL team do you follow?”

Now for the serious matters…sorry to say that I don’t follow the NFL very closely. I am a die-hard Michigan Wolverine, so Michigan football takes every ounce of loyalty and spirit I have (especially during years like this one…)

TSJ: “How do you choose the kids for the program?”

Racquet Up recruits students through an intensive, month-long process aimed at identifying students from Detroit who will most likely thrive within the culture and structure of the program. We don’t choose students based on athletic ability, and we don’t screen for the top students either—our biggest concern is finding students whom we believe can make the commitment and will take full advantage of the opportunity. We also weigh character values very heavily—do they treat their peers and adults well? Are they willing to try hard and take positive risks? Can they handle the demands and structure of the program?

Students in the 5th grade are first exposed to the opportunity through a presentation in their auditorium. The next step is to give all 5th grade students an opportunity to try squash in their gym classes. If students are excited and interested, they can “try-out” for one of 35 spots on the team. Tryouts consist of roughly the same activities as the normal after-school program— playing squash and engaging in academic and team-building activities. After tryouts, we consult the teachers for more feedback, and finally meet with each of the families individually to ensure that the program is a good fit all around. If all the pieces line up, the student and their parent/guardian signs an Agreement of Participation, and we are off and running!

TSJ: “How do you rate the success of the program?”

Our primary goals are to help students improve their physical fitness and reading abilities, increase their self-esteem and strength of character, and ensure that they achieve high educational goals. We will have measures for each of these along the way. Most importantly, however, we will consider Racquet Up Detroit a success if our students stay in the program for several years, grow to love the sport and enjoy exercise, try their hardest in school, give back to the community, act with integrity and show respect for others, and graduate from high school and college.
[Picture: Derek with success story Carlos. Carlos joined the Boston "Squash Busters" program in 8th grade and spent 5 years under Greg Zaff's and Derek's tutelage. He is now a junior at the Wesleyan University and part of their squash team.]

TSJ: “‘Family Guy’ or ‘The Simpsons’”?

I can’t stop laughing once I start watching Family Guy, but I grew up on the Simpsons (and it’s probably more appropriate for kids, which is my business…).

TSJ: “Apart from raising money, what has been the major hurdle to overcome in order to start the program?”

I just graduated from business school, and I did not anticipate how quickly I would be putting what I learned to use! While this may seem like “just an after-school program” on the surface, we have in fact started a full-fledged business. Incorporating Racquet Up Detroit, filing for tax exemption from the IRS, establishing corporate by-laws, binding insurance coverage, developing an accounting and payroll system, and soon enough, hiring staff—all the little details are incredibly time consuming! But these elements have provided me with a great learning experience at the same time.

TSJ: “Your worst squash moment?”

I’ve had way too many “up 2-love in games, 7-0 in the 3rd, only to lose in 5 games” moments, but I would have to say that getting hit in the face with my opponent’s backswing, and getting knocked out was probably my worst moment. On-lookers said I hit the floor like a sack of potatoes…

TSJ: “And of course, the most important question we are all dying to know: When you were little, who was your favorite superhero?”

Easy—Batman. He defended a whole city without super-powers. Just a lot of money, a great butler, and some amazing gadgets. And rumor has it that Bruce Wayne had a court in the Bat Cave and was an A-level squash player.

Thank you to Derek for spending time to answer all these questions. To find out more about the "Racquet Up Detroit" you can contact Derek at derek@racquetup.org or call 313-600-9593 and go to the website http://www.racquetup.org/ . This wonderful program needs all the support it can get through sponsorship, donations, and volunteer help.

Monday, November 1, 2010

SKAFF AND GARVEY SQUEAK THROUGH

Nothing like finishing these events ahead of schedule! Firstly, thank you to all who entered the 2010 Doubles Select Tournament – all 20 of you – for being so accommodating and playing well within the deadlines. It makes my job and the tournament so much more enjoyable. Every single match was played, with one exception where one of the players had a business emergency come up at the last minute and was forced to forfeit. (Unfortunately, it happens.)

What makes this event so interesting is that if you can get 2 teams of equal strength on the court, regardless of the individual level of each player, the matches become very close. Three of the matches went the full 5-set distance, none closer than the semi final between Mike Skaff and Bob Garvey versus Peter Fortune and Craig Hupp. 17-15 in the 5th was the final score, and as always when you win such a close encounter, some luck is definitely involved. Taking nothing away from their performance, some of that luck carried on through the final for Mike and Bob where they took on Mike Petix and Dan Follis. Once again it came down to the 5th game. This time the Skaff / Garvey team grabbed the ascendency early and never looked back, not giving their opponents an opportunity to even threaten a comeback. A convincing 15-5 win gave them the 2010 title. Congratulations Mike and Bob! [Picture: Mike Petix leaps for an overhead forehand... go-go-gadget-arms!]

The next Doubles event on the calendar will be the Doubles 100 starting mid-January – stay tuned for details and registration coming up next month.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

TEAM “MONGOOSE” ON THE LOOSE

Boasters League Round 4~~

This week saw another change and new leader on top of the standings. Team “Mongoose” went from 10 points behind the league leaders last week to 10 points in front as the league leaders this week! Helped along with the (so far) season record of 10 bonus points in one night, “Mongoose” also made up quite a few matches over the week. Last week’s leaders “Winky-Dinks” suffered with the bye and dropped to 5th, while week 3 cellar dwellers “The Beamers” managed to pull themselves out of the abyss and move into 6th. “Mr. Daniels Walking” appears to be "Mr. Daniels Staggering"and have slipped into last place picking up only 8 points last night.

Activity was healthy in round 4, and there were a few close encounters to mention. Doug Troszak (“Speed Ballers”) beat Chato Hill (“Courts and Pints”) 2-1, two of those games ended up 15-14; Joe Schaden (“Delta Force”) won 3-0 over Terry Lang (“Mongoose”) but two of those games also went 15-14; Ted Mabley (“Delta Force”) continues his winning streak with a 2-1 victory over Brian Rosman (“Mongoose”) and Bill Rivard (“The Underdogs”) held off Maureen D’Avanzo (“The Beamers”) for a tough 2-1 win.


[Photo: Jason Trombley (swinging) battles Mike Rock]

In the “All Star” race (based on individual season points), Tom Bergh (“Mr. Daniels Walking”), playing position 10 in the team, leads the league with 13 points. The top number 1 player so far is Eric Green (“Courts and Pints”) with 11 points, his closest rival is 4 points behind. In the number 3 position, Ken MacDonald (“Court and Pints”) with 9 points holds a slim one point margin to lead that level.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Never Fear! The “Underdogs” are Near!

Boasters League Round 3~~

From 7th to 2nd. That’s a big leap. “The Underdogs” got on their horse and started to get some much needed matches completed. Leapfrogging into 2nd, they were closely followed by their round 3 opponents – “Courts and Pints” (what does that mean?) who themselves jumped from 6th to 3rd. The fact that these 2 teams moved up, means someone had to move down. “Threepeat” had the bye so were expected to suffer a little and dropped to 5th while the “Speed Ballers” fell from 4th to 7th. “Winky-Dinks” extended their lead on top, but have the bye week in round 4. Incredibly, after just 3 rounds, the “Winky-Dinks” have collected 8 more bonus points than any other team. They have 52 points – 25 of which are bonus points! Just imagine if they played as much as turning up. On a side note, “The Beamers” sit in last place and have the least amount of bonus points. Coincidence?

There were a couple of tight matches to mention. In a battle of team captains, Rich Stimson (“The Underdogs”) took down Sean Fossee (“Courts and Pints”) 2-1, and Tom Bergh (“Mr. Daniels Walking”) just got past Glen Milligan (“Winky-Dinks”) also with a 2-1 win. Todd Baker (“Courts and Pints”) and Mark Monaghan (“The Underdogs”) ended up being one of the more exciting games to watch – not because of the score (Todd won 3-0), but because of some desperation rallies as seen in this photo. Mark is sacrificing his body for that little black ball! (It didn’t work… but it was entertaining!)

Teams should be taking note of “The Underdogs” and the “Winky-Dinks”: the formula is simple. Turn up and play your matches. Time to get going!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

No Pros Allowed on the “Pro Squash Tour”

Imagine there was this guy – we’ll call him Mo – who loved squash but was a little disillusioned at how the game was developing. Mo was becoming frustrated not with the style of squash, but with how the rules were being applied – specifically, the “let” rule. Rather than sit on his couch and simply grumble away, Mo decided to actually do something about it. Mo became a promoter. He got together with some professional players, they talked about the issues, and came up with the 5-let rule. They then put their theory into practice, ran a tournament, thought it was spectacular, and began to sell their product to clubs around the US. Exhibition tournaments that used Mo’s rule, Mo’s referee, started to pop up here and there. They called it the “Pro Squash Tour” or PST. Riding on their first year’s success, Mo decided to take it a step further and eliminate the let rule altogether. The PST steadily flourished. Their ‘no-let’ rule sparked controversy, but this was Mo’s tour and Mo could do what he liked. He even had a PST ranking. The PST invited current world class players from the “Professional Squash Association” (PSA) to play in their events. David Palmer, Wael El Hindi, Thierry Lincou, Shahier Razik, Julian Illingworth, are just some of the current top 30 players in the world that have played in a PST event. Even ex-world number 1 John White was a regular performer. Sounds like Mo achieved something that initially seemed rather improbable and his PST invention was bumbling along healthily.

Now imagine there was this other guy. We’ll call him Leo. Leo runs the “Professional Squash Association” or PSA. Leo was a happy chap. The PSA own and run the official world ranking tour and all the best male squash players in the world play in the PSA. Initially, Leo didn’t care what the PST did. Their ‘no-let’ rule was surely a gimmick that would never last. But Leo started to get worried when the PST continued to add tournaments to their schedule and the PST tour was growing. The gimmick wasn’t going away. Leo started to get jealous. He thought that the PST was ‘stealing’ potential PSA tournaments away. Were clubs raising sponsorship money to give to Mo rather than to him? So Leo thought of a deviously straightforward plan. Simply not allow any of his PSA players to enter any PST event. Without world class players, the PST would surely crumble…. MUWAHAHAHHA!!

Crazy, right? But true. The PSA have officially banned all of their players from entering any PST event. Now, I am by no means suggesting that the above description is anywhere near the specifics leading up to the ban, and just like the disclaimer on all “Law and Order” episodes: "Although inspired in part by a true incident, the following story is fictional and does not depict any actual person or event".

One of the many attractions of the PST events are – of course - the pros themselves. Current PSA ranked top 10 or 20 players in the draw gets bums in seats, and hands in wallets for sponsorship. Without the pros, the money stops. PST events are exhibition tournaments. Players compete for money, and PST ranking – which in the grand scheme of things doesn’t mean a whole lot on the world stage. They also play by their own rules. It is not a rival tour to the PSA. It is an extra opportunity for touring professional players to earn more money. Money the PSA cannot provide for them. And there are other pro events around the world. The UK runs the BSPA Tour (British Squash Professionals Association), and there are professional leagues in many countries around Europe. The PSA have not banned their players from entering these. So why single out the PST?

Have the PST become too successful? It’s way too early to suggest that. While it is no secret that I am not a convert to the “no-let” rule (see: http://thesquashjoint.blogspot.com/2010/08/interfering-with-interference-rule.html ) it is beside the point. They can have their players playing in tutus and swinging frying pans if that is what fills the bleachers. (Ha ha! Can you imagine John White in a tutu? I’d pay to see that…) Here is the official reason behind the PSA’s decision: “Following consultations with stakeholders, primarily in the US, it was felt that the Pro Squash Tour was having an increasingly detrimental effect on the PSA World Tour's presence in North America, leading to confusion for potential promoters and sponsors.” Confusion? We can’t tell the difference?

Whether that is the truth or not, the PST have certainly struck a nerve. If I could guarantee the membership that for $30,000 (all-up) four top-20 players will play in a tournament here in a PST event, where for the same $30,000 I’d be lucky to get one top-20 player in a PSA event, add on PSA registration fees and a myriad of requirements the PSA ask for, what do you think the membership will go for? I don’t think any of them will ask if world ranking points will be at stake. They just want to see the players. On top of that, a PST event is done in 3 days, a PSA event (including qualifying) takes 6 which can be very taxing on a club to organize and run. Cheaper and easier… no brainer. The PSA should be looking at the PST as a reason to improve their own product - maybe even work with PST in sharing revenues, finding co-sponsors, co-coordinating schedules, etc. To simply stick out the bottom lip and try bully them into submission is a risky venture that may backfire – especially in the US where the underdog is often the crowd favorite.

For the official press release from PSA and PST go to:
http://squashzag.wordpress.com/2010/10/15/psa-bans-players-from-playing-pro-tour-events/

For the official PST website go to: http://www.prosquashtour.net/
For the official PSA website go to: http://www.psa-squash.com/

Thursday, October 14, 2010

WINKY-DINKS SLINK INTO FIRST

Boasters League Round 2 ~~

Albeit, just by a couple of bonus points. Tied with “Threepeat” on top of the standings, the “Winky-Dinks” hold the tie-break by 2 bonus points. Impressively, they already have 17 out of a maximum 24 bonus points in the first 2 rounds and if they can keep that up throughout the season they will be a difficult team to overtake. Also, the “Speed Ballers” find themselves in a pretty good position. They are only sitting 4th, but have already had their ‘bye’ week.

Round 2 was a quiet night. Not a lot of matches on display – in fact all but 2 teams picked up more points by showing up than by winning games. Who was on display, was new DAC member Eric Green of “Court and Pints[Pictured right] (see interview: http://thesquashjoint.blogspot.com/2010/10/meet-member.html ). He looked rather imposing in his win over Blake Ellis (“Winky-Dinks”) with a resounding 3-0 win. It will be interesting to see as the season progresses who can step-up and seriously challenge him.

Probably the toughest match of the evening was Mike Petix (“Delta Force”) versus Andy Adamo (“Threepeat”). Mike is coming back from a 12 month hiatus and has been struggling to find his pre-break form whereas Andy is no slouch himself – he knocked off Jerry Rock (“Speed Ballers”) last week - but it was Mike who managed dust off enough rust to score his first win of the season with an arduous 2-1 victory.

Already, many players have the first 2 rounds to make up – so don’t hesitate in organizing those matches. It will only become more difficult the longer you leave it.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

STARTING JUST WHERE THEY LEFT OFF

Boasters League Round 1~~

Pat Petz has made a bold statement in naming his team this season “Threepeat”. As the current winning captain of the previous two seasons, his brash prediction of three in a row is simply rubbing salt into everyone else’s wounds and really designed to ruffle some feathers. However, his team already finds themselves in familiar territory: top of the standings.

Of course, when you play 8 of 12 matches and pick up 9 bonus points in the first round then it’s not too shocking to see them in that spot. Their round one opponent – “Speed Ballers” – also picked up 9 bonus points and are second. So already, the rest of the crowd will be chasing Pat and his team down. I know, I know: the season is long and it’s early. But no team can afford to take it easy now and expect to make up ground later on, from experience, that usually never happens.

We had 3 matches that literally went down to the wire. Pictured left, Brian Schrage (“Threepeat”) beat Doug Troszak (“Speed Ballers”) 15-14 in the 3rd for a 2-1 victory, as did Tom Fabbri (“Winky-Dinks”) over Terry Lang (“Mongoose”). Anil Kathuria (“Winky-Dinks”) and Bill Seymour (“Mongoose”) actually forgot about the no tie-break rule and played on in the 3rd until Anil took it 19-17. No wonder they crawled off the court close to tears. (Of course that feeling went away once they got their beers!)

Just a couple of important points to make coming off some incidents last night:
1. CALL YOUR OPPONENT. I simply cannot say or stress this enough. We had at least 4 players who turned up without contacting or confirming with their opponent. You cannot expect your opponent to show if you do not communicate with them. It is a courtesy to everyone involved if you simply call and confirm (or if you have to, rearrange) your match time. Avoid no-shows at all costs.
2. Let Calls. This is an in-house social, friendly league. Yes, we all want to win. But arguing has no place on the squash court. If a disagreement occurs between you and your opponent, then compromise with a ‘let’. We are all here for the camaraderie, fun and healthy competition. Please keep that in mind.

So, don’t delay with getting any matches done that you may have missed. They pile up very quickly. Get pro-active, and do what you signed up in the league for: playing squash.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

TIME TO GET TO WINDSOR


Revenge is just around the corner. Although we didn’t fair very well at the recent Cross Border Challenge (see: http://thesquashjoint.blogspot.com/2010/09/cross-border-belting.html) the opportunity to get back at least a little pride comes on November 5-7 when they host their annual “Fall Down Classic” event.

All players should be eager to soak up some much needed tournament experience and this one is an easy hop over (or under) the river. For $60+ tax Canadian (or $3500 US) you receive a tournament souvenir, food, beer, and prizes if you win your category. Plus not to mention all the squash and fun you could swing your racquet at over the 3 days.

There are singles and doubles categories for men and women. The singles categories includes consolation events so you will get a second match even if you happen to lose (God forbid!) your round one match. Please see the attached poster for all the details. I will be playing too, so come and join me!

You can enter through me and I will pass on your registration details or, you can contact the tournament director directly – the information is on the poster. Registration deadline is Sunday, October 31st… BOO!

~~~~LET’S SUPPORT THIS EVENT~~~~

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

MEET A MEMBER

The squash program continuously sees fresh faces taking to the courts. We all have joined a club at some stage in our lives, and it can be slightly daunting task to get involved and meet others as the ‘newbie’. So, every now and then, I plan to help that process and assist in ‘breaking the ice’ by splattering their face and some personal information on the blog in order for the ‘newbie’ to be better recognized!

MEET… ERIC GREEN

The Squash Joint (TSJ): “Tell us how you came to join the DAC”
Eric Green (EG): Upon moving back to Detroit from San Francisco, I was inclined to investigate the DAC because of the reciprocity with the Olympic Club. Once I met a few people, I knew it was the right place for me.

TSJ: “Where did you learn to play squash? Who got you started?”
EG: I learned to play squash when I attended the United States Naval Academy. While participating in a tennis tournament during "Plebe Summer," the squash coach approached me to learn the game. Despite the techniques to convince me to play (think water boarding), I actually like the game. Ironically, the person most instrumental to my development was another former DAC member, Casey Garwood.

TSJ: “Pizza or Hot Dogs?”
EG: Only after a big night in Vegas.

TSJ: “What line of work are you in?”
EG: I work in the private equity world. We buy and sell companies in the $1 - $10 million revenue range.

TSJ: “What racquet are you using?”
EG: Not really sure as I picked it up from the lost and found at the Olympic Club. I have been meaning to steal one from your office Mick.

TSJ: “You recently moved back to Michigan from San Francisco. Was that a difficult decision to make?”
EG: The decision was easy; getting my wife to move 6 months earlier than me, pregnant with our two other kids so I could have a 1/2 year man-cation in SF prior to my moving was hard. I don't think I am up for either father or husband of the year, but I did have a nice time. [Photo: Eric with his famliy]

TSJ: “What’s your all time favorite movie?”
EG: Snatch

TSJ: “Describe your best ever squash match?”
EG: Penn vs. USNA, fall 1992. The match was for a ranking of 4th in the nation. We won 5-4; I won 3-2. I didn't really understand all the implications and pride that was on the line from all the prep school guys on the Penn team. I was just a kid from Detroit looking for some liberty in Philadelphia. Did I ever describe my best post-match ever . . . ?

TSJ: “You are a Naval Academy graduate. I’m sure you have a juicy tale you could tell us about from those years?”
EG: Speaking of the devil. The four years in Annapolis are some of my best memories. In fact, I returned there to get married in the Chapel. Most of the juicy tales are probably best left unwritten but suffice it to say . . . if the streets could talk, they would recognize my face right near the sewer.

TSJ: “And the most important question of all… Did you enjoy the Sex and the City movie?”
EG: I enjoy sex and the city; both have served me well.

Thank you to Eric for spending the time to answer these tough questions! Make sure you welcome Eric to the DAC when you see him wandering the courts and halls!

Monday, October 4, 2010

THE LONDON EXPERIENCE

Why, oh why, is there a reluctance to play these events? It was unfortunate that not one DAC member could make the easy journey to play this year’s London Squash Tournament. The event is growing in popularity as they accommodated 140 entries along with their professional category. Here is what you all missed:

The Squash
I’ll start with the professionals since they were the stars of the show. With world ranking points up for grabs and a total purse of $6,500, the draw had three top 100 players enter. They may have received more, however the US Open in Chicago and the Commonwealth Games in India were running at the same time and that no doubt hurt them. Czech Jan Koukal came in as the top seed and that is the way he left. But it wasn’t easy for him. A win in five games in round 2, a tough 3-1 victory in the semi, and a spectacular final that went 4 games earned him the title. His surprise finals opponent was a qualifying Mexican ranked 114 places lower than Koukal. Alfredo Avila just turned 19, and is a petite 5 feet 5 inches, weighing around 135 pounds, 120 of which must be his lungs since this guy can run. I mean run. And run, And run, and run… you get my drift. Avila knocked off the second seed in the first round on his way to the final. Although he couldn’t pull off the unlikely victory, he definitely made Koukal work for it. Avila gave new meaning to the words “court coverage”, and somehow reminded me of Speedy Gonzalez, the fastest mouse in all Mexico. I truly mean that in the nicest possible way.

The amateur categories ran smoothly and late into the night. Since no DAC member entered, the results wouldn’t mean too much. But it was a weekend for the youngsters. A 13 year old won the C draw, and a 14 year old won the B draw. In my case – the Open – all four of matches were against players from the Western University Squash Team. Luckily when the players are that young, they do not have the experience, and when the games got tight the unforced errors seemed to appear out of nowhere. I won the event, dropping only one game. My body now feels like it was run over by a truck. Twice.

The Extra Curricular Activities
Beer Pong. Yes, that famous ‘sport’ of Beer Pong is becoming somewhat of a tradition at this tournament. Setting up the table after the pro final on Saturday night, beer pong takes center stage. There is no need to go into details, I believe everyone has some inkling of how it works. I don’t know who won it, but the one staggered out the court with his pupils looking in two different directions didn’t.

Drinking. What!? Drinking at a squash tournament? Startlingly, yes. Libations a plenty. Funny how the consummation of such liquids makes everything hilarious.

The Bars. London has many of them. All walking distance. It was homecoming weekend as well, so the town was awash with college kids, partying hard and filling the bars. The negative side of that is that it does make getting into the bars somewhat difficult but luckily on Friday night we had a helping hand from Ted Hickey (London Squash Club member) who ‘knew people’ and could open doors for us. The walk back to the hotel at 2am was a challenge as you had to negotiate yourself though the throngs of drunken students that zigzag down the sidewalks and trip over the curbs. Felt like I was playing human Frogger.

The Drive Home
Scene: at the Sarnia Border Crossing, US customs booth…

Customs Officer: Nationality?
Me: Australian
CO: What do you do for a living?
Me: I’m a squash pro.
CO: (Eyebrows raised) Really? Didn’t know that went professional.
Me: Ummm, yeah. Been professional for a while now.
CO: What were you doing in Canada?
Me: Playing a squash tournament in London.
CO: Wasn’t it too rainy for that?
Me: Excuse me?
CO: You’d get wet.
Me: Only in the shower after the match.
CO: Isn’t squash outdoors?
Me: (Sigh). No. It’s similar to racquetball.
CO: (Tilts head, inquisitive look on his face – just like your dog when it doesn’t grasp a concept. It was obviously too difficult for the custom’s officer, or he didn’t what to feel like more of a moron as he hands me back my passport.) Have a nice day.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

BOOSTING THE BOASTERS LEAGUE

Here we go again – another league season is just about underway. If the participation level of the 1st Dividend / draft night is any indication of how the season will pan out, then we are in for a busy 7 months.

The Boasters League has been on a steady expansion curve for a number of years. When I first arrived in 2004, the league yielded 72 players. The past 3 years we’ve been at 99, and now we stand at 108. Add on the players on the sub list, and we’re looking at 114. That’s a 50% increase, and that speaks volumes.

We also have a record 6 women participating. That may not sound like much, but considering we only had 3 last year, I’ll take the 100% improvement; and 25 players are new to the league. Of course with many fresh faces, the nine captains had a difficult time sorting through it all, but remarkably the draft was completed in record time and without any controversy.

Captain Pat Petz [pictured left] has appropriately named his team “Threepeat”, as he attempts to lead the winning team for a third straight season. As you would expect, there is nothing more the other 8 captains would like to do than prevent that from happening, so it will be important for them to be prop-active with their team and continuously encourage them to get their matches played and collect bonus points.

There are a couple of changes this season to help promote participation:
1. Only the top 6 teams will now make the play-offs in March. The last 3 teams will be eliminated. The top 2 teams will receive a ‘bye’ in the first round of the play-offs. This should make the last few weeks more interesting.
2. A prize will also be awarded to the best point getter in each level over the entire season. This includes bonus points, and for those few who also picked one up for attending the referee clinic last week. The prize will be a shirt with their name stitched on it along with “Boasters League All Star 2011”. (Adjustments will be made if and when players are moved up and down at the half way point.)

So start polishing up your weapon and get yourself ready for battle… and the keg.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

GET READY TO BLITZ!


Scheduled for Friday, October 15
Matches start at 5pm


For those of you who believe that only the top ranked players can win tournaments, you should go and talk to Matt Hayduk. Matt won the March edition of the Blitz Tournament, beating quite a few players ranked well above him. In fact, for all the times I have run this event, the top ranked player has won only once.

This atypical event is a handicap tournament that puts all the pressure on the stronger player. The first round consists of round robin groups. Each group will have a wide spread of playing standards. Each match will be one game to 15 points, using point-a-rally scoring. Handicaps will be assigned to even the playing field. After group play, the top two winners in each group will advance to knock-out round where the top three place getters will receive a prize. (If group-play results in more than 2 winners, straws will be drawn to see who advances.)

In case you are wondering why it’s called the “Blitz Tournament”, it’s because matches have been known to last literally 2 rallies and it’s over faster than you can blink.

As usual, a keg will be provided. You must be a Blackballer to participate. If you are not a Blackballer, please see me! Registration deadline is Wednesday, October 13, or until the maximum 40 participants is reached. This is for ALL standards of players, men and women!! Depending on the amount of entries, usually the event runs 2 to 2 ½ hours.

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