Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Considering the weather, the turn out for last night’s league was pretty respectable. About 50% more than week 1 - an encouraging sign. If this keeps up, then next season we may have an argument to include a Monday night keg as well. Of course a league fee would have to be implemented but that is a discussion for another day.

The “Pickled Onions” have had an admirable 2 weeks so far. They haven’t played the most matches – four other teams have played more – nor do they have the most bonus points (they are 3rd in that category), but they have only lost a total of 1 match so far. It’s still a little early to predict if this trend will continue, but if they keep on track they’ll be a tough unit to beat.

On the other end of the spectrum, the “Rotten Tomatoes” have played the least amount of matches, are second lowest in bonus points, and to make matters worse have only won 1 match. Hence, they sit in last position. Now, it isn’t exactly time to panic. But I suggest they don’t wait too long to get their matches in, playing 5 of 16 matches in the first two rounds will not get you to the play-offs!

Only one player has accumulated the maximum 8 points for the first 2 rounds: Anil Kathuria of the “Cold Turkeys”. In fact, Anil has over 50% of his team’s total. Let’s hope his team mates start showing him some support.

Round 3 is not scheduled until June 7. That gives everybody a couple of weeks to catch up on missed matches. Your team mates are relying on you to do your part. If you don’t make the finals, at least you went down fighting…hopefully.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Not exactly a sizzling start for the 2010 Summer League, the first night of action only saw 10 out of a possible 32 matches played. With few players turning up, it may just increase the importance of that bonus point. Three teams picked up 5 bonus points each and surprise, surprise, they occupy 3 of the top 4 spots in the standings already. Considering that only the top 4 teams will be advancing to the finals and there are only 7 rounds to get there, teams may find themselves falling behind awfully quickly with very little time to catch up.

The “Pickled Onions” have taken command of the standings early winning 3 of their 4 matches yesterday over the “Fruit Loops”, with Brandon Dobbins making a strong statement to all the other number 6’s in the league as he claimed a sound 3-0 victory over Chuck Doyle. Brandon’s team mate and new comer, Brian Rosman, also had a great start winning 3-0 against Rob Wilson.

Mike McCuish of “Sour Grapes” tackled another new face in Mike Rock (“Bitter Lemons”). Probably giving away 30 years (give or take…), Mike McCuish managed to win 3-0, but in his e-mail to me the next day he said he had to work so hard for the win that he’ll need at least one week to recover!

Hopefully the attendance will improve in the coming rounds, and players will not leave their make-up matches until the final week – which is less than 2 months away.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


The pinnacle of the 2009-2010 season, the Club Championships is the one tournament where players can really judge themselves on where they stand in the club. There are no excuses here, it’s put up or shut up, and let your racquet do all the trash-talking for you!

2.5 category – James claims the games…
For all the winners this year, and not diminishing anyone else’s performance, I think I am more pleased with this result than any other. James Van Dyke [pictured left] has been working on his squash, taking lessons and practicing hard; and the pay-off is evident. The top 4 seeds reached the semi final of the 2.5 draw, and both of those matches could have turned out differently to what they did. James battled with last year’s finalist Shail Arora, well known for his speed and tenacity. The two had a monumental 5 game battle and James did the unlikely – he made Shail tired – and managed to finish him off in the 5th. Andrew Spohn won the other semi 3-1 over new-comer Brandon Dobbins, a match that easily could have gone to 5 games as well. For the final, James controlled Andrew from the get-go and did not relinquish control. His 3-0 win a testament to all the effort he has been putting in.

3.0 category – The Matt that’s all that…
The number one question I had for this event was: who was going to stop Bob Rogers? Bob has been virtually unstoppable since he started playing at the DAC back in the summer of 2009, and in fact he won his first 40 matches before recording his first loss. He reached the semi final rather comfortably where he came up against Matt Didio. Matt had cruised to the semi final round as well, and it appeared that he had hit form at the perfect time. He was able to stop the ‘Rogers Express’ with an excellent 3-1 win, stepping into the final against last year’s 3-0 winner, Arnaud Mangin (pronounced “R-no”; it’s French!). Arnaud suffered a nasty foot injury at the beginning of the winter that had him side-lined for much of the season and his preparation for the club championships was minimal. But there are no excuses. Matt outplayed Arnaud in all 3 games for the 3-0 win, and for me, was the biggest surprise winner of the tournament. [Pictured: Matt Didio with his wife, Angela]

3.5 category: Heartbreaker for Baker…
Without a doubt, this final was the match of the club championships. It’s been the most talked about amongst the members, and both players have been admired for their effort, sportsmanship, and level of play. Matt Jarboe and Brien Baker [pictured left] both reached the final but neither of them had it easy. Matt won his first round 3-2 and the semi 3-1 to get there, and Brien won his first two matches 3-2 before dispatching last year’s finalist Rich Stimson 3-0 in the semi. I predicted this match would be tough, and to state the obvious, it was. Matt jumped out to an early lead and snapped up the first 2 games. Never one to quit, Brien knuckled down for the next 2 games to take the match to a 5th. It was a real ball-burtsing, gut-wrenching, lung-rupturing adventure. Nor could it have been any closer. Matt won the battle 10-9 in the 5th but in reality – and to be very cliché – there were no losers in that match. Both players have to be lauded… and both players will be playing at least the 4.0 next season.

4.0 category: Gembis v Ward yet to cross swords…
Since Paul Ward played the 4.5 final on this day, the 4.0 final has been postponed – result still pending…

4.5 category: Scott’s got the shots…
A small draw this year for the 4.5 category. Only 6 entrants (as opposed to 13 last year) and 5 of those were also in the 4.0 draw! The only stand-out was Jim Stroh who lost his first match to Paul Ward 3-1. The handful of players in the draw are all of a similar playing standard, so this title was literally up for grabs for any one of the six. Jeff Gembis lost to Scott Adlhoch in the semi final 3-1, but in the 4.0 draw he beat Scott 3-1 to get to that final. On paper, the Adlhoch v Ward match had all the makings of another long, run-filled expedition. Up until the final, Paul had been playing very well and was full of confidence. Funny how things can turn on you. Also, maybe it was a mental block – Scott had beaten Paul 6 times in a row dating back to October 2008. This ended up being number 7. Paul struggled for the three games to find the rhythm that got him to the final in the first place and Scott wasn’t taking any prisoners either. The 3-0 victory for was an excellent follow-up on Scott’s 2009 4.0 club championship win- also over Paul.

5.0 category: Rock of Gibraltar Rakolta…
This was the hardest of all the draws to organize. I counted anyone of 8 players to win this one, as on any given day, the results can go either way. But lately, one of the players has been slowly lifting their game and is beginning to dominate the others. Defending 5.0 champ Peter Shumaker reached the final again winning all of his lead-up matches 3-0. Meeting him there was John Rakolta. Although John has gone through recent patches of inconsistency, overall he has improved his squash noticeably. Finer court coverage, better mental toughness, greater steadiness. He would need all of these attributes to overcome Peter who continues to defy the odds year after year with his downright doggedness, experience, and staying power that simply must be admired. The intense match was a fascinating tussle between the two contrasting styles. Verifying John’s progression over the last 12 months (he won the 4.5 category last year); he won this match 3-1. He is now ready to tackle the top tier players. [Pictured: Peter Shumaker and John Rakolta]

Open category: Clockwork Kirk…
It was fantastic to see the Open draw filled with the younger guys wanting a crack at the ‘old-school’ crowd. It was eye-opening for them to get on court and see exactly what they need in order to compete at that level – and the work required to get there. The absence of the 2009 champion Peter Logan (recovering from knee surgery) opened the door for different finalist to challenge Kirk Haggarty for the title. Kirk had to get through 2 rounds to reach the final and he did so untroubled. John Birgbauer was tipped to be his opponent but that almost didn’t happen. In a huge scare, that would have been the upset of the championships, John Rakolta was one rally away from knocking John B. out. He was 8-6 in the 5th up – match-ball – before failing to close out the match and eventually went down 10-8. For the final, apart from being 2-3 down in the first game, Kirk was always in the lead forcing John to play catch-up. At 2 games to 0 up, and 5-0 up in the 3rd, it looked like the match - and John - was done. But slowly and unpredictably, the momentum started to change. Maybe John relaxed more, but he started to hit better, more controlled length, started to hold his shots and wrong-foot Kirk, and started to inch closer on the score board. One rally a time, John got back to 6-7 and threatened to snatch the game away. But it was not to be. Three quick rallies to end it, and Kirk shut the comeback down. Kirk Haggarty becomes the 2010 DAC Club Champion – congratulations! And, adding to this fine achievement, this is Kirk’s 10th singles title! [Pictured: John Birgbauer and Kirk Haggarty]

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Doubles Club Championships

‘A’ Draw: Kirk breaks a 10 year drought –
As dominate as Kirk Haggarty has been in the singles event, the last time he won the Doubles Club Championship was way back in the year 2000. Back then he paired up with John Birgbauer. For the last handful of years, it’s been the hard hitting Mike Eugenio but up until now, success has eluded them. Their nemesis for the past 2 years has been Peter Logan and John Birgbauer and once again they would have to get by this pair to take the title. Both teams reached the final comfortably with 3-0 victories in the semi. Very little separated the teams. The first game went to overtime with Eugenio / Haggarty coming away with the 1-0 lead. They also won the second game to take a 2-0 advantage which is a huge hurdle to overcome if you are chasing – no matter who you are. Still, Logan / Birgbauer picked up their game in the third and narrowed the gap to extend the match to a fourth. This too, went to a tie-break. At 16-17 down, the Eugenio / Haggarty team ripped off a couple of outright winners (whether they were on purpose or not depends on who you ask!) to close out the game 18-17 and claim the title of 2010 DAC Doubles Club Champions. Congratulations lads!

‘B’ Draw: Experience triumphs over youth –
Ryan Bendzinski and Rich Stimson went into the B draw as defending champions and the number one seed. They had little trouble reaching the final again, losing only one game in their first round against Mike Hayden and Jay Poplawski, and after a convincing 3-0 victory over Peter Shumaker and Paul Doherty in the semi, it appeared a repeat was on the cards. But of course nothing is a given and the John Dunwoody / Chris Terry team are experienced and play together regularly which is a huge plus for any successful doubles pair. They reached the final easily enough winning both of their encounters 3-0. The final went over an hour, took 5 games, and was decided in the tie-break. At 13-13 in the 5th, the call was made for a 5-point tie-break. I am sure the Bendzinski / Stimson team felt confident that the longer the match took the better chances they had - especially against older opponents. However, maybe it was nerves, maybe they tensed up, but whatever the reason, they failed to win one more rally. Dunwoody / Terry won the 5th game 18-13 on a 5-point tear. No mistakes, playing steady, a little more conservative: a little experience goes a long way. [Picture: The B finalists]

‘C’ Draw: New, young blood makes some noise –
Andy Housey is not new to the doubles game. But his partner – Anthony Fracchia – was. Anthony’s doubles experience was literally non-existent. He had to learn during the tournament which is a difficult thing to do. The doubles ball does not bounce or move like a singles one. I once played a pro-am at the BAC against a top 15 world ranked singles player who had never played doubles before. On the first serve he tried to receive, he whiffed completely. As the pro on his team, he was the weaker link. So, I can imagine how Anthony must have felt initially. Full credit to him though, he picked it up relatively well. Reaching the final they were up against the lot more experienced team of Joe Moran and Peter Fortune. Moran / Fortune didn’t drop a single game on the way to the final, and on paper, with their knowledge of the game, I gave them the edge. But what Anthony lacks in doubles “know-how” he makes up for it in speed and determination. Putting that together with Andy Housey’s somewhat awkward technique that can half the time bite him on the rear end or, on the other half, turn into gold, the team can be unpredictably dangerous. On this day, experience did not triumph over youth. It was close, but Housey / Fracchia earned themselves a well fought 3-1 win and the C doubles title.

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