Friday, July 30, 2010


So much for my prediction. Although, in my defense, the “Pickled Onions” dug their own grave handing their opponents two forfeits. Including those two results, they lost just as many matches in the final as they did all season long. But it’s all part of the deal – the “Sour Grapes” turned up, played hard, and ended up deserved winners.

It was a disappointing finish to the season when you consider the forfeits having such a large impact on the final result, but such circumstances can arise and unfortunately for the “Pickled Onions”, they came up at exactly the wrong time.

Paul Flanagan (“Sour Grapes”) [pictured left] gave his team just the start they needed with a 2-1 win over Peter Fortune (“Pickled Onions”) – the reverse result from when they played in the regular season just 2 weeks earlier. Each team required one sub in the line-up, and both of the subs won their matches 2-1, cancelling each other out. Then both Jason Trombley and Brandon Dobbins (“Pickled Onions”) chalked up 3-0 triumphs to give their team a strong advantage. However, the two forfeits did them in. The lead wasn’t large enough and the “Sour Grapes” leapfrogged them to take the Summer League title 16-14.

Congratulations to: Taylor Burleson; Brian Schrage; Mike McCuish; Todd Baker; Paul Flanagan; Mark Allen; Andy Adamo; Paul Huth.

The Boasters League starts the first week in October so you have a couple of months to rest up and get ready... or come see me and work on your game! We can only take 99 players, so make sure you get registered early.

Monday, July 26, 2010

“Let” It Be

We all know it: Squash is a brutal sport. It’s vicious on the body, cruel on the lungs, challenging on the mind, yet somehow when all of these aspects are melded together, it’s emphatically euphoric and addicting. We suffer through the agony of oxygen deprivation, the misery of lactic acid build up, the torture of sore muscles and joints, and keep on coming back for more and more. However, as much as we all admit to being squash junkies, the one single theme that members grumble to me more about than anything else is… refereeing.

Never do I see our members get more incensed with each other than when arguing over a ‘let’ call. Since you play just about every single match at the DAC without a ref, I am often called in to make a decision over a situation I haven’t even witnessed, based on the ‘biased’ testimonies of both players pleading their cases and are unable to even agree where they were standing on the court at the time of the interference, let alone where the ball was. The “he-said-she-said” conflicts are literally impossible to resolve, especially when both players are as stubborn as my wife who insists on putting broccoli into every meal. And this happens during practice matches as much as it does in league.

Ultimately, the only solution to this ‘dilemma’ lies with you, the player. The ‘unwritten’ rules of squash have to apply here, etiquette needs to take over, honesty must come to the fore, and compromise is a requirement. Otherwise, the player who can shout louder for longer will win.

You all know when your opponent is in your way and prevents you from making a ‘normal’ shot. You hold back with your swing or you have to run around them or you have to change your aim; either way, some form of interference has occurred. Given that you would have retrieved the ball had your opponent not been standing there, you are at least entitled to a “let”. When the shoe is on the other foot - you are the one causing interference - arguing that you are not, is entirely futile. The “let” would not have been asked for in the first place if your opponent didn’t think you were in the way. So the ‘discussion’ is one of “let” or “stroke”.

I am not getting into the written rules of squash – to learn more about the ‘real’ rules, I will be conducting a refereeing clinic late September. This is about avoiding the heated debates that go on court all the time and cause nothing but bad sentiments and leave a nasty taste in the mouth afterwards.

Squash is ruthless enough without having the added burden of having to make a case after every other rally. Even if interference is slight, squash etiquette demands that the gentleman thing to do would be to offer your opponent the “let” or, if the obstruction was severe enough, a “stroke”. Your (hopefully honest) opponent would then either take one or the other, or decline a “let” altogether if they think they didn’t deserve one. Using this tactic – a ‘preemptive strike’ so to speak - should circumvent any squabbles that otherwise may arise. Generally, compromises are reached quickly and painlessly. You may think to yourself that you have been ‘robbed’, but always understand that how you see the circumstance from your angle is not the same as how your opponent sees it from theirs. What makes you think that your angle is the correct one?

From my own personal experience, practicing with fellow pros, this happens all the time. Almost to the point of being too nice about it, but it keeps the game flowing, the disputes non-existent, and the camaraderie alive. And I can always count on being asked to play again when the opportunity presents itself. Because no one wants to play you if continuously butt heads and carry-on like a four year old every time a “let” situation pops up.

The attached poster is a list of the DAC 20 Commandments of Squash Etiquette. Common sense stuff? Sure. But I am sure all of you have seen at one time or another at least one of these rules broken. How many are you guilty of?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


“Bitter Lemons” left feeling sour
Just as I predicted it would be, the semi finals were close. Very close. The “Bitter Lemons” and “Sour Grapes” swapped results all the way. Each team won two matches 3-0, and each team won two matches 2-1. The difference? You guessed it: bonus points. One bonus point to be exact. “Sour Grapes” had 6; the “Bitter Lemons”, 5. The one result that sticks out as the ‘difference maker’ was the first result to come in. Todd Baker (“Sour Grapes”) and Tom Fabbri (“Bitter Lemons”) exhausted themselves in the three games they played, leaving it until the last rally to decide the winner. At 14-all in the 3rd, the sudden death point fell Todd’s way. Had it bounced in Tom’s favor, the 18-17 final score line would be reversed. But before Tom starts crying into his golf clubs that it’s his entire fault, I am sure his 7 team mates are also wondering where they could have picked up that extra point! A special mention goes to Mike Rock (“Bitter Lemons”) who is in his first league season. His initiation into the league was met with a resounding 3-0 loss in round 1 to Mike McCuish (“Sour Grapes”). Mike R. can be rather pleased with his improvement and progress and the proof in the pudding showed as he gave Mike M. back all the medicine he dished out by beating him 3-0 this time around.

“Pickled Onions” true to form
The “Pickled Onions” picked up right where they left of at the regular season: refusing to lose any (or very few) matches. Only one loss to speak of in the semi-final and that was Matt Jarboe going down in a rare “Pickled Onions” 3-0 loss (just the second of the season) against Jim Stroh (“Going Bananas”). A surprise result really, considering Matt beat Jim 2-1 in round 5. With 2-1 victories for Rich Stimson, Sean Moran, Peter Fortune and Brian Rosman, that the close results are all landing in the “Pickled Onions” favor are the saving grace for this team. Without these wins – or even if just three of them were reversed – relying on bonus points to get them through would be a failing tactic. Only four of their eight players showed up – something they better be careful of next week for the final.

Even if the “Sour Grapes” get all 8 of their members to turn up, I still think the “Pickled Onions” will take the title. If you look back at the regular season result between theses 2 teams, the “Pickled Onions” won 6 of the 8 matches played. In fact they won with an overall score line of 19-9 – more than convincing. Given, four of those results were 2-1, but even reversing all of those wouldn’t make up the difference. I am more than happy to be proved wrong – in either case; I hope it’s closer than the first time around. Also, the finals are a funny beast. Winning when it really counts can have mysterious influences on people.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Think you can keep your balls down the wall? Can you keep your balls out of the gutter as well? This event is designed to test your athleticism with your ball control! Combining squash and 10-pin bowling, we will assess your ability to manage balls of different sizes, weight and density; your knack of smacking a black rubbery ball and your aptitude of rolling a huge shiny smooth one.

Together with our good friend that lives in the bowels of the DAC - Tom Reaume (Bowling Manager) – on Thursday, August 19 we will be running the “Racquets, Balls & Pins” Tournament. As always, the event is designed for players of all levels. Being placed on one of two teams, you will be matched up with one opponent to play a full best-of-five squash match, and then matched up with another opponent to play 2 games of bowling. Tom and I will do our best to match you up in both events with someone of equal playing level. (Handicaps may be applied if we cannot find an equal challenger.) Don’t fret if you don’t know how to bowl – the concept couldn’t be simpler. Roll (do NOT hit it with your racquet) the big shiny ball down the wooden aisle and knock over as many pins as you can. Easy-peasy.

Every squash game and bowling game won will count towards a point for your team. The team with the most points at the end of the night wins! A keg will be provided. Squash matches will start first at 5pm and then the keg will be bought downstairs for the bowling afterwards. Registration deadline is Monday, August 16. We will need a minimum 14 registrations to run the event. (Depending on the amount of entries, the event may run until 9pm.)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Even though a decent amount of matches were played in the final week, it wasn’t exactly a nail biting, stomach fluttering finish to the finals. The only real question to answer was which of two teams were going to end up 4th. The “Fruit Loops” had been threatening “Going Bananas” for that coveted last play-off position for the past 3 rounds, but after making up 10 points alone in round 5, could not make up the remaining 3 points over the last 2 weeks of play. They ended up 6 points out.

Pickled Onions” ended up were they began: on top. They are the first Summer League team in 6 years to score over 100 points. Looking at their regular season record, they must go into the finals as the favorites. The statistics are rather alarming. They only lost 4 matches all season – and only one of those was 3-0. Of the matches they won, 56% of them were 2-1. So they were not wiping the court, but somehow were just refusing to lose. They also rank only 5th in bonus points. This must be the first time that a top team ranks outside the top 4 in that category. Two of their players played every match. Brandon Dobbins won all 7 – one of only two players in the league to do so. (The other was Jeff Gembis from the “Fruit Loops”). Two of their players played 6 of the 7 matches. Those four players made up 81% of the team’s season total. Can they continue to carry the team through? They are matched up against “Going Bananas” in the semi final and on paper a lot of those matches could go either way. Hopefully the rest of “Pickled Onions” turn up to play!

Now for the other end of the spectrum. Believe it or not, the “Blowing Raspberries” played more matches than the “Pickled Onions”. One more. However, compared to the 88% win rate of the league leaders, the “Blowing Raspberries” won only 29%. They also ranked 2nd last in bonus points. Only one player scored more than 10 points, and that player also scored the team’s only 3-0 win.

The team with the least amount of matches played was the “Cold Turkeys”. They managed a meager 51%. The 6, 7, and 8 players accumulated 75% of the team’s season total. Not surprisingly, the “Cold Turkeys” were dead last in bonus points, averaging less than 3 players turning up per week.

Looking at individual efforts, Brandon Dobbins (“Pickled Onions”) picked up the most points overall with 23 and his undefeated effort will definitely earn him a promotion up the ranks next season. Brian Rosman (“Pickled Onions”) and Jeff Gembis (“Fruit Loops”) picked up 22, and Tom Bergh (“Going Bananas”) ended up with 21.

Overall, the participation level of the Summer League this year has been reasonably good compared to previous seasons. Overall we had 67% of matches completed, compared to 59% in 2009 and 63% in 2008. The trend is positive, and although I would never expect a 100% participation rate, there is definitely still room for improvement.

The finals should be interesting. The four teams they got the through are the ones that deserve to be there, and all four have a decent chance of winning – if they play well.

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