Thursday, September 30, 2010
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
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.
Monday, September 20, 2010
After the first 7 matches we were looking pretty respectable. Chip McDaniel made a rare appearance for us and even though he has not had the time to play hardly any squash over the past 12 months due to his brutal work schedule, he still managed to beat Krista Leslie 3-0 – a great result considering Krista beat him 3-0 in the last encounter. Following in Chip’s footsteps, Jim Stroh, Ken MacDonald and Kimberly Farnen all took their opponents 3-0 as well. Windsor managed to get a couple of matches back, and unsurprisingly, took the first doubles match as well to close the gap 4 wins to 3 in our favor. [Picture: Chip and Krista]
Then the wheels fell off. As did the doors, the engine, the frame collapsed, and then it exploded.
Incredibly, just like a Detroit Lions season, loss after loss came pouring in. 10 of them. The last 10. Not for lack of trying – it never is - but somehow, we just cannot seem to win those games that go down to the wire when the pressure is building. Speaking to many of the team members, the very common theme of “I lost in the tie-break” was like a broken record on permanent re-run. Games were close – in numerous cases our guys were leading far into the games as well, but closing them out appears to be the stubborn hurdle. Not that I expect us to win all of those contests, but at least some of them. Then, the 4-13 score line would look a lot more respectable…
[Picture: Andrew Caille (Windsor) and Derek Aguirre (DAC)]
So what is the answer? What can our members do to break the cycle of not being able to finish off your opponent? Here are some tips:
1. It’s a mental thing. It is easy to relax when you are leading in a game. Easy to take your foot off the gas and ‘cruise’ to the end. However, momentum change can happen instantaneously, and it can be virtually impossible to reclaim. You played a certain way to get to the leading position in the first place, why change that game to finish it?
2. Go harder. When you are up in a game, it’s actually the time to play even tougher. Don’t give your opponent a chance or a sniff at all. Make him realize that to come back will be too difficult.
3. Play more tournaments (as many as you can). I cannot stress this enough. Get matches under your belt. Learn to play regularly under pressure situations, against a variety of opponents, on different courts and atmospheres, practice being in these tough circumstances, learn how to cope with them. Squash is not just about the practice of racquet skills and fitness – so much of what you do is mental. That needs practice too. Learning to win (however silly that sounds) is vital to on court success.
4. Get fitter. If you cannot last 5 games, then all your opponent has to do is win 2 games to beat you. If you can’t run, you can’t win at squash.
Most importantly, regardless of the result, the 10th Cross Border Challenge was another terrific afternoon spent with our Canadian friends. I was extremely pleased with the participation (16 players and 17 matches!) and I am sure everyone had a great time and would be willing to do it all over again. The 11th running is scheduled for April 9 at the DAC.
[Back row left to right: Chip McDaniel, Kimberly Farnen, Paul Huth. Front row left to right: David Pontes, Paul Huth's guest, DJ Boyd, Andy Adamo, Ken MacDonald]
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
The next time I am in the fetal position, sucking my thumb and thinking of a ‘happy place’, that ‘happy place’ will be Sherwood Forest. Since the day we returned from the 2009 adventure, I have been looking forward to the 2010 one with dreamy eyes and now once again am forced to crave next year’s voyage.
A green house on ‘Robin Hood’ street in Sherwood Forest was where we laid our abused and battered bodies for the three nights we spent in Annapolis. BAC member Jon Uffelman and his adorable mother were once again kind enough (or crazy!) to let half the “Great Lakes Squash Team” stay in their home. True to form, we did not break anything, but there is an image in my mind of a pretzel nugget that I wish I could gouge out from my memory… I will not go into detail. The Sherwood Forest community is about a 20 minute boat ride to downtown Annapolis. Once the boat was moored at the dock you are literally in the middle of the action. Full of restaurants and bars, and a five minute walk to the Academy, the town was at our mercy… or vice versa.
[Just part of the amazing scenery from the boat-trip between Jon's house and Annapolis]
The purpose behind this escapade is to challenge the Naval Academy Squash Team. A group of America’s finest young men, all strong, fit, more than capable of breaking us in two, and incredibly polite and friendly. The official matches were scheduled for Friday. Nine-man teams, plus 2 ‘friendlies’. Although our team was filled with some of Michigan’s best players, it always seems we pull up just a fraction short. Even with the obvious advantage of experience, when matches come down to the wire and fitness becomes an issue, the benefit of youth was rather evident. We won 3 of the 9 matches, and just like last year, were on the wrong side of a couple of very close results. When the unofficial Saturday ‘mix ‘n’ match’ scrimmage took place, we kicked the starched white iron-creased pants off them.
The rest of our time was spent eating, drinking, attempting to grab a nap whenever possible (which was most of the time impossible) laughing, horsing around, and just enjoying life. Jon Uffelman was in fine form as usual, he’s truly a one-man entertainment bonanza. Special mention has to go to new DAC member Eric Green. Eric, the nicest guy you will ever meet, is a Naval Academy graduate and has close personal ties to the area. He has taught us all how to travel light, how a shoe box is just as good as a squash bag, there is nothing wrong with catching some zzzzz’s in a deli, and heat-stroke is a state of mind after spending the entire Saturday afternoon in a long sleeved sweater and jeans under the pounding sun in the car park for the Navy football game tail-gate. He is a real trooper.
The legend status of this trip is growing. I am fortunate to be involved. A huge thank you to Jon Uffelman for his incredible generosity of sharing this piece of utopia with us. And another huge thank you to the rest of team for making the trip worth every single penny. Even though I think I have seen it all, I can’t wait for what surprises 2011 will bring.
[The "2010 Great Lakes Squash Team". Top row, left to right: Doug Bauer (ex-Toledo member, now residing in Tampa, FL); Casey Garwood (ex-DAC member and Club Champion now residing in Seattle); John Seidel (Toledo Squash Pro); Me!; Peter Logan (DAC member and mutiple club champion titles); Rob Graves (Franklin Racquet Club and doubles Nationals title winner); Bottom row left to right: Mark Eugeni (Windsor and ex-pro doubles player); Eric Green (DAC member); Kurt Streng (BAC and excellent tennis player!); Jon Uffelman (BAC and multiple club champion titles); Mark Porter (Windsor squash pro).
Friday, September 3, 2010
With a deft and subtle flick
You could master the wicked trick
Make your game look cool and slick
With racquet work so quick
Slam the ball into the nick
And guarantee you’d never lose
But my brain is slow and thick
And like some horrid nervous tic
I keep on shooting bricks
And like a desperate alcoholic
I am really terminally sick
With a case of the “Squash Nick Blues”!
The Squash Poet
“Squash Nick Blues”
Sung to the tune of “The Sound of Silence” Simon and Garfunkel
Here I am on court two,
Obsessed with what I want to do,
I don’t care if I lose the game,
All I want is the instant fame,
The amazing feat of smashing the ball dead,
Fills my head,
It’s the Squash Nick Blues.
Every shot I try to find,
That damn nick but I’m so blind,
Impossible angles at every turn,
It’s a mental disease - I just wont learn,
So I just hit harder and continue to hack and hack,
And hope for crack,
It’s the Squash Nick Blues.
I even seem to have to nerve,
To go for it off every serve,
Aiming where the wall and floor meet,
Damn, I missed again by three feet!
And another point lost thanks to my stupid greed,
There’s really no need,
For the Squash Nick Blues.
“Fool” they say, “You do not know,
That your racquet technique really blows”,
When the point is done I don’t care anymore,
Unless the ball is rolling along the floor,
I remember once long ago slotting the nick right in,
But it hit the tin,
It’s the Squash Nick Blues.
And then one day I bowed and prayed,
At the best nick shot I ever made,
A volley reverse backhand boast overhead,
When it hit the floor it came out dead,
I screamed and yelled but realized with a groan,
I was playing alone,
And forever stuck in…The Squash Nick Blues.
The Squash Poet
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
London is a small university town and this event coincides with the Homecoming Weekend. The bars are guaranteed to have a great atmosphere and everything is within walking distance from the downtown hotels. The London Squash Racquets Club is small but cozy and it is impossible not to be social. Beer is always near at hand, so it is imperative that along with your squash shoes, you pack your drinking ones as well.
So anyone care to join me and a few of the Windsor members for the trip? To enter the event, you can contact the London squash pro, Andrew Mount, at firstname.lastname@example.org . Or, simply let me know and I can pass your information along. Registration closes on Wednesday, September 22.