Monday, September 20, 2010


Well, it started off nicely enough. Admittedly, I was a fraction skeptical of our chances to beat Windsor when I looked over the match-ups, which is of course nothing new. We had only won 2 of our previous 9 meetings, both of which were at the DAC. Also, since we actually won the trophy in April and were defending, I suspected their team would be strong especially since we were playing in their house. I was right.

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]

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