Monday, October 4, 2010


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.

Search This Blog