Monday, April 18, 2011


It didn’t take long for this competition – The McQueenie Cup – to develop a rivalry. It all started back in September of 2009 when the first running of the event was held and the DAC won all the matches against each club, but peculiarly lost the Cup to Toledo anyway. From then on, the claims of a “shallow” victory reverberate every now again through the squash court halls but the fact remains that the victorious team unchangeably engraved onto Cup is not ours. We have since been determined to knock Toledo from their pedestal.

The second running of the McQueenie was held in Chicago in the handsome building of the University Club of Chicago who recently unveiled their new court centre that looks over Lake Michigan from 11 floors up. Impressive is an understatement, and the 4 pristine singles courts and 1 doubles court are a delight to play on. Because of the controversy in the previous event’s scoring, the format was changed for 2011. Each club could place a maximum of two representatives in each of the four draws (A, B, C and D). With 9 players in each draw, each position would be played out (first to ninth) and depending on where each player finished, they would score points for their respective club. The totals would then be added up to determine the winner. In case of a tie, games won would be the decider. [Pictured right - Paul Ward]

All eight members of the DAC team played on Friday evening. Four of our players claimed quick 3-0 victories, Ryan Bendzinski in the C draw (4.0) took down his man 3-1 and John Rakolta in the A draw (5.0) had a scare before finally getting by 3-2. Our only two casualties were Paul Ward in the C draw (4.0) who went down 3-1 and Mark Gregory in the B draw (4.5) who lost 3-0. Unfortunately, both of those losses were against Toledo guys…. Grrrr!

Naturally, the temptations of a Friday night on the town in Chicago were way too difficult to withstand. Sightseeing through the populated watering holes and observing the local wildlife kept most of captivated until well past my bedtime. We didn’t, but should have followed Patrick Petz’ example when he pretended to be too tired to soldier on as he eye-lids were losing their battle to gravity and he called it an early night. All we could do is shake our heads at him as we gently placed him in a cab. The night was still young in our eyes.

Even though matches on Saturday morning started at a friendly 9.40am with John Rakolta up to bat against the lone representative from Milwaukee / Madison, Wael Saber, I was a little skittish to see how our boys would cope. John managed to squeak through prevailing 3-1 but it was nip and tuck the whole way. Our next 3 matches we weren’t so lucky. Eric Green (B draw) – who for some bizarre reason was consistently missing one sock – lost his match 3-0 although he can take solace in the fact that his opponent ended up winning that category. After that match Eric also asked to consult the dictionary to see if his on court experience was equating to what he was thinking. He found the word under ‘s-o’ and also discovered he was correct. Eric went on to finish in third place winning his 3rd / 4th play-off in 5 tough sets. [Pictured left - Eric Green, Patrick Petz and Ryan Bendzinksi]

In the C division, Ryan Bendzinski also scored us a 3rd placed finish. In his play-off match he triumphed over Toledo’s Matt Osburn 11-9 in the 5th. Rich Stimson gave us our third 3rd place in the D draw beating Patrick Petz 3-1 in their match. Mark Gregory ended up 7th but can claim the longest game (not match) of the tournament. He lost in 3-1 in his second match, but the 4th game had the score line 19-17! His opponent was too tired to continue the event afterwards and pulled out of the 5th / 6th play-off. Paul Ward took 6th position as he went down 3-1 in his final match.

The A draw turned out to be – in both semi finals - a DAC versus Toledo scenario. If we were to claim the McQueenie Cup from them, here was our perfect opportunity. Peter Logan played first against Drew Snell was looking strong after taking the first 2 games. But Drew came back well for the next two as he ripped the momentum away to tie it up and then jump to a 7-3 lead in the 5th. And there it unraveled. It was last point Peter lost and he rolled off the next 8 rallies to snatch a very important win for the DAC. The other semi had John Rakolta [pictured right] as the underdog against Andy Effler. If John could win, the Cup would be ours. But it was a huge task. John, however, played the almost perfect tactical game plan as he floated good length and then pushed his backhand drop centimeter perfect above the tin frustrating his opponent to almost tears. The miracle win was not to be as Andy escaped with a 3-2 win and feeling no doubt a huge sense of relief!

As it came down to the final 2 matches of the tournament - A and C division final - the running tallies were calculated. For all of our energy that was focused on beating Toledo, we had completely forgotten - and not really considered - the University Club of Chicago (UCC) to be any threat. But if the UCC player was to win the C draw, and Peter Logan was to win the A draw, there would be a 3-way tie for first place! Would it be once again that games won would be the determining factor for the Cup? This possible nightmare would end up being (thankfully) avoided although not to our favor. The UCC player lost which eliminated them, but then so did Peter Logan which eliminated us. Andy played excellent squash in the final as he found his touch and length and virtually removed all of his unforced errors that haunted him when he played John. There wasn’t much Peter could do as he fell 3-0.

The final team scores:
1. Toledo – 136
2. University Club of Chicago – 132
3. DAC – 128
4. Union League Club of Chicago – 56
5. University of Washington D.C. – 48 (3 players only)
6. Milwaukee – 12 (1 player only)

Saturday night was another delightful evening spent with all the friends we had made as we hopped around the downtown area for another few hours. I am extremely proud of our team and the mutual support they showed each other on and off the court. Something we can definitely build on for the future. Talk for next year’s event may have it in Denver but if that doesn’t happen, there is a good possibility it will be back at the DAC.

Yes, we finished 3rd in the end, but it was a very exciting finish to a superb weekend. And yes, once again Toledo took home the hardware. They won it fair and square, outplayed us (and everyone) and absolutely deserve the credit. So even though Toledo can gloat, flaunt off their victory, walk around with a swagger and sense of entitlement, we at the DAC can take to heart that at least we don’t have to live there.

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