Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Summer League round 6~~

Once again, participation was affected by an unrelated source. This time, it was the fireworks. It’s the downside to being situated in the city. As I drove home, the I-75 was blocked off city inwards, and the traffic was backed up beyond what the eye could see. It wasn’t even 7pm. So, I forgive everyone who decided not to make the trip to the club last night… and I applaud everyone who did.

The biggest mover this week was the “Court Jesters” who made up 12 points on lead leaders “Serves of Steel” to equal their total but are in second place due to one less bonus point. The top three teams look pretty safe, and the fourth finals spot is turning into a three-way battle. Only 3 points separate 4th from 6th and in case of any tie, “Sure to Shank Redemption” currently hold a 2 bonus point advantage over the other two teams. “We Got the Runs” fell further behind the group and are now 10 points out of that play-off position but if they could make up the deficit, their bonus point total is very healthy. As for the “Alcoballics”… well, it isn’t looking good. I guess it’s tough to catch up if two of the eight players in the team are making up more than half their total, and none of the other six have accumulated more than 5 points.

Next week is off due to Independence Day. The final round of the regular season is scheduled for July 11, with the deadline to play all of your matches being July 12. It would be a pity if your team missed the finals by only a point or two because you decided not to play some matches that you could have…

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Summer League round 5~~

It’s always a good idea never to panic when under pressure, or when things get tight, or when deadlines are approaching and tasks need to get completed. However, in this case it may be time for a couple of the teams to start doing exactly that!

Only seven matches were played yesterday and none of teams appear to have much desperation to get as many results in as possible. There are only 3 weeks left before the cut-off date (July 12), and that includes the Independence Day holiday weekend where I am sure many of you will be away on vacation.

The top 2 teams seem to have their finals berth secured, and the “Court Jesters” in 3rd place are probably pretty safe as well although not too comfortably. The other 5 teams will be tussling for the last play-off spot and even the last placed team “Alcoballics” who are averaging less than 7 points per round have a fighting chance to get there.

A couple of nice results for the players yesterday included James Van Dyke’s (“Hit Me With Your Best Shot”) 3-0 win over Patrick Petz (“Court Jesters”). All three games were very close, and James had to crawl back after falling behind in each of them. Patrick was of course disappointed with the score as he failed to close out the games he very well could have won and even though fitness played a part, I am sure it was a mental block too. We have all been there – it is easy to get defensive after building a lead rather than to continue on with the same attitude and game plan that got you there in the first place. It’s a hurdle we all need to overcome at times. Mental toughness needs to be practiced just like your racquet skills.

Another tough match was Jeff Jardine (“Court Jesters”) and Brian Schrage (“Hit Me With Your Best Shot”). I managed to record the last half of the second game as you can see below. Brian won that game but went down in the other two. There was a lot of scrambling around the court!

So two weeks to go. Three weeks to do them in. Start organizing.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Timed-Handicap-Quiz Tournament
Wednesday, July 13

Have you ever played 1 game – not a match – that lasted 20 minutes? You may think to yourself “Sure!” but time can get very skewed when your heartbeat feels like it’s pushing out through your eardrums and the oxygen supply on the court feels like it’s been sucked out. When I ran those court conditioning sessions it was rather startling (and somewhat amusing I have to admit) how the self-imposed sufferers would appeal to my sympathetic trait for mercy 30 seconds into a 1-minute exercise believing my stop-watch most certainly was running too slowly. (I, of course, have no sympathetic trait so it never worked…Muwahahaha!) On the other side of the coin, I have played some matches that have felt like being in a time warp. The match may have taken two hours, but it certainly didn’t feel half that long while I was on court.

In this unique tournament format, you will be placed onto one of two teams. If possible, I will match you up with an opponent of equal standard, but if that isn’t feasible then handicaps will be issued to the lesser player. Using point-a-rally scoring, each match will be one continuous game of 20 minutes. No time-outs, no resting, no walking off to get a drink, in short - no stopping! I know it doesn’t sound like that long, but it may surprise you.

Now, after all the matches are completed each team will be handed a quiz. The questions will be based on your knowledge of squash, this club, and general bits and pieces. Each question will be worth a certain amount of points.

The winning team will the one with the most combined points from the squash and quiz. (The highest squash point score from each team will be discarded). And, for being so fit and smart, each member of the wining team will get a prize! They will be able to choose a gift from the pile of ‘stuff’ I’ll be collecting from around the club. Right now, I have no idea what that ‘stuff’ might be. Depends on what the departments want to shed!

There will also be a keg available so the members of the losing team can still drink even though they should probably be on the court practicing or in the library studying.

Want to play (and think)? Details are:
• Tournament is on Wednesday, July 13
• Matches start at 5pm
• Depending on entries, event should run to about 7.30pm.
Keg available
• No entry fee
Registration deadline is Monday, July 11
• Minimum 16 players required

E-mail me your entry. And hit the books.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Since this guy has made significant strides over the past 12 months with his squash, and his name keeps on popping up in the winner’s column, I figured I would lay him on the couch and plummet deep into his inner child. His competitive nature makes him a difficult opponent and he is also a quick study in understanding the game. Recent success has also motivated him to play even harder. How hard? We’ll see.


The Squash Joint (TSJ): When I first met you, you were training for and doing triathlons. Did you take up squash as a way to keep fit, and did you find the fitness level required to play squash competitively harder or easier than you expected?

Anthony Fracchia (AF): I actually started playing squash a few years before I started training for triathlons. I started playing in 2000 when I was on a consulting project in Calgary, Alberta. Our client was wondering why we were playing racquetball and invited us to learn/play squash with them. After one game I was hooked, I never played racquetball again… I played on an off (and by “off” I mean 3 to 4 years) until I joined the DAC. Once I joined the DAC I started playing more consistently.

TSJ: When did the squash ‘bug’ bite you? Immediately? Or only after a while? What do you think is the reason?

AF: I definitely bit me the minute I played my first game. I though I was in great shape at the time and that first game absolutely destroyed me – It was love at first swing 

TSJ: Winning is of course addictive. You won the 3.5 Club Championships in May without dropping a game, and have scored some wins over 4.5 players in box ladder play too. What is your goal with your squash? How far do you believe you can go up the rankings? (Don’t be modest now…!)

AF: I am an extremely competitive person by nature (please reference footage of my demeanor during my tournament matches ). I didn’t really know where I fit in with respect to my level of play until I joined the DAC. I feel that if I can play on a more consistent basis, and with players that are a bit stronger than me, I can compete at the 4.0 and 4.5 level. My goal for right now is to win the 4.0 or 4.5 DAC Championships next year.

TSJ: Who is your ultimate sports hero and why?

AF: I’ve got to go with Steve Yzerman on this one. Stevie Y is, in my opinion, the epitome of what a respectful, classy, and hard working professional sports player should be. In an environment driven by money and greed he stayed with the Detroit Red Wings his entire playing career. I’ve had the chance to meet him on a few occasions and he is a very kind and modest person.

TSJ: You die and land in Hell. (Hypothetically, of course!) Knowing how competitive you are, Satan cuts you a break and decides to let you play a sport for all eternity. However, it’s the one sport and opponent you detest the most. What sport is that and who are you playing against?

AF: I am playing cricket against the Duke men’s basketball team, and they are kicking my ass!

TSJ: Okay, God realizes he made a mistake and instantaneously transports you into heaven. As compensation for your troubles, he resurrects you on Earth but in a different era. To what era do you choose and what job will you have?

AF: I would be resurrected in the 1930’s and I would be a jazz musician during the American birth of improv jazz – I get to play with Charlie Parker, the Dizz, Thelonius Monk, Duke, Miles… the whole gang. I would do my best to not become addicted to heroin 

TSJ: By the way you look after yourself, I am presuming you eat well. Do you have a specific diet that you keep, and is there a particular food or meal you prefer to eat before competition?
AF: I have always eaten well and the “good” food I choose to eat actually tastes good to me now. I have an insatiable appetite which results in me eating 6 to 7 meals per day. Whenever possible, I try to stick to the general rule that if I cannot recognize or pronounce the ingredients in the food, I do not eat it. I do not have any special meal that I eat before a match but my “go to” meal before a big race is pizza and micro brews!

TSJ: Along that theme, you are dying of starvation. Your only choice to eat is at a fast food chain restaurant. Which restaurant do you choose and what do you order?

AF: That’s easy, KFC chicken strips with ranch dressing

TSJ: What is the one shot on the squash court you love to play? What is the one you hate to play? What is the one shot you dislike your opponents playing?

AF: The one shot I love to play is the mid-court boast after hitting rails for most of the match. My opponent usually (or “hopefully”) cheats a little bit and if I can pull it off - it’s usually a guaranteed point. The one shot I hate to play is the lob when I am running up to get a drop – I can never hit the lob deep enough. The shot I dislike my opponents playing is the same shot I love to play – the mid-court boast. I am usually out of position and don’t even try to get it.

TSJ: We are at a night club. What song motivates you to get you on the dance floor and bust-a-move? Do you need a few drinks in you before that happens? What are you drinking?

AF: Another easy one, “Give it to me” by Jay-Z and Pharrell. I am on my third single malt scotch and am convinced that I am the funniest person in the bar

TSJ: What motto do you live your life by?

AF: You can accomplish any goal you set if you are willing to put in the necessary work and make the necessary sacrifices

TSJ: For the last question, I like to ask the most crucial one and get you to man up… Do you cry at movies, and if so which movie(s) made you cry? Be honest now!

AF: I will man up for TSJ on this one and speak the truth on this one… Years ago I was at home, by myself, and there was nothing on TV. I came across a movie called “Dad” with Jack Lemmon and Ted Danson which is about a successful, self-indulgent son who has to watch after his estranged and aging father after his mother suffers a heart-attack. There were a few scenes where I got a little misty… I haven’t watched it since.

Even though he has insulted Australia’s national sport of cricket, I would like to pass on a big ‘thank you’ to Anthony for opening himself candidly up to us! I know he expects great things from himself so those upper level players should start taking notice – he’ll be gunning for you! If you ever find yourself on court with him, be prepared to run hard and try not to set him up for his mid-court boast… easier said than done of course. Otherwise you could hand him a trumpet and maybe he’ll get distracted….

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Summer League round 4~~

Boom-da-da-boom-da-boom-boom-boom!” Did you hear that? It’s the sound of me beating the same ol’ tune off the same ol’ drum. I call it, “Play Your Matches” in D minor. Needs a little work, but I was never musically inclined. I’m also working on a piece called “Collect Your Bonus Points”, but I can’t decide whether to do it on the drum or the accordion…

Serves of Steel” certainly don’t need any motivational jingles in either of those 2 titled categories. They lead the league in both of them. Together with second placed “Volleybrawlers”, they have played 20 out of a possible 28 matches through the first four rounds, and have accumulated 17 bonus points. “We Got The Runs” also have 17 bonus points, but are over 20 points behind the leaders and sit 5th overall. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the last team on the ladder – the “Alcoballics” - has the fewest bonus points (9), and has played the fewest matches with only 11. In fact, the “Alcoballics” have only picked up a total of 5 points over the past two rounds. Even with that startling statistic, they are only 11 points out of a finals berth. But they better start to get on court.

At over the half way mark of the regular season, Alan Howard (“Serves of Steel”) leads all other league players with 15 points, and is yet to drop a single game. His team mate Doug Troszak is second with 13 and Manny Tancer (“The Balled and the Beautiful”) has 12. Only four players so far have collected all 4 bonus points.

The video clip is from the first game from the match between Matt Jarboe (“Hit Me With Your Best Shot”) and Robin Basil (“Alcoballics”). Matt won this match 3-0 handing Robin his first loss of the season.

Three weeks to go. Plenty of time to get your matches in. “Boom-da-da-boom-da-boom-boom-boom!”

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Summer League round 3~~

From 8th – and last by a country mile – to 4th in one week. “Sure to Shank Redemption” almost doubled their score overnight to put themselves in play-off contention with a healthy showing in round 3 of the Summer League. With Arnaud Mangin winning 3-0, Tom Healy winning 2-1, and 2 other players picking up another game each, adding on the 5 bonus points, the team added 12 points which was 3 more than the next best “Volleybrawlers” who also improved their standings to second.

In a league first, in the match-up between “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and “Alcoballics”, they secured themselves a big fat bagel for the night – not one match played, or one bonus point earned. Unsurprisingly these two teams now sit in the last two spots on the ladder.

The video clip is of Brien Baker (“Volleybrawlers”) versus Blake Ellis (“Sure to Shank Redemption”) during their first game. Brien took that one, then the guys split the next two giving Brien the 2-1 victory. There are a lot of short rallies in the clip making the squash a little messy and jerky, but the players settled in afterwards and ran themselves ragged for the second and third.

Now I know that the very well attended annual golf outing clashed with this round and a handful of squash players took part. But I’m not buying it as an excuse. Everybody has had plenty of time to organize their match since round 2 two weeks ago. And believe it not, time is already running out. Round 4 next week is past half-way. Even though you have until July 12 (inclusive) to have your matches done, it’s a mere 5 weeks away… Finals start on July 18.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I am sure many of you will be able to connect to this! I am fully aware at how complicated learning the squash technique can be and the coordination required to do it smoothly and consistently. The Squash Poet feels that agony too. I wonder if these words bring back any nightmares you might have after lessons with me!

In my determination to improve
The logical choice was to take some lessons
But my money should have been spent
On a loaded “Smith and Wesson”.

From the outside it looks so easy
A gentle stroll from shot to shot
But the ball it moves so quickly
And my fat backside definitely cannot!

The technique has endless components
I can’t possibly remember them all
When I concentrate on any of it
I forget to hit the ball!

I’ve worked and sweat like never before
Never thought it could be so grueling
Even after the warm-ups
I was dribbling and drooling.

I now respect the game immensely
And the players who are the best
But amid all of my complaining
I have unquestionably progressed.

The Squash Poet

My Squash Lessons

I took a series of lessons with our hot new squash pro,
A star on the tour which was not long ago,
I was desperate to learn all the tricks of the trade,
My play has been awful for almost a decade.

How do I hit that ball always straight?
Why do my opponents always anticipate?
Teach me how to avoid hitting out,
And what on earth is a ‘corkscrew’ about?

So I took to the court expecting the best,
But it didn’t take long before I was really depressed,
I knew my game needed help all along,
But was every aspect of my technique so wrong?

On your toes, racquet up, watch the ball, to the ‘T’,
To hit it straight, hit in line with your front knee,
Not too close, not too far, turn your hips, face the wall,
Weight forward, perfect balance, but hang on! That’s not all!

Make sure you swing through but follow-through very straight,
Don’t turn your hips… Whoops! Too late!
Try it again, but keep your trunk very still,
Now repeat a thousand times to master this skill!

Just as I thought I was getting command,
He switches up sides and we start on my backhand,
The movement is the same – it’s a piece of cake!
Just make sure that your wrist doesn’t break!

Having a cocked wrist seems an impossible task,
And by now I’m wishing I bought my hip flask,
Run forwards, now backwards, now side-step and skip,
And while we’re at it, let us change up your grip!

The boasts and cross-courts have me completely perplexed,
Reading a ball off three walls appears terribly complex,
Don’t run to the corner, don’t scoop, bend your knees,
Turn your hips, racquet back, hit a boast if you please.

Head up, concentrate, get in front, then attack,
When you’re in trouble hit a lob, to the ‘T’ then comeback,
Hit it hard and then soft, hit fast and slow,
Take the volley, let it bounce, hit high and then low.

I took all this advice and worked hard on my game,
My hot new pro was right, my squash would never be the same,
I thought and I calculated, I concentrated and added,
But now the four walls that surround me are padded!

The Squash Poet

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