Thursday, August 4, 2011


New to squash, but not new to a court. The Club Championships this year featured this young man in the 3.0 draw and he had only played squash about 3 times. All I heard from his opponents before the matches was “who is this guy?”! After the match, they found out. Quick, athletic, fit, unconventional, and always with a smile on his face, he is rapidly earning respect with his squash. He is already the DAC’s best racquetball player.


The Squash Joint (TSJ): Don’t get me wrong, I am ecstatic that you decided to play squash, but why did you register for the squash club championships after only playing a couple of times before? Did you believe you could win the 3.0 division initially? Have you surprised yourself at what level you are already playing?

After playing squash just a few times, I began to truly enjoy the game and the exercise that came along with it. I figured now that I had a squash stick and had two games of experience under my belt, I was primed to play in the club championships. I had absolutely no idea of what level of play I would fit in which meant that I had no expectation of winning or losing, but just playing to have fun. I am not really surprised at my level of play because I still don’t know where I fit in. I have found what I lack in experience and court sense, I make up with speed, racquetball shots that squash players aren’t used to, and the ability to keep the ball alive.

TSJ: You are a very strong racquetball player. Tell us the main differences between racquetball and squash? Even though you have little experience with squash, do you think it is easier or more difficult?

The main differences that I have seen so far between squash and racquetball is the length of the rallies, shot selection strategy, and back wall play. The rallies last much longer in squash because you cannot hit rollout shots which end the rally as you can in racquetball. The shot selection strategies are similar with the rails, cross courts, and most angles, but the differences come with speed, height, and the right time in the rally to hit the appropriate shot. If you hit the ball off the back wall in racquetball, most of the time this will give your opponent an offensive shot to the front wall and this is truly not the case in squash. Also, you have the ability in racquetball if the ball passes you, to hit it off the back wall which gives you time to recover your court position. It is much more difficult to hit the ball off of and into the back wall in squash.

I think that the difficultly of both game depends on your individual weaknesses. For example, I think speed goes farther in squash that racquetball because I don’t care how fast you are, if you hit a bad shot in racquetball, you will pay for it and speed won’t help. Squash is a more physically demanding sport which makes it more difficult to play for a long period of time.

TSJ: You have been captured in Iran. They are torturing you for being a spy and are forcing you to watch the one movie you hate the most over and over again – what movie is that and does it get you to talk?

I cannot say that I hate any particular movie but I can tell you a movie that I kicked myself for going to see. I looked at the previews for one of the Twilight movies and thought it would be an action packed movie with fighting between vampires and werewolves. Boy was I disappointed when I had to walk out in the middle of a crappy love story with no action. I don’t think that it would get me to talk, but I wouldn’t really know until they hit play.

TSJ: The Iranian authorities didn’t like your answers. You have been sentenced to 40 years hard labor. But you get one last meal before your punishment starts and can enjoy it with the person of your choice. What do you order, and who do you spend the night with (your wife isn’t available, she’s out shopping!)

Caesar salad with anchovies on the side, bone-In Rib eye (medium), garlic mashed potatoes, sautéed spinach with peach cobbler for dessert. You’ve got to love that my wife is shopping before I am sentenced to 40 years and too busy to spend time with me. I would have my father enjoy my last meal with me.

TSJ: You have taken a lead role at the DAC with increasing racquetball participation. From experience, it is an uphill battle to say the least. What do you find is the greatest hurdle to overcome with this? What is the fix?

You are absolutely correct that the battle is uphill and I believe it is one worth fighting. My biggest challenge is to get a group of guys to consistently show up. Everyone that we play with leads very busy lives and it is difficult to commit on a weekly basis to show up for racquetball. The only way to grow the sport is to grow friendships and relationships with the people who are playing so that you look forward to playing weekly. We all make time for the things that matter most to us and we are growing a strong group of guys who love to play. There are no quick fixes to increasing participation. I could bore you with a list of problems to growing the participation, but it’s just a bunch of crap, it’s about reaching out and inviting new people to play and spending time playing with them.

TSJ: Earlier this year, you were appointed Michigan’s World Outdoor Racquetball State Director. What is your roll exactly, and do you think your influence can help more racquetball players join the DAC?

I don’t exactly know all of the responsibilities for the new roll but I am excited to take on the challenges that come with it. So far I have been organizing and assisting with outdoor tournaments and growing the sport of outdoor racquetball. I work closely with the World Outdoor Racquetball National Co-Director (Greg Lewerenz) and he is showing me the ropes. Greg is also the individual who introduced me to the game of squash. I hope that more of our outdoor guys would become members of the DAC and getting new members has been an uphill battle for me.

TSJ: Squash tournaments are very social affairs. Are racquetball tournaments the same? Is there a lot of extra-curricular activity that goes on after the matches? Could you tell us any juicy anecdotes?

I am sure that the tournaments for both sports are very similar. Drinking Beer is probably the most popular extra-curricular activity that takes place after tournaments. No juicy anecdotes come to mind but do we ever have guys that talk a lot of trash on and off the court.

TSJ: What is the one fashion statement you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing?

Knickers – I don’t have the golf game to back up the fashion statement.

TSJ: Tell us about the line of business you are in. Has joining the DAC helped your business in any way?

I specialize in providing companies with payroll deduction voluntary benefits and benefit communication / education / enrollment programs. The business and personal relationships that I have developed at the DAC have helped to grow new business and enhance existing business relationships. I have also noticed that just being a member of the DAC gives me tremendous respect and credibility in certain circles.

TSJ: What were your best subjects at school and which were your worst? Were you considered more of a ‘jock’ or a ‘nerd’?

I have always been extremely strong in math which came to me as naturally as walking. History had to be my worst subject even though I didn’t do bad in the classes, but most of the material was as boring as watching paint dry.

TSJ: You have also volunteered at the Racquet Up Detroit program. How did you get involved with it and how has your experience been?

This is another story that involves Greg Lewerenz and this is probably a good point to include that I don’t know how he is on my wife’s approved friend list for me, but he is. Greg, after playing squash with him for my first time, asked me if I would help teach some kids squash. I guess there was some big time squash tournament happening where all of the normal volunteers were playing and couldn’t make it. He told me about the program and it just seemed like a good cause and something that if they needed help, I could do my part in helping. I think that we need more programs like this that give youth / teens productive activities to focus their attention on instead of getting in trouble. Keep this quiet, but I this we probably need programs like this for some adults who could have more productive hobbies.

TSJ: What one piece of advice would you give to any 12 year old?

Go to work!!! I am not talking about a job, but I mean put in the time, dedication, effort, thought time, persistence, practice, prayer and go the extra mile in all aspects of your life. This is even more important in the areas of your life that you wish to be exceptional. If you want to be a great squash player, then put your heart and soul into it!!!! If you want to be a great leader or business person, put everything that you are into it and hold nothing back!!!! Nothing in life comes easy and the harder you work towards the burning desire you have in your heart, the closer you will come until one day your dreams will come true. Don’t slack off and expect things to come!!!

TSJ: Now for the final question. The one that pressures you and tests you to the extreme. Even worse than those Iranian authorities… What did you dress up as when you went trick-or-treating for Halloween?

BATMAN – How ironic because now they call me the “Boy Wonder” when I am playing racquetball. For all those non-batman fans, Boy-Wonder is Batman’s sidekick whose name was Robin.

A big thank you to Robin – I appreciate the time taken to answer all these questions! We hope he sticks with his squash while he keeps on pushing the racquetball agenda at the DAC. Expect him to improve quickly if he does, and become a threat for the upper level guys before too long.

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