Tuesday, November 29, 2011


On Wednesday, December 14, get ready for the next Beer Challenge “Celebrity Keg Match”. This is where I grab two mates who are also gracious rivals on the court, throw them into the squash arena to test just how good their friendship is as they battle it out to see who will be left with paying for the keg.

Just for kicks and giggles, I will also organize a game for anyone interested in playing too. I will split everyone up into 2 teams and attempt to give you an opponent of equal strength as you play a best of 5, no-holds-barred, all-out, no-mercy, match. At the end of the day, which team wins is utterly insignificant as you are not held responsible for paying for the beer, just responsible for drinking it. Last year we had 32 registrations, so let’s see if we can top it.

Once all the “inconsequential” bouts have finished, and you have all (re)filled your mugs, it is time to pull up a chair, or piece of carpet, relax, and get excited for the main attraction…

Let’s get ready to rummmmblllllle…!

In the right corner, weighing in at an even 200 pounds and a wing span that would rival a 747, hailing from the remote jungle areas of St. Clair Shores, coming in with a 2011 record of 19 wins, 17 losses, and 5 hang-overs, the “menace-that-played-tennis”, he’s “jolly-when-he-volleys”,… BRIEN – “why-isn’t-my-name-spelt-with-an-a” – BAKER!


In the left corner, weighing in at a bulky 185 pounds and a t-shirt 2 sizes too small, residing in the dangerous dank corners of Grosse Pointe Woods, boasting an impressive 2011 record of 36 wins, 15 losses, and not one single ‘let’ call, the “racquetballer mauler”, the “hustle with the muscle”,… MATT – “watch-me-do-court-sprints” – JARBOE!

Action a plenty is guaranteed when Brien and Matt start whacking away. Matt has won their past 5 meetings and appears to have that mental edge. But with a keg on the line, things are sure to be more intense than usual.

Registration deadline is Monday, December 12 if you would like to play. If not, come on down anyway and watch the carnage… I mean bloodshed… I mean massacre… ummm beer and squash.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


In the squash community, the PST (Pro Squash Tour) seems to be a little like the New York Yankees – you either love ‘em, or you hate ‘em. Ever since Joe McManus started this tour about 18 months ago with the no ‘let’ rule, controversy has ensued. The tour is growing rapidly, and PSA ban their players from competing; the rule itself has met much criticism, and from what I read on the squash forums, some (if not most) of that disparagement is from people who have never seen the rule in action and simply speculate. Even I wrote a disapproving article without ever witnessing it. But now, I have personal experience from watching and playing in the recent PST tournament held in Cleveland.

As I feared, my draw was not particularly kind. Recently retired from the world tour when ranked number 9, David Palmer’s PST debut was me. It was an experience to cherish. Not too many players can boast about playing a match with such a legend of the sport, and through the entire 3 games we played, through the agony of exploring every single square millimeter of the floor boards, through the torture of oxygen deprivation as David extended the rallies at will, the wobbly knees, the circling stars, I played well and adored every second of it. In case you’re wondering, I lost (du’h!) 14-12 (had him 10-8…!), 11-5, 11-6.

Interference in our match was rare. With the guillotine of the referee’s ‘no-let’ decision hanging on every call, asking for a let in the first place is a risk. Unless you are sure it’s a stroke, you need to get used to playing the ball. Putting the shoe on the other foot, the fear of the ‘stroke’ for not clearing properly definitely makes you take that extra step away to allow your opponent in. It takes a little to get accustomed to. David asked for one let in the first game, and I asked for one in the third and we both instantaneously knew we should not have done so. Both lets were denied and rightly so. Under normal rules, these calls were 100% lets, and 30+ odd years of playing that way makes it a tough habit to break when requesting a let on such trivial interference situations.

I watched the other 3 quarter final matches, the 3rd / 4th playoff and the final (I missed the semis) and paid close attention to the no ‘let’ rule and the affect on the squash. The word that came to mind was… “refreshing”. Of all the matches I watched, there may have been a total of 25 requests for lets. If that. Play was continuous, that is, rallies were not being interrupted by constant appeals from the players. Because of that, because of the players making an overall greater effort to play the ball and clear, many of the rallies were rather spectacular, athletic, long, and the reaction from the crowd was extremely positive. PST rules are also extremely strict on player behavior. There is a no tolerance position on arguing, verbal or racquet abuse. This is of course does not stop all the issues – but eliminates 95% of it. Players still get emotional, and those emotions can get the better of them. But compared to what I have regularly witnessed at PSA events, it was absolutely no comparison.

But before you all think I’ve been sold on the rule, I’m not. Not yet anyway. It is not a perfect system and there are still issues. Although abolishing any replay of the rally, there is still one common denominator you cannot escape from no matter what system is used: the referee. The PST rule actually puts the referee in a more stressful position. Now, when a player asks for a let, the referee is the one who must decide who wins the rally. There is no easy way out with a “yes-let”. If the score is 10-all in the 5th, such a call becomes incredibly crucial.

PST implements side judges for a challenge system too. Players are allowed 3 challenges per match – much like the NFL. Once the central referee makes a decision, a player can choose to challenge it to the side judges. If the side judges overrule the central referee, the player keeps the 3 challenges. The challenges do ease the pressure off the referee a little, but only slightly. I witnessed 3 calls that were overturned during the event (that I remember), and probably about the same that were upheld. But once a player has exhausted their challenges, the pressure returns squarely on the referee.

I am still convinced that some interference situations are simply ‘let’. Even though the amount of lets called over the tournament was (refreshingly) minimal, when the calls come up, some of the decisions were incredibly harsh if not bizarre. And, given the 2 options of ‘stroke’ or ‘no-let’, in some cases I had no idea. I guess the referee didn’t either. But he had to choose one. That’s where the system broke down for me. Thankfully, such situations were relatively scarce.

I do not have a solution. You cannot have it both ways. The spectators were thrilled with the show. I did not hear one single negative comment about the refereeing – at all. The referee was called upon to make a decision infrequently, and it was only a handful of those I found the decision perplexing. I have watched numerous PSA matches where the amount of lets, fishing, blocking, the arguing, gesturing, rudeness, disrespect towards the referee, was nauseating and the audience were not pleased. You could hear the murmurings, the jeers. Even if the squash was fantastic, the antics watered it down.) On one hand, the PST rule forces the players to go for (just about) every ball, the squash flows and the quality of the game reflects positively. On the other hand, the rule brings out some bewildering calls.

My verdict? An A-. I think Joe and the PST are well on the way. It works. The quality of the squash unquestionably outweighs the rare odd decision. All you have to do is speak to the people in the audience. Their comments are all about the squash, not the refereeing incidents. Over time, I am sure that these decisions will improve anyway as the referees understanding gets better.  Not only that, as more sponsors jump on board, more money becomes available, more players will join the tour. The quality of the squash will improve. Joe is constantly looking at ways to develop, tweak, further, the tour. The tour is for the fans, and the fans – who are the sponsors and are paying the bills - loved it. The DAC is in for a treat come May 2012.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Boasters League round 7~~

Now, that’s more like it. Maybe because it’s getting closer to the end of the first half, or maybe because Thanksgiving is next week and people need to feel they can justify porking out on turkey and stuffing by playing plenty of squash leading up to it, but either way the past 7 days have turned in an abundance of scores. Surprisingly, none more than the “O’Blivions”.

I haven’t been terribly kind to team “O’Blivions” over recent weeks due to their lack of play, but they picked up over 30 points through the week, including 8 bonus points last night, 3 more than their previous best. Their reward was to drag themselves out of last place to second last place (that dubious honor is now held by team “Vivio’s”) and as minimally gratifying as that sounds, they have in fact put themselves within reaching distance of the teams above them. They are still 24 points off second place, but that’s significantly better than the 42 points that separated them last week! “1st Place Lounge” still enjoys top standing and has increased their lead to 20 points over “Old Shillelagh” who now will have to endure the bye in week 8.

I expect (hope!) that since round 8 is not scheduled for 2 weeks, that players will take this golden opportunity to make up as many matches as possible. There is only 1 player in the league that has managed to complete all their matches so far and remain undefeated – Ted Mabley (“Town Pump”). As more results come in however, additional names may be added to this list but to have only one out of the 108 (for now) is a little unusual.

So enjoy your turkeys and family, enjoy watching the Lions win - although they are playing the Packers who are more than overdue for a bad performance, but make sure you get your matches done!

Monday, November 14, 2011


Ah yes! Nothing signifies Christmas more than the sound of jingle bells in the background, the merry “Ho! Ho! Ho’s!” of the pretend Santas lining the street corner, images of decorated trees, large mountains of presents, the sweet harmony of carolers, a light powdery snow drifting down in the fresh cool air, laughing faces of young children without a care in the world… and the deafening sound of squash balls thwacking the front wall with half drunk members yelling and carrying on, sweating, drinking, throwing racquets, insults, and obscenities!

The 8th Annual Holiday Tournament is scheduled for Friday, December 2. Matches start at 5pm. If you are interested in playing a lot of squash, drinking a few beers, and receiving an early Christmas present, then take note of the following…

v  Maximum 24 players. We limit it to this number, otherwise you will be playing until midnight, and probably empty the keg prematurely.
v  Minimum 14 entries. This is to justify the keg in the first place.
v  Each player will get 4 matches. This is so you will feel better when drinking all that beer. And also feel like you actually deserve the Christmas gift you will receive.
v  Entry fee. All players will need to bring a wrapped Christmas present (minimum value $20) as an entry fee. If you want to take home a Christmas gift at the end of the tournament, you will need to bring one to give away! At the end of the matches, players will choose their present in order of the final rankings. In the spirit of the holidays, everybody wins!!
v  Banned substances list. Most of the gifts end up being alcoholic in nature (no surprise there!) However, if you are so inclined to be creative and bring something other than rocket fuel, DO NOT be a Grinch and bring anything on this list:

o   Cash
o   Viagra
o   Muffins
o   Potpourri
o   Canary Yellow DAC t-shirt.

All of these have been offered in previous years and did not go down very well.

v  Don’t forget about your lovable, adorable, fantastic, borderline perfect squash pro when buying gifts… hee, hee…

Now the format of the event is unique, but basically everybody gets 4 matches, most likely against opponents of varying standards, no handicapping, each match will be 2 games to 15 points. Players of all levels are welcome to enter. Make sure you register before the deadline which is November 29 or until capacity has been reached.

Friday, November 11, 2011

PST Land a Big Fish

The end of season PST (Pro Squash Tour) Tournament being held at the DAC from May 4-6, 2012 just became a lot more attractive. The PSA (Professional Squash Association) still ban their players from competing in any PST event, so it is difficult for the PST to attract top world class talent. PST have been continuously signing players to their tour, but up until now they have – for the most part - been either top college players, elite juniors, or teaching pros. A very good standard, don’t get me wrong, but it isn’t top 20 material.
Not any more.

As of November 11, PST has signed current world number 9 – Australian David Palmer – to commit to playing their tour. His career is choc-o-bloc with titles including 2 World Opens and 4 British Opens, and he has been ranked number 1 in the world. His first PST appearance will be in Cleveland from November 16-19 – a tournament I will also be playing in. Hopefully, the organizer will show a little mercy and not make me his first PST victim!

On November 4, the 35-year old Palmer announced his retirement from the PSA moments after losing the quarter finals of the World Open. This is simply the logical step to the next stage of his career in order to continue to earn money by playing tournaments. And Palmer is still a phenomenal player. Undoubtedly, he will be a huge draw card to any tournament, PSA or not, so for someone of his stature to exclusively join the tour is an enormous boost for PST founder Joe McManus. This will certainly help in sponsorship deals and tour marketing. For the DAC, to have David Palmer turning up to play in May is nothing short of a gigantic enhancement for our members and tremendously sweetens the deal for our sponsors. I guarantee more people will be tuning in to watch the live webcasting of the event if Palmer is on court.

The PSA most likely doesn’t care one way or another what Palmer does after retirement. But it may start to raise eye-brows of other players. I have no idea of the earning potential Palmer has on the PST tour, but I bet it must be attractive. He at least takes home the remarkable deal McManus offered to the first top ten player to sign a multiyear contract with the tour.  That offer was for $100,000. And, let’s face it; the PST tournaments are easier on the body. He can play for longer, there is currently less competition for him, so this should extend his tournament career for a number of years.

So how long will it be before PSA players start to recognize that they would be able to earn a good – if not better - living playing tournaments if they jumped to the PST ship? Especially the players ranked outside the top 16, most of who are probably struggling to cover their costs from tournament to tournament. They may look at someone like Palmer – and aging vet – earning more money and getting wider exposure (in the US), extending his playing career, and think that they would like a piece of his large slice of pie, rather than stressing through the brutal PSA schedule, travelling ridiculous distances, with very little comparative financial rewards. And what about the other ‘aging’ touring PSA players like Lincou, or El Hindi nearing the end of their careers? It would certainly be something for them to consider.

One thing is for sure. PST is growing. PST has landed its first big fish and it most likely won’t be a question of if anymore will follow Palmer, but who and when.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Boasters League round 6~~

I guess all the teams were quite content where they stood last week since there was only 1 move on the ladder for round 6. And that only occurred because the “Speakeasys” had the bye and were overtaken by “Old Shillelagh”. A few matches have been made up in the past 7 days, but none of the teams are making any significant push. Only 13 matches were completed for round 6 – out of a total of 48 – and once again the last placed “O’Blivions” just are not making an appearance. They have collected a total of 10 points in the past two rounds, including only 4 bonus points. What more can I say about that except, “huh?”

Of the 13 matches, 10 of them had a 2-1 score line. Bob DuMouchelle (“The Tap Bar”) picked up his third win with a close victory over Chato Hill (“Jacoby’s”). Chato had Bob stranded many a time with his very well placed and feathery drop shots that would barely touch the front wall less than an inch above the tin, but luckily for Bob, Chato couldn’t hit enough of them! Dane Fossee (“Old Shillelagh”) suffered through his first defeat of the season losing to Matt Hayduk (“Anchor”) and no longer holds the lead for the most points in the league. That honor now goes to Ted Mabley (“Town Pump”) who with 18 points is also 6 for 6 in his matches. Andrew Tignanelli (“1st Place Lounge”) is second with 17, Dane now has 16.

Second placed “Town Pump” has the bye next week so they will be hard pressed to hold onto that spot. Then is the week of Thanksgiving where the league takes a rest and gives everybody a chance to catch up on their missed matches. Only 11 players out of the 108 have played every match so far so there are plenty of points for all the teams to amass. Keep in mind the December 9 deadline. No excuses… or exceptions!

Monday, November 7, 2011


Windsor Tournament Nov 4-6

I could not be prouder. Well, I could be if we had won every category but that would be asking a little much. For the longest time I have been pleading to the squash membership to support the local tournaments in our area in a similar fashion that the outside community support ours. And finally the call was answered. For the Windsor Fall Down Classic, we had 15 – yes, fifteen – members represent the DAC! Nothing short of a sensational effort. (And if you count me, it would be 16!)
The Walking Dead: Sante Fratarcangeli
and Alan Howard enjoying a beer.

With so many players, you would think that we just must win at least one category, right? It reminds me a bit of the zombie apocalypse. If you are confronted by just one zombie, it’s not very difficult to kill it. But have 15 come at you, and chances are at least one will reach its goal. The D draw was dominated by DAC players. By Sunday morning, all that was left standing in the semi finals were our members. (Our zombies got through!) It was a lock. It was also very tough squash. Both semi finals were brutal 5 set matches with Sante Fratarcangeli beating Walter Fisher and Alan Howard surviving Mark Monaghan 16-14 in the 5th game. Taking into consideration that both of them also played the C draw, I’m not sure how much fitness played a part in the final, but I can’t imagine Alan’s or Sante’s legs felt terribly fresh. Alan took the first game before Sante picked up his game and managed to roll off the next 3 to take the title. By the time I turned up on Sunday, both players were enjoying their after match amber refreshment with dreamy smiles…

Keeping on a winning note, Peter Logan teamed up with ex-DAC member Mark Eugeni in the Doubles A. A formidable team no doubt, but looking through the draw it seemed they were the only ones. Competition was light for them and they slaughtered everybody 3-0 on the way to an easy victory.

The next best result came from Ken MacDonald in the C draw. Ken has been struggling of late with his form but it appeared he hit himself out of it. He reached the semi finals before surrendering 3-2 and mentioned he was relatively pleased with his performance.

Not to downgrade anyone else’s endeavors because everyone pushed themselves to win as best they could – as they should. But again I repeat how thrilled I was to see so many DAC faces. The other members that entered were: Anthony Fracchia (won a match in the A draw and lost the quarters of B’s in 5); Andy Adamo; John Roarty; Paul Ward (lost semi final of the B cons); Justin Jacobs (lost the final of the C cons in 5); Patrick Petz; Rich Stimson; David Devine; and John Dunwoody. I played the very small 5-man Open draw and won the final 3-0 over Mark Eugeni. Thank you to the members who stayed and watched the match.

Hopefully, this wasn’t a flash in the pan. The next local tournament that I know of is actually our own – the DAC Classic – from February 9-12, but there will be another Windsor event end of March and you can’t forget about the Toledo Classic either at the start of March. I expect a lot of our members to play our event, but if we could get another 10-15 to the others as well, we’ll be looking rather pristine. I can’t tell you enough how much playing these events helps your squash.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Boasters League round 5~~

Two weeks ago, team “Anchor” were dead last. It’s always difficult to get the bye week in round 1 because you are forced to play catch-up the whole season long. Now, team “Anchor” is 6th, and going on the results from last night, if they manage to make up most of their matches they should be in contention for league leaders by the end of the first half.

Anchor” played the first placed “1st Place Lounge” and although they only had six results come in, “Anchor” won 5 of them. However, to “1st Place Lounge’s” credit, they continue to dominate the rest of the teams in bonus points collecting another 8 and despite the results on the score sheet last night, managed to increase their lead on top of the standings to 17 points. They will need to maintain a significant advantage until the final round when it is their turn to sit on the sidelines and watch everyone else draw closer.

For the first time this season, “O’Blivions” has the unenviable ‘honor’ of cellar dwellers. Not that it should surprise anyone since they picked up only 3 points. Together with “Vivio’s” they have the second least amount of bonus points with a paltry 14 – that’s 3 ½ a week on average. “Vivio’s” are second last. Team “Jacoby’s” have an amazingly low 12 bonus points and are 3rd last. Go figure.

Individually, Dane Fossee (“Old Shillelagh”) continues to impress and remain undefeated after a 3-0 victory over Dan Sporka (“O’Blivions”) and now leads the league with the most points overall (14), sharing that distinction with Andrew Tignanelli (“1st Place Lounge”). Paul Huth (“Jacoby’s”) handed Scott Adlhoch (“Speakeasys”) his first loss of the season beating him 2-1, and Tom Delaney (“Vivio’s”) was pleased to take the first 2 games off Niko Ahee (“Town Pump”) before finally succumbing to him in the 3rd game.

Only 4 rounds to go, plus one rest week because of Thanksgiving, and everyone has until December 9 to play their matches. Yes, that’s 5 weeks away. But I guarantee you; a lot of you will be wishing you had more time…

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Here are some more devilishly difficult quiz questions to answer. (If you missed the first round of questions, you can click on them here: http://thesquashjoint.blogspot.com/2010/08/squash-shots-vi.html .) And just like before, there are no correct answers so you absolutely cannot fail...

1. Squash is addictive because…
a) Nothing beats chasing a rubber black ball in an enclosed space with a racquet while suffering from  oxygen deprivation
b) We lace the water with cocaine
c) Addictive? It’s a damn vegetable. Yugh!
d) It challenges body and mind to the extreme
e) Its another excuse to get out of the house
f) There is always a keg handy when you finish playing

2. The reason you call a ‘let’ is…
a) You can’t get the ball back
b) Your opponent has hit a winner
c) Habit
d) You’ve had a bad day and you’re in the mood for an argument
e) Interference
f) The keg is empty

3. The red line is…
a) Part of your sobriety test before you drive home from the club
b) Out
c) Annoying
d) Amazingly easy to hit
e) In – for yourself only
f) Your serve’s worst enemy
g) Too low
h) A ball magnet

4. Where would the DAC build new squash courts?
a) Dream on… I am…
b) See a)
c) See b)
5. How can we make the DAC Classic even bigger?
a) Build more squash courts
b) Play 24/7
c) Use Windsor
d) Use a larger font
e) Start the event a week earlier
f) Over my dead body

6. What are the 3 fundamentals all squash players have to master?
a) Racquet up; Back to the ‘T’; Watch the ball
b) Racquet up; Drink till you drop; Watch the girls
c) Bottoms up; Back to the bar; Put it on Housey’s tab
d) Swing as hard as you can; Hit winners; Win the last rally
e) Don’t swear; Dress neatly; Don’t argue
f) Drink one bourbon; Drink one scotch; Drink one beer
g) Reading; Writing; Arithmetic
h) Play your match; drink a beer; Off to the bars

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