Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I am fully aware that as we head into another season of doubles leagues, everybody who signs up does so with the best intentions. We all want to play, be competitive, develop our game, and enjoy the social side of the sport. However, one of the ongoing problems with the doubles is the amount of subs required and last minute cancellations. Doubles matches cannot be rearranged like the singles league, and too often players (and I) are left scrambling to find replacements at the eleventh-hour – sometimes to no avail. To give you an idea of what I mean, the following are some statistics from the recent 2011 Summer League:

• Out of a total of 48 matches (4 matches a week for 12 weeks), only 3 were played in the entire season that did not require at least one sub.
• Overall, 40% of the players needed to be subbed out. Or, 78 total subs over the 12 weeks at an average of 6.5 subs a week.
• For the Thursday 6-7pm time slot, 60% of the players were subbed out. Over the final 6 weeks, all but 6 players were subbed out. That’s 18 subs out of 24 players, or 75%.
• One player dropped out of the league the day after the schedule was released.
• Incredibly, only 5 of the 48 matches were not played due to a no-show or a sub not being found in time.
• There were 4 no-call-no-shows.
• In three of the four no-shows we had in the summer league, two of the stranded players were already subbing for someone else.
• I do not have a percentage on this, but I know a high number of subs were requested the day of the scheduled matches.

We all know that things come up. The problem will never be 100% solved and subs will always be required, but hopefully we can start to minimize the frequency of them. For the league to be truly successful and for the program to grow, players need to be sure that when they turn up to play a league match, 3 other members will be meeting them.

Here are some suggestions to help everyone – including me – for the doubles league:
• Commit. Easy. You enter the league, you commit yourself to play.
• When you register, look ahead in your calendar at all the upcoming dates. If you know, tell me before I even do the schedule which weeks you will not be available for – then I won’t organize you for those days at all.
• Once I have done the schedule, I send it to you a week before the first round. You are able to see well in advance all the dates you are scheduled for. Enter all your playing dates on your calendar immediately.
• If you are not scheduled for a particular week, let me know if you would be available to sub anyway. To save time, I always try to contact the players that I know will step in. Plus, the more you play, the points you accumulate for the season.
• If you have a conflict, let me know straight away. The earlier I am aware that a sub is needed, the easier it is to find one.
• If you can organize your own sub – brilliant! Take it upon yourself to find someone to step in for you. Then make sure you let me know.
• When I send out the weekly reminder of who is playing, confirm your commitment. It’s peace of mind for the other 3 players, and me.
• If you know your calendar is hectic and commitment level is sporadic at best, DO NOT enter as a regular. Put your name down as a sub only. There are too many people entering the league and playing only 1 or 2 matches at the most for the season.

We all want increased participation on the doubles court, increased competition, and a thriving league. Without your commitment, that will never happen. To be clich̩ Рhelp me help you!

Monday, August 29, 2011


We all know that one of the best DAC parties of the year is “Back to the Club Night”. Over 1000 people, marvelous food, music, dancing… all in all the perfect kick off to the season. It is scheduled for September 24 this year. Unfortunately, it’s the same weekend as the London Squash Tournament. So, if you are not inclined to hang it loose at the DAC, maybe a 3-day jaunt two hours away, playing squash and sipping a few brewskis is more your ticket!

I have played this event the past few years, and let me tell you it is worth every penny. The relationship between our two clubs has grown significantly, they support the DAC Classic in droves and we should be doing the same for their event. It’s only a $70 entry fee, and that also allows you to watch the professionals. They play the semi finals and final on the Friday and Saturday night respectively and it’s guaranteed to be outstanding squash. Ten of the entrants are in the top 100 of the world ranking from 8 different countries, the highest being Kiwi Martin Knight at 48.

Squash aside, this tournament is more than that. Just like our own DAC Classic, the social quality of the event is what draws the players. The London Squash Racquets Club has gone under complete renovation over the summer and I’m guessing it will be even more relaxing than before. You can’t help but walk through the place and want to sit, chat with someone, and drink a cold beer. Just make sure you play your match beforehand! And it’s a great fun town. Pubs and bars are all walking distance, as are the hotels. Speaking of which, the tournament has a deal with the Delta Hotel in downtown London for only $105 / night – cheap if you split with a buddy.

Wanna join me and play? Click on the following link for all the information: http://www.lsrc.ca/nash-cup/102-2011-nash-cup-professional-draw-announcement
The entry deadline is September 17.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Sometimes, we change to keep things fresh, sometimes we change just because we can, and sometimes change is thrust upon us because of impending doom. The latter just happened to be the case with the MSRA (Michigan Squash Racquets Association).

Even though financially the MSRA was pretty healthy, it was a dying entity, barely surviving from year to year, membership was steady but low, and the board was about as opinionated and divided as the Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill. The most prevalent, most turbulent issue being the realignment with US Squash. (See article: http://thesquashjoint.blogspot.com/2011/05/state-of-michigan-squash.html) That problem is now resolved as we are once again back in the US Squash family, but it didn’t happen easily nor without casualties. The board went through an overhaul of sorts and when that happened, things started to finally move along with everybody pushing in the same direction with the same agenda.

I have been attending as many MSRA meetings as possible, and have in fact joined the board. I have to admit, it has been refreshing. Things are actually getting done, motivation to improve and grow is the driving factor. Name change for one – they are now called “Michigan Squash” and have a new logo - as you can see above. The website is also completely new. It has a lot better lay-out than the old one and easier to navigate. Go to: http://www.michigansquash.org/ . The most important aspect of the website will be to keep it up-to-date. Current information needs to be available all the time, and old information removed in a timely manner. Whether this will happen only time will tell, but all board members are responsible for the constant upkeep. However, now that Michigan Squash is together with US Squash again, they can utilize all of their on-line tools in regards to ratings and rankings, tournament software, etc. That should be a huge help.

In another notable improvement, the schedule for the coming up season has already been set. That sounds like a no-brainer, but in recent years the dates for all the tournaments they ran were decided only a few weeks before they started. That’s not to say it may have to be altered later on depending on the availability of the hosting clubs but at least there’s a starting point and tournaments are spread out over the season rather than jammed into a 2-3 month period. The same goes for the travel league itself. In years past, by the time the schedule for that was planned, it gave clubs only about 1 week to register teams, and often the playing schedule was sent out the same week it began! The travel league is another major component of the Michigan Squash agenda, and I will be posting a separate article about that soon. Be prepared for a significant transformation.

All that aside, the most crucial piece of the puzzle lies with YOU – the squash player. Michigan Squash can work as hard as possible, but without membership it will be a lost cause. They rely on people joining and supporting. The way to do it is through the US Squash website. Joining US Squash includes the Michigan Squash membership. Go to: https://www.ussquash.com/functions/index.aspx?id=52 . Some of you may already have an account with US Squash (not membership) if you are (or have been recently) on the box ladders. For a small annual fee your contribution goes a long way for squash in our community.

The street goes both ways. Now that Michigan Squash are doing their part to grow the sport, it’s up to you to do yours.

Friday, August 19, 2011


The last we played the Cross Border Challenge, we received a pasting so callous that we are still removing the tail from between our legs. That 13-4 thrashing was our 8th loss out of 10 attempts. As much as I adore our friends from the south, I still want to dish out a flogging with a malicious smile and evil laugh and then dance a jig while waving the trophy above my balding head… figuratively speaking of course…

Saturday, September 17. We will even have home court advantage. You don’t have brave the tunnel or explain to the U.S. customs officer what squash is! If you are between a 2.5 and a 5.5 level for singles and if you would like to play a match against a Windsor player, register with me no later than Monday, September 12. We also need three doubles teams, but be warned! Generally, we never win any of the doubles matches, so it would be like a lamb to the slaughter… However, miracles have been known to happen and we may snag a rare victory. Either way, we need to front 3 pairs of victims.

Working with Windsor, we will be trying our best to match you up with a player (or players) of equal ability. That said, it may not be possible to do so since it depends on who from their club signs up, so I cannot 100% guarantee a match. Even if you register and miss out, come on down anyway and enjoy the day!

As usual, a keg will be available for all to sample. Matches will start at 2pm. The winning club gets to keep the Cross Border Trophy until the next one is hosted. We usually run two a year (home and home) and the second one for the season is currently penciled in for April (at Windsor). Last year we missed out on the second event in April because we just couldn’t fit it into the schedule.

This is one of the best social squash events of the year. They are strong players and even stronger drinkers. Plus, this is a terrific opportunity to play against someone new. And we need to beat them. Seriously. We really need to beat them…

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Even though you may not want to think about, it’s time to think about it. The next season is bearing down upon us. Labor Day has almost come and gone, another frustrating golf season is almost at an end, the kids are almost back to school, and that squash itch is almost becoming intolerable! A temporary relief for that tingling is the season’s first event: The Doubles Select Tournament!

This is the easiest doubles event you’ll ever enter. It can be very wearisome sometimes trying to find that perfect-match partner so I take all that guess work away from you. All you need to do is register individually and I will find you your “ideal” team mate. Of course, when I say “ideal”, it’s purely a matter of how I end up ranking the players. The strongest ranked player will be matched up with the lowest, the second strongest with the second lowest, and so on. Based on that extremely complex mathematical supposition, we are guaranteed to have all teams turn out with exactly the same standard! Because of that, the knock-out draw can be done completely randomly and I literally pull it out of hat. In other words, no team is seeded – where you fall in the draw is one hundred percent luck.

Here is the small print:
1. All matches will have a deadline for completion. Any match going past that deadline risks being defaulted. It is the player’s responsibility to make sure the match is completed within the time given. DO NOT hold back the tournament.
2. All matches are best of 5 games
3. Prize for the winning team.
4. The DAC accepts no liability for any loss, no matter how painful it may be. Recommendation is to drink a beer and if pain persists in the morning, see your squash pro for a series of lessons!

So sign-up! The tournament is scheduled to start on September 6. I need all entries by Friday September 2. It’s also good to take note, that in the 6 previous years of this event, we have never had a repeat winner. We have had A level to D level victors – virtually everybody has a decent chance. No limit on entries, but we do need an even number… for obvious reasons!

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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