Monday, July 30, 2012


Okay. Hashim now starts to talk shop. As expected he starts where the base of many problems stem from – the grip. After all, if you are not holding the racquet correctly, how can you expect to hit correctly? When starting to learn the sport, it is important to take lessons straight away. It is a lot more difficult to establish the correct grip and technique if you have been playing for some length of time and have developed bad habits. I have coached many people who not only hold the racquet incorrectly but have insisted they do not want to change. It’s too uncomfortable and awkward. I know it isn’t easy – nothing is when learning this sport! Holding a racquet the wrong way will affect your power, your accuracy and consistency, your length... the list goes on. I can’t force anyone to do anything, but these people are limiting themselves on how far they can take their squash game.

I am often asked if pros actually change the grip during a match. Although it is preached that changing the grip is a sin, pros do actually change the way they hold the racquet in certain situations – but not the form. They may shorten the grip (hold the racquet higher up the handle) if they find themselves deep in the back corner and have little room to swing the racquet, or open up the grip (open up the racquet face more) in order to get more slice / cut on the ball. This happens naturally with the pros and takes much experience to master. For now, I recommend you stick to the basics. Get the grip right. Go from there.

To see all the blog articles on Hashim, go to: The Hasim Files  

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Joe McManus and his PST (Pro Squash Tour) machine are at it again. Addressing controversial issues head-on and implementing rules in the attempt to squash the problem. (Pun obviously intended.) It has been almost 3 months since the DAC hosted their second World Championship, and still I get members approaching me hopeful that we repeat the event in 2013.

The tournament is a popular topic of conversation. For those who witnessed it first hand, spent personal time with Joe, the players, and the small PST crew, they cannot say enough positive things about it. I can do all the advertising and marketing in the world, but nothing beats the word-of-mouth.

The ‘no-let’ rule won our members over. The debate about how successful the rule is rages on amongst the squash purists and this article isn’t here to add to it. What I will say is that after talking to Derek Aguirre from the Detroit urban squash program “Racquet Up! Detroit” – RUD -, the group of kids he brought along to watch the semi finals were ‘blown away’ by not just the show PST put on (the music, the interviews, the interaction with the players), but also by the intensity of the matches and the infrequent amount of ‘let’ calls. PST gained a handful of young fans that day.

A big part of RUD teachings is behavior. On and off the court. It is basically a zero tolerance. Every single child from the RUD program I have met has been incredibly polite with perfect manners. One of Derek’s fears of taking the kids to pro tournaments is to have them witness player dissent on court. The arguing, the gesturing, the rudeness, is not an image he wants the kids exposed to. They look up to the pro players and want to emulate them. They are sponges and see and hear everything.

During our event at the DAC, player behavior was very good overall. Not perfect, as we did have the sporadic quarrel pop up now and then, but certainly not cringe worthy either. However, it seems that you cannot have one tournament these days go through without some type of player-referee incident. This isn’t (or wasn’t) just a PSA problem – PST has had its spattering of confrontations too. Nothing more infamous than the conduct game awarded against John White for arguing last season during the final of the Albany Open against Bradley Ball that cost him the match.

Now, with the new rule implemented by PST, arguing with the referee will almost be eliminated completely. (I say ‘almost’ because I am sure that in the heat of the moment, some will not be able to help themselves.) There is now a ‘zero tolerance policy regarding dissent’ in all PST tournaments. No more arguing, no more whining, no more wasting time in discussion with the referees. Accept the decision and move on. Or be penalized.

So is this good for the game? I know that some people love to watch players meltdown, go ballistic, throw tantrums, and carry on like five year olds. Watching someone make a complete moron of themselves makes us feel better about ourselves. We point fingers and snicker under our breath. (It’s probably why reality television is so popular!) What would baseball be without the occasional manager blowing a gasket at the umpires and getting tossed from the game? It makes all the highlight reels when it happens.

Another blogger wrote that he had never been to a match where the conduct of the players detracted from the quality of the squash, or he felt he couldn’t bring his own kids to watch. I cannot argue with his opinion, but I certainly cannot say the same thing. I have seen a multitude of matches where the altercations made me wince and feel embarrassed as a fellow squash professional. You see arguments between players and referees all the time. And why? Because even though the referees have the power to stop it immediately, they simply do not have the spine to do so. They allow the ‘talk-back’ to continue and players push the envelope often to the point of becoming downright rude and disrespectful.

Squash has no place for that. I have no problems if a player asks a referee why a certain decision was given in order for that player to adjust in future situations. But once the explanation is given, that’s it; it’s time to move on. PST has taken this step for one main reason and it’s not for the players. PST wants to be confident that if I invite RUD kids to watch, a member is accompanied by his family, or I bring my young daughter to a match, they will not be subjected to misbehavior. If professionals want to be treated as professionals, then they should act accordingly. Respect the game, the referee, the club, the sponsors, and most importantly - the spectators.

Here is the memo sent out to all the PST players regarding this rule: PST Memo
Do you like the new rule?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Summer League Finals~~

I applaud the commitment! This is exactly how the league should be played – with every single player turning up! All of the bonus points were collected, with the exception of one due to a sub, and the result was rightfully decided on the court. They were tough matches. They were close matches. And for “Nightmare on Madison Street”, they were dream results.

Last week, I predicted a win for “Boast-Busters”, and that once again turned into the kiss of death. Not even Patrick Petz’s Irish luck was enough to stop the impressive winning streak of their opponents. It was looking good for a while however, when after the first 2 results came in, “Boast-Busters” took both of them 2-1. Nick Scavone kept his season’s undefeated record alive beating Dave Simmet and Elliot Shafer was strong in his victory over Todd Baker.

Then experience took over for “Nightmare on Madison Street”. Tom Fabbri seems to be getting hungrier by the day and adores feeding off younger rivals. His victim yesterday was Josh Slominski, who has been struggling of late, but Tom wasn’t about to let up and he powered to a 3-0 win. Manny Tancer followed that up as he won the battle of the undefeated number ones taking down the unpredictable styling of Robin Basil 2-1.

Andrew Spohn's win
sealed the deal

Joe Moran steadied the ship for “Boast-Busters” with a 2-1 win over Greg Davis, but it was countered with Al Iafrate getting the better of Patrick Petz also 2-1, and the writing was on the wall. “Boast-Busters” needed to take the final 2 matches of the day to have any chance. Last week’s hero Brian Schrage once again found himself under pressure in a must win situation. This time against Andrew Spohn – who beat Brian 2-1 in their last meeting. Second time around was not a charm for Brian as he went down 3-0, and with that “Boast-Busters” were out of reach. The final match of the evening played anyway and Drew Van Tongeren slopped the icing on “Nightmare on Madison Street’s” cake with a tough 2-1 triumph over Brittany Paquette (subbing for Steve Murphy).

Congratulations to the winners – commiserations to the finalists. And a huge round of applause to all competitors for making this the most active summer league season yet! Now it’s time to enjoy the summer break – leagues start up again in October – but that doesn’t mean you should stop playing! Box ladders are still running, and you have 2 months to work on your game…

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Race Against the Clock Tournament – Friday August 10. Matches start at 5pm.

Squash is intense enough. You are battling your opponent, the court conditions, and yourself physically and mentally. No one needs extra pressure. True, you don’t need it, but I’m piling it on anyway. Now, you will be battling the clock as well.

And your time will be short. Very short. Like these sentences. Each match you have will only be a few minutes long. The time may vary from anywhere between 3 minutes to 10 minutes, and it will be your task to accumulate as many points as possible within that limit. Handicaps may be issued. The format for the event will depend on how many registrations I receive, but I do need at least 15 players to run it. Take heed that as is customary, a keg will be provided for your drinking pleasure.

So, there won’t be much point to extending the rallies, wearing your opponent down, relying on superior fitness level. Racquet skills will be playing a more important role here. You will need to shoot and take a few more risks. Be aware, that since the duration of the matches will be brief, you most likely will not be spending too much time on the court overall. But it should be intense, so no relaxing, no time to breathe or scratch yourself, just full-throttle, reckless abandon, no holds barred, lickety-split unrestrained smash-and-dash squash. With a few beers in between…

Up for the challenge? Matches are scheduled to get underway at 5pm, we’ll keep to the 2 downstairs courts, and we should be able to move through the event pretty quickly so I won’t keep you too long. (Again, it will depend on the amount of players.) Registration deadline is Monday, August 6. Tick… tick… tick…

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Summer League semi-finals~~

What is it that just about every single league season, the team competing for the title has Patrick Petz on it? And seriously - this is the summer league, where there are no team captains, no draft, and the teams are put together by me, randomly. Luck of the Irish? Is Patrick a true leprechaun?

Patrick’s team – the “Boast-Busters” - put in a solid on-court performance in the semi-final against the top seeded “Gone in 60 Seconds”. Taking into consideration that “Boast-Busters” picked up 2 less bonus points on the night, and had a sub playing for them, they still claimed the victory with a match to spare.

The match that drew the most interest was John Mann versus Brittany Paquette (who was stepping in for the injured Steve Murphy). Trash talking aplenty, poor John was copping the rough end of the pineapple for most of it. He must have been feeling the pressure and wondering how he would be able to show his face in public if he lost, but he stepped up to the task. With authority. And power. Serving as hard as he possibly could – at a pace John White would have been proud of – he stifled Brittany’s ability to control the rallies. How John didn’t yank his shoulder out its socket is a medical miracle but the tactic worked for 2 of the 3 games. Brittany took the third – a point that proved valuable.

After Joe Moran once again proved that experience conquers youth, speed, and fitness with a 3-0 win over Dane Fossee, it came down to the last match of the evening between Brian Schrage and Ted Morris. Back in round 5, Ted beat Brian 2-1; so on paper Brian’s task was a tall one. Cheered on by his teammates including one big leprechaun, Brian scuttled around the court chasing every ball down. It was close, it was exciting. And it was Brian’s day. The 3-0 win secured “Boast-Busters” ticket to the final since with a match left to play they had a 4 point lead.

Continuing their on-court dominance, “Nightmare on Madison Street” took “Robodrops” to town. The two teams managed to get 7 of the 8 matches played, with “Nightmare on Madison Street” winning 6 of them. It was an impressive result all through the line-up, highlighted by strong 3-0 victories by Manny Tancer, Andrew Spohn and Al Iafrate. Dave Simmet and Drew Van Tongeren repeated their round 6 results over their same opponents winning 2-1, while Tom Fabbri revenged his loss to Dave Devine also taking the match 2-1.  Robodrops” lone savior was Justin Winkelman as he beat Todd Baker 2-1.

The final is set – The two teams were scheduled to play each other in the final round if the season, but only one match was played. I will presume that will not be the case next Monday. Predictions? That’s always a dangerous game to play, and I am normally a ‘kiss-of-death’ when I do, but what the hey? I foresee a “Boast-Busters” narrow victory, just to put a little extra pressure on the Patrick Petz leprechaun lucky-streak.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Summer League round 7 ~~

It really wasn’t much of a contest. The top four teams separated themselves from the bottom four teams back in round three and never looked back. They increased the distance between them every week up until the final round where they were so far ahead that they didn’t need to play it – and in fact two of the teams chose to take the week off.

Nightmare on Madison Street” and “Boast-Busters” were scheduled to play each other, and only one match was played. A couple of bonus points were picked up and one forfeit awarded, but hardly a single squash ball was hit. Not the way to end the season, and certainly something they can’t do next week for the semi final.

Tired in 60 Seconds” jumped from fourth to first in the final two weeks to end up as the league leaders and go into the play-off as the number one seed. It is the first time all season atop of the standings, their timing obviously perfect. “The Snooze Brothers” ended up last, a spot they occupied since round two. They were fourth after round 1, but clearly fell asleep after that. These two teams played each other in the final round and completed 7 of 8 contests. “Tired in 60 Seconds” won the evening 17-15, but it does go to show that even the team that finished last could have been competitive if they played their matches. Here are some of the season statistics:

·         Overall, 76% of the matches were completed. That’s and increase of 13% on last year, and the highest playing percentage the league has ever had. Great job!!
·         Robodrops” played the most with 86% of their matches completed.
·         Surprisingly, “Nightmare on Madison Street”, who finished second, ended up with the second lowest playing percentage with 68%.
·         Lord of the Tins” has the lowest playing percentage with 66%. That’s still higher than last year’s average.
·         Three teams broke the 100 point barrier this season. Before that, only one team in all the past summer league seasons has managed to do that.
·         The last 4 teams on the standings picked up the fewest bonus points. A trend that proves itself every year.
·         5 players collected all possible bonus points.
·         The top team collected the most bonus points. 8 more than the next best.
·         Only 2 players out of the 64 did not pick up any bonus points. That’s impressive.
·         All but 3 matches were played in round 1. And all but 6 matches were completed in rounds 2, 4 and 6.
·         Every player on “Tired in 60 Seconds” scored at least 10 points for their team.
·         Only 1 player on “The Snooze Brothers” scored at least 10 points.
·         Nick Scavone from the “Boast-Busters” scored the most points in the league with 21. And he didn’t play round 7.
·         12 players completed all 7 matches. Only one went through undefeated as well – John Mann from “Tired in 60 Seconds”.
·         The Snooze Brothers” played six matches in round 4. They lost them all 3-0.
·         Framer versus Framer” did the same thing in round 6.
·         The reason “Nightmare on Madison Street” finished second with the second lowest playing percentage was because they lost only one match in the entire season 0-3, five matches 1-2, and won the rest.

On to the semi finals. Players have until Tuesday, July 17 (inclusive) to complete their matches. If “Nightmare on Madison Street” actually turn up and play, they could be the team to beat based on their winning percentage. They took pretty good care of the “Robodrops” in round 5 beating them soundly 20-10. The other match-up was a lot closer. “Boast-Busters” narrowly beat “Tired in 60 Seconds” 19-18 back in round 4. Promises to be interesting.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Hashim is on the right

If ever you thought it wasn’t that important to have the correct technique, then Hashim’s logic should debunk that theory. Of course, just being able to swing the racquet properly won’t make you a great player – there are many other factors that go into it. One of which you can do nothing about – your body. Hashim mentions that having the ‘right body type’ is important. Height included. However, Hashim is only 5 foot 4 inches tall; not exactly the ideal height for a world beater as dominant as he was.

Players today would tower over Hashim. Literally. Current world number one, James Willstrop is listed as 6 foot 4 inches, a full 12 inches taller. It would be difficult to imagine that no matter how fast Hashim was, he could make up one foot of reach. World number 2, Nick Matthew is 6 foot tall. In fact, of the current top ten, 5 of them are at least 6 foot, another 2 of them are listed as 5’ 11”. I don’t know if any one of the 432 players on the world ranking is as short as 5’ 4”. It just proves that Hashim must have had magnificent racquet skills as well as the uncanny ability to be able to read the game. It must have been like watching Yoda – the Jedi Knight – hobble up to the enemy with a walking stick, only to whip out his lightsaber and start zipping every which way at blinding speed, bouncing off the floors and walls, not only thwarting all attacks but using the Force to kill everything in the process, then slowly picking up his walking stick and hobbling away like nothing had happened. Except Hashim wasn’t green. Or had pointy ears.

To see all the blog articles on Hashim, go to: Hashim Kahn 

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