Friday, December 14, 2012


The Stars of the Show - David Palmer and Thierry Lincou
Superlatives continue to fly. And they will continue to be thrown around for while to come. When you have two legends of the game, players who have graced the pinnacle of the sport, present a show in front of 100 plus members of the caliber that left all of us in complete astonishment, admiration and many times bewilderment, one cannot help but feel inspired. David Palmer and Thierry Lincou proved to all of us how squash can be art, a dance, an amusement, a gladiatorial combat, and a pure entertainment spectacle all rolled into one.

Leading up to that big moment, we also had a number of member matches going on. – 17 of them. I split the players onto two teams: “Palmer’s House of Pain” and “Lincou’s Larrikans”. In the grand scheme of things, the results of the matches didn’t mean anything, the winning team didn’t receive a prize and the losing team wasn’t punished. But that didn’t stop anyone from busting a lung or two from trying to win. We had four matches stretch into the 5th game and seven matches go 3-1.

Anil Kathuria signed up for double duty. His first match was just a warm-up as he took the 3-0 win before he hopped back on court with Chuck Doyle. (Chuck’s initial opponent cancelled last minute.) Chuck pushed him the entire way and one would think a 5-setter would suit the fresher player, but Anil found his way to the finishing line first to take the victory. It is Anil’s 5th win in a row over Chuck, so possibly a mental edge made the difference. Chip McDaniel battled his way to a 3-2 triumph over Joe Schaden, a tough win no doubt and it always looks as if Chip is about to keel over at match end. Somehow he avoids collapse long enough to grab a beer which seems to suddenly revive him.

The closest match of the evening was between Sante Fratarcangeli and David Devine. These two have developed a healthy love-love-relationship which manifests itself in back-and-forth in e-mails taking pot-shots at each other. It’s trash talking at its finest and on court they want nothing more than to destroy the other. They almost achieved in destroying themselves as the match was decided in a 5th game tie-break with Sante sneaking out a 13-11 win. David looked a lot like Chip did after the match, as if he’d been run over by an 18-wheeler. Naturally, it wasn’t anything a couple of quick trips to the keg couldn’t fix. Sante of course pronounced that the result was never in doubt.

Just for the record, Lincou’s Larrikans won the Hops Challenge 10 matches to 7. It was time for the big boys.

The feedback I have been receiving has all been exceedingly positive. It’s interesting to see member’s perspective once they have witnessed squash at this level for the first time. The main theme I hear: “control”. And it’s not just ball control. Which, by the way, is borderline inhumanly consistent. The ability to still hit tight and accurate even when the body is deformed and twisted into cringe worthy uncomfortable angles defies logic. Surely they are contortionists as well. Which leads to the next type of control: body control. How in the name of all that is holy, do they maintain the balance when they are in such situations? How do they manage to turn blind, reach out like Stretch Armstrong, lunge that low, get their racquet underneath the ball that should have bounced three times by now, and still flick the wrist and either hit a perfect drop, a beautiful lob so high that the ball comes down with ice crystals, a trickle boast, or against all laws of physics – a cracking length?

Post-match Q and A
David and Thierry put on a production. We saw the squash in all dimensions. The already mentioned control; the incredible touch; the blinding pace; lightning reactions; implausible angles; mind-blowing nicks; squash not just up, down and sideways, but it also seemed to transcend time. It was exhibition squash as you’d expect it to be: trick shots, humorous banter, ridiculous winners. They played 4 games, winning 2 games apiece. We would have liked a fifth, but to be fair the 3rd game was 21-19 so they really did play 2 games in one for that!

At the conclusion of the match, the players took time in for a Q and A session with the spectators – a lovely touch. They then mingled in with everyone drinking a few beers and meeting and greeting as many as possible. We could not have planned the event any better.

A huge thank you to Joe McManus – PST commissioner – for setting this up for us. One of the main reasons for it was to promote the PST World Championship that we will be hosting May 3-5, 2013. We are privileged to be running this event until at least 2015. We hope this got you excited. By the reaction so far, I am sure it did – and I can promise you the squash will be even more spectacular when they play for the real thing in six months!

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