Friday, March 30, 2012

GEARING UP FOR THE PST

It’s almost here. Professional Squash. At the DAC. As we get ourselves ready to welcome the world’s best from May 4 to 6, it’s time to get excited and make sure you have your seat booked for the weekend. It’s rare to have such squash royalty in the club and you don’t want to regret missing out on this golden opportunity.

If – for some weird reason – you are sitting on the fence about buying a ticket, then let me push (shove heavily) you over the edge— the top eight players of their tour will be playing off in the “World Championships” and there is a better than average chance that included in the group will be ex world #1’s David Palmer and John White, and ex-top 10 Wael El Hindi. Add on some exciting young players that have been active on the tour all season long and the action is guaranteed to be nothing short of brilliant.

I would like to take this opening to thank our wonderfully supportive membership in regards to sponsoring this event. It was remarkably forthcoming. Tom Delaney with his company “First American Title” are the major sponsor, along with Sean Moran with “Smith Barney”, Ken Stann and “SVS Vision”, Mark Monaghan with “Sine Monaghan”, Doug Troszak and “Troszak North America”, Alan Howard and “Burroughs” and last but not least, you will shortly be seeing this tournament poster up around the club – and we can thank Patrick Petz and his company “Skidmore Studios” for creating it along with the logo.

Standard tickets cost $50 per person. That will allow you to watch the matches all weekend – that’s right, you can watch all 8 matches. The other ticket price is $150 which allows you admission to the player’s cocktail party on the Friday night to mingle more intimately with the professionals. It’s a great way to gain access to world class athletes and to also support the event.

Match times are as follows and will all be played on court 7:

Friday, May 4:
  • First of four Matches starting at 4.30pm. We calculate an average of 45 minutes per contest.
  • The cocktail party is scheduled for 7.30pm in the Georgian Room. (Later if the matches run over.)
Saturday, May 5:
  • 10am – The “Play with the Pros”. The major sponsors have the opportunity to play with one of the pros before the semi finals.

  • 1.30pm – First of 2 semi-final matches start.
Sunday, May 6:
  • 1.30pm - 3rd / 4th play-off
  • 2:30pm – PST 2012 World Championship Final.
Seats are limited – many tickets have already been purchased and you only have until April 6 before the remaining tickets will be opened up to non-members. We have had plenty of interest from outside the club to witness this tournament so don’t wait too long to make your decision. E-mail me mickj@thedac.com if you would like a ticket and at what level.

Monday, March 26, 2012

TWO AND A HALF FINALISTS IN WINDSOR

Windsor Tournament Mar 23-25~~

DAC representation was pretty respectable for Windsor’s second tournament of the season. Not including myself, we had 9 members in the draw and every one of them scored at least one win. Unfortunately, no one went all the way although some were close, but all gained match toughness, tournament experience, free beer, great squash, and a bright orange shirt that looks like it could glow in the dark.

Even in the doubles - where we traditionally struggle – we did win some matches. Given, the teams were only 50% DAC (their partners were from Windsor), but we’ll take what we can get. Our first finalist was Mike Counsman who paired up with Paul Gebrael in the heavyweight B division and after knocking out our other DAC doubles player in John Dunwoody (partnered with Gerry Guay) 3-1 in the semi final, they went down 3-1 in the final to Doug Fields and Sean Guay (Windsor). Sean is apparently too fast to get run over by the bigger lads, and too young to realize he doesn’t need to cover 80% of the court.

Madison Khan and Ken MacDonald
Our second finalist was Ken MacDonald in the C draw. Now, I don’t need to be cruel to be kind here, but what the hell. Ken knows its coming. His run into the final was flawless as he swept his first three opponents 3-0 including Bruce Vande Vusse (Bruce won his first match 3-2). Standing formidably in Ken’s path, sending terrorizing chills down his spine giving him the cold sweats, was none other than his worst nightmare – a 13 year old girl, Madison Khan. It reminded me a little of the “Resident Evil” movie where the hologram of the little girl scared everyone into a dribbling zombie. Madison of course is not evil – nor is she a hologram – she is delightful young player who happens to have a backhand of death. She proceeded to carve Ken up into little pieces with her victory, and as I mentioned to Ken after the match that maybe he should have used his strength to his advantage and pound the ball harder, he humbly replied that he was sure Madison was physically stronger than he was too. In retrospect, he’s probably right. Seriously though, Ken did well to get to the final and there is no shame is losing to a player of Madison’s capability and potential. She will no doubt defeat some more of our members as she gets older!

Paul Ward
Our half finalist was Paul Ward. Paul decided to get his money’s worth for the weekend and entered 2 events. The 40+ where he lost first round and the B draw where he did significantly better. Grinding out wins in the first three rounds with a 3-1, 3-2 and then another 3-2, he reached the semi final to play a lad from London, Abdulai Kanu. Abdulai played the DAC Classic. He played the 5.5 category, along with his buddy – Derek Moore. For some bizarre reason, Abdulai and Derek entered the A draw (which is perfectly fine) and the B draw which is something they should have known better not to do. Embarrassingly, they reached the final of both categories. Poor Paul could only shake his head in a bemused “what-were-you-thinking” look as Abdulai (who is a similar standard to our club champion Peter Logan) beat him 3-0. So I am unofficially giving Paul a finalist status for this event, even though technically he lost in the semi.

Our other ambassadors in the event were Bruce Shaw, Andy Adamo, Sante Fratarcangeli and Tom Fabbri. A huge thank you for all members that made the effort to support! I also saw Frank Giglio come to watch even though he didn’t play.

I’ll keep my result here short(ish) – after a scare in the first round against Adrian Ostbye of London where I won 11-9 in the 5th after being 2-0 down, I won the semi and final 3-0. I guess the first match helped me find my rhythm and timing because I did feel a lot more comfortable on court with the pace and reading the ball in the next two. I was lucky to escape Adrian – and if I can just find a way to have that timing before a tournament starts, and not use my round one opponent for it, it should make my life easier. I was most pleased that I won the final against Ryan Herden who I barely beat in 5 just six months ago at the London tournament. A little fitness goes a long way – especially mentally.

Appreciations are to be passed on to Brian Porter, Dave Guthrie, Tom and Marcie Porter and the Windsor Squash Club staff – you never cease to make us feel extremely welcome and we look forward to the next event. Cheers, guys!

Friday, March 23, 2012

OH!-LYMPICS

Back in 2009, the always respectable, honest, above-board, incorruptible International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted unanimously not to include squash into its Olympic brethren for the 2016 games. You can read a short article I wrote about that by clicking No-Lympics.
Ahh yes - the classic "crouching-
tiger-hidden-sword" maneuver.
Gold medal stuff.

Its three years down the road and in a fearful case of oncoming déjà vu, here we go again. Squash has been placed back on the shortlist for possible inclusion into the 2020 Olympiad. And what a competitive shortlist that is. Squash must prove its superior worthiness over baseball and softball (both of which were dropped from the Olympics in 2008, but somehow have managed to convince the IOC they were mistaken); karate; roller sports (which I guess includes roller skating, skate-boarding… isn’t that the X-Games?); sports climbing; wakeboarding; and wushu. Wushu? What in Batman’s underpants is wushu? I had to google it. I saw pictures of the Shaolin Monks. It’s a martial art. I consider myself to be somewhat of a sports nut, but I had never even heard of wushu before. And it’s shortlisted?

And if you delve a little deeper into which ‘sports’ dabbled in the attempt for recognition in some form or another but were denied entry even onto the final list, you simply have to scratch your head and wonder “are you ‘smurfing’ serious?” That list includes: Twenty20 Cricket, netball, dancing, bowling, surfing, bartending, pole dancing, yoga, cliff diving, bridge, billiards, orienteering, polo, basque pelota, korfball… I mean, are these ‘sports’ living in the same reality? Surely they decided to have a laugh whilst drinking a few pints at the bar and decided, “hey, wouldn’t it be a riot if we bid for Olympic status?” What’s korfball? Sounds made up. In fact, it sounds like anything can be considered a sport these days. Maybe we’ll see future bids for… speed-texting, or sauna-sitting, Tebow-ing? Watching television these days, maybe even running for political office could be regarded as a sport…? They beat each other up pretty well in that…

Anyhoo, before the IOC can vote in a new sport, they have to drop one from the current program. Which sport gets the axe is currently unknown, but rules permit that the eliminated sport can be added to the shortlist of recommended ones and bid for their spot back. So, technically, the sport deemed undeserving of Olympic status can be then be voted immediately back onto the program. A brilliant rule that defies all logic.

Now, before you study that list and start thinking that squash far and above, over the other sports, meet a lot more of Olympic essential criteria for inclusion, keep in mind that in 2009 it lost out to golf and rugby 7’s. Yes, rugby 7’s. Not the full version, the half-version. And golf. I have to chuckle about that, because I am convinced that the reason that was included was the belief that Tiger Woods would be the mega-super-duper-star that would attract millions of sponsorship dollars… and now going by his recent track record there’s a decent chance Tiger will be left out in the woods… snicker, snicker…!

So should squash be in the Olympics? Well, sure. As far as the athleticism and fitness requirements go, it’s a no-brainer. It also meets the obligations of all the other Olympic criteria. As squash players, addicts and enthusiasts, we all go brain numb with bewilderment at why we are on the outside looking in. After all, Olympic inclusion would be a huge boost for our sport. It would the pinnacle of every squash professional’s career to win a medal for their country, more exposure, more sponsorship dollars, more government support, greater junior development. Squash could benefit in so many ways. But alas, the IOC are not interested one iota in the benefits to squash. They want to know the benefits from squash.

Ching, ching! That undeniable sound of money! Revenue runs the machine. How much moolah can squash generate for the IOC? My guess is not much. While setting up a court and running a tournament wouldn’t cost much in comparison to other sports that need entire new stadiums constructed, the return is probably negligible. Taking that into consideration, and even though I know very little about the other sports on the shortlist, I really start to wonder how good squash’s chances really are. Add on the fact that NBC will be spending 4.38 billion dollars – that’s right, billion – to broadcast the next 4 Olympic Games, their influence on what will be shown on television in the US will no doubt lean a teensy-weensy bit towards the great American pastime of baseball rather than any of the other short-listed contenders. What do you think the average American is going to want to watch? Cabrera belt a 450-yard home run, or James Willstrop hit a perfect backhand volley drop into the nick? The squash associations need to start to come up with a plan on how to woo the IOC and get on the effective side of their political spiel. You can bet the other sports on the shortlist are doing exactly that and are trying just as hard as squash. We will have to wait until 2013 for the IOC vote.
Support the squash bid for the 2020 Olympic
Games through all social media. Look for
"squash2020" and join the movement!

I genuinely hope squash succeeds in its bid. It would be wonderful to see the first Olympic gold awarded to the likes of Ramy Ashour, who, if squash was in the 2020 games would be 33 years old and it would be the dream end to a career that – if he stays healthy – would be nothing short of legendary. But I am not all that optimistic. I look at the obscure sports on the shortlist and can’t help but think that if they can get themselves into serious consideration in the first place, what’s stopping them from going all the way? How far down are their hands into the pockets of the IOC members? If rugby 7’s can get in, it can’t be out of the realm of possibility that wushu can too.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

VIVA LOS “VIVIO’S”!

Boasters League Final~~

As I mentioned last week, predicting a “Town Pump” victory for the Boasters League final could be the ‘kiss-of-death’. As it turned out, it was. Captained by Rich Stimson, “Vivio’s” poured it on to quash a round 5 pummeling they received from the very same team with a 17 point reversal. They not only beat them on the court, but they also beat them on the bonus point count – something that no team had been able to accomplish all season. 

"Vivio's" captain Rich Stimson

Only 10 of the 12 matches were needed to secure the triumph. The key to “Vivio’s” success were the four scores that were an about face from the round 5 results. Scott Langenburg’s 2-1 win over Brendan Fossee was the first avenged outcome and it appeared to fire up Rich Stimson who hopped on court immediately afterwards to tackle the colorful Patrick Petz, both of whom were relentless with their encouragement towards their teammates during the matches (as a good captain should!). Leading by example, Rich probably played his best squash of the season and he was determined to overturn his mid-season loss. He did with a convincing 3-0 pounding.  

Todd Baker and Chuck Doyle

Josh Slominski was the next to upset the applecart after he beat Alan Howard 2-1 (he lost to Alan 3-0 during the season). The two players were having an excellent match tied a 1-1, when in the third game Alan had to concede with a torn bicep tendon. Ouch! That just sounds painful. That match could have gone either way; it was an unlucky break for Alan and “Town Pump”. Alan is now looking at surgery to reattach the tendon and will be out of action for a while. We wish him a full and quick recovery.

The fourth score reversal secured the deal for “Vivio’s”. Chuck Doyle lost 2-1 to Greg Davis in round 5, but wasn’t in any mood to lose to him twice. A solid performance with few unforced errors locked in the 3-0 victory and with it gave “Vivio’s” an 8 point unconquerable lead with only two matches still open.
That’s not to diminish the other players – because without them, the above four matches would have been for naught. Every point counts, so even though David Pontes, Terry Lang and Doug Troszak lost 2-1, it all makes a big difference – as does every bonus point and picking up 11 of 12 was also significant. Special mention must go to Doug as he played Jason Massey in what was a real ‘clash-of-the-Titans’ (I better check the floor boards for dents…) as it was Doug’s 60th birthday! Thank you for still making the effort to turn up and play your match ~~ congrats on your milestone!

Congratulations to team “Vivio’s” for becoming 2011-2012 Boasters League champions – I suppose the mantra of ‘beat Petz’ Rich used to motivate his team worked! The twelve winners: Matthew Nichols, Tom Delaney, Terry Lang, Doug Troszak, Todd Baker, Chuck Doyle, Josh Slominski, David Pontes, Scott Langenburg, Rich Stimson, Al Iafrate, George Kordas.



Monday, March 19, 2012

KEN THE NEW BLITZ KING

Less than two hours. That’s how long it took for the 18 players to exhaust themselves through the group play and the knock-out draw while trying very hard to resist - but failing miserably - the keg at hand. The appropriately named Blitz Tournament pits players of all levels against each other while handicapping the stronger. The handicapping is always a dubious task. All it takes is for a couple of good (or lucky) shots from the player who already started with a healthy advantage, and suddenly the pressure on the other turns up exponentially. It is remarkably difficult not to make an unforced error.

The first 2 matches of group play were perfect. When I say ‘perfect’, I mean that the score was 15-14 and that the handicap assigned was spot on. Nothing like a desperation sudden-death rally - the lower ranked player often lifts their game to heights they never thought possible and the higher ranked player can help but think it should be easy and God forbid they lose! There were seven ‘perfect’ games in total, all the players were working hard on the court, sweating up a storm, sucking the oxygen out of the building, depleting the DAC’s supply of towels and plastic cups... and loving it!


Paddy O'Petz showing off his
Handball skills... 

When the round-robin play ended, two of the four groups had to draw straws to see who was to advance to the knock-out phase. Since only two players per group moved on, in case of a tie the fairest way to choose the ‘winner’ was to pick it out of a hat. There was a three-way tie in one case involving Patrick Petz, Todd Baker and Matt Hayduk. Irish eyes were not smiling this particular evening on Paddy O’Petz as he was eliminated from the competition after receiving the short straw. After downing a beer or two, Patrick wondered if he would have more luck on the handball court and donned a pair of gloves for a quick smack-around with Bob Kozak. From watching a couple of exchanges, his fortunes hadn’t changed. Ambidextrous he isn’t - although he has been known to drink from both hands.

Three of the eight that moved onto the knock-out phase had already won the Blitz Tournament before. That included current champion Josh Slominski who had to play the March 2010 winner Matt Hayduk in the first round. Matt is a bit of an anomaly. He is capable of producing surprisingly decent squash, and then 5 minutes later leave us wondering where it all came from. Josh received the ‘good’ Matt on this occasion and even though Matt started with only 6 points, he walked off a 15-8 winner – he didn’t need the handicap at all.

The other tournament winner was Mike Counsman (March 2007). Mike took care of Todd Baker in round 1 with a solid 15-11 victory but ran out legs in the next round against Ken MacDonald going down 15-11. He gave Ken 5 points head start; again it was an advantage that apparently wasn’t needed. Hindsight is always 20/20.


Finalists Matt Hayduk and Ken MacDonald

Ken MacDonald’s final’s opponent was Matt Hayduk. The ‘good’ Matt cleaned up James Van Dyke in the semi 15-10 and was given a 7 point head start against Ken. Timing is everything. Suddenly, the ‘bad’ Matt showed up. Watching Matt play all evening, I was worried that 7 points may have been too much. But after the first 3 rallies of the final, it was obvious it wasn’t going to be enough – anywhere near enough. In fact, 14 wouldn’t have been enough. Ken rolled off 15 straight points to take it 15-7 – a remarkably difficult thing to do not to hit one error, or have Matt hit one winner. No offense to Matt – he did very well to almost take his second Blitz title, but inconsistency struck him at the worst possible time. And congratulations to Ken who immediately purchased a new pair of squash shoes with his winnings! Mike Counsman somehow found his legs to take 3rd spot. They were next to the keg.

The Blitz crew... or most of them!



Friday, March 16, 2012

FOR ALL THE MARBLES

Boasters League semi finals ~~
Then there were two. The trash talking for the next week should be quite entertaining considering its Patrick Petz’s and Rich Stimson’s teams going head to head for the Boasters League title. The two captains are also paired up in the Doubles for the Club Championships, but next Wednesday will be on opposite sides of the court when they actually have to play against each other.

The semi finals were somewhat of a blow-out. “Town Pump” dominated the scores from start to finish. With 11 of the 12 results recorded, they only lost 3 matches and they also collected 3 more bonus points to stuff “Anchor” 31-19. On paper it shouldn’t have been so one sided but strong performances from Jason Massey, Mark Monaghan, Patrick Petz, Greg Davis and Mike McCuish who all won 2-1 reversed their mid-season losses to the same opponents, and the biggest ‘upset’ of the evening was Blake Ellis’ 3-0 victory over Paul Ward. “Town Pump” had locked in the ticket to the final with 3 matches to spare.

The other semi final was a lot closer. Only one point separated the two teams with only 3 matches to go. Then “Vivio’s” put down the hammer and steamrolled “Old Shillelagh” 8-1 in the final 9 games. In the end, just like “Town Pump”, “Vivio’s” won 8 of 11 matches. The closest match of the evening was between Anil Kathuria and Chuck Doyle. It was desperation squash as it came down the sudden-death rally in the third game and with a forehand volley that nearly removed Anil’s face and all the breath from my lungs, Chuck took it 15-14.
Just like the March Madness, predicting the winner is virtually impossible to do. On paper however, my prediction – which is almost like a ‘kiss-of-death” these days, lays slightly with “Town Pump”. Bonus points may have some say in the matter too, but I’m sure both captains will be pushing their players to turn up regardless. Either way, it should be interesting with no doubt some controversy along the way. Matches start at 5pm next Wednesday, come on down, fill your beer cup and enjoy the action.

Monday, March 12, 2012

EARN THE RESPECT

2012 Singles Club Championships – Apr 2 – May 3

Is this going to be the year a new Club Champion will be crowned – someone other than Peter Logan or Kirk Haggarty who have shared the spoils since 2004? Are the up and comers such as John Rakolta and George Kordas ready and strong enough yet to threaten? Or could newcomer Jed Elley be the chosen one? Or could there be an unknown on the horizon..?

It may be the most competitive Open category in recent memory (hopefully!) which we all would be looking forward to witnessing. But let’s not forget the other divisions where many improved players are making a statement. Anthony Fracchia is one who has made significant advancement over the past 12 months; don’t look past Robin Basil either with his awkward racquetball style of play and court coverage speed; maybe Josh Slominski or Sante Fratarcangeli? And it’s not just the youngsters. Tom Fabbri has impressed many with his steady progress and would be tough to beat as well.

The seven divisions to choose from are: 5.5 – 5.0 – 4.5 – 4.0 – 3.5 – 3.0 – 2.5. Read the following important points very carefully if you are playing:

• You can enter ONE division only.
• When you enter, tell me what division you want to play in. E-mailing me “I’m in” without telling me where, does not help. If I think you are in the wrong category, I will make the adjustment. Do not play down.
• If you won a category last year, you cannot enter the same category this year. (Except for the Open category winner, or special permission from me.)
ALL finals will be played on Thursday, May 3. If you are away on that day and you plan on making the final, do not enter.
• All matches are best of 5 games to 11 using point-a-rally scoring.
• No consolation draw.
• Each match will have a deadline for completion. If you do not complete your match by the assigned deadline, you risk being forfeited.
• If you are away for a significant amount of time during the month of April then you should not enter. The tournament cannot fall behind waiting for you.

Are you ready to take it to your fellow members? If so, make sure you enter before the registration deadline of Monday, March 26. There is no entry fee but you do need to be a Blackballer to play. May 3 is also the night of the Awards Dividend, so pencil it in on your calendars.


Friday, March 9, 2012

MEET A MEMBER - 11

It’s not very often we see women on our squash courts. Slowly, however, we are seeing an increase in their participation. I have had the pleasure of coaching this particular young lady for a while now. Strong, athletic, competitive and dare I day it – a little stubborn! Which is actually a good thing when it comes to learning the sport. She is determined to do it right, and works very hard on her game.

MEET… BRITTANY PAQUETTE

The Squash Joint (TSJ): You come from a sporting background and are involved in coaching yourself. Tell us a little about your athletic history and who / what you teach.

My love of athletics began at the ripe age of 2.5 when my parents enrolled me in figure skating. That only lasted a couple of years before they realized I’m not dainty or graceful enough to be on the ice with other small children, rather hazardous in fact, so I joined the swim team, a natural fit for a Pisces. Along with swimming came basketball, soccer, volleyball, golf and tennis lessons. My mom was quick to notice the benefits of enrolling her high-energy child in every sport possible. I decided to narrow it down to just field hockey and soccer, which I was playing year round. Come time to apply to schools, I had to choose between soccer and  field hockey since the seasons are the same at the collegiate level, so I went with field hockey. I played 4 years at Denison University, hands down the BEST years of my life. It absolutely made my college experience, wouldn’t trade it for the world. Post-Denison, my best friend & lifelong teammate approached me with a coaching opportunity at Cranbrook. Mind you, Liggett, my alma mater, and Cranbrook are archrivals, but my love for the outdoors, children, and the sport made this decision rather easy. How could I turn it down? So, two seasons later, and after turning the program around and rebuilding it from the bottom up, I find myself counting down the days until preseason starts. It’s the most rewarding experience, and the girls are simply a joy to be around. I couldn’t be more thankful to have the chance to give back and make a difference in these girls’ lives the same way my coaches and years of playing have done for me, all the while doing it with my best friend. It doesn’t get much better than that.

TSJ: All athletes have experienced injuries. I know you are no exception. What injuries have you suffered through and which was the most difficult to overcome?  

By the grace of God, I’ve never really endured a major injury, per se… ailments that come and go, yes. Going full throttle all these years, it’s bound to happen, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I play hard and I push through. I’ve never really known the difference between pain and discomfort, so I just go until I can’t. The list includes rotator cuff issues (complements a la field hockey), various forms of tendonitis throughout my lower extremities, occasional asthma attacks, and the worst at this point is my back. My scoliosis has required weekly chiropractic visits for some 20-odd years. My back flares up every now and then, most recently with squash and indoor (co-ed) soccer. I can’t forget about my ‘broken’ toe, probably the most annoying injury of them all, because it simply won’t go away. I got spiked by a 230-pound dude in soccer. Felt like someone took a meat cleaver to my foot, and 5 months later, I’m still dealing with it, and still playing soccer, and still wearing pumps. I probably should go see a doctor, but the most they’ll tell me is to rest and stop playing, and that clearly is not an option, so we shall see. Squash is not the friendliest of sports on my joints, but like any athlete would, you do what needs to be done with regards to daily maintenance, strength training, RICE, etc.

TSJ: You win the lottery and are set for life. The catch is that you have to live anywhere that is not the USA. Where do you go and why?

I’d definitely move to Malta. I’ve grown up on the water, and who wouldn’t opt to live in the Mediterranean if given the chance, so yes, Malta it is. Not to mention every third person on the island is a (maternal) relative, so that’d make for a fun time.

TSJ: What job would you be doing if you were not currently working as a real estate agent?

Simple. I’d own a ranch out West, a dude ranch, in Wyoming or Colorado. Few people know this, but I’m a cowgirl at heart. I come from a long line of cowboys and rodeo stars on my dad’s side. Rode my first horse at 2 and fell in love. Been riding and instructing since. It’d be an absolute dream come true to work and play with horses day in and day out.

TSJ: What attracted you to play squash? Did you believe you would pick up the game quicker or slower than what you are currently doing? Is there anything you find easy about the game?

Soon after joining DAC, I saw a sign for the beginner’s clinic that caught my eye. Figured what the hell, I’m willing to try most anything at least once. To be honest, I was just so thrilled by the idea of being able to learn a new sport I could eventually compete in. There are very few things, athletic-wise, that I participate in for “fun”.  I’m a natural competitor, but if I can have fun and make new friends while doing it, even better. It feels good to be playing a competitive sport again; it’s all I’ve ever known and I’ve missed it a great deal. Granted, I’ve always played team sports, so this is a bit different, but as with any sport, I needed to enlist the expertise of a ‘coach’, whom I absolutely adore, and implement a regimented practice schedule. After about 6 months of lessons, 2 times a week, all of which were fun-filled and laughter-infused, I felt confident enough to begin competing. I was pleasantly surprised with my progress and the ease with which I picked up the game. The most challenging aspect was retraining my muscles; I’d often go between “field hockey mode” and “squash mode”.  It’s like learning a new language; it’s hard not to confuse or blend the two, something I’m still working on. On the flip side, my years of field hockey and soccer training have really paid off. Anyone who knows anything about field hockey players knows we’re a big-bottomed breed with legs that could kill – Ha-ha! - so the lunging and agility comes quite naturally.

TSJ: Who is your one sporting hero (dead or alive) that you would love to meet?

Honestly, I’ve never been drawn to one athlete in particular, mainly because I’m not a huge proponent of professional/contracted athletes. The athletes that really impress me and earn my respect are college and Olympic athletes. Their passion for their respective sport is so genuine and pure, totally untainted by the elements that plague professional sports. Perfect example, and one of my most favorite movies, “Miracle On Ice”.

TSJ: What was your worst / most despised subject in school?

I’ve never really despised any class because I love to learn, but I’d have to say Chemistry takes the cake on this one. Only reason I passed is because I had all my sister’s old labs to refer to.

TSJ: Not counting squash, what do you find the most enjoyable and rewarding part of being a member of the DAC?

Bar none, the Intermediates. I’ve made the MOST wonderful friends who, in truth, have become more like family. We have such a close-knit group of friends; I am truly blessed.  

TSJ: You have squandered your lottery winnings by betting it all on the Lions to win the Superbowl. (The odds were astronomical.) As they take away all your expensive possessions that you purchased with your money, you are allowed to keep one. What do you keep?

Hands down, I’d hold onto my horse. Nothing can break the bond shared between a cowgirl and her horse.

TSJ: Tell us your favorite…
a)      Couch snack… Pita chips, green apple, and asiago cheese or carrots and PB
b)      Electronic gadget that is not your cell phone… Electric toothbrush. I’m obsessed w/brushing my teeth.
c)      Best looking actor… Zack Morris and Kevin Costner, you know I can’t pick just one.
d)      Cartoon character… I didn’t really watch cartoons, but I was a huge Barney fan.
e)      Clothing store… Ann Taylor / LOFT
f)        Horror movie… Cape Fear and the Exorcist movies, none of which I dare watch since living on my own.

TSJ: What is the weirdest thing you have ever eaten?

In honor of keeping family tradition alive, fresh, aka LIVE, crabs off the cliffs/rocks in Malta… that was an experience.

TSJ: The final question has the goal of being a teensy bit embarrassing and to see how much you are willing to reveal of yourself. What is the naughtiest thing you ever did in school, did you get caught and if so what was the punishment?

This is cruel and unusual, I’m well aware, and I’ve since repented for my sins, but you asked. All throughout Liggett lower school, we had assigned seating during lunch. Well, in 1st grade, I sat next to someone who was said to be severely allergic to PB. Not saying I didn’t believe it to be true, I just wanted to test it out for myself, confirm the facts. Our teacher should’ve known putting us at the same table was a bad idea to begin with, based solely on the amounts of PB I consumed as a child. My devilish self decided to conduct a little experiment. I waved my PB & J sandwich under his nose, may have even skimmed it, who knows, and thought it was absolutely hilarious. I couldn’t stop laughing. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? Well, he went ballistic on me, started heaving and breaking out in hives. His mom came and picked him up, after she gave me a stern talking to, along with my teacher, principal, and parents. Long story short, he was definitely allergic to PB, though I still wonder, if he had such an extreme nut allergy, why even allow him to come close to PB. First graders like to test their limits; you tell them not to do something, and guess what, they go and do it! Anyhow, unless my memory serves me incorrect, this was my first and most significant run-in with Liggett authorities during my 12-year tenure.


A big thank you to Brittany for taking the time answering these tough questions! She will no doubt improve on the court rapidly, so player beware if she has you in her sights – she seems to be a little like the Terminator. She absolutely will not stop until she takes you down! I have to admit though, I never saw the ‘cowgirl’ thing coming. The DAC community is very pleased to have her on board and until (if) she rides off into the sunset with a big “Yee-Haw!” and chewing on a live crab dipped in PB, we’ll enjoy and make the most of her company!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

NO EXCUSES FOR THE TOLEDO TOURNAMENT

Oh boy. I can think of multiple factors, explanations, justifications, anything to help me stomach the nasty taste of a beat down. However, there is no excuse. There never is. Age, injuries, fitness: it all means squat once you are on the court. Especially on the Toledo courts. A claustrophobic causing coffin-like mini version of the real thing that even after entering this event for the 8th time I cannot for the life of me figure out how to play on them. But it’s the same for my opponents as it is for me. No excuse.

I lost the semi final 3-0 to a 22 year old ‘child’ from Canada. No disrespect intended to Tom Brinkman – he is a fine young fellow, ranked 147 in the world, and could reach both side walls of the court when yawning. I was outplayed by a steadier opponent on the day – no excuse. I will need to work harder if I want to compete with these guys in the future. I cannot expect to be able to if I don’t. Simple reality that may sound very familiar to many of you.

The DAC had unfortunately minimal representation for this event. Peter Logan made the trip – as he does every year. In fact, flipping through their tournament magazine, I found Peter’s name in the winner’s column waaaay back in 1987 (I think) – for the C draw! Sheesh! I was a child back then… Peter’s tournament form this year has been deficient. Not from lack of playing, he just hasn’t been able to hit the clean ball when it counts. And these courts certainly are not the remedy for bad form either. Peter bowed out relatively early in both of his events.

Our other delegate was Alan Howard who played the D draw and the 60+. It was Alan’s first trip to Toledo and he was jolly glad he made the effort. Not just for the squash – where he reached the final of the 60+ but went down 3-0, but he made the most of the hospitality too. Alan was carrying an injury over the weekend but nursed his way through very respectably – again, no excuse. I’m sure the beer numbed the discomfort anyway!

The event is well known – probably more so – for the socializing. As usual, the attraction of the models that refill your beer cups on Friday night kept us all awake and not pay any attention at all to the squash going on, and the Saturday night party always seem to create some type of head-shaking, snickering, “what-were-they-thinking” moments. Names have been removed to protect the guilty, but here were some stand-outs:

  • The guy who was physically attacked at a local bar on Friday, was punched and bloodied before the bouncers blamed him for the incident and roughly escorted him out of the establishment although he didn’t even throw one fist. They escorted the instigator through the back door – a girl. 
  • The guy who even though has a body skinnier than mine and tan whiter than an albino polar bear, decided to “dirty dance” during the Saturday night shin-dig topless for at least 10 minutes. It was caught on camera and now threatens to be released to the world. The parties are negotiating! It was not pretty, but it was hilarious. 
  • The guy who passed out in the bar at 2pm Saturday before his match, but still managed to win. I am not sure whether to be impressed or disgusted!
It was another weekend full of squash and fun. Pity we had only has 2 members make the trip, we’ll keep on trying to build the numbers. Just ask Alan – he certainly doesn’t regret making the effort. Nor will you!

Monday, March 5, 2012

WINDSOR TOURNAMENT – PART 2

Tony Tomicic Challenge – Mar 23-25

When we left Windsor at the end of Part 1 (the “Fall Down Classic” in November), there were 15 DAC members (and me!) storming the front lines of squash court combat. Many survived the carnage, but alas casualties of war are simply a fact of life and are expected, so we do need as many reinforcements as possible! Part 2 is upon us…

Keep in mind that during the recent DAC Classic, they shipped 28 troops into our territory, and many of them succeeded in their missions. With all the special op training some of you have been doing, it’s time to retake some of that terrain. Infiltration is unsophisticated: hike 1 mile south until to reach the raging torrent of the Detroit River. Once there, navigate your way through the already built foxhole, where your most difficult task is to get pass the vicious Canadian guards on the other side that will stop at nothing to halt your progress. Use the code word “Squash” when questioned – this should miraculously open doors. (Word of warning: DO NOT use that code word when creeping back onto home soil – that will only spark of a barrage of more questioning, searching and probing.)

Once passed that check-point, hike another mile and half south(ish) through urban landscape and using your high-tech global positioning systems you should be able to discover the well camouflaged Windsor Squash Club – the trench warfare of the squash world. Get racquet-weapons at the ready and… attack!

Skirmishes will be separated into A; B; C; D; 40+; 50+; Doubles A; Doubles B and Doubles Mixed categories. Click on the poster for more details – there will be beer to consume to either ease the pain of defeat or enhance to ecstasy of victory. You must register voluntarily by March 16 – don’t make me enforce conscription! So get mobilized, represent, and join me as we invade Canada!

Friday, March 2, 2012

SECOND HALF STATS

Boasters League ~~final round

Not many surprises here. Well, maybe one – the fact that the final round was very quiet considering everybody should have been scrambling to play as many matches as possible before the deadline. The standings only had one change over the final week which was “Vivio’s” swapping places with “1st Place Lounge” to take the 3rd spot - which wasn’t unexpected since “1st Place Lounge” had the last round bye.

The one team that will be kicking themselves is the “O’Blivions” who missed out on the final play-off position by one point. Tracking the scores over the last couple of days, they actually held 6th spot up until the final moments before the cutoff, but a late score entered by “The Tap Bar” burst that bubble.

Town Pump” and “Old Shillelagh” secure the first round bye in the finals, something they really did a few rounds ago as all they did from week to week was to increase their lead. Play over the second half of the Boasters League season felt down from previous seasons, even though overall court usage is well up; statistics support that observation…

  • Only 62% of the matches were played compared to 71% in the first half. A significant decrease.
  • Rounds 1, 2 and 5 had the most matches played with 73%.
  • The lowest completion percentages were rounds 7, 8 and 9. Round 9 was only 40%.
  • Town Pump” and “1st Place Lounge” had the highest playing percentage with 72% of matches completed. “Old Shillelagh” had 71%. All three teams were in the top 4 of the standings.
  • Hardly shocking, but the top 3 teams on the standings received the most bonus points. “Town Pump” had the most with 62.
  • Jacoby’s” played only 44% of their matches. They finished last by a long way. No one should be astounded to hear that they also had the lowest bonus point total with just 32. That’s an average of 4 people (out of maximum 12) per week.
  • Every team had at least one player who played all 8 of their matches. “1st Place Lounge” had four. Overall there were 17 – none of them went through undefeated.
  • Only 6 players picked up all 8 bonus points. They were all members of one of the top four teams.
  • No one played all 12 matches in any round.
  • The 187 points scored by “Town Pump” is the most ever in a Boasters League half season.
  • The most points any team picked up in one round was 31 by “Old Shillelagh”.
  • The most points “Jacoby’s” picked in any round was 13.
  • 67% of “Jacoby’s” score was made up by 4 of their players.
On top of the best team overall, there is also the individual prize of the “All Star” team. This is calculated from the highest point getters from each level – including bonus points – for the all round consistent performer. Each player listed will receive an special “All Star” shirt. Here are your stand-outs:

  1. George Kordas - “Vivio’s”
  2. Paul Ward – “Anchor”
  3. Patrick Petz – “Town Pump”
  4. Kevin Kennedy – “1st Place Lounge”
  5. Andy Housey – “O’Blivions”
  6. Sante Fratarcangeli – “O’Blivion’s”
  7. Chuck Doyle – “Vivio’s”
  8. Ted Mabley – “The Tap Bar”
  9. Jason Massey – “Town Pump”
  10. Dane Fossee – “Old Shillelagh” – Lead the league with 50 points
  11. Tom Delaney – “Vivio’s”
  12. Jim Miller “The Tap Bar”

Nice to see three captains in that list – leading by example! Also nice to see 7 of the 9 teams represented – no prize guessing which two teams are missing…

So now we get into the business end of the season. Head-to-head, winner advances, loser gets eliminated. Will Patrick Petz and his team once again be the one left standing for a third title in four years? I am sure most players will be able to find time (now) to play their match over the week since it is the finals… If only they found tine to play their weekly matches over the first 9 weeks…

Thursday, March 1, 2012

IT’S BLITZING TIME

If you always wanted to play a tournament, but couldn’t possibly commit to an entire weekend to do it, then the Blitz Tournament could be your answer. All you have to pledge to is a couple of hours starting at 5pm on Friday, March 16. After that, your weekend is free to do whatever you fancy. And for your appreciated support, we’ll also have a keg begging to be emptied. And if that wasn’t enough, for the first three place getters we’ll have nice prizes, and since we are such a friendly organization, we won’t charge you an entry fee either… so long as you a Blackballer.

This is how the event works: Part 1 is the round robin format. You’ll be thrown randomly into a group of 4 or 5 players and play one game to 15 against everybody. Handicaps will be assigned to make the match as competitive as possible. Some of you may think you already have a handicap, but they don’t count. Once the round robin matches have been completed, the top 2 winners in each group move on to Part 2 – the knock-out phase. In case of a tie, straws will be drawn to see who advances.

In the knock-out phase, you’ll go head-to-head and play 1 game to 15 points, and the handicaps will be assigned as we go along. The entire event should take about 2 and a half hours to complete – about the same amount of time it takes you to empty the keg if you really concentrate on it!

If you would like to be a part of this quick, fun, social event, make sure you e-mail me your entry no later than Wednesday, March 14. We need a minimum of 16 players to run it, but no more than 40 otherwise you’ll be playing into Saturday. Are you up for the Blitz?

Search This Blog