Thursday, May 31, 2012


I don’t think anyone of us has not had the experience of playing someone with an enormous and dangerous swing. We spend most of the time on court worrying about decapitation, future dental work and rhinoplasty, rather than concentrating on the game. No doubt we have sacrificed points, if not games and matches, in order to keep all 206 bones intact. The Squash Poet describes his experience below.

We are all told to clear after playing the ball
Allow complete access to hit the front wall
And permit a straight line from where they stand
With a normal sized swing either back or forehand
But enough is enough when my life is at stake
Wondering just how many bones you will brake
When in order to clear I now have to dive
Over the glass wall just so I can survive!

The Squash Poet

Wild Swing
(Sung to the tune of "Wild Thing" by Tone Loc)

Workin’ with the pro, months on end, costs a packet
So I can learn to hit a ball without havin’ to hack it
Practice hard and lose some weight my pro was recommendin’
I didn’t stop until I dropped and thought my life was endin’
At last I was ready to take on an opponent
Thought I knew all there was except for one component
Steppin’ on the court felt more like a boxin’ ring
‘Cause I wasn’t trained and got viciously maimed from his mammoth lethal wild swing!

Wild swing
Wild swing

Standin’ on the ‘T’, I never felt so afraid
I was horrified that he swung so wide like a helicopter blade
Even in the warm-up I had to swerve and dodge and duck
But it didn’t take two points before his graphite weapon struck
I felt like I’d been trampled by a herd of buffaloes
As the head of his stick felt like a brick being shoved right up my nose
All that he could say to me was, “Hey, you broke this thing”
Lying immobilized, I apologized for not avoidin’ his wild swing.

Wild swing
He had the biggest wild swing
Wild swing
Please baby baby please

Took a five minute break to regain my senses
And this time I was prepared wearing a helmet for my defenses
But the rest of my body was exposed to his guillotine
I thought I’d died as he smacked my side and maybe ruptured my spleen
The very next rally I heard this massive crack
As his crazy backhand left its brand in the middle of my back
“Hey” he said with a smirk, “You made me hit the tin”
“Of course” I said with remorse, “it’s got nothin’ to do with your wild swing”.

Wild swing
Killin’ me with your wild swing
Please baby baby please

Playin’ on was stupid but now I felt much calmer
Cause now I was clad from head to toe in full body armor
I still did not want to be struck and just to make sure
Every time he slapped the ball I would collapse and hit the floor
He’d pump his fist and act so proud at his own racquet skills
As he kicked my ass with zero class three games to my nil
Then he planned to shake my hand while actin’ like a king
But up I strolled and knocked him out cold with one big wicked wild swing!

Take that!
Ever heard of a ‘let’ call?
You’re freakin’ nuts
Take a squash lesson
Or two, or three, or four
Wild swing

The Squash Poet

Thursday, May 24, 2012


 Recently, a member handed me an envelope with 75 pages of a (copied) manuscript. It was on musty, old paper, I presume printed with a type-writer, with occasional hand written corrections and additions between the lines. Many of the pages are simply photos (unfortunately photocopied which meant the quality was poor and many were difficult to make out), and many are short (3 to 4 line) paragraphs. Genius in its simplicity, sprinkled with humor which I am sure is often unintentional, there is no wonder the squash world reveres this man as one of the all time greats of the game (if not the greatest).

The manuscript is dated August 15, 1985 – that’s 27 years ago. It is a draft of one of Hashim Khan’s books on squash: “Squash Racquets: Pro and Khan”. It was a delight to read through – it was not corrected for the characteristic Hashim grammatical inaccuracies. His charming ‘pigeon’ English comes shining through every word and one cannot help but have his alluring accent ringing in your head as you read. It is not the complete book, but only the first couple of chapters (I’m guessing) and it is incredible how much of what he wrote back then is unquestionably still relevant in the game today. Racquets, rules, athletes, and even the ball may have all changed over the years, but the fundamentals have not. Hashim has a way with words that should make you face-palm yourself and realize “D’uh! It’s so obvious!” and just by reading this should make you a better squash player. (I do not know if this book was ever published – I cannot find any reference to it on-line – or maybe it was published under a different title?)

Over the summer, I will add numerous snippets of the manuscript to the blog. (It is too much to unload it all at once.) They will be copies directly from the manuscript exactly how it was given to me. Hashim wrote the book with help from a good friend of his - Barbara Stewart – who was also an accomplished squash player as well as a professional writer.

I sincerely hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did. We start with a little of Hashim’s life story. Just click on the individual pages to enlarge them.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Summer League round 2~~

It was almost a complete ladder shakeup from round 1. The only team that kept its position was “Tired in 60 Seconds” who stayed in second place. One of the biggest positive movers was “Robodrops” jumping from 5th last week to top this week. They did that through playing all their matches from round 1, 6 of their 8 matches (so far) in round 2, and collecting 7 bonus points last night. The biggest negative mover was “The Snooze Brothers” who dropped from 4th to last. They did that by collecting only 3 points yesterday (which included the 2 bonus points), and only 1 make-up point over the week. Zzzzzz…. Zzzzzz… 
Todd Baker and Chuck Doyle

It started off as a quiet evening but the action picked up significantly later on. Participation was not quite as good as round 1, but it ended up being not too shabby. In the ‘come-back’ of the day, Todd Baker (“Nightmare on Madison Street”) lost the first game and was 14-8 down in the second against “Tired in 60 Seconds’Mike McCuish before rolling off the next 7 points and then dominating the third game as well to take the 2-1 victory. Todd must have won 60% of those rallies on the boast alone, much to Mike’s chagrin, and cries of exasperation.

In the closest match of the day, Paul Flanagan (“Robodrops”) pinched a 2-1 win over Chuck Doyle (“Not so Great Expectations”). They split the first 2 games 15-14, before Paul overran Chuck in the third. For Chuck, I believe that 4 of his 6 games so far this season have ended up 15-14. May as well get your money’s worth!

Other noticeable results was Greg Rivard (“Lord of the Tins”) taking out Mike Petix (“Framer versus Framer”) 2-1, Brendon Fossee’s (“Framer versus Framer”) 3-0 triumph over Joe Bobzin (“Lord of the Tins”) – although Joe also classified the result as a triumph for himself since he managed not to throw up all over Brendan during the match - and Elliot Shafer (“Boast-Busters”) scoring his first win of the season 2-1 over Jason Massey (“The Snooze Brothers”).

Memorial Day is next Monday, so the league takes a break until June 4. This does not mean that everybody takes a break as well! It’s the perfect opportunity to get in any of the matches you have missed from rounds 1 and 2 and give your team the boost it needs.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


As the squash program continues to grow, it is only logical that the overall standard improves as well. It certainly helps however, that new players jumping on board are already adept at the sport. What stands out when watching this member on court is his smoothness with both his footwork and swing which tells me he’s been wielding a racquet for quite a while.


The Squash Joint (TSJ): You’re South African. Is squash your number one sport (or would it be rugby?) Tell us how you got started with squash.

I don't really have a # 1 sport as I am fond of so many but Squash is certainly one of my favorites. I started playing when I was 9, I was playing cricket in the backyard of my friends house when his mother asked if we would like to go with her to the squash club to play. I played with my mate Barry and I was hooked, I went on to play for my province/state a year or 2 later.

TSJ: I presume you played rugby too. Which position did you play and how dirty does it really get in the scrums? Any intriguing stories? How did you get involved in coaching a Detroit rugby team?

I love Rugby, it is a beautiful game although commonly referred to as a hooligans game played by gentlemen. I played # 10 or fly-half but tried many of the 15 positions. I don’t like to think of Rugby as dirty but it can get that way from time to time. I thought I was going to lose my eye once, I almost lost my front tooth, broke my nose many times and have injured numerous muscles during a lengthy career. I have also been on the end of a few random punches from players who cannot take their aggression out in the correct manner - there are plenty of legitimate opportunities for applying contact. I still love the game! I now coach the Detroit Tradesmen RFC, a member at the DAC actually connected me with them a few months ago. They are a great bunch of gentlemen with the potential to be really competitive in the D1 national championship.

TSJ: When did you move to the US? How different is life here compared to your homeland?

I moved to the USA in June 2008. I lived in Northern California for 3 and a bit years before moving to Michigan in November 2011. Life for me is not that different. The biggest things would be the language and the sports - in South Africa I would always hear the different African languages, we have 13, but most commonly I would here Afrikaans (Dutch dialect), Xhosa and Zulu, along with English of course. The major sports in RSA are Cricket, Rugby and Soccer and none of these 3 are very big here in the USA. I have found that people are the same all over the world, well the parts of the world that I have been lucky enough to visit.

TSJ: What part of your squash game needs the most improvement?

My drop shots, I get too caught up in hitting the ball hard and forget about the touches up front.

TSJ: What is your biggest pet peeve?

None really but littering tweaks me

TSJ: Any thoughts on returning to South Africa? What three things do you miss the most?

Hopefully one day I will be able to spend more time down there. My wife, Alexis, and I do talk about it but our life is here now. I miss my family, old friends and Cape Town

TSJ: You turn into a “fly-on-the-wall” and have the opportunity to listen in to one conversation unnoticed. Which conversation between which two people in the world would you like to listen to?

Nelson Mandela and....

TSJ: What do you do for a living?

I work for K+S Services; we are an industrial repair business supporting many fine manufacturing companies around the world. I manage Michigan sales.

TSJ: From “fly-on-the-wall” you turn into a dog. A Pit Bull. But you can choose who your owner will be from any famous Hollywood actor. Who do you want to be pampered by?

I have no idea.

TSJ: Tell us your least favorite…
a)      Sports star… have none
b)      Vegetable… veggies are all good
c)       Style of squash opponent… I like the variety
d)      Reality show (actually, you can pick three here)… I don’t watch any reality shows
e)      Country you’ve visited… I’ve loved every country I have been to
f)       Song that gets stuck in your head… so many find their way in but cannot think of one I dislike

TSJ: What’s the one item in your fridge that you always have to have a supply of?

Tomato Sauce - I love ketchup

TSJ: To finish with a bang, the final question has the intention to make you blush a little. Just so we can cover our mouths and snicker at your expense. You no doubt had some big nights out with the rugby lads. What was the worst state of inebriation you were in, and what did you do?

Funny you should ask: I was kindly dropped at home after a big night out with the team after an away game which we won, this was in Mill Valley, CA about 2 years ago. The team bus had stopped too many times on the way home and I was hammered. Alexis was out for the night and if I had simply made it to bed all would be forgotten, instead I fell asleep in the doorway after opening the front door and when Lexi got home she almost fell over me. After waking up from the disappointed Mrs. asking me to move I followed her up the outside stairs to try and apologize for my behavior - I proceeded to make it up 3 or 4 stairs and fall into the flower bed and roll down the hill, we lived on a hill side and we had a drop off of about 7/8 feet to our porch from upstairs, and I rolled right over the flower bed and down 8 feet onto the concrete floor. It hurt a little at the time but the next day I could not get out of bed. Lexi was not sympathetic and all I really remembered was the final swig of Jack Daniels, uncontrollable rolling and a bump. This won't ever happen again. Ucha cha!

We appreciate Jed’s time and candor. It seems he doesn’t dislike anything; however I bet I may get a negative reaction if I bring up how fantastic the Wallabies are… no? Maybe at least a frown…? (The Wallabies are the Australian National Rugby Team.) Thankfully, he chose the DAC as his squash home in Detroit as it will be fun to watch him push the top players of the club consistently, plus it will be nice to have him represent us.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Summer League round 1~~

Well! I have to say I was considerably impressed with the turn out for the first round of Summer League. Participation is usually a crap-shoot, especially this time of year when the weather is turning warm, the winter season has wrapped up, and golf clubs are being polished, but it seems many cannot tear themselves away from the squash court.

We have 64 players in this year’s league, up from the 56 in 2011. Last night’s numbers were equivalent to a winter Boaster’s League week. Of the 64 players, 44 of them were present to pick up their bonus point, and 32 of them also got their match in. Three teams collected 7 of a maximum 8 bonus points – not coincidentally, those three teams also occupy the top 3 positions on the standings. Also not unexpectedly, the bottom team – “Not so Great Expectations” – picked up the fewest bonus points.

Justin Winkelman (who won his match 3-0 against
Mike McCuish) with Steve Murphy
The closest match of the evening must go to Steve Murphy (“Boast-Busters”) and Tom Bergh (“Lord of the Tins”). Even though Steve pulled out the 3-0 win (I think it was the first time he had beaten Tom) all 3 games went down to the wire: 15-14; 15-14; 15-13. (I guess Tom relaxed in the third game!) Other mentionable results (amongst others) was Jason Massey’s (“The Snooze Brothers”) tight and tough 2-1 victory over Joey Gaylord (“Framer versus Framer”) and Sante Fratarcangeli (“Tired in 60 Seconds”) who continues to make an impact after winning the 3.0 Club Championships two weeks ago as he took out James Van Dyke (“Robodrops”) 2-1.

Yes, it’s only one round. Yes, it’s too soon to think this trend will continue. But it is a wonderful start. And we can be positive about it! Let’s push to keep the momentum going.

Monday, May 14, 2012


It’s a little strange how some people will strike a pose if you approach them with a camera. Most of us will want the snapshot to show our best possible look. Others… well maybe not so. Here is Al Iafrate and Patrick Petz getting caught up in the moment. Click on the photo to enlarge, then answer the following question. (That’s Phil Pitters in the background smiling at them, by the way!)

This is…?
A)    Pat and Al getting cozy for a photo op
B)     Just… adorable
C)     Just… wrong
D)    What happens when you play with super glue
E)     Pat and Al just before they leave for a weekend to New Hampshire
F)      Siamese twins
G)    A new doubles squash team
H)    Why you shouldn’t drink alcohol
I)   Pat and Al practicing their "swinging"
J)   New Obama fans

Answer: A) The dinner / dance for the DAC Classic is always a party to let your hair down. Pat and Al don’t mind getting ‘in the mood’ of the evening and snuggle up for the camera. Some party-goers swear they left together shortly thereafter, but I cannot confirm that rumor.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


The times they are a-changin’. At least they did this year in the 2012 DAC Singles Club Championships. Of the 7 categories, we had 6 first time winners. Including the Open which we’ll get to shortly. Registration was up on 2011, and we stopped the practice of letting members play in two categories – pick one and concentrate on that. Consequently, it was more competitive with more 5-setters being played. So without further ado, here are the names of those squash players that have suddenly tattooed a target on their foreheads…

2.5 – Wink, wink, nudge, nudge…
Justin Winkelman and Tom MacFarlane
Finally, Justin Winkelman can be satisfied with being able to play consistently in every match of a tournament. He has always been capable of winning this category, but this is the first time he has even gotten past the second round. He only dropped 1 game in his first three matches– to Frank Giglio in the semi – and I’m sure he was at least a little nervous finding himself in unfamiliar territory: the final. His opponent surprised me somewhat.

I had predicted Ted Mabley would be tough to beat and I was right – unfortunately for him it was in his first match. Newcomer Elliot Shafer sent him packing in 5 tough games. Inconsistency and inexperience then got the best of Elliot as he went down 3-1 to the in-form Niko Ahee in the next round. Alas, Niko couldn’t keep it up either and took a 3-0 beat-down from Tom MacFarlane who quietly (and unanticipated) had now made his way to meet Justin in the final. I couldn’t get to see their match, so I am presuming it was full of exciting, grueling rallies, a contest for the ages. Justin prevailed 3-1 and is probably even more nervous now that he has to step up to the 3.0 next season.

3.0 – Sante Claus has come to town…
Actually, it’s not “Claus” but “Fratarcangeli”. “Claus” fits better into the song… My gut feeling on this one was confirmed – Sante Fratarcangeli would step it up and win. However, on paper the 3.0 was anyone’s for the taking. Josh Slominski was a good pick too coming off his DAC Classic win earlier in February, David Pontes was a threat, Tom Fabbri, Mike Ottaway was my dark horse, Shail Arora… the list went on. Six results in this category went the 3-2 distance with Tom Fabbri owning two of them – a 13-11 in the 5th win over Jeff Jardine and a 14-12 in the 5th win over John Conway in the very next round. However, the semis and final were all 3-0 whitewashes. Sante took care of Tom in his semi, whereas David Pontes did the same against Josh Slominski in the other. Riding on high confidence and recent good form, Sante was not going to be denied and cleaned David up in the final. He is already making strides in the 3.5.

3.5 – First Asterix and Obelix, and now Michaelpetix
Mike Petix and Matt DiDio
Timing is everything. You need to play well when it counts. You also need the ball to bounce your way now and then and pure dumb luck has to help you through. Mike Petix can be thankful for both scenarios. The ‘luck’ came in the semi final against Paul Van Tol. Paul had won his first 2 matches 3-2 and found himself in his third nail biter in as many matches against Mike. Once any score reaches overtime in the 5th game, fortune can play a huge part. A fluky nick, an ill-timed unforced error… Mike closed his eyes and when he opened them had won the game 13-11. And was in the final. There, he was matched up against Matt DiDio. Matt played well to reach  this far, dropping only the one game to Joe Bobzin in the quarter final, and was feeling strong and positive to tackle Mike. Until he started the match. It could have been Mike’s style, the importance of the match, nerves, the atmosphere of the event, but whatever the cause, Matt picked a poor moment to lose rhythm. Not taking anything away from Mike – he played better and deserved the 3-0 victory!

4.0 – Marv-Ellis Blake
A disappointingly small field of 4 players entered the 4.0 bracket. A round robin was organized with the top two players to fight it out for the final. Blake Ellis lost his first match to Chris Van Tol 3-1 and afterwards told me that if both of them were to get to the final, he would reverse that result. As fate would have it, both of them did reach the final and Blake’s premonition was closer to being fulfilled. It was by all accounts an excellent match – the two were pretty evenly matched and they moved each other around the court well. Both of them were huffing and puffing rather heavily. Ultimately, Blake grabbed the 3-1 win – just as his Nostradamus-esque calculation predicted.

4.5 – Warding off infection
This final is yet to be played. Paul Ward fell ill during the finals week and could not front up against Robin Basil. The two have agreed to battle it out once Paul is on his feet again. Robin wasn’t too upset as he could concentrate on his Racquetball Open final which he won in 8 minutes… give or take…

5.0 – Green Day
Nothing like winning the hard way. Eric Green either doesn’t want to, or simply can’t, win 3-0. But he wins – which is what counts. Maybe it’s so he doesn’t feel as guilty drinking that post-match beer(s)? With 3-1 victories over Paul Doherty and Matt Jarboe to reach the final, standing formidably in his way to the title was return-from-the-void Mike Counsman making his wonderful DAC comeback. Mike won the 5.0 waaay back in 2005 and was runner-up in 2006. Mike somehow scraped his way through his first match over Anthony Fracchia 3-2 – a result I’m sure Anthony is still wondering how he lost. Certainly not on fitness. Then a solid 3-0 win over Chuck Hamill was followed up by taking out Ryan Bendzinski 3-1 in the semi. It’s easy to underestimate Mike – just look at him. But he hits a mean ball and can move astonishingly well for a big man (stopping could be an issue). Against Eric, Mike blasted his way to a 2-0 lead, pausing only to catch his breath and refill his beer. Eric then did what Eric does. Run. And run. And he had to in order to keep himself in contention. The longer the match went, the more Mike was having it slip away and eventually Eric completed the comeback to take the 5th game 11-6.

Open – The end of Logan’s run
And Kirk Haggarty’s. Peter Logan and Kirk Haggarty have continuously shared this title since 2004. In fact, between the pair, they have won all but 6 times since 1989. Meet the new kid on the block: Pablo Buitron. The baby-faced Ecuadorian is one of the nicest fellows you will ever meet, and is a wonderfully smooth player to boot. He joined the DAC squash family in March this year – perfect timing to enter the Club Championships. Pablo reached the final comfortably enough beating our other new foreign addition – South African Jed Elley. (Ha! We are starting to look like the Trinity College team!) Jed is also a very fine player and is one who could threaten for title in the coming years. Peter reached the final beating John Rakolta 3-1 who is also inching closer to that top spot. (Kirk Haggarty didn’t play this year due to injury.) A special treat was in hand for the membership as we invited and welcomed 2-time World Champion David Palmer to referee the match. Standing about 1 foot taller than either of the two finalists, I was pretty confident that arguing with the referee would be kept to a minimum. Pablo took the first game 11-7 after creating an early lead that he never gave up. Peter came out more determined in the second game, less afraid to rally it out and it paid off as he established a 9-5 lead. But in the rush to end the game, he started to shoot too early, going for winners that weren’t quite there and he squandered the advantage. Pablo managed to take the game into a tie-break where he came out on top 13-11. A tough mental blow for Peter who instead of tying it 1 game apiece was now in a 2 game hole. The third game had a similar story line to the first, Pablo having his nose in front all the way and winning it 11-8. Even though it was a 3-0 result, the quality was the best final we have had in years.  
Peter Logan, Pablo Buitron and David Palmer.
So has a new era begun? Will Kirk Haggarty be able to get back on the singles court and compete again? Can Peter Logan defy the ages stay the number one contender? Will John Rakolta keep improving to level where he can pressure for the title? Who will win “Dancing with the Stars”? And where did that rabbit in my back garden come from? Yes, exciting squash times are ahead of us.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


PST World Championships May 4-6

I cannot tell you how many years it has been since the DAC has hosted a professional tournament. On this weekend, it came back with a bang. A very big bang.

Being on all sides of a PST tournament - I played and watched one last year and have now organized and worked very closely with Joe McManus on this one - I can truly say that the PST naysayers are way off base. Taking this from the organizer and DAC point of view, there is one major difference between PST and the PSA that simply cannot be denied or ignored and I am not talking about the controversial “no-let” rule. It’s marketing.

Joe McManus is very hands on. He publicizes the stuffing out of his product between tournaments and that enthusiasm doesn’t wane when he is on sight - what changes is the focus of that enthusiasm. From the moment the PST entourage walked into our building, this tournament was all about the DAC, its members, its sponsors, the spectators. They were not interested in selling their players as much as they were interested in selling our club. And it’s so obvious why. 

Four of the pros with kids from the Racquet Up Detroit
urban squash program run by Derek Aguirre (far left)
The players sell themselves - David Palmer, Wael El Hindi, John White, Bradley Ball, etc, need no help. PST markets automatically because of them. Having all the players mixing in with our members, playing squash with them, socializing with them, creating friendships, is what our members will cherish forever. Now, I am not saying that doesn’t happen at a PSA event - it does - but PST go the extra mile. And a half.

On our request, Joe and David Palmer flew in one day early as we thought our members would get a kick out of having David referee our Open Club Championship final. There he was sitting in the middle of the crowd calling lets (PSA rules!) of a club match. It was a buzz for the players (I believe no one argued, but I thought a couple of calls were a little soft... ha ha!) and for the members to have access to a two-time World Champion on a very intimate level.

David Palmer and John White
with major sponsor Tom Delaney
from First American Title
They also bought their own marketing employee with them. Georgetta was the one who contacted the local media in television (Detroit TV20) and radio, social media and websites. They organized on site interviews which mainly focused on the DAC rather than the tournament. PST’s continuous promotion of our club and our tournament sponsors is what will bring this event back to the DAC. I cannot tell you how many members have pleaded with me within less than 24 hours after the final that we simply must do this again in 2013. After just two matches on the first day, I had members asking how they could get involved and sponsor.

Wael El Hindi being entertained by the DAC membership!
And therein lays the distinction. The on-court squash will be fantastic whether it’s a PSA or PST - but the PST builds the personal relationships and center their attention on their host. The weekend was about the World Championships - but it was also about us.

Now to the squash itself. First round matches went as I expected they would. The top four players were untroubled in their 3-0 wins. Bradley Ball had the biggest ‘scare’ of the day against Columbian Andres Vargas when he was extended into a tie break in the first game. Vargas matched the brutal strength of Ball with lightening speed but couldn’t snatch the game and after losing it 16-14 was overpowered in the following two.

The first semi-final on Saturday threatened to test the ‘no-let’ rule to its fullest. Bradley possesses an alarmingly quick racquet. Although he can hit meticulous drops, he mainly chooses to bludgeon the ball through the front wall. This tactic can hurt him a little because his accuracy can suffer. Egyptian Wael El Hindi is more adept at the front and is menacingly quick around the court - and is well known over his career of mixing it up with the referees - something PST clamps down on rather severely. A quick and easy 11-3 first game went to the Egyptian but the second game was turned around as Bradley stepped up started to pressure Wael more effectively with his volleying. He took it 11-9 to even up the match. It was clear however, that Bradley was not moving at a 100%.  Wael wasn’t perturbed from the second game and continued on his merry way moving Bradley back to front stretching him uncomfortably into the corners. He took the 3rd and 4th 11-7, 11-5 respectively.

The other semi final had the human howitzer, John White, against David Palmer. David won this encounter 3-1, but John always threatened. He is capable of hitting a winner from any angle at a blistering pace, or cut off a cross with a little stab of the racquet and plop in a volley drop into the nick. He is never out of a rally. If John is “on”, he’s lethal. But he is also capable of an avalanche of unforced errors. And in spurts during the match, he inflicted such self destruction.

The match for the PST World Champion kept spectators slobbering into their drinks, hearts racing, nerves tingling. Just one week before David had beaten Wael 3-1 for the American Open title and Wael had just one thing on his mind - revenge. David struggled in the first game as Wael started strongly establishing a lead he never relinquished. 11-9 to Wael. David came out for the second with a more determined attitude and picked up the pace, forcing Wael to show off his remarkable court coverage. The ability David has to stand so far up the court and cut the ball off with astonishing control as he guides in volley drop after volley drop is eye-popping. 11-8 to David. In the third game it looked liked the hard work he put into game two took its toll on the Australian. David could not maintain the pressure, whereas Wael was just as quick and bouncy as he was in rally one. The longer the exchanges went, the more they favored Wael. 11-6 to the Egyptian. Game four was a replica of game three - almost. David consistently found himself on the back foot, and try as he did, could not prevent himself from being 10-5 down and having to defend 5 match balls in a row to survive. But you don’t win two World titles without having the ability to find another gear. Inconceivably, David compelled himself to wrestle back control of the game. Incredibly tough rallies followed - long, spectacular, nerve wracking. One by one, David closed the gap with patience and brilliance. Until 10-all. He then hit a very uncharacteristic drop shot tin undoing all the work and handing Wael his sixth opportunity. Another unlikely save by David, but he was now running on fumes and Wael closed out the match 13-11 in 57 minutes. A wonderfully entertaining match. Congratulations to Wael El Hindi, 2012 PST World Champion!

There were a few let calls over the course of the tournament, a number of appeals to the side judges, and the odd overrule of the central referee. There was also a couple of interactions between player and ref (with Wael on court, how could there not be!) where the players were pleading their cases. Some rallies were replayed as well, a couple times for safety reasons and another couple of times for reasons I couldn’t determine - which left the crowd somewhat bewildered as to what had just happened. But the proof is in the pudding - in this case, the pudding is our members. (Some of them could go easy on the pudding, too). There were questions aplenty about the rules, many were understandably skeptical at first but after watching it live, not a single negative word was uttered about them. On the contrary - they adored the fact that the rallies were not stopping half way through, loved that the amount of decisions required were minimal, and frankly did not care one iota that a couple of the calls were strange. They want to see squash and this forces the extension of rallies - they got what they wanted.

It is not a perfect system - and Joe McManus does not claim it is. Videos of the matches will be reviewed, discussed amongst the players and refs, with the goal of getting closer to that golden nugget of complete fairness. They are prepared to change the rules to do it. Anything to make the PST product more attractive, more marketable. PST is not designed for the players - it is designed for the public. Ask the DAC members who watched what they think. Their answer is the only one that matters.

Back row left to right: Wael El Hindi, David Palmer, John White, Bradley Ball
Front row left to right: Ned marks, Supreet Singh, Adrian Leanza, Andres Vargas

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