Thursday, October 25, 2012
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
PST Cleveland Open Oct 19-21
So here I was, excited to play another pro squash event, which at my age are fewer and further between so I cherish them more, secretly hoping that Joe McManus will be friendlier with my draw than he was last year when he threw me to the lions to play David Palmer, only to be nailed to the cross this time when I saw my opponent would be Stephane Galifi.
|Thierry Lincou and David Palmer supporting|
World Squash Day in Cleveland
Even the first round ‘qualifying’ matches were top notch. Youngster Alex Grayson from New Zealand had a groaner against Joe Russell from England winning 11-8 in the fifth. Amazing game, very cleanly played. Alex is remarkably quick and Joe is very steady as all Englishman are prone to be. Missing from the draw was Irishman John Rooney, who had to withdraw due to work commitments as he recently just started a coaching job in Buffalo. He should, however, be able to play more events as the season progresses and is of a very high standard with every chance of making the final 8 here at the DAC.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Practice, practice, practice. It’s almost a dirty word. And the thing that makes it even uglier is individual practice. How many of you can honestly say that you practice solo? It would be a very low percentage, even though it is one of the most important and valuable things you can do to develop your game. Pros hit by themselves all the time. Always looking at improving their control, timing, accuracy, and general ‘feel’.
Hashim hammers this point home and cannot recommend it enough. By hitting alone you can work on many different aspects of your technique: footwork, racquet-up, correct distance, wrist cocked, or whatever you need to concentrate on. As you know, I give many lessons at the DAC. In order to get the best value out of the lessons, practicing what I preach is imperative. Your game will advance a lot faster and you will be able to implement what you have learned into your matches sooner.
These are the final pages I have for the “Hashim Files”. I hope they have been as interesting and as informative for you as they have been for me. It’s been a pleasure to be able to share some rare squash history from a (still living) legend of the sport, a person considered to probably be the best striker of a squash ball ever.
To see all the blog articles on Hashim, go to: Hashim Khan
Monday, October 15, 2012
Blitz Tournament – October 12
The Blitz Tournament is an interesting event. With the handicapping system, many of the games come down to a sudden death rally. Typically in such situations, the higher standard player has the advantage, and the results proved that theory 100%. Of the 7 sudden death points played during the event, the stronger player won all of them. But I will say, none of those points came easy, or without making that player sweat. It is great to see the underdog step up to the plate and raise their game.
|Derek Aguirre and his nemesis Tom MacEachern|
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Fall Down Classic – Nov 2-4
Friday, October 5, 2012
This was my fourth trip to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. This is actually the one weekend of the year that I do not have to plead for a ‘hall pass’ from my wife. Why she encourages me to head off to paradise for 4 days on a bachelors trip with some of the hardest partiers on the planet is a total enigma and another reason I will never understand women. But, I shouldn’t question it, I should just be grateful. And I am. Since 2009, I have been joining at least 8 others from the Great Lakes area to be part of the squad that attempts to cross racquets with the Navy Squash Team. Our on-court success has been minimal to say the least.
My Favorite Part of my Favorite Weekend
Truly the highlight of the journey is the area itself. Incredible, breathtaking scenery throughout the bay where Jon Uffelman’s mother lives, Sherwood Forest is a delightful community 20 minutes by boat from downtown Annapolis. Why she allows most of us to crash at her house adds to my above puzzlement of the female species, however we are extremely appreciative of the opportunity to enjoy nature at its finest. On early Friday morning I spent at least an hour on the glass-flat bay zooming around in Jon’s boat watching him and Eric Green water-ski. I didn’t jump in myself not being an accomplished skier, but having the fresh morning breeze through my thinning hair was good enough for me. I am sure I lost an inch off my receding hairline.
Another Favorite Part of my Favorite Weekend
Beating up on the squids. (I think they call them that?) I’m talking about their squash team. A group of very disciplined, fit, strong young men headed by Coach Dawson and assisted by Casey Garwood who used to be a DAC member and was our club champion in 2003. The main reason I love beating up on them is age. They look at us – the Great Lakes Squash Team – and the first word that comes into their mind (apart from “Ugh!”) is “old”. I am not the youngest player on the team – that honor goes to 26 year old Mark Porter (now living in Toronto) – but I am waaaay off being the oldest. The dubious credit goes to Rob Graves from Franklin who tips the chronological scale at 76… ummm, I mean 58.
I don’t know how old my very quick and jumpy opponent was on Friday, but he had to be close to half my age. Almost like every year, the first half of the first game comes at me in a messy onslaught of watching my opponent zip, lunge, smash, leap, scramble, and crack that ball like his life depended on it. My task is to simply fend off the blows, and let him calm down into a more normal rhythm of a squash game where I then can take control. I won my match 3-0, pleased I could outlast the cadet - at least for another year.
Mark Porter flew the flag for our geriatric team as well, taking his squid 3-1. However, that was all the flag flying we had the energy for. Apparently, there wasn’t much energy to swing a squash racquet. Of the other 7 matches that counted towards the overall result, Team Great Lakes lost them all. It was our worst defeat in the four years I have been a part of this adventure and a surprising one as well since on paper we had a stronger group that should have been more competitive.
Saturday morning was the reverse scrimmage – more a mix ‘n’ match than an official competition and we faired a lot better. Fair to say their team was not as strong, but at least we took advantage of it!
Don’t Forget this Favorite Part of my Favorite Weekend
Believe it or not, squash wasn’t the sole reason for our trip. Yes, the expectation of being part of the team is to do plenty of male bonding. Group activities are essential for high moral. We play hard together, so we naturally socialize hard together too! Because of the location, seafood restaurants dominate the agenda. Unfortunately for me, I don’t like seafood. The rather common “you don’t know what you’re missing out on” echoes regularly towards me, but actually I know exactly what I’m missing out on: Seafood. It’s disgusting. But it’s no problem, I’ll enjoy my hamburger thank you very much. Of course nothing washes down a hearty meal better than a few drinks, and indulge we did. Annapolis has a vast selection of bars and we frequented many of them.
|Left to right: Mark Porter (Toronto), |
Brad Hanebury (London, ON), Nick Dimitrijevic (Windsor)
Mark Eugeni (Windsor), me!, and Jon Uffelman
in the front. The oyster shooters.... yugh!
Thursday, October 4, 2012
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Over the years since Hashim has written these pages, squash has changed in significant ways. Racquets are no longer made of wood, the tin is lower (for a large percentage of professional tournaments), the ball has been made slower, and the scoring system has changed. This makes for a faster and more exciting sport. However, tactful shot selection for most part seems to have remained constant despite these modifications. Basically, keep the ball tight and hold the ‘T’ position. What has changed is the amount of angles players use and their level of deception. Lighter racquets allows players to flick the wrist easier and open up more choices for almost every shot.
Hashim emphasizes the use of the straight drop shot keeping it close to the wall, and the importance of volleying. Combining the two is a difficult skill but a very valuable one. The one shot that he isn’t so keen on is the reverse corner – that is, when you hit a forehand so that the ball hits the backhand side wall before the front wall (or vise-versa). I often tell people to avoid this shot most of the time, but if you are inclined to use it – as I am - do it very sparingly so it is a ‘surprise’ variation and maybe you can catch your opponent off guard. The reverse corner is commonly played as a regular shot in the lower categories. It can be an effective weapon against lesser opponents, but it rapidly loses its success rate when you start moving up the ranks.
To see all the blog articles on Hashim, go to: Hashim Khan