Tuesday, December 31, 2013

SQUASH SHOTS XVI


The “Mickies” Awards for 2013

2013 saw record numbers on our squash courts. Cries for more courts resonated throughout the hallways and locker rooms, along with the cries for more beer, and just the flat out crying when some of you would lose your league match. Wiping up spilt tears is just one of my duties as squash pro, as is making sure I share with the entire planet the best of the best of the best photos that have come my way in the past 12 months. It is said that you shouldn’t laugh at anyone unless you can laugh at yourself. Thankfully, I find myself indisputably hilarious, so I have every right poking fun at you with this year’s winners of the 2013 Mickies…


The “Chip(s) off the Old Block” award goes to… John Rakolta and George Kordas! 

Which is George, which
one is JR?
First came the “Murderers Row” from the New York Yankees. Then the “Steel Curtain” out of Pittsburgh. Now, we have the “Blue Chips” from central Detroit. Self proclaimed, the “Blue Chips” (Ooooh, scary!) got together on a whim and joined forces on the doubles court for this year’s DAC Classic. They did remarkably well considering their total lack of experience losing 17-16 in the 5th in the semi final on a controversial double bounce call. The matching tracksuits are a serious fashion statement (that screams “I have no idea”) and I have to admit when I heard the name “Blue Chips” for the first time, my mind went immediately to the 1970’s tv show “CHiPS” with the 2 motorcycle cops. Anyone see any similarities?


The “State the Obvious” award goes to… Patrick Petz!

During the Cross Border Challenge, Patrick Petz decided to announce to the world his true feelings in the form of this easy to read t-shirt. I mean, who doesn’t feel the same way? Even our old Mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, was apparently way ahead of his time when his love for the aforementioned was so uncontrollable it cost him his political career and 28 years of his life… Oh, sorry, that wasn’t quite the same thing… Anyway, Detroit has fell head over heels for Bush, but let’s all hope he doesn’t get overused and get mixed up with the tight-ends and wide-receivers - he does catch a lot of balls though! In fact, we are very blessed in this wonderful city of ours since we all love Johnston as well. Go Lions!



The “Vogue” award goes to… Liz McClure!

“Ladies with an attitude
Fellows that were in the mood
Don't just stand there, let's get to it
Strike a pose, there's nothing to it… Vogue”
(Song “Vogue” by Madonna)

Liz goes retro. After dominating the women’s category at the Windsor tournament in March, she captured her moment in the spotlight with a perfect pose of her killer forehand volley! I am surprised I haven’t seen this magic pic on the front covers of all the sports and fashion magazines. Notice the racquet preparation, the left arm counter-balance, eyes on the... well, eyes staring into space, good balance, and nice pink outfit that even Sante would be proud to wear. All that is missing is the fact she isn’t actually on the court. Liz is currently studying in Lansing but we hope to see her back on our courts shortly where she could impress us with some more Madonna moves.
  

The “You’re My Hero” award goes to… Matt DiDio!

Faster than a Phil Pitters crosscourt drop… More powerful than a Joe Bobzin overhead serve… Able to leap up and almost reach a Jerry Rock lob in a single bound… Look! There on the squash court! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No! It’s… it’s… it’s some member in blue and red spandex that appears to have enormous underpants!” I’m not sure what the big ‘S’ signifies on his chest, but let’s go with ‘Squash’, shall we? Superman was the Superhero of all Superheroes: strength, he could fly, indestructible… nothing could harm him except a geologist with a glowing rock. I think we have now all discovered his other hidden weakness: unable to escape the flash of a camera. Back in my day, Halloween costumes were supposed to be scary. Well, thanks to Matt for going old school here and frightening the bejeezus out of all of us.

We are in fact very happy to have Matt DiDio in our DAC squash community. He is a great supporter of the squash program. I do have to wonder though, why the beanie?



The “Clowning Around” award goes to… Kevin Prather and Brian Bartes!

Slipping on banana peels. Throwing cream pie into each other’s faces. Squirting water from flowers. Jamming 30 of your friends into a mini-car. Kevin and Brian apparently have very special skills, as they boldly showcased during the 2013 Detroit Thanksgiving parade! Deep down, I think we all knew what their true calling was. It was just a matter of time before they came out of the make-up salon adorned like Bozo. Kevin and Brian however, are hardly the same jokers on the court – both of them have been working hard on their games and are consistently improving. So don’t get caught out with their antics here, otherwise they’ll be slapping their racquet sticks around and the only ones with the red noses will be you!


Monday, December 23, 2013

READY TO ROCK AND ROLL?


DAC Squash Classic Feb 6-9, 2014

Are you ready? Ready for the greatest squash tournament this side of the Mississippi? And in fact the greatest squash tournament on the other side of the Mississippi too? You better be. This will be a Journey of the senses. The Oasis of the DAC will open The Doors and we will stimulate you throughout the 4-day weekend with an INXS of great squash competition, wonderful catering options, unbeatable social atmosphere, and a Saturday night party that will knock your sweaty white socks off!

You will feel like you are in Nirvana. Your squash may endure Blood, Sweat, & Tears, whether you are the Slayer or a Survivor or the victim, but be assured you can Cure all your Poison and ills by burning the Midnight Oil with guaranteed memorable socializing. Hopefully we won’t need to call on The Police to control you band of Misfits and Motley Crue (just don’t put yourself into such Dire Straits). We are not pulling any Cheap Trick here, this will also be an unbelievable value for money - you will not be asking for a Nickelback!

Click on the entry form to see all the details. You are allowed to enter 2 categories, but by doing so you are agreeing to play ALL of the matches. We do not want anyone pulling out half way through of one category just to save themselves for the other. That is not fair to your opponents. Categories include: Singles 2.5, 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, 4.5, 5.0, 5.5. And Doubles - A, B, C. All categories are mixed. Restrictions are as follows:

              Maximum 32 players in any on singles category
              Maximum 16 teams in any one doubles category
              Minimum 2 matches per singles draw
              Minimum 1 match per doubles draw
              Walkovers / forfeits count a match
              All singles matches is PAR to 11 scoring
              All doubles matches are best of 5 games to 15 - there is NO tie-break.
              Maximum 145 entries for the entire tournament.
              Minimum age to enter the tournament is 13
              Registrations will ONLY be accepted with payment
              Once registration capacity is reached, all subsequent entries will go on a wait list

For the DAC Classic to run smoothly and honorably, a lot of that responsibility lies with the player. Here is what you have to consider - and adhere to - when entering:

              Any player entering the ‘A’ doubles is NOT permitted to play the ‘C’ doubles regardless of partner. In layman’s terms – no sandbagging.
              We do not use referees for the tournament. It is required that all players conduct themselves on court with their best behavior and avoid all ‘let’ conflicts with their opponents. Be fair, be reasonable, have common sense. We are there to have fun. Arguments will not be tolerated.
              On the flip side of the point above, for some matches, referees may be required. If you are asked to referee, please accept the duty.
              Be on time for your match. Better yet, be early. Court usage is on a tight schedule and is maximized through the event and there is nothing worse than having a court sit open while we look for you.
              By entering the DAC Classic, you agree to make yourself available to play during the below listed times. Once times are set, they will NOT be changed. It is your own responsibility to arrange your schedule around your playing times. I suggest you clear your calendar of any possible conflicts now:

   For players in the Detroit area – including Ann Arbor, Lansing, Toledo, Windsor:
                        Thursday, February 6 between 4pm and 11pm
                        Friday, February 7 between 3pm and midnight
                        Saturday, February 8 between 8am and 8pm
                        Sunday, February 9 between 8am and 4pm 

   For all other players:
                        Friday, February 7 between 3pm and midnight
                        Saturday, February 8 between 8am and 8pm
                        Sunday, February 9 between 8am and 4pm

If there are any players from out of town that can also play on Thursday, let me know. It will help me avoid organizing first round matches against your fellow club members - especially those from London.

The success of the DAC Classic has not been possible without our generous sponsors. Their support has been ongoing for several years now and we could not be more indebted to them. Please take some time over the weekend to thank their generosity:

              Skidmore Inc – Patrick Petz
              Smith Barney – Sean Moran
              Advanced Voice and Data Solutions – Anil Kathuria
              Corbet, Shaw, Essad, Tucciarone, Bonasso – Bruce Shaw
              SVS Vision – Ken Stann
              Metropolitan Baking – George Kordas
              AARO Companies – Tom Fabbri
              Adlhoch and Associates – Scott Adlhoch
              Outrigger Imaging – Joe Schaden 

So...

Seal your commitment early. Avoid the Quit Riot that will go on in your head and Rush your entry in well before the deadline before U2 miss out!

Let’s Rock!

Friday, December 20, 2013

A TRULY PROFESSIONAL DISPLAY


We really could not have asked for any more. I am sure that the evening will be remembered by many for a long, long, time. As I watched the exhibition match between David Palmer and Thierry Lincou, it was interesting to hear the reactions of the crowd. The incredulous remarks at their retrieval ability, speed, fitness, touch… you name it. It blew people away.

Before I get into that wonderful performance, we do have some member matches to mention that was a part of this Hops Challenge. Just to get you working up a sweat and make you feel better about attacking the keg, two teams were put together: “Palmer’s Punishers” and “Lincou’s Liquidators”. There were no prizes for the wining team (pride?), simply a chance to beat up on each other.

And it was close. Only three of the 13 matches ended up 3-0. Four of them were 3-2. Kevin Prather couldn’t take advantage of a 2-0 lead he had against Joe Paglino as fitness became a larger issue towards the end. Kevin still hung tough, but Joe managed to keep the edge in the 5th game to complete the difficult comeback. Niko Ahee scraped through the tightest of the matches of the evening with a 5 set win over Glen Milligan. Three of the games were stretched to a tie-break, barely a couple of points separated the two all contest long. Despite the loss, Glen was quite satisfied with the result.

Sean Fossee somehow managed to keep Kevin Kennedy from wining the 5th game in their battle after the two traded the first four. Kevin looked a little less worse for wear, but Sean kept steady enough in the final stanza to stay ahead.

David and Thierry pre-match
Tom MacEachern continues to step it up. He took Rich Stimson in 5 demanding games and his comment afterwards: “That wasn’t easy.” No, I bet it wasn’t. But since Tom plays numerous times a week, and has started to work on his game with some lessons, these tough winning results shouldn’t be too much a surprise to anyone.

At the end of the member matches, “Palmer’s Punishers” had the unassailable 8 matches to 5 lead. The pro exhibition would unfortunately not be the deciding result (not that anyone cared – or probably even knew!) The showcase was upon us.

For many members watching, it was the first time they had seen professional squash. Being utterly made speechless by the athleticism is one thing, and a comment made to me the next morning was that even though it was unquestionably fantastic to watch, and certainly a opportunity to learn from them, emulating them would be impossible. Okay, sure. But remember you don’t need to play like them. Take some important tips and fundamentals away from it, practice those things and improve your game. It takes time and effort.

As a side note, I cornered our squash committee chairman – John Dunwoody – into refereeing the match. His initial reluctance quickly gave way when he realized he would be part of the spectacle. The PST
‘no-let’ rule was right up John’s alley since as the match wore on it seemed he didn’t know what a ‘let’ was anyway! He was the perfect fit for the occasion.

John Dunwoody.
"You're asking for a what?"
Even though it was an exhibition, David and Thierry must have had some type of bet going on between them – these guys went hard. Don’t get me wrong – we had the fancy shots, the cracking nicks, wrist breaking deception, the head-fakes, drop-shot rallies… all that one would expect from two guys that just know how to do it properly. But they also ran their tails off. They wanted to win. Palmer took a close first game 11-9 before Thierry bounced back strongly in the second. A few careless unforced errors from Palmer helped that cause, and the 11-5 Lincou win was never in doubt.

The third game was much like the first as the players went toe-to-toe, point-for point, up until 6-all. Thierry then managed a small 2 point cushion that he never relinquished and ended up taking it 11-8 and a 2-1 game lead.

The fourth game… well… the fourth game had all the drama. David found his stride early to sprint to a 6-1 advantage and it looked like we were in for a quick game. But no. It appeared Thierry had little interest in playing a 5th. At 7-3 down, he went on a roll taking the next 6 rallies in a row for a 9-7 lead, two points from victory. At this stage, both players were having some furious exchanges. They were breathing very hard. Where their spare stores of energy came from was anyone’s guess, but the crowd was definitely feeling their pain!

And then came “The Rally”. It will be “The Rally” that will keep people’s tongue wagging, the one they will tell their friends about. I have seen a lot of pro squash in my time, and this rally would rank up there with the best of them. It included a David Palmer full length body dive into the left back corner, unbelievable retrieval after unbelievable retrieval, and it went on, and on, and on. Just as David looked on the verge of collapse, Thierry attempted a deceptive crosscourt from the front left corner that veered over his own head, and as David was running for the straight drive he managed to stick his racquet up enough to get the ‘stroke’ decision. Magical squash. And it deserved every second of the standing ovation it received.

The fact that Thierry ended up winning the 4th 17-15 was inconsequential. The crowd was buzzed. What a performance.

Thierry and David post-match!
Once the boys had regained their breath a little, they spent a good 20-30 minutes answering questions from the members – a first-class touch for everybody to listen and learn some more. Another comment to me from one of our members expressed that the time these two spent off court with the audience was even more impressive than the time they spent on. I’m sure many would agree.

It was an exciting evening. The lads will be back in the first weekend of May for the 2014 PST World Championship that we will be hosting (May 2-4). Make sure you make the effort to back this event – we need your support. Come and see me for all the information.


Monday, December 16, 2013

BUCK UP FOR THE FARRIS CUP


Farris Cup – January 11 @ BAC

Here is what we are hoping for:

  • Our DAC team will perform admirably. This I am sure of, since everyone puts in their best effort whenever they grace the court.
  • Matches will be competitive. It’s understandable that some matches may be a little one-sided, after all we can’t get it spot-on every time. But after 9 years of doing this, we should be able to get it mostly right.
  • The overall result will be close. Don’t get me wrong – I want a DAC victory, but win or lose, it should be competitive.
Can we manage it? We’ll see. The 10th Farris Cup versus BAC is scheduled for Saturday, January 11. Competition starts at 9.15am and will feature 14 singles and 3 doubles matches. Our team has been selected from the winners and finalists of the 2013 Club Championships.

The DAC has so far won the Farris Cup 5 times, the BAC 4. So we do hold the edge on that count. As the years pass and the tradition of this event grows, our members get more excited every time to represent the club. It is the perfect opportunity for players from all the levels (2.5 – 5.5) to be a part of something special. Let’s hope we can continue this for many more years to come. John Farris – whom this contest is in honor of – would want nothing more than tough, well-spirited matches between the two major Michigan clubs that only builds their relationship.

Come on down to the BAC to cheer on our team. It should be a great atmosphere. A luncheon will be provided after the matches to present the winning team with the Farris Cup trophy and to honor the man himself. If you wish to join in for the munchies, coat and tie is required as is registration with me (I think its $15++ per person, but it may be a couple bucks more...)

Our representatives:

Singles:
Ted Morris – Jason Trombley – Tom MacEachern – Shail Arora – Sante Fratarcangeli – Paul Van Tol – Scott Adlhoch – Phil Pitters – Jim Stroh – Andy Adamo – Derek Aguirre – Anthony Fracchia – Pablo Buitron – Jed Elley

Doubles:
Peter Logan – John Birgbauer – Greg Rivard – Ryan Bendzinski – John Dunwoody – Bob Burton

Go Team DAC!! 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

100 REASONS TO PLAY DOUBLES


Doubles 100 Tournament ~ starts Jan 7

In reality, there is only one real reason anyone would play squash: Because it’s AWESOME!! But, in case that isn’t adequate, here is another just as exiting motive to get on court: the Doubles 100 Tournament! Back for its 7th year, once again we will be running an A and a B draw. You all know how this works by now: Simply, choose a playing partner so that your combined ages reach at least 100 years. Draws will be a knock-out format, so if you lose, you’re out. Matches are best of five games to 15 points, with no tie-break.

Sounds easy enough, but you will need to be quick in order to find your appropriate team mate. This reminds me to mention to you that please, please, please, do not register without one. Asking me to find a partner for you aged at least ‘x’, doesn’t work very well. There will be absolutely no guarantee I can manage that.

Peter Logan and Patrick Petz have been runner-up the past 2 years in the A draw, so I’m sure they’ll be looking at getting back in the winner’s circle as they did in 2011. Or will they not be able to get over the final roadblock? Last year, it was John Dunwoody and Eric Green who thwarted them, we’ll see if the same teams register and if that one extra year has made any difference to their speed, skills, decision making, memories, coordination, bed-time… ummm… what was I talking about….?

The B draw last year had Rich Stimson and Drew Creamer taking the honors over Joe Moran and Ken Katz in a tight 3-1 final. This was also Ken’s second runners-up result – he lost a heart-breaker in 2011 18-17 in the 5th – also with Joe as his partner. No doubt he’ll be even more determined to come up trumps this time, but as we all know every year gets harder and harder. Will some of the younger troop coming into the game burst his bubble? Tom MacEachern? Margi Scholtes? Andrew Spohn… just name but a few?

More importantly, we want participation. Our goal is to surpass last year’s record entry of 44 players. I am sure we can manage that. Registration deadline is January 3. Better start contacting potential mates…

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

CLINK YOUR DRINKS FOR THE WINKY-DINKS


Boasters League first half final standings ~~
 
To no one’s surprise, the “Winky-Dinks” took the first half honors. Going into the final week, they were only 13 points behind “Butter Nutz” who had the round nine bye. Those 13 points were made up just in bonus points alone and a good thing they did too. The “Winky-Dinks” struggled on court for the final round losing 6 matches 3-0, 4 matches 2-1, and winning only 3 contests. Adding on the make-up matches that both “Winky-Dinks” and “Butter Nutz” completed over the final week, the five point victory margin in the end was a lot closer than I predicted it would be.

Busting Rails” made a last week surge and impressively closed the gap to the second placed team from 39 points to 18. Also making a little progress, “The Kampai Warriors” ended up 6th picking up a notable 43 points over the final week, and knocking on “Mongoose’s” tail for 5th spot. “Vivio’s” failed to make any headway to get themselves out of the basement staying 8 points behind “Paddy’s Dropshots”.

It seemed that play was overall up for the league this half – much of that has to do with the increase of players – but let’s see if the statistics back up that claim:

  • 74% of overall matches were completed. That’s 2% lower than the first half last season.
  • Round 1 had the most matches played with 85%.
  • Round 9 had the least matches played with 68%. The round that was ‘cancelled’ due to the Tiger’s play-off game had 70% played.
  • No team played all 15 matches in any one round.
  • Winky-Dinks” played the most matches with 84%. “Paddy’s Dropshots” completed the least with 65%.
  • Busting Rails” had the best winning percentage with 59%. “Mongoose” had the lowest with 42%. They also had the highest point total for any one round – 37 in round 9.
  • The lowest point total for any one round goes to “Vivio’s” – they scored 9 points only in round 3. It was the Tiger play-off ‘cancelled’ round.
  • The “Winky-Dinks” averaged over 12 bonus points per round (Total 86). Their lowest bonus point total for any one round in the first half was 11. That’s equal to the next team’s highest. The only other team to pick up 11 bonus points in one round was the “Butter Nutz” – they did it twice.
  • Vivio’s” picked up the least amount of bonus points with 39.
  • 18 players picked up all bonus points. “Foss-Nation” and “Paddy’s Dropshots” are the only 2 teams that didn’t have any player who picked all the bonus points.
  • 27 players completed all 8 matches. That is a record.
  • 3 of those 28 also went undefeated: Joey Gaylord (“Vivio’s”); JC Tibbitts (“Busting Rails”); Cleveland Thurber (“Foss-Nation”).
  • Neither of those three mentioned above, however, scored the most points for the first half – that honor goes to Bob Rogers (“Butter Nutz”) with 27.

On to the “All Stars”. They are the players who have scored the most points so far in the respective levels – including bonus points. Over the next couple of weeks I will be going through everyone’s results and shuffling players around in the attempt to make the competition as equal as possible. Everybody will carry their first half point total into the second. I will do my utmost to keep teams together but a small percentage of you will have to be ‘traded’. So far, the “All Stars” are:

Chuck Doyle and Jason Trombley
  1. Three way tie in the number 1 position: Brien Baker (“Busting Rails”); Jeff Gembis (“Vivio’s”); Jim Stroh (“Mongoose”)
  2. Al Iafrate (“Busting Rails”)
  3. Paul Van Tol (“Busting Rails”)
  4. Tom MacEachern (“Paddy’s Dropshots”)
  5. Greg Baker (“Vivio’s”)
  6. Bob Rogers (“Butter Nutz”)
  7. Chuck Doyle (“Busting Rails”)
  8. Justin Winkelman (“Winky-Dinks”)
  9. Joey Gaylord (“Vivio’s”)
  10. Two-way tie: Jason Trombley (“Butter Nutz”); Niko Ahee (“Winky-Dinks”)
  11. James Stuntz (“Wardogs”)
  12. Two-way tie: Tom Bejin (“Butter Nutz”); Matt Turnbull (“Winky-Dinks”)
  13. JC Tibbitts (“Busting Rails”)
  14. Cleveland Thurber (“Foss-Nation”)
  15. Brett Torgler (“Winky-Dinks”)

The second half of the season is set to get underway on January 8. All teams start at zero, but at the end of the nine weeks, there will be a 3-week play-off between the top 6 teams only. That means the bottom 3 teams will be kaputski.

I was reasonably pleased with the participation level for the first half. It is clear, though, that the more active captains have the more successful teams – If all 9 captains were as communicative and Justin Winkelman and Sante Fratarcangeli, we’d have a real tight completion on our hands. Let’s see if we can achieve this goal!

Monday, December 9, 2013

HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT TREAT


As has been the trend with just about every single squash event that has run lately, participation has been strong. This was the 10th Annual Holiday Tournament (geez, has it been that long already!) and only the second time we reached registration capacity with 24 players. I wasn’t overly surprised we did, but as an added delightful Christmas gift, for the first time ever the club top three ranked players entered - Pablo Buitron, Jed Elley and Peter Logan.

This rare opportunity was very much welcomed by all. Here was a chance not only for everybody to watch these guys in action, but also the possibility to hop on court with them. It was a tremendous learning occasion.

The format of this event is such that Lady Luck can pay a large factor in your overall results. In the first round, literally anybody could play anybody. That means Pablo could have played Jed or Peter to start. They didn’t, but they would have to tackle each other later on. With a full contingent of players, matches were ‘shortened’ to three games of 7 points (no tie-break, and no handicapping). A shorter game evens up the battle field a little and we did have a slew of 2-1 results through the evening and I believe 3 matches that were decided 7-6 in the 3rd game.

Jed Elley and Dane Fossee
Everybody who got to hit with one of the ‘top three’ relished the experience. Regularly, Dane Fossee puts his money on the table for the weekly “Challenge the Pro” with me. He runs his gluteus maximus into the floorboards, and quite frankly, ‘mercy’ is not something I am very familiar with. Neither is Jed Elley. In an all too familiar setting, Jed ran Dane into the Purchasing Department (which is in the basement under court 7) and in one particular rally, for some reason Dane simply would not stop. Luckily the rally ended mere seconds from Dane falling into a coma. He then whiffed at Jed’s next serve.

Undeniably, no DAC event would be complete without the appropriate hydration station. Some partake more than others and it would be fair to say that a little over-indulgence may affect one’s squash skills slightly. Some may claim it improves them, in which case we should have been witnessing some world-class action... alas, it must have been happening upstairs out of my sight! By the time round 3 came around the ‘clash of the titans’ were beginning. Peter v Pablo belted it out. I think Peter had a couple more bicep curls behind him than Pablo, but you wouldn’t really have known by the way he was playing and moving. However, Pablo proved too smooth and steady, and aided by a couple of gut tearing boasts, he took the match 3-0.

Woman Power! Esther Thomas, Kelly Maher,
Cathy Lysack, Julie VandeVusse
We cannot forget about the other 21 players in the draw. There was some terrific contests going on all evening, some rival matches worth mentioning: Bob Rogers and Anil Kathuria went at each other like a couple of rabid dogs fighting over a slice of raw meat, feet moving so fast it was as if I was watching Road Runner being chased by Wile E. Coyote. Bob took the match 2-1, the huffing and puffing could be heard from the mezzanine level. Phil Pitters and Brien Baker emulated them and we all know how Phil can scamper from corner to corner. It seems to me he sometimes wants to run more. Brien was happy to accommodate, and won 3-0. We also had two husband and wife couples playing, and to their no doubt overwhelming joy, did not end up having to play each other. In fact, we had 4 women in the event - another first - and a positive trend we would very much like to continue and improve on.
Peter Logan, Pablo Buitron


The final match of the tournament had Pablo versus Jed. Once again, Pablo had an itsy-bitsy benefit of not having walked over to the kegerator as often. But don’t forget: Jed is a South African and immunity is inherent. Pablo took the first game comfortably as Jed struggled to find rhythm - which he then did in the second. He wrested the momentum away and rolled off the points to take the match into a deciding winner-take-all third. Getting some super-juice from his darling daughter’s sippy-cup, Jed may have been better off chugging a brewski instead. Pablo stamped his authority early in the third for a quick 5-0 lead. Jed muscled back a couple of points, but he had left himself to big a hurdle to climb. Pablo won 2-1!


With Peter Logan taking third spot, we had 4 players tied for fourth - Brien Baker, Rich Stimson, Stu Neufeld and Dane Fossee. The gift choosing went as expected - most of what was on offer was booze, and thankfully we do not have to add anything onto the banned substances list for next year!

One thing that we were missing this year were two regulars who really get into the spirit of the Holidays by dressing in the festive colors: Sante and Patrick Petz. We were saved though by Chuck Doyle in his red / green garb and partly by John Maher who subtlety of the green / red shoes and laces should be expanded to his shorts and shirt next year so he can parade around as the world’s tallest elf.

A big Christmas ‘thank you’ to all who played and supported this event! It was a great evening.

Monday, December 2, 2013

A SELECTION OF SORTS


Doubles Select Tournament 2013

The trend continues upwards. Another record for entries in this year’s event beating the 2012 benchmark of 40 players with 44. More matches means a tougher time organizing them, and although we did have some problems with a few foursomes finding it rather difficult to find common ground, eventually it all came together.

In the utopian world of “Planet Doubles Select”, all teams are exactly the same standard, so the draw is literally put together at random. Of course, there is no such thing as utopia (unless you are Hugh Hefner), and believe it or not, there are usually a couple of miscalculations with my ranking. It became quickly apparent after the first round that the team to beat would be Eric Green and Ward Detwiler.

The Green / Detwiler pairing made their way steadily through to the quarter finals, dropping only one game in the process. For those of you don’t know Eric, he is an early bird. And I mean early. He drinks his morning coffee the night before and commonly gets up before he even goes to bed. Somehow, he had convinced his partner and their opponents – Manny Tancer and Margi Scholtes – to play at 5.30 in the morning. You can’t even reserve the court that early – the system itself is still asleep.

Ironically, Eric failed to show up for the match. I believe he had some alarm malfunction, and he did heartily apologize to all concerned and affected, but the forfeit had to be awarded. The favorites to win the event had defeated themselves.

Manny and Margi moved onto the semi finals where they bumped into the new favorites Rich Stimson and Joey Gaylord. Rich and Joey had ploughed through their first three opponents 3-0, and they made sure they turned up for semi! Margi is relatively new to doubles but picked up the angles and pace of the game quickly, improving with every outing. Joey is in the same boat, so the two teams appeared to be evenly matched. It was a good contest. Manny and Margi lost 3-1, but they were the first team to take a game from them and push the envelope. Rich and Joey moved onto the final – Joey’s first Select final, Rich’s second. Rich lost the final back in 2007, so he was hoping for a step better this time around.

On the other side of the draw, only one of the matches ended with a 3-0 score line. We had two matches cut short with injury however, and the rest went either 3-1 or the full 3-2 distance. Joe Moran and Terry Lang had three of the four 3-2 results. After escaping round one against David Devine and Bruce VandeVusse, they used their Houdini tricks again over Paul Flanagan and John Chouinard. Up 2 game to 1, Joe and Terry failed to convert a 4th game match ball to lose it 15-14. Luckily, they didn’t lose faith and managed to muster up enough resistance to take the 5th game 15-12. Their next match would be even closer.

John Dunwoody was paired with Dan Follis. John and Dan performed their own escape artistry after being 2-0 down in their first match against Shail Arora and Tom MacFarlane and then scratching their way back for a 3-2 victory somehow. Dan still doesn’t know how they won that match, but he was happy enough to get on court for another one. Facing the Moran / Lang team, John and Dan matched them point for point, game for game. After belting it out for so long, the entire result came down to a sudden-death 14-all in the 5th rally. With the Gods flipping the coin, Terry and Joe won the toss, and the match. Dan still doesn’t know how they lost that match.

Their semi final was against the steady team of Andrew Spohn and Jon Walton. Not making too much noise as they worked themselves through each round, Andrew and Jon dropped their first game in their quarter final to Paul Ward and Steve Murphy. They dropped another one to Joe and Terry, but as we all know you need three of them to win a match. Andrew and Jon quietly took care of business taking the other three games and setting themselves the arduous task of beating Rich and Joey in the final. Andrew would be looking for his second Select title – he won in 2008. Jon would be making his first appearance. They would need to play well. They would need to keep up the consistency that got them into the final in the first place. Could they do it?

Rich Stimson, Joey Gaylord, Jon Walton, Andrew Spohn
Not in game one. But only by the slimmest of margins. This match was up for grabs, neck-and-neck these two teams went for the first half. Andrew and Jon could have found themselves in a very different position if they had won the rally at 14-all in the first game. But they didn’t. That disappointment however, did not stop them from keeping their chins up and taking the second game 15-13. Nevertheless, instead of being 2-0 up which would have made it very difficult to come back from, it was 1 game all and the dog-fight was now a best of three.

Only two games were needed. Rich and Joey slowly asserted their dominance, not without tough resistance mind you, but a solid third game (15-8) gave them a 2-1 lead and that ever important mental edge. The fourth game was closer, but Andrew and Jon could not close the gap. Rich and Joey took it 11-8 and with it are named 2013 Doubles Select Champions!

Congratulations to the winners and congratulations to all participants for making it the largest Select event so far. It will no doubt get bigger next year… that’s our goal of course!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

THEY’RE BAAA-AAACK!


Hops Challenge – Dec 18. Matches start at 4pm.

The show that these two professionals put on for us last year was talked about just as much as the actual PST tournament we ran in May. If you missed it, you should regret it. But you get a second chance as we bring the celebrities back for another round of sensationalism. Guaranteed hot-dogging, trick-shots, humor, and flat out brilliance, you will be nothing short of awestruck with this exhibition.

Building up to that match, you will also get a chance to play one yourself. If you wish, register with me and I will organize a game for you. You may as well get a sweat up before watching how squash really can be performed. Member matches will start at around 4pm and we’ll try to be all done by 7pm (or thereabouts) so everybody can squeeze in behind court 7 to get ready to be blown away…

“Let’s get ready to rummmmmmbllllle….!”

In the right corner, weighing in at approximately 200 lbs and recently released from captivity from Zeus when he yelled “Release the Kraken!”, originally from the land Downunder where women glow and men plunder, coming in with a career record that solidifies him as an all-time legend, the slayer of squash players, a magician tactician…. DAVID – “I-can’t-believe-you’re-not-using-Black-Knight” – PALMER!!

And…

In the left corner, weighing in at a concrete 160 lbs, with an alluring exotic accent that makes it irrelevant that we can’t understand him, originally from an island 6000 miles from France but somehow still connected to it, coming in with a career record that mere mortals such as ourselves couldn’t even dream of, the Mr. Nice of slice and dice, the power packet with the squash racquet, …. THIERRY – “I-can’t find long-enough-socks” – LINCOU!!

Last year’s event was – believe it or not – a tie! Will one of them be willing to hand out a defeat this year? It seems that every time they match-up, it goes to 5 games so there is a great likelihood we’ll see much of the same. Be prepared to “Oooooh!” and “Ahhhhhh!” and “No-way!” all the way through the encounter. I am sure you will witness shots that you won’t even comprehend. Both David and Thierry have been ranked number one in the world. Make use of this rare opportunity.

And the best part? This is FREE to all DAC members. We’ll even have the Hops faucet at your disposal! Pack the bleachers, pack the mezzanine. Invite your DAC (non-squash) friends as well. Maybe we’ll convert them! Be raucous. This is for you. Don’t end up regretting it.

If you want a pre-exhibition match, please let me know by no later than Monday, December 16. Start to get excited.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A TWO TEAM TUSSLE


Boasters League round 8~~

Although not mathematically impossible, it is somewhat unlikely that a team other than “Butter Nutz” or “Winky-Dinks” will be vying for top spot for the first half. With one round to play, everyone has 2 weeks to get any and all matches completed before the December 6 deadline, but with over 40 points separating the above mentioned teams from the remaining, making up that difference would be pretty challenging to say the least.

Butter Nutz” also have the nervous ‘sit-on-the-sidelines’ for round 9. They lead “Winky-Dinks” by 13 points, but that could be made up easily enough with bonus points. “Butter Nutz” will need to make up plenty of matches over the next 14 days to give themselves a decent chance.

Making a late “charge” are “The Kampai Warriors”. They have been the cellar-dwellers since round 3, but have been steadily forcing their way up. Now in 8th place, (and in turn giving “Vivio’s” the dubious honor of being the current holders of the wooden spoon), they are only 11 points off 5th placed “Mongoose” – a goal easily attainable. In fact, “The Kampai Warriors” have to play against “Mongoose” in the final round – the perfect opportunity to gain ground.

Individual mentionables for round 8: Brien Baker (“Busting Rails”) handed Jeff Gembis (“Vivio’s”) his first loss of the season with a 2-1 win. Brien’s praying-mantis reach frustrated Jeff as he couldn’t figure a way to get the ball past him. As usual, Brien said it was all luck and the result could have easily been reversed. Dave Morrison (“The Kampai Warriors”) beat Tom Healy (“Winky-Dinks”) 2-1 in a close contest – as disappointed as Tom was, it was a better result against Dave as he lost 3-0 last time!

Tom MacEachern (“Paddy’s Dropshots”) improved his record to 5 and 1 with a 2-1 victory over Dave Devine (“Butter Nutz”); Jordan Ellis (“Winky-Dinks”) was helped with a strong start to the match as he held off Marc Lakin (“The Kampai Warriors”) for a 2-1 triumph; and Al Iafrate (“Busting Rails”) appeared to have too much juice for the tiring Rich Stimson (“Vivio’s”) as he took a 2-1 win.

Don’t forget that at the end of the first half of the season, I will be looking at everyone’s win / loss record. Based on those results, I will be shuffling the teams around in an attempt to make the second half even more competitive. Most of you will stay on your current team, some of you will have to be traded. It’s all in the name of fairness! 

Monday, November 18, 2013

ADVENTURES IN WINDSORLAND


Windsor Tournament Nov 15-17

Counting myself we had a baker’s dozen of representatives from the DAC battering it out at the Windsor Fall Classic. And, for a pleasant surprise, we also took home a couple of titles! I was told the event had a total of 117 players – a great number to be sure, which also included a bucket full of juniors. Many of the juniors mix in with the adults categories (including the doubles events) which can be a mentally difficult thing to handle if you happen to be playing against one. They are (for the most part) smaller, more fragile, but they run like the dickens, and pull off shots that we normally wouldn’t be expecting. Don’t kids ever get tired? (I know my daughter only gets tired when she has to do her homework…!)

One advantage the adults have is strength. I wouldn’t usually tell anyone to use a tactic of “belt the Hell out of the ball”, but in this case flat-out power can be affective against the smaller juniors. Easier said than done of course. Point in case was Sante Fratarcangeli. This isn’t to rub salt into Sante’s wounds – on the contrary, it’s to show how easy it is that this can happen to anyone. (Remember the young Berto Mill at the DAC Classic this year? He won the 4.5 draw beating a number of our members on the way!) Never judge a book by its cover, right?  Sante won his first two matches 3-2, both times he took a 2-0 lead, only to give up the next two games but then right the ship to take the fifth. In his third match he did exactly the same thing. He was playing Amin Khan – a 12 year old with a two handed swing on both his forehand and backhand. Very difficult to see where he is hitting it, and remarkably accurate, plus he has a surprisingly good drop shot. Sante couldn’t keep up the solid work he churned out in games one and two, and found himself in another fifth game dog-fight. Maybe the effort of the first couple of matches hurt him, as this time, he couldn’t convert. Amin edged him out by a couple of points. I know Sante was very disappointed, but rest assured that he won’t be Amin’s only DAC victim in the years to come!

In the D category, Brian Bartes stole the show. He rolled through his opponents knocking out adults and juniors alike – including Chuck Doyle in the semi finals. I am not surprised that Brian won the event; he has been improving steadily over the past year or so and has recorded some nice results in both league and ladders. In fact, his prowess has been so impressive, it caught the eye of the US Squash Magazine and they felt the need to splatter his achievements in this month’s edition:

You'll find this article on page 12 of this month's US Squash Magazine!
Our other finalist for the weekend was Julie VandeVusse in the Women’s B draw. Julie won all of her matches leading up to the final relatively comfortably, but regrettably could not keep up the strong form in the one that mattered most. Even though she won the first game, lack of consistency got the better of her and she went down in the next three.
Julie Vande Vusse

The unlucky award of the weekend goes to Kevin Prather. Kevin was looking ominous and was ready to take charge but early in the first game of his first match he rolled an ankle and had to withdraw. Hopefully it isn’t too bad and plenty of icing and a few days rest should fix him up quickly. The weekend beers should have helped as well.

DAC’s second title came at the hands of yours truly I the Open division. I also played one of Windsor’s best juniors in my first match – David Mill. David is 16, is taller than me and has improved a great deal recently. Overpowering him was not an option, so I had to rely on something else: experience. Simply keeping the ball tight, eliminate errors, and force him to ‘win’ the points rather than me giving them away proved too much for the youngster. I won 3-0, and his lack of patience cost him, but he’ll learn and I’m sure the next time it will be a lot tougher. For the final I played Graeme Williams - their pro – and I went on with a similar tactic. Keeping the ball tight, being very careful to take him short because he has a great reach, I was steady enough to get through 3-0 as well.

Listing our other flag flyers, it was fantastic to see the support they gave one another. Everyone gained priceless experience and hopefully we can show up in force for future events outside the DAC walls: Esther Thomas, Dino DeMare, Tom MacEachern, Josh Slominski, Bob Garvey, Shail Arora, John Dunwoody, and Chuck Doyle.

A big thank you to Windsor Squash for hosting, to Graeme Williams for organizing, with help for Dave Guthrie and the Porter family. You always make us feel so welcome in your club. We look forward to returning the favor during the DAC Classic February 6-9, 2014.

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