Monday, February 25, 2013


Squash. The final frontier. These are the matches of the DAC Squash Classic. Its 4-day mission: To explore strange new opponents, seek out new friends and new socializing partners; to boldly play how no man has played before.

Just like the previous 2 years, the tournament reached capacity well before the deadline. The support from our friends in London and Windsor hasn’t waned and I must shout out a special ‘thank you’ to the London members who made the effort to arrive on Thursday to play. It definitely helped me with the organization. We were also honored this year to have players come from Toronto, Flint, the U.P., Lansing, and we even had 3 come from Pittsburgh who couldn’t actually play due to injury, but decided to come anyway for the festivities. However, no one traveled further than our old red-headed companion Ken MacDonald who made a special appearance all the way from Denver.

DAC representation was also very strong this year, and our members performed admirably. In fact, I would rank this as the best overall result for us since I started running the Classic back in 2005. Let’s recount:

Tom MacEachern and Ted Morris
2.5 draw~ Probably the largest 2.5 draw that I can remember, we had 26 players, 7 of which were women. The closest match of the bracket just happened to be the final match of the Thursday evening. A match that started at around 10pm and didn’t finish until close to 11pm. Niko Ahee and Josh Gershonowicz had the ‘refuse to lose’ attitude that took them to a 4th and 5th game tie break. Niko had a 2 games to 1 lead, and had many chances to win the 4th but Josh just wouldn’t quit. Taking the game 16-14, the 5th was almost as grueling. Match balls were saved by both players, and in the end it was Josh snagging the victory 14-12. It was one of the best matches of the weekend, pity only Josh’s girlfriend and I watched it! Niko went on to win the consolation draw, this time ending up on the winning side of a 5 set marathon taking the final 11-9 in the last game. Josh on the other hand lost his second round. DAC members dominated the quarter finals of the main draw. Tom MacEachern motored through his opponents dropping only 2 games on the way to the final, one to Joey Gaylord and one to Justin Winkelman. Meeting him there was Ted Morris, who also only dropped 2 games on his way - both of them to Joe Schaden in the semi. The final was not as close, Tom was on a mission and completed the 3-0 victory in commanding fashion.

3.0 draw~ Once more, DAC members were in charge of this bracket. Unfortunately, even with the weight of numbers behind us, we couldn’t pull off the win. But we were close. Sean Moran reached the semi with a solid 3-2 win in the quarters over John Corcoran (Franklin) and met up with Sunil Lall from Flint. The result was 3-0 to Sunil, but all 3 games were only decided by 2 points. Sean’s loss could easily have been reversed and if it was we would have been guaranteed a DAC winner. On the other side of the draw, Tom Healy got to the final after beating Tom Fabbri 11-9 in the 5th in their semi. It was a back and forth, taxing battle between the two and no doubt the time Tom Healy spent on court cost him much needed energy to take on Sunil. Not taking any credit away from Sunil, he was the more consistent player in the draw and definitely deserved the win as he beat Tom 3-1.

3.5 draw~ The biggest draw of the tournament, the 29 players had some punishing matches amongst themselves. I can thank a handful of them for pushing the schedule late, but that’s a minor inconvenience when the results are close and the quality of the squash reflects those results. Just to list a few: Justin Jacobs 12-10 in the 5th win over Anil Kathuria; Adam Pole (Windsor) 12-10 in the 5th win over James Van Dyke; Ken “Ginger Bear” MacDonald 11-9 in the 5th win over Justin Jacobs only to lose 3-2 in his next round to Elliot Shafer. Three of the four semi finalists were DAC members, but just like the 3.0 draw, we had the odds with us but the dice weren’t rolling our way. The man to beat for the draw was a big South African from Flint - Malcolm Hendricks. Malcolm stormed through his matches winning 3-0 all the way to the final but had to pull out a special comeback to actually win it. Al Iafrate was wondering how he was going to tackle Malcolm after beating Mike Petix 3-2 in his semi. Two games into the final, Al wasn’t wondering anymore - he was 2-0 up with now his only worry being fitness. Regrettably, it caught up with him and Malcolm took advantage cleaning Al up in games 3, 4 and 5. Al was done but surely happy with his performance. Malcolm, however still had work to do.
Brien Baker

4.0 draw~ On tour, the South Africans were renowned for their toughness, their ability to work through physical discomfort, and it made anyone playing against them have to prepare themselves for a punishing dogfight. Malcolm Hendricks also entered the 4.0 draw. Now, that’s not unusual - I had about half the registrations playing in 2 categories - but what is unusual is to reach the final of both. By the time Al had finished with him, Malcolm had only a few minutes to get ready for his 8th match of the weekend (and 4th match that day)- the final against Brien Baker. His body was hurting, but his effort was valiant. Brien had reached the final by beating his pal Phil Pitters 3-1 in round 1, Matt Osburn (Toledo) 3-1 in round 2, and taking a tough 3-2 win from Marcus Plowright (London). It was clear that as hard as Malcolm tried, he simply couldn’t keep up enough against Brien and inevitably he went down 3-1. The gallant South African could now relax and enjoy his beer.

Andrew Pitters and Berto Mill
4.5 draw~ The story of David slewing Goliath. The result of this category has created more chatter than any other. Berto Mill. A 13 year old - a small 13 year old - from Windsor has proven to all of us that you don’t need to be big and strong to win. Just good. Very good, in fact. After Berto beat Phil Pitters 3-1 in the first round, everybody looked at Phil sideways asking how on earth he could let that happen. Phil didn’t have any answers, and nor did Peter Shumaker - who also lost 3-1 to him, or George Kordas who couldn’t win any games, or London’s Murray Shaw. Could Berto possibly win the division? Andrew Pitters was his last opponent. Andrew played very well to get to the final, beating Anthony Fracchia 11-9 in the 5th in the second round which I sadly missed but have been told it was a sensational contest and up there for match of the tournament. It was a great final. The only downer was that it was 3-0. The crowd wanted more. But Berto was done. He had already won. Now, just wait until Berto actually grows and does get bigger and stronger. He’ll be a fine(r) young player.

Jed Elley and Aly Somani
5.0 draw~ Did I say that South Africans are tough? The DAC has it’s own in Jed Elley. Smooth and quick, Jed was always a favorite in my mind to take the 5.0 division. He didn’t let me down. A solid performance all through the weekend, he was basically too consistent for all that stood in his way. He played the final against Aly Somani (Toronto) and after a rough start losing the first game, he gathered himself nicely together to take full control of the match and charge through the next three games. It was a competitive draw - only 7 of the 20 matches were 3-0.

5.5 draw~ Only an 8-man draw this year, DAC interest was centered on our club champion Pablo Buitron. We were all looking forward to his semi final match against Mark Eugeni (Windsor) and it was a match worth waiting for. Pablo took a 2-0 lead with steady, tight squash, not allowing Mark to use his trademark racquet skills too effectively. But he couldn’t keep it up and Mark doesn’t need much encouragement to start slotting a few winners and grabbing the momentum. Games 3 and 4 went to the Canadian, which set up the 5th into an all out wrestling match. Great long rallies, Pablo at one stage executing a full length body dive, desperate to stay alive. In the end, though, Mark had a couple of shots too many in the bag and took the 5th 13-11. That moved him into the final where for the third year running he was to play Brad Hanebury (London). And for the third year running, Brad won. This time it was 11-8 in the 5th. Last year it was 11-9 in the 5th.

Doubles~ If you are still awake, I’ll quickly run through the doubles results. Very tight matches plagued the tournament, exactly what the doctor ordered. The DAC did have one winner - Mike Counsman in the Doubles B won the final 3-2 with partner Paul Gebrael (Windsor). Mark Eugeni with his partner in crime Jon Uffelman (BAC) got revenge on Brad as he beat him in the Doubles A final 3-1, and in the Doubles C, Ron Henry and Heather Betts (London) stopped the winning run of team Smith (Lindsay and Anne from London) who had won it the previous 2 years with a well played 3-1 victory.

So the curtain closes on another successful Classic. Our sponsors are to be heartily thanked, the event wouldn’t run if it wasn’t for your generous support. I look forward to seeing you all again in 2014 - the weekend after the Superbowl. Mark it on your calendar, and make sure you enter early if you plan on playing.

To see all the results of the tournament, go to: DAC Classic Tournament Results

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