Monday, July 29, 2013


Yes, the General George Patton. Or Patton(s). The one(s) that commanded the US armies. Firstly, I will be the first to admit that outside of recognizing the name, I know virtually nothing about the fellow(s). Nor do I know much about the wars they were involved in. Growing up Aussie, American war history was not on our school curriculums. Or, if it was, I didn’t pay any attention.

Secondly, I found it rather stunning (and fascinating) that someone of such stature and power actually found the time to play squash. I suppose it shouldn’t shock me that much, squash is a very intense sport and has been referred to many times as ‘gladiatorial’, and the players as ‘warriors’. War-like in a sense.

Thanks to member Jerry Solomon, he was kind enough to pass on an excerpt from a book he was reading, “Growing Up Patton”. The book covers the interactions between the two General George Pattons as father and son over their commanding years. (At the time, George Jr. was not yet a general, but simply a recruit). Check out the second paragraph. General Patton Sr. sees fit to pass on some very sound squash advice. Remember, this is dated April of 1944 and is in the midst of WWII – in the last 70 years or so, these fundamentals have held true.

So, next time you think that I am sounding like a nagging wife when I tell you how to hold the racquet, watch the ball, get side on, just keep in mind that one your finest military heroes agrees with me! Now, get back to the ‘T’, drop and give me 20!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Summer League final~~

It was close. Very close. Only one point separated the two teams. And it wasn’t decided on bonus points since both teams picked up 7. That’s the good news. The bad news is that not all 10 matches could be played. Nine of them were, and the tenth… well we would have to wait a couple of weeks for that to happen and it’s not fair to let everyone wait so long. So it was scrapped.
Tom Pierce and Joe Danley
It was a fitting finish to the season between two squads that deserved to be in final in regards to turning up and playing their matches all summer. Of the 9 contests, only 2 of them resulted in a 3-0 score, each team winning one of them, essentially cancelling the other out. For the most part, you could be excused for feeling a strong sense of déjà vu because when “Scuttlebutts” and “Naval Fluff” butted heads in round 5, seven of the results ended up exactly the same as what they did for the final.

Joe Danley (“Naval Fluff”) was one the 3-0 winners as he managed to keep his nose just in front of Tom Pierce (“Scuttlebutts”) for the first 2 games taking them 15-12 before controlling more of the third for an easier 15-8 victory. That score was quickly nullified by Mike Rock (“Scuttlebutts”) who has now won 9 of his past 10 recorded matches as he dispatched Andrew Tignanelli (“Naval Fluff”) 3-0, his third consecutive win over him.
Peter Ulbrich and Brian Bartes

Scuttlebutts” next win came at the hands of Brian Bartes, although it was a comeback effort. Peter Ulbrich played a strong first game, controlling the ‘T’ and keeping Brian deep and he took the set 15-13. Brian steadied his game and started to move the ball more effectively, slowly gaining the momentum. He won the second 15-10 which looked closer than what the score suggests, but certainly had the upper hand in the 3rd game taking it 15-8 for the 2-1 victory. Again, cancelling out the result, “Naval Fluff’sChris Tipton had just enough shots in the bag to keep Chato Hill at bay with his 2-1 triumph.

As the scores came in, each 2-1 win for one team was quickly quashed with a 2-1 win for the other. Eventually though, with an odd number of matches to be played, it would come down to the final match: Justin Jacobs (“Scuttlebutts”) v Jerry Rock (“Naval Fluff”). Little did the pair know when they played early in the morning on Tuesday, they were in fact the deciding result. Keeping up appearances, it was also a 2-1 score line.

And did the whole season end up being determined on a couple of lucky bounces? Point in case was the end of game one. 14-all, Justin serving… into the nick! Game to “Scuttlebutts”. Game 2 goes to the veteran, as Jerry pulls off a comfortable victory. Score tied 1-1. Game 3. 14-13. Justin serving again… and repeating his first game fortunes… into the nick! The 2-1 victory gave "Scuttlebutts” the narrowest of winning margins. They take the summer league final 21-20. Congratulations!

Another season goes into the history books. But, believe it or not, we are only 5-6 weeks away from September and the 2013-2014 chapter. That’s plenty of time to fine tune your game and hit the ground running. Keep your eyes and ears open for the Boasters League registration, join the box ladders, and start swinging away.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Summer League semi finals~~

Scuttlebutts v Loose Cannons:

“Revenge is a dish best served cold.” I don’t know who said that originally, and it does refer to cold blooded vengeance, so the “Scuttlebutts” are quietly smirking in their knowledge of righting a past wrong when the “Loose Cannons” beat up on them in round 2. No blood was spilled (thankfully), but I’m sure a few tears escaped.

So who from the “Scuttlebutts” stepped up when it counted and turned the tables on a previous defeat? Well it wasn’t Brian Bartes. I’m not picking on Brian here; he has improved steadily and continuously this season and has nothing to be upset about. But this won’t be news to him – or his opponent Anil Kathuria – when I say Brian had the match by the short and curlies and should have taken the 2-1 win. He lost 2-1 in round 2, and after splitting the first games here, had Anil 14-8 in the 3rd. That’s 7 match-balls. Suddenly, Anil found the ideal length and had Brian scrambling around in the back corners. The unlikely comeback was completed with a low backhand semi-lucky kill shot that was barely out of Brian’s reach. It was certainly the one that got away but in the end, although Brian would be kicking himself, he had the last laugh.

Who did change their fortunes was Julie VandeVusse. Julie lost to Mike Cooney in their first meeting 3-0, but with a summer league season behind her, she has started to find her rhythm. Her 2-1 win was a huge help for the “Scuttlebutts”. Also making up for a past defeat was Dave Morrison. He felt the bulldozer effect from Tom MacEachern in round 2 as he went down 2-1, but his experience showed up for the semi finals and he wasn’t about to fall victim to him twice. A smarter game, better length, and it paid off with a 3-0 win.

With a 2-1 victory to Steve Murphy who had to play a sub because Chris Moyer has regrettably left our sunny Michigan shores and followed in Ken MacDonald’s footsteps to the fantasy world of “Denver”, and 3-0 wins to Justin Jacobs and Mike Rock, the “Scuttlebutts” had an unconquerable lead with one match to play. That match was still completed however, and they won that too. Final score: 25-18.

Naval Fluff v Get Some and Flop Some:

This was closer than it should have been. “Get Some and Flop Some” did themselves zero favors with only 4 bonus points for the evening, plus two no-shows. (We won’t mention names, they know who they are.) However, on a positive note, of the 4 matches that played on Monday, they won three of them 3-0 which made up for their shortcomings.

Jerry Rock (“Naval Fluff”) reversed his 2-1 loss to Paul Flanagan a week earlier with a 2-1 win this time around, and Mike McCuish also took a 2-1 victory for the team. With 3 three matches left to play on the Tuesday, and although Naval Fluff had 4 wins to 3, plus 7 bonus points, they only held a slim 2 point margin.

That margin evaporated when Jay Bonahoom blanked Andrew Tigananelli 3-0. Suddenly, “Get Some and Flop Some” had a 1 point advantage with two matches left. “Naval Fluff” evened it up in the next contest with Bruce Vande Vusse repeating his result from round 7, taking Tom Fabbri 2-1. The final match was for all the cookies. The score stood at 19-19. However, unforeseen circumstances would not see this ‘winner-take-all’ bout and it would have to be nullified. Because of “Get Some and Flop Some” poor bonus point showing, “Naval Fluff” held the tie break and advance to the final.

So we have “Scuttlebutts” v “Naval Fluff” for summer league glory. These 2 teams played in round 5 with “Scuttlebutts” coming out on top 20-14. But only 2 results were 3-0, and 7 of them were a close 2-1. (One didn’t play.) And “Naval Fluff” only picked up 2 bonus points that day. This could be a very close final. Will bonus points once again be the deciding factor? Better turn up!

Monday, July 15, 2013


Race Against the Clock Tournament – Aug 9

From 0 to 200. That is what your heart rate will have to do in order to be successful with this event. (Actually, if your heart rate is 0, then don’t bother entering, you may find it difficult to get going.) We ran this event last year as Ken MacDonald’s swan song. (Remember him? He decided to take his talents to Denver…) We had 25 registrations then, and it would be just swell if we could get similar numbers this year. I would love to tell you that Ken will be making a special trip to Detroit just to play and reminisce about old times showing us what he’s learnt on the squash court at the Denver Athletic Club, but I can’t.

However, we can pretend he is here and honor him anyway. The matches will be just like last year: Very short and will vary between 3 and 7 minutes in duration. The actual format will depend on how many registrations there are. Handicaps may be issued. Basically, because of the time restriction, you will need to play flat-out from the first hit to the last. You will not have time to work yourself into the match, or wear your opponent down. Win as many points as fast as you can, that means you should be taking a few extra risks!

As usual, beverages will be available. You do not have to drink that as fast as you can, it would probably be better if you paced yourself instead. I really don’t want anyone going from 0 to 200 here.

The tournament will get under way at 5pm. We will only be using the 2 downstairs courts. Registration deadline is August 5.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Summer League final round~~  

It was probably the most active week I have seen for the final round of the summer league in regards to getting matches played. A great effort was made by most teams to squeeze into the finals, but unfortunately some of them left their run too late.

Even “Beer Ahoy!” put up a gallant attempt to close the very unlikely gap as they picked up 26 points over the last 7 days – third most overall – and they collect 8 bonus points as well which was 3 more than their previous best. It didn’t help them at the end, they still finished 7th, but at least it looks more respectable. 

The most active team for the week was “Scuttlebutts”. A 33 point week, they overcame an 11 point deficit to the league leaders “Naval Fluff” last week to leapfrog from 3rd to 1st. “Loose Cannons” did just enough to stave off the challengers from underneath - “Lunge-Lob Split-Pants” and “Bermuda Try Angles” - to claim the last finals berth. 

I like to go through the season statistics as often they tell the story of why the standings ended up as they did…
  • 71% of matches overall were played. That’s down from last year’s record of 76%
  • Scuttlebutts” played the most matches with 83%. No surprise there.
  • Off the Radar” did not have the lowest match playing percentage, however. They had 66%, good for equal 5th overall. They did, on the other hand, have the lowest winning percentage by a wide margin with only 28%. 
  • Lunge-Lob Split-Pants” played the least amount of matches with 59%. They finished 5th because they had the highest winning percentage of any team with 63%. Not helping their cause, along with “Off the Radar”, they collected the least amount of bonus points – 25.
  • Naval Fluff” had the most bonus points with 39. The next best was 31.
  • The bottom 4 teams collected the least amount of bonus points. Once again, this statistic holds true.
  • Not one single player picked up all 7 bonus points.
  • Six teams broke the 100 point barrier this season. That’s three more than last year, but don’t forget the league was 25% larger with 80 players – a record.
  • Joe Danley (“Naval Fluff”) scored the most points overall with 23. Next best was 20 points. 
  • 15 players played all of their matches. 4 of those came from “Scuttlebutts”.  Only Joe Danley (“Naval Fluff”) and Jeff Jardine (“Scuttlebutts”) were undefeated as well.
  • Bermuda Try Angles” was the only team that didn’t have a player complete all 7 matches. However, they were the only team were every player picked up at least 1 bonus point.
  • Beer Ahoy!” did not have any players turn up for round 5.
  • Still picking on “Beer Ahoy!” 3 of their 10 players counted for 56% of their team’s total. The team picked up 20% of their total in the final round.
  • The most any team scored any round was “Naval Fluff” with 26 in round 2. The lowest weekly total was 6 – which was achieved by “Off the Radar” in round 3 and “Bermuda Try Angles” in round 5.
The semi finals next Monday now come down to a head-to-head battle. If we look at those results from over the season, we can predict likely winners, but as we all know nobody wins on paper. Teams still have to go out and perform. “Naval Fluff” and “Get Some and Flop Some” just happened to play each other 2 days ago in the final round with “Get Some and Flop Some” taking the honors comfortably 21-14 and that’s with less bonus points. It seems “Naval Fluff” will have their work cut out for them. 

The other semi final pits “Scuttlebutts” and “Loose Cannons” against each other. They played in round 2, and you may be surprised to know that “Loose Cannons” won the day 24-19, again with less bonus points. All 10 matches were completed, 8 of them ended up 2-1 so it was competitive, and nobody should be surprised if the result did in fact reverse itself. But again, you have to perform when it counts…

Monday, July 8, 2013


Fit for a Hollywood Comedy

Real life is often stranger than fiction. You just can’t make this stuff up. This is about the 32nd Pakistan National Games recently held from June 28 – July 4 this year. It is supposed to be held every two years, is comprised of a multitude of sports (including squash – which we will get to later on), and is organized by the Pakistan Olympic Committee (POA), the hosting province, and the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB). The always reliable, never deniable Wikipedia lists that since 1998, the games have been held every three years, and since 1956, the Pakistan Army has ended up on top of the medal count.

A 2013 logo from the Games

A 2012 logo
from the Games

I will try to explain this as clearly as possible… Evidently, the 32nd Pakistan Games had already been held: in December of 2012, but for some reason they were held again in June-July 2013. The organization committees for the 2013 version involved the PSB and an unrecognized interim committee of the POA - and both were actually warned not to use the title “32nd National Games” by a justice of the high court and from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), but they chose to ignore all warnings and go ahead anyway. It seems that three POA affiliated units (or teams) did not take part in the 2012 games, so somewhere along the line it was decided to run the thing again. One of the missing teams was the Pakistan Army. Even more strangely, the PSB issued 1.3m dollars to run the new Games, where it only issued about $200,000 for the original one. The PSB director that issued the enormous grant also was a part of the new Games organization committee. Does anyone else smell a rat? On June 29, the day the Games started, the POA was finally forced to change the name of the Games to “National Games 2013”. The event finished on July 4th.

So, a whole lot of money was spent on a sporting event that was conjured up last minute and in reality was done to appease the 3 original missing entrants. It would be like running your own club championships after the fact because you failed to turn up to the real one. The absurdities don’t stop there. From reading articles about this “mock” event, the organization of the ‘new’ Games was so incompetent it was bizarre. I was shaking my head so much, I have whip lash. If even half of what is listed below is true, it is ripe for a Hollywood (or Bollywood?) movie:

  • The majority of the events on day one of the Games could not take place because the organizers failed to pay the respective federations for the use of their facilities.
  • There was no drinking water for the athletes. Temperatures at the Games were 100 degrees +.
  • Organizers chose venues that were very far apart from one another and it was extremely difficult for journalists to gather information and results from events.
  • The bathrooms were filthy. Which, in the excessive heat, must have smelled rather peachy.
  • Organizers were often MIA. They were not reachable even by cell phone. There was nobody to guide the athletes and the guests, and a schedule of events was missing.
  • The Pakistan Squash Federation demanded $5000 from the organizers for the use of their facilities, but was only promised half of that. Consequently, they turned off the air conditioning for the event. Temperatures outside the venue reached 116 degrees. Reportedly, many players were almost passing out even before their matches started.
  • The Pakistan Army won the medal count of the ‘new’ Games with 115 gold medals. The second placed team had 39.
  • Three teams did not participate in the ‘new’ Games.
  • Since the interim committee of the POA is unrecognized, the IOC warned them not to use or display Olympic properties (e.g. the Olympic rings). It was ignored. The IOC is now threatening to ban Pakistan from the Olympics.
  • Athletes were promised a daily allowance of 10 dollars a day for 12 days to cover things like meals. Not only were they underpaid, they only received 9 days of allowance – totaling $45.
  • Organizers were seen showering themselves and friends in opulence with luxury transport vehicles and extravagant meals.
  • The organization committee was too busy praising themselves for a job well done rather than fixing all the complaints and issues. Nice.
  • Security was very lax. There was hardly any checking on any of the spectators entering the venue. Luckily there were no major incidents.

The list goes on. One wonders how anything can reach this level of ridiculousness. Which brings me to the squash event and actually the reason I found out about these Games in the first place. An article caught me eye titled “Players Reportedly Attack Ref…” so I immediately clicked into it. It describes an incident that occurred during the Games in the semi-final of the squash tournament. One of the players, Mansoor Zaman, was so incensed by a decision of the referee, he couldn’t help but verbally abuse the poor fellow. The referee then warned him which had zero affect – the abuse continued – and was left with no alternative but to award the game to his opponent. On leaving the court, the abuse still continued. The referee then did the right thing – he awarded a conduct match against Zaman.

Then it got interesting. Along with his brother, Zaman attempted to do what every other normal person would do under these circumstances: beat up the ref. I mean, why wouldn’t you? Makes perfect sense, right? Saving the day, in steps the Zaman brothers’ father and the head-tournament-referee to calm the situation, and rescue the ref from a certain trip to the hospital.

But that wasn’t the end of it either. Zaman’s father then somehow convinced the head-tournament-referee that the conduct match be nullified and they should start over. From scratch. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall for that conversation, justifying the reason for a redo. So they played again and Zaman ended up winning. Are you kidding me??? You just can’t make this stuff up.

Maybe this should be an episode on “Ripley’s Believe it or Not”. It is painfully obvious that Pakistan Sport has a myriad of issues to deal with. Ineptitude across the board and up and down all associations and committees involved seems to be a good place to start. Who knows if it is at all fixable.

Squash is just another victim of the Pakistan Sports World. It is also a politically unsafe country for foreigners and because of that, the Professional Squash Association (PSA) has banned its (non-Pakistan) players from playing there. Until recently, the PSA have allowed Pakistan to host world ranking squash events anyway, but only up to $10,000 in prize money – and a short time ago that was increased to $25,000. The ban, however, is still in place. So should a country be allowed to host events of reasonably large prize money and world ranking points, but only allow locals to enter? If Pakistan hosts enough of them, a handful of Pakistan players would be able to climb the world rankings without having to play any foreigners. Would this not skew the rankings and is this fair to everyone else?

In completely unrelated news, Pakistan has been awarded the rights to host 2015 Squash World Cup.
…say what?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Summer League round 6~~

Seven days and counting. That’s all you have left to get your matches in. Throw in the Independence Day weekend where many of you will be away, it should make for an interesting scramble for the play-offs. Four teams will advance and by the looks of things, “Naval Fluff” should be safe to make it through, but from 2nd to 6th it’s anybody’s guess.

I think we can safely eliminate “Beer Ahoy!” and “Off the Radar” from finals contention, they have left it too little too late and never really got going anyway. For the entire season, neither of the two teams reached any higher than 6th place on the standings. Playing catch-up simply doesn’t work.

Best mover of the week goes to “Get Some and Flop Some” who jumped from 5th to 2nd. Biggest dropper of the week is “Lunge-Lob Split-Pants” who swapped places with them. The point difference is minimal however, it will all come down to the final week of play – who is around this holiday weekend, and who is willing to sacrifice some time to get on court…

Matt Hayduk
A couple of tight matches last night worth mentioning: Matt Hayduk (“Beer Ahoy!”) was very pleased with his game last night against Mike McCuish (“Naval Fluff”) as he took him 2-1, but a lot of that can be attributed to the racquet he used. Rather than swinging his 1986 Prince Extender, he decided to borrow his Dad’s new 2013 Grays racquet… and what a difference it was! Power. Accuracy. Lightness. Good Squash. Matt was rather surprised – as was Mike! Should I put one of them aside for you, Matt?

Andy Combs (“Bermuda Try Angles”) picked up his second win of the season with a 2-1 victory over Tom Bergh (“Off the Radar”) which is only Tom’s second loss. Joe Danley (“Naval Fluff”) remains undefeated and is now 6 for 6 after his 3-0 win over Joe Paglino (“Beer Ahoy!”) 3-0. It was Joe P’s first loss.

As it comes down to the final week of play, keep in mind that bonus points may play a big part of who advances to the finals. If teams are tied, then bonus points will be the decider. That actually places “Bermuda Try Angles” in the least favorable position as they have the least amount of bonus points from teams ranked 2-6. “Loose Cannons” hold the tie-break right now (if it came down to that), but only by one. If bonus points are also tied, then the head-to-head matchup of the two teams during the season will decide who advances.

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