Monday, September 23, 2013


London Tournament – Sept 20-22

The expectations were high. They always are when heading off to play a tournament, as no one should be walking on the court with the attitude they are going to lose. There is commonly a fear of losing, but in the back of one’s mind, we all know we can win. Four DAC members made the trip this year to London: Sante Fratarcangeli, Josh Slominski and Tom MacEachern entered the C draw, and Chuck Doyle played the D draw.

London is barely 2 hours away from Windsor, so I trusted that what a C level standard is in Windsor would translate accordingly. Apparently, it wasn’t quite the case. As the heavens opened up over London on Friday night with a thunderous downpour, so did it rain down heavily on the DAC parade. All of our lads lost 3-0 first round and by Saturday afternoon they had all exited the consolation draws as well. It wasn’t as if they played poorly, suffered unexpected losses, and have anything to be ashamed about. On the contrary, and Tom mentioned after his first match, it was an invaluable experience and certainly something that he should be doing more often. I hope the others felt the same. It is a nasty feeling to take a loss, but it is also so important to learn from them and turn it into something positive.

On Sunday morning, I refereed the D final. Two fellows from Toronto beating up on each other that one could have easily mistaken for a B level match. It seems that in Toronto, ‘D’ stands for: “Devastating Drop Shot”; “Deadly Drives”; “Death-Defying court coverage”; “Destructive Deception”. A very entertaining contest to say the least. These guys would be quite at home at the 4.5 level at least in the DAC Classic. For next year we know—if you play C in Windsor, play D in London. For another point of reference, one of the Windsor players that played the 4.5 category at our tournament this year won the C consolation over the weekend in London. He lost first round in the C’s.
Maria Toorpakai Wazir
One of the advantages that the entrants have at this event is the opportunity to watch the pros play. Unfortunately, none of our members stuck around on Saturday to do that – a huge mistake. Playing these events is not just about playing your own matches, but being able to learn from the best and enjoying the socializing side as well. Friday night showcased the women’s pro final that featured Maria Toorpakai Wazir – the Pakistani lass now under the tutelage of Jon Power in Toronto. She is currently ranked 55 in the world and she was visibly too strong for her Dutch opponent ranked 52, as she took the final 3-0 in under 30 minutes. Maria has quite a bit of Power-esque technique in her. She steps up and volleys well, is a strong mover, but is prone to some unforced errors. I think she has to be a little careful and not be too much like Jon – his racquet skills were a one-of-a-kind and are rather difficult to replicate to say the least.
Joe Lee

The men’s final on Saturday night featured Brit Joe Lee (ranked 37) and Canadian Shawn DeLierre (ranked 38). On paper, we were in for a long grueling match. Shawn is no stranger to marathon encounters and has no problems engaging the referee as often as humanly possible. I didn’t see it, but reports had it that in his semi final there were about 60 let calls in one game alone. However, as good as Shawn is, Joe was a class better. He looked in complete control as he moved the ball around with pin-point accuracy and was virtually error free. He also managed to stay out of the way and minimize the amount of ‘lets’ which speaks volumes on his footwork and court coverage. Joe won 3-0 in 47 minutes, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he cracked into the top 20 world rankings sometime in the near future.

As the three beer pong tables were being set up after the men’s final on Saturday, I called it in with an early night. I was due to play my own final in the Men’s Open against a young and fit Western University player that has been drooling for my blood since I beat him 11-9 in the 5th in Windsor not too long ago. His blood-lust paid off as he was just too steady for me. I lost 3-1, my body hating me for the effort. These events are getting harder and harder, I am definitely struggling to keep up any competitive level.

I will make a special mention to Dave Morrish – the London squash pro – for the excellent hospitality over the weekend. The members of the London Club who I very much look forward to seeing every time and make me feel so welcome like I belong there, and to Jay Nash. Jay is the main sponsor of the event and the driving force behind the tournament. (Hence the name “Nash Cup”). His enthusiasm is wonderful, and London is particularly fortunate to have him.

We can expect to welcome a big crowd of Londoners when the DAC Classic is scheduled for February 6-9. Make sure you have a beer or two with them. Maybe they can convince you to experience London in 2014.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Blitz Tournament – Friday Oct 11

Squash, good friends, a chilled beverage, more squash, more friends, another chilled beverage, back to the squash court... you get the idea. Just another trip on the DAC in-house squash carnival merry-go-round with the Blitz Tournament! Feel like a kid in a candy store yet?

It’s a simple concept. Group play comes first. All the groups will be mixed up with various playing levels as much as possible. Handicaps will be assigned. Each match is one game to 15 points. So, if player A has a 5 point handicap, he starts the game at 5-0. Matches have been known to start at 13-0. And have lasted 2 rallies. Hence the name of the event.

The top 2 players of each group will then advance to a knock-out round. In the case of a tie, straws will be drawn to see who advances. That makes it completely fair for all parties involved. Handicaps will be assigned as we go along with this one. The top three players of the knock-out draw will then receive a prize. Third / fourth play-off has to be done.

In regards to the handicap, I try to assign them so every match will finish 15-14. (No tie-breaks). Of course, my crystal ball is often misty and I did receive a failing grade at the “Divination” course I took at Hogwarts, so while sometimes we do get the ever so anticipated sudden-death rally at 14-14 it only really happens due to pure auspicious guesswork. We have also had complete blow-outs and handicaps in some cases could have been reversed! But I claim no responsibility for those. Wasn’t my fault…

As is customary, beverages will be available. This may add to your handicap, something I will not be taking into consideration. You do that at your own risk!

So, if you want to frolic in the land of Blitz Squash, I need all registrations by October 9. I need a minimum of 16 players to run it. E-mail me. Go on… I dare you… !

Monday, September 16, 2013


Cross Border Challenge XIV

Copying the management approach of Stewie Griffin from “Family Guy”, I will do this report in the style of a ‘compliment sandwich’. That’s when I start out with some praise, follow up with a topic to work on, then finish up with some more flattery. For a 1-year old, Stewie is wise beyond his infancy.

So, let’s start out with a positive note. We had 16 members sign up for the Cross Border Challenge in Windsor which is a pretty good number. I was pleased with that and when we do receive that level of support, organizing matches becomes a lot easier.

Something we can enhance. The disappointing aspect, however, was the fact that we only had one match above a 4.0 level. Windsor put forward some higher standard opponents that we simply could not match-up - that includes the doubles where I had to step in to make up the numbers. The Cross Border Challenge is the perfect opportunity for everybody - of all levels - to get some irreplaceable match experience. Windsor is close, social, and they have a deep pool of tough opponents - of all levels. Everybody should be taking advantage.

The top slice of the sandwich. This will take a little longer since the event itself needs to be covered, and it was all good. Getting things started for the DAC was Tom Fabbri who had been floundering with his form of late. I gave him a simple 3-word advice: Back to basics. He came off the court a 3-1 victor and was a lot more satisfied with his performance (winning can do that!).

Windsor came back strongly in the next 2 singles matches with Rich Routley taking out David Devine in 3 close games and Stephen Allen beating a nervous Kevin Prather also 3-0. For the red-face award of the afternoon, Paul Ward turned up 40 minutes late as he realized when he was 5 minutes from the tunnel that he had forgotten his passport and he had to go back home to pick it up. His patient opponent - Anis Khan - took it all in stride and then took Paul on a 4-corner tour of the court as he beat him 3-1.
Buddy "Superman" Ranchuk and Joey Gaylord
Joey Gaylord then proved than wearing a Superman t-shirt doesn’t actually make you a Super Hero as be handed a 3-0 lashing out to his ‘big S’ bearing opponent, and Sante Fratracangeli just keeps on finding ways to win when he muscled through the only 5-set singles match of the day with a 3-2 triumph.

The DAC then scored 3 more victories when Jim Stroh showed no mercy for the fairer sex with a 3-0 win over Cathy Corchis, Brian Bartes handling Colin Bateman after they split the first two games before Brian ran away with the 3rd and 4th, and Greg Rivard tasting sweet revenge on Adam Pole with a convincing 3-0 clobbering when Adam beat Greg in 5 at the previous Cross Border. But those 3 matches were nullified when Windsor took control of the final 3 singles matches of the day, taking two of them 3-0 and one 3-1.
Jim Stroh and Cathy Corchis
Onto the doubles. History would suggest that Windsor has the upper hand here, but recently we have been having a little more success. We would need it on this occasion. For the comeback of the day, Patrick Petz and Greg Rivard found themselves quickly 2-0 down against Dave Hornby and Herb Funkenhauser. Luckily, they managed to turn things around in the 3rd and from there they refused to give up the momentum. The 5-set win was invaluable.

Next on the doubles court was John Dunwoody and myself. We were up against Tom Porter and Dean Lansens and we had our work cut out for us. It was a match of one game on, one game off. We took the first, lost the second, won the third, and lost the fourth. It was our turn for the fifth, but the Windsor lads were not sticking to the plan. Dean’s low forehand volley kill proved a little too much for us, and Tom’s low forehand half ‘drop shots’ from the back corner (he’s a leftie) had us flatfooted a couple of times too often. We lost 3-2.
James Konrad, Rich Routley, Tom MacEachern, Shail Arora
When the final doubles match was on, it was an exciting scenario. For Windsor to take the Cross Border trophy, they had to win 3-1. The DAC team needed 2 games. (If we lost 3-2, both clubs would have been tied with 8 match victories, and 30 games won. We would have kept the Trophy as reigning champs...). The poor four souls that had to suffer the pressure: Tom MacEachern and Shail Arora against Windsor’s Rich Routley and James Konrad. This is what it is all about. Rich and James started strongly and they were looking very good with a 2-1 lead. The atmosphere was ramped up, the cheering increased 10-fold, and the anticipation could be felt all the way through the club. Of the 4 players on the doublers court, Shail was by far the most experienced and in such situation, that can be invaluable. It equates to a steadier hand, less errors, a calmer mind. Plus, it can have a soothing effect on the partner (if needed!). It was a difference maker. Shail and Tom fed off their opponents mistakes as the pressure built and they won the deciding 4th game as well as the 5th for the icing on the cake (or the olive on the sandwich!)

The DAC retains the Cross Border Trophy for a 4th consecutive win with 9 matches to 7. Kudos to Windsor for being the wonderful hosts we are accustomed to. The next one is scheduled for April at the DAC... can we make it 5-peat???

Most of the players and supporters - Thank you for a great event!

Monday, September 9, 2013


If you haven’t been following squash’s 2020 Olympic bid, let me assure you that it was nothing short of first-class. The squash world came together like never before, everybody pushing together in the same direction with the one goal in mind.

Many celebrities from all over the globe were also behind the endeavor, and it must be mentioned that the effort, time and sacrifice put in by Nicol David – women’s world number 1 from Malaysia – was so commendable as she turned herself into the face of squash and the Olympics, she should be immortalized now in the Squash Hall of Fame. That’s not to diminish other squash stars’ efforts as well: James Willstrop, Ramy Ashour, Mohamed El Shorbagy, Nick Matthew, just to name a few.

However, as I look back at the entire spiel involving the selection of a “new” sport onto the 2020 Olympic agenda, I cannot help but think what a complete insult it was to the above mentioned and a total waste of everybody’s time, energy, and money. I typed “new” in inverted commas because although the IOC’s original aim was to add a new sport to the program, they instead decided to add an old sport back. In fact, the same sport they so unceremoniously voted off just 7 months earlier. Yesterday, the IOC voted to reinstate wrestling, once again leaving squash on the outside looking glumly in.

The impression the IOC have left is one of categorical idiocy. An impression that they had zero intention of voting in any sport other than wrestling. It should not have been voted off in the first place, as there are other Olympic disciplines that deserved the chop (pentathlon for example). If the IOC had issues with the way wrestling was conducting itself, there were other ways to grab its attention to make changes. The path they took instead – by cutting it and then forcing everyone to go through the bid process – was nothing short of criminal. The sports that didn’t get voted in should sue to get their expenses back.

In the end, one may have been led to believe it was a two horse race between wrestling and squash. But in fact it was a 3-horse race. Baseball / softball were also in the mix. (In reality, it wasn’t a race at all.) Over the past number of months I have read a lot of articles and reader’s comments as the voting day approached and baseball / softball rarely got a mention. I didn’t see a huge push by their fans unlike the other two sports that tried to advertise the stuffing out of it. (Most of the reader’s comments were literally wrestling v squash. Intriguingly, squash fans for the most part acknowledged that wrestling should not have been voted off and consider it a reputable Olympic sport. Naturally, they wished for squash to get the vote and it would have been unfortunate at wrestling’s expense, but hey, they only had the IOC to blame. Wrestling fans however, were less sympathetic. They had no problem criticizing squash from being too easy, un-athletic, and it being ridiculous that it was even being considered. They arguments were so far out of left field it was comical. They took it personally that squash was challenging it. Maybe the aggressive nature of the sport creates such personalities?)  You would probably be surprised to know – but then again maybe not! - that when the IOC voted on which 3 sports could bid for the one spot in 2020, squash scraped through that stage by the paint of its racquet frame. Wrestling was elected in immediately after the first round of voting (I smell a conspiracy!), baseball / softball a couple of rounds later, and squash got through in the final round of voting narrowly beating out karate. Not exactly a positive result – or omen.

If hypocrisy was an aroma, the IOC would stench of it. They claim they wanted a “new” sport. They voted in an old one. They claim they want drug free athletes, but not only are current sports on the agenda littered with drug cheats (athletics, cycling, weightlifting, just name a few), two of the three sports that were vying for the final spot have a long history of drug cheats too. Baseball… well we all know about don’t we… and wrestling has had its fair share of users as well. Squash has never had an athlete caught using PED’s. I have never even heard a rumor of a squash player using one either. Squash players have been caught using recreational drugs (marijuana) but that’s hardly the same thing.

Even though baseball / softball seemed to be nowhere near the radar, when the final votes were tallied and wrestling received over 50% of the votes (and therefore automatically won the spot), baseball / softball scored more votes than squash. That’s right, squash came in last – behind a sport that has countless drug cheats and wouldn’t have even sent their best players to participate since the MLB refused to postpone the season during the Games. How is squash supposed to compete fairly within the IOC when the IOC delegates totally ignore everything that is wrong with a sport along with their own criteria when considering who deserves a place at the table?

And corruption? I recently came across an article that placed wrestling in a very unfavorable light. In 2010, an Indian wrestler competing for a gold medal at the World Championships in Russia against a Russian opponent was asked to throw the bout for money. The Indian wrestler refused the offer and went on to win anyway. But where did the offer come from? Who was involved? Is this a common practice in wrestling? Should other results suddenly become under scrutiny? Were there any suspicious major upsets? Did the IOC look seriously into these allegations or did they turn a blind eye? No prize to guess what action they took.

As September 8 neared (the day the IOC voted for a “new” sport), it looked as if a large percentage of squash fans – although loudly still hoping against hope – where resigned to the fact that the battle was all but lost and we were simply going through the motions. Two weeks before the vote, somebody had actually registered the domain name: and was selling it on-line. Bids started at 299 Euro. Expensive. The World Squash Federation (WSF) may have to invest and will be forced to go through the entire painstaking process once again. We don’t even know if the Olympics will be looking for a “new” sport in 11 years time. Wow, that’s a long, long time away. How depressing.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


We all have fantasies of what it would be like to be the best at something. The good life that goes with it, the adoring fans, the money, the fame. But as we all know, nothing comes easy in life and to be a world dominator, the sacrifice required to get there is too much except for the dedicated few. And, even with such sacrifices, most people still won’t reach that pinnacle of success. In fact since 1998, in the squash world only 11 men have reached world number 1 and since 2001, only 8 women. As fans we only get to see the finished product when we watch them play tournaments, we really do not understand what it takes for them to perform as they do. Nor does the Squash Poet.

I know I can, it’s not just a dream
That one day I’ll rule the squash world supreme
I’ll be a legend, earn all the glory
Be so impressive I’ll skip purgatory
The wish is there, I have all the desire
To be synonymous with a squash empire
The love and rewards to be forever on me raining
Now… How do I get there without the training?

The Squash Poet
I Wanna be a Squash Pro
(Sung to the tune of “Rock Star” by Nickelback.)
I’m through with being a club hack, losing to fat and old men
They run me around ‘til I drop, over and over again
My squash hasn’t turned out quite the way I want it to be
I want to hit the nick with an Egyptian flair
Be cool and sexy without messin’ my hair
And beat up on Ramy to be home in time for tea.
I’ll need a full time coach – you better make it two
To get my ass in shape, a fitness guru
And for all the luck I need, a top influential high priest
I want more World titles than both the Khans
Woo all my girl fans with my manly charms
Have sponsors lined up throwing all their money at me
I’m gonna buy a graphite racquet and squash shoes,
And think about cutting down on my booze…
‘Cause all I wanna be is a big squash pro,
Playing on the glass court wherever I go,
Winning all my matches with grace and ease
Slotting magic winners whenever I please
And I’ll rewrite all the history books
As the greatest ever plus the gorgeous looks
They’ll make a separate wing in the Hall of Fame
The gold statues inside will all bear my name
Hey, hey I wanna be a Squash Pro
Hey, hey I wanna be a Squash Pro
I want power like Pilley and be the hardest hitter
Make Nick Matthew look weak ‘cause I’ll be fitter
And Miguel will think he’s slow comparing his speed to me
I’ll gonna hit the nick every time I drop
My quadruple fake-out will show up James Willstrop
And Greg Gaultier will be on his knees pleading mercy
I’m gonna buy a book and learn all the rules,
Watch You Tube videos from my whirlpool…
‘Cause all I wanna be is a big squash pro,
Playing on the glass court wherever I go,
Winning all my matches with grace and ease
Slotting magic winners whenever I please
And I’ll rewrite all the history books
As the greatest ever plus the gorgeous looks
They’ll make a separate wing in the Hall of Fame
The gold statues inside will all bear my name
The whole squash world will dance and rejoice
As the IOC will see no other choice
I’ll be hailed as the hero who made them pick
And squash will forever be Olympic… well
Hey, hey I wanna be a Squash Pro
I should put down my smoke and get off my ass
And enroll myself into some coaching class
I better start to practice and should learn the grip…
Oh my God! My hamstring! I think it just ripped!
Now I don’t think I wanna be a big squash pro
It’s not ‘cause I’m too old, too fat and too slow
I’m sure I could but it wouldn’t be fair
I f I was hitting winners from anywhere
Getting all the girls and making all the cash
Making all today’s stars look just like trash
Showing them up with every ball I hit
Too many of them would prob’ly quit
So I’ll just sit back with cold beer can
And for squash domination I have another plan
To have my name at the top where it should be
I’ll get my son to do the training instead of me….
Hey, hey I wanna be a Squash Pro
Hey, hey I wanna be a Squash Pro

The Squash Poet

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