Tuesday, February 11, 2014


DAC Squash Classic Feb 6-9

The DAC prides itself on bending over backwards to make your experience at the club the most memorable possible. When you leave, we want you longing to come back. We try to accommodate and include everyone. This is the tenth time I have run the DAC Squash Classic and every year the response to enter this event gets stronger. Unfortunately, we cannot include everyone who wants to play - it is simply a matter of court time. We don’t have enough of it! Capacity was reached 15 days before the deadline this year. At one point I had a wait list of 25 players.

The beauty of the tournament is the consistent repeat visitors from year to year. Our friends from London never let us down and 31 of them made the trip this year. That’s one off the record set 2 years ago. Windsor also support us is bus loads and we are extremely grateful for that too. In addition, we had 6 players from Toronto, and they have vowed to bring more in 2015. All in all, half the representation of the 155 registered bodies were from outside the DAC walls. Canada had 54 of them.

The furthest travelers were two of our dearest and missed members Ken MacDonald and Chris Moyer who both now reside in Denver. It was wonderful to see them again. The tendrils of this event are also grabbing people from Pittsburgh, Toledo, Dayton, Lansing, Flint, Grand Rapids and Traverse City. And certainly not forgotten, the support from the local clubs in the Detroit area is vitally important: BAC, Life Time Fitness, Franklin.

The DAC players did not have the same level of success as they did in 2013 where 10 of our players picked up some hardware. The competition this year was noticeably tougher.

Dane Fossee (3.5 finalist) and Dino DeMare (2.5 finalist)
2.5~~ The DAC did dominate this, the largest category. It was difficult not too since 24 of the 30 players were members. About 3 months ago, Jeff Huebner came to me and pronounced he was going to win the 2.5 category. A brave prognosis and one I thought was a little ambitious although not totally out of reach. He almost had to eat humble pie after round 1 as he squeaked by Eric Scheible 12-10 in the 5th. It also happened to be the final match of the Thursday schedule - a 10pm start. (That also happened last year where the last Thursday 10pm match finished 14-12 in the 5th!) Jeff went on to win the next 2 rounds 3-0 and it was looking more like he going to fulfill that prophecy. It almost all unraveled in the semi final against Joey Gaylord as another nail-biter  came down to the final couple of rallies in the 5th game. Once again, however, Jeff’s mission remained in tact as he won it 11-9. His opponent in the final was the category dark horse Dino DeMare. Dino started off the tournament with two 3-0 victories, then a very tough 3-2 win over JC Tibbitts in the quarter final, and followed that up with a steady 3-1 win over Josh Gershonowicz in the semi. A very good final and Dino did all he could to ruin the sooth-saying abilities of Jeff, but he fell just a little short. Jeff took the final 3-1, and has now started his next project of winning the lottery.

3.0~~ It’s rather strange these days to see so many results in one category end up 3-0. Only 4 of the 19 matches went 3-1 or 3-2. Mitchell Werner from Franklin was unquestionably the one to beat (and as you will see was the one to beat in the 3.5 too) and he rolled through this bracket dropping only one game (to Shail Arora). He beat Brian Rizzi (Lansing) in the final 3-0. Brian also had an relatively easy run to the final, but Mitchell was clearly the better player on the weekend. Special mention for this level goes to Anne Smith from London, who at the spry young age of 60+ won the consolation bracket beating 3 of our (much younger) members on the way. Amazing. I hope our boys took notes.

3.5~~ This was the second biggest category with 27 players. It was also a lot more competitive than the 3.0 - except for Mitchell Werner. He actually went one better in this level and won all his matches 3-0. Mitchell will be entering the 4.0 and 4.5 next year... Mitchell’s final’s opponent did surprise me a little. Dane Fossee. A couple of excellent 3-1 wins over the in-form Bob Rogers and Ken MacDonald, Dane was the quiet achiever until he was stonewalled by Mitchell in the final. This category produced the closest result of the tournament in the first round with Dave Hornby (Windsor) beating Sean Fossee 15-13 in the 5th.

4.0~~ Anne Smith was not the only successful 60+ player of the weekend. Maurice Strul from Pittsburgh maybe sore for a month after his effort in the 4.0. A highly competitive draw, 13 of the 17 matches were decided in 4 or 5 games. None of Maurice’s matches were 3-0. He won on Friday and Saturday 3-1, before taking on Sante Fratarcangeli in the semi final on Sunday morning. Maurice had to use every single ounce of experience to overcome Sante’s dogged resistance, especially at 10-8 down in the 5th. Sante couldn’t close out the match and a couple of unforced errors at that stage cost him dearly. Maurice took advantage of them and with it the 13-11 victory as well. His opponent was Rob Roy from Windsor who also had to battle fiercely to reach the final. Rob took down London’s Marcus Plowright 3-2 in the semi on Sunday as well, setting up a terrific last match. Maurice was wondering how he was going to be able to keep up with the much younger legs of Rob, hoping for a 3-0 win. He almost managed it after winning the first 2 games, but Rob started to edge his way back. He took the third and fourth and Maurice looked like he had lost the wind in his drooping sails. But once again, experience came to the fore. Slow and steady wins the race. Keep it simple. Let the other guy make the mistakes. It all fell apart for Rob in the 5th as Maurice just kept the ball in play as long as possible, played it safe and let Rob run himself out of position. A great (and smart) 3-2 win for Maurice!

4.5~~ When I posted the draws for this event, the first comment was, “is that the John Acquaviva?” I had no idea that in fact it was the John Acquaviva, the rather well known DJ. Wow. The DAC Classic attracts famous people too! John won his first match and lost the second, performed a gig in Ferndale in Friday night as well, and is so humble. Like all Londonites it was a pleasure having him here. John also lost to the winner of the event. David Garel is the first representative we have had from Dayton and looked very sound on court. Balanced and smooth, he definitely deserved the title. But it wasn’t plain sailing. Andrew Pitters pushed him all the way in the semi final eventually succumbing in 5 games. Andrew has tremendous power, never seems to get tired, loves to hit (smash) winners. It can throw even the most technically correct for a loop with his unorthodox playing style. However, it also hurts him. Wild power causes inconsistency, loose shots will only make you run more and harder and David knew how to punish such errors. In the final, David took care of business with a 3-0 victory over Chris Robitaille from Toronto.

5.0~~ This was the largest 5.0 draw we have had with 22 players. It was always going to be a very difficult draw for any of our members to repeat what Jed Elley did for us last year and win it. John Rakolta was the closest - he was the only one to reach the quarter finals where he lost 3-2 to Aly Somani from Toronto. Aly was then comprehensively beaten 3-0 by the charismatic Seth Rogers (BAC) in the semi. Seth has improved awfully quickly over the past 2 years despite his technique being 100% tennis. A two handed backhand, one that he uses even deep in the back corner, his remarkable speed and tenacity makes up for a lot of footwork issues, Seth has proved to be a burdensome opponent. On the other side of the draw, Kevin Furmanek was carving his way through using a lot more conventional methods. Strong stokes, accurate length, decisive winners. A clash of styles for the final, Kevin appeared not to have much trouble countering the awkward play of Seth. He took the final 3-0. This category produced the second closest match of the tournament when Brad Steel (BAC) beat Derek Aguirre 14-12 in the 5th in a great fun contest... at least fun for the ones watching!

5.5~~ Time for some young blood. Since 2009, the 5.5 has been won by either Mark Eugeni (Windsor) or Brad Hanebury (London). Even though they were in the draw, I had them seeded 4 and 3 respectively. Two youngsters - 17 year old Stefan Houbtchev from Windsor and 16 year old Carter Robitaille from Toronto were poised to take control. Stefan had no issues getting through to the final winning 3-0 all the way. Carter, however, almost became a victim of the Eugeni magic racquet as Mark made life somewhat troublesome with his flicks, deception, nicks, and experience. Mark actually had a 2-1 lead before Carter eventually wore him down and he could be happy with escaping with the 3-2 win. The final was what we expected it would be. Stefan jumped out quickly for a 2-0 lead taking advantage of a sluggish Carter who was struggling with his movements. But in the third, Carter started to gain confidence with lunging out and showed us all just how quick and efficient he can move. Extending rallies, he frustrated Stefan a little. Patience paid off as Stefan couldn’t keep up the consistency needed and he was becoming more hesitant with his short attacking game, popping up the drops and boasts rather than nailing them. The 5th game had Carter come back from a 5-7 deficit and rolled off the next 6 points to win it 11-7. Great stuff!
The "Blue Chips" in full uniform.
They lost to Franklin / Snower
in the second round.

Doubles~~ We have usually haven’t had any issues with the doubles schedule running late over the years. But on Saturday, helped by back-to-back-to-back-to-back 5 setters (okay, one of them was a 4-setter) by the time the final match went on it was 2 hours behind schedule. They went 3-0, but I must give them a special thank you for waiting so long and playing into the dinner time. Traditionally, DAC members do not perform well in these categories and this year was no different. Canadians dominate the draws, although the B winners were a surprise result with BAC’s Michael Snower and Max Franklin taking the honors. Paul Ward and Steve Murphy reached the semi finals of the C draw which was also a surprise (especially to Steve!) only to lose 3-0 to the veterans Lindsay and Anne Smith who continue year after year to reach the final. They repeated last year’s result losing to London’s Heather Betts and Ron Henry 3-2. We had some fantastic doubles matches this year. Splendid 5 set matches kept the crowd on the edge of their seats, which is preferable to everyone even though it ran late. No one wants continuous 3-0 blow outs! All the results can be seen on this link: DAC Classic Tournament Results 

Once again the DAC Classic was a booming success. Such an event cannot be run without the selfless support of our sponsors and members and the staff at the DAC. I really owe them a debt of gratitude. I sincerely hope everyone had a wonderful time and we see all the faces again next year - or as many of you as possible. It is scheduled for the week after the Superbowl in 2015 so place it on your calendars now. Don’t forget to enter early. You know what happens if you procrastinate.

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