Monday, March 17, 2014


Blitz Tournament - March 14, 2014

I was a little disappointed with the amount of entries we received for this Blitz Tournament. Two days before the event we had 20 players - which is average - and by the time we started we only had 18. Nothing was taken away from the competitiveness, but I would have liked a few more bodies. I wonder why more people don’t take advantage of the opportunity to get on court with new people - as a couple of members of the 2.5 level mentioned to me, it was a great experience playing against the 4.0 (and up) guys.

Handicapping this event involves a little guess work, a little luck, and a little bit of a spine having to ignore all the complaints. The higher ranked players scream it’s too much, the lower ones not enough. I try to make it relatively difficult for the higher ranked players as they are supposed to win - force them to be very careful on court. Every unforced error carries more weight, every ‘lucky’ winner from their opponent that much more valuable.

Mike Counsman had a tough time in the round robin portion and fell victim to a rough start. He lost his first three matches, including going down to newcomer Steve Boloven 15-13. Steve did a magnificent job at 14-13 digging out a deep forehand for a boast winner catching Mike unawares. Mike did manage to win his last game against Josh Slominski 15-14, but only after saving 3 match balls in the process. Josh decided to live on the edge for his round robin matches. He actually beat Steve Boloven 15-14, but went down to Chuck Doyle in the final match of the group 14-15. That loss forced a ‘drawing of straws’ between Josh and Bert Donovan to see who would advance to the knock-out round. (Chuck won the group.) Lucky for Josh, his loss to Chuck didn’t come back to haunt him - he won the pass ahead.

Matt and Kevin. Lovely.
Matt DiDio earned his advancement winning all of his round robin matches. He escaped with a 15-14 win over Kevin Prather in one of the matches, coming off the court a little relieved because he initially underestimated the big man until he ripped a return of serve for an outright winner half way through. Anil Kathuria also advanced from that group, but not before a close call against Kevin as well - not on the score board (Anil won 15-11), but physically! After missing an “easy” drop shot in the front left corner (no shots are “easy”, right?) Kevin threw his racquet up in despair, only to have the unsuspecting Anil walk right under it at the perfect time and have it clonk on top of his head! No damage done (as far as we can see!), total accident. Good for a laugh, though!

Like Matt, Bob Rogers went undefeated in his group too. Of the six matches played in that group, 3 of the them ended up 15-14. Sudden death points are always exciting, even when the two players are not of the same standard. The crowd certainly tends to get behind the underdog rather strongly. Ted Morris unfortunately was on the wrong end of two of the sudden death rallies, and Sante Fratarcangeli was the winner of the third. That proved to be an important winning rally for Sante - if he had lost that point, Tom Shafer would have advanced to the knock out round instead of him.

Chris Van Tol completed his group going 4 for 4 as well. His was the only group that did not have any matches come down to a 14-14 winner take all rally. The final match of this group would decide who along with Chris would move on to the final draw. Dino DeMare and Dane Fossee battled it out with Dane taking the honors 15-12 after having to give up 6 points handicap at the start.

Of the 8 finalists in the knock-out draw, 2 of them had won it before: Sante and Josh. (Josh has actually won it twice!) Josh’s first opponent was Matt DiDio, I handed Josh 6 points head start. I knew it would be tough for Matt, but as I said earlier - that was the idea. It turned out the handicap was off by about 14 points - in the wrong direction! Matt looked rather lost on court as Josh chopped him up 15-6. In the quote of the day, Matt’s parting words were altogether humorous and unprintable.

Sante’s first game was against Chris Van Tol. No handicap was given here, they played straight up. Good thing too. It was a great game, both players charged around the court not giving the other an inch. Chris kept his nose in front (barely) and look poised to advance when he held a 14-12 lead. But that final point can be the hardest to win, and in fact, he couldn’t win it at all. Sante bullied his way back and stole the victory 15-14.

He kept up that attitude against Josh in the semi. Even with 5 points handicap, and playing pretty solid squash, Josh couldn’t keep the now charging Sante at bay. The rallies between the two were entertaining, quite a few of them were long, but Sante just happened to be a little more steady and patient. He took the game 15-10 and advanced to the final.

Bob and Sante
On the other half, Chuck Doyle entered his first match with 6 points on Dane Fossee. Dane’s tactic worked very well of keep running and force Chuck to keep hitting. Consistency would get Dane through and he took the game 15-10. Dane then played Bob Rogers who’s tactic was exactly the same: Keep running and... keep running and... yeah - keep running. Between them, they took more steps than the million man march. They started at 0-0 (no handicap) and for some reason I forgot to write down what the final score was. Bob got through, and I’m going to say it was a very tight game, could have gone either way... :-)

Finalists Sante and Bob played in the round robin. There, Bob took a 4 point advantage and turned it into a 15-9 win. I wasn’t going to be any kinder to Sante, so I kept the 4 point handicap. It was another impressive, absorbing game. After trading the first half a dozen rallies, Sante caught up relatively quickly and actually held a 8-7 lead. We all thought he would run away with it after that, but stubborn Bob just doesn’t stop doing what he does best: Run. (And bounce off the walls.) When the score gets tight, anything can happen. The two got back to point-swapping. 8-all. 9-all. 10-all. 11-all. A fascinating duel, the crowd was doing a McDonald’s commercial: loving it. 12-all. A 15-14 score line was on the cards and on the hopes of all who were watching, but Sante decided enough was enough. Crack, boom, bang. Thanks for coming. 15-12. Three quick points and it was sadly over.

So Sante pulls out his second consecutive Blitz Tournament victory. (In the 3rd / 4th play-off, Dane snuck out with a 15-13 win over Josh - no handicap - in what was also quite a nail-biting encounter.) Congratulations to Sante and to the finalists, and of course a huge thank you to all the other participants for supporting! Encourage your peers to play the next one!
Most of the Blitz  players!

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