For a summer event, I was pleased that we received enough registrations to run the thing at all! Typically – and understandably – we struggle to fill the minimum required quota. But with 17 members on tap (as was the keg!) we were able to have our second ever “Race Against the Clock”.
Depending on what side of the coin you are on, playing for either 4, 5, or 6 minutes can feel like an eye-blink, or an eternity. The handicaps behind this unique format can place a lot of pressure on the chaser – or the stronger player. Tactically, the players should have 2 opposite game plans: The chaser needs to hurry up and score quickly, that is – attack. The chase-ee, however, should be playing defensively and try to keep the ball in play for as long as possible.
The players were split into 3 groups. Even though matches were only a few minutes long, handicapping was not an easy task. I was happy if the score ended up within 3-4 points difference, and ideally, tied. A tie forced a sudden-death rally. They are usually pretty intense.
|Al Iafrate, Marc Topacio, Matt DiDio|
We’ll start with the C’s. We had 2 sudden-death situations in this group. The first was between Colin Bayer and Marc Topacio. Marc had a 6 point head start in their 5 minute match. Time was called at 15-all. Now, I have to admit, the stronger player does have the advantage in these scenarios. But, pressure and desperation can even the playing field somewhat. Unfortunately for Marc, Colin’s next serve came in a little too hot to handle and the rally was over too quickly. Colin escaped 16-15. Colin’s other win was over Jim Smietana. It wasn’t a sudden-death, but it almost was. After giving up 7 points to start the 6 minute match, Colin scraped in with a 21-19 victory.
Paul Gormley was living on the edge all evening. A one point victory over Marc, was followed up with a 2 point victory over Jim. The difference maker happened to be the match against new member Ian Edwards. Paul started off with 7 points and after the 6 minutes were up, it was dead locked at 19-all. This one sudden-death rally decided the winner of this category – and it was Ian who walked off with the win!
Ian was impressive all event. As a newbie to the squash program, I admittedly overestimated his handicap. After his first two matches, I adjusted that handicap down which did make his following 2 matches a lot closer. Still, he pulled it out when it counts with some notable hustling skills and he improved with every outing. Congrats, Ian!
|Cathy Lysack and Bob Rogers|
On to the B’s. We also had 2 sudden-death matches here, and a handful of results that were only decided by 1 –3 points. Every player in this group won at least 1 match, and every player had at least one result that went down to the wire. Cathy Lysack and Ted Morris had the first one. In 4 minutes, Ted began the match with 13 and barely managed to hold Cathy off to take it 19-18. As the results came in, the winner of this category would need some luck – anyone was capable of taking it. Bob Rogers beat Bruce Shaw 22-21 in sudden-death. Patrick Petz kept his winning hopes alive with a 16-15 sudden-death win over Paul Dwaihy. Ted beat Bob 17-16. Bob beats Paul 19-18. Paul beats Cathy. Bruce beats Paul. And so the merry-go-round continued all tournament. When the music stopped, the last man standing was Ted Morris. He worked his way through the carnage undefeated for 5 wins. Cathy and Patrick each ended up with 3 wins. Well done to Ted!
The A draw. With only one sudden-death result to speak of, and only one other result with a one point difference, I was surprised at the amount of matches that weren’t all that close. I can excuse one of the participants for his results, because Al-the-best-cure-for-a-pulled-muscle-is-vodka-Iafrate hurt himself in the first match. In true trooper fashion, he forced himself through his remaining matches… hopefully he didn’t make the injury worse in doing so! Still, Al almost pulled out a win against Mike Counsman, but went down 19-18. Speaking of Mike, he sputtered out of the gates as he took a couple of matches to get the motor running. Once humming, he’s a tough force to deal with. This format isn’t kind to ‘slow-starters’ since the match is done before they have even gotten themselves up to speed. His final match was his best effort – we’ll get to that in a minute.
Tom MacEachern had a strong outing. He lost his first match against Matt DiDio 14-10 – it was a 5 minute encounter and both players started at zero. After that, Tom powered through his opponents, the closest result being his 12-8 win over Dane Fossee (no handicap there either). Dane produced the only sudden-death win which was over Josh Slominski. He had to make up a 3 point deficit in the final minute to get there, and when you can do that, impetus is a powerful force. Dane took the deciding rally to win 14-13.
Matt DiDio presented himself to be the man to beat. Solid wins in his first four matches, he had to survive the warmed-up Mike Counsman in his final game. I didn’t make it easy for Mike either, as he had to make up 8 points in 4 minutes. If Mike would manage to win, it would force a 2-minute play-off between Tom and Matt since both of them would end up with 4 wins apiece. However, the clock would prove to be Mike’s enemy. Another minute may have made the difference, as Mike was inching closer and closer. But he fell short 17-14. Matt could now relax!
|The three winners! Ted Morris, Matt DiDio, Ian Edwards|
It was an entertaining, competitive evening. Thank you to all who participated!