Hops Challenge Dec 10~~
It’s a rarity to see our club one and two play a ‘real’ match. The last time Jed Elley and Peter Logan had an all-out best-of-5 encounter was in May for the Club Championships. It was an epic battle back then with Jed wining it 12-10 in the 5th. We tried to recapture the excitement for the Hops Challenge and we were not far off!
|Chip McDaniel and Brian Schrage|
Before we delve into the details, 28 others graced the courts for their own ‘blockbuster’ skirmish. I placed them onto either Jed’s team or Peter’s team. The overall team results were meaningless – only the feature match had any purpose: The loser would have to pay for the night’s keg. But that doesn’t stop everyone from busting a lung to win. Of course not all of them end up going the distance, but a small handful did:
Dane Fossee and Bob Rogers kicked the evening off exactly where they left off from the previous Friday’s Holiday Tournament – doing 4-corner court sprints with a the occasional hip-check into a wall. It wouldn’t be kosher if these two played any less than the full contingent of games, so they understandably went to 5. Dane pulled it out again, and from the four recorded scores I have between the pair, they have now won 2 matches each. I guess they’ll have to play a 5th…
|John Mann and JC Tibbitts|
Another never-say-die encounter came between Chip McDaniel and Brian Schrage. After seeing them play a boasters league match a couple of weeks ago where they crawled off as if they’d spent the past week and a half inching their way through the Sahara desert without water, I thought they needed to re-live the experience. Chip won that boasters league match 2-1 that day, and once again – after bringing themselves to almost total exhaustion – Chip forced himself to a 3-2 victory. Strangely, they both displayed the best and swiftest footwork of the evening between the court door and the keg…
John Mann and JC Tibbitts have also created a friendly rivalry. JC claims to beat John in their practice games but can’t seem to translate that when the match actually counts. In their past 4 ‘real’ matches, the 3 of them that went to five games all were in favor of John. In this case, they went to 5 games again. Not a good sign for JC, I’m sure the 5th set hurdle is mentally grinding away at him. Nothing improved for him here. John took another 5-game win over JC and no doubt deepened the mental scar a fraction more.
One more 5-game confrontation to mention. Jim Stroh and Sante Fratarcangeli. This too is building up into a rivalry. We take this match’s rundown from our guest on-site reporter from DAC-1 News Room, John Mann. John…? “Thanks, Mick… I’m here in front of court 7 having witnessed one the best 5th game comebacks in recent memory. After Sante raced off to a 2 games to 0 lead, it looked all but over. However, it seemed that Sante slightly let his foot off the gas in the 3rd game and Jim saw that opening and pounced on it. He then continued that streak into the 4th and forced the decider. Sante then knuckled down and got back to playing a solid game and controlled the 5th up until 9-5. Jim appeared to have accepted his fate. He relaxed and somehow picked up a couple of points closing the gap to just 2 points. He had a sniff and Sante knew it, which had Sante tense up slightly, forcing some ill-timed unforced errors. Suddenly, Jim had 10-9 match ball. The last rally would live in controversial infamy. Was it a doubles bounce? Sante stretched out for a Jim Stroh drop shot, but the ball was called down. The call was wildly contested but none of the video replays could irrefutably reverse the call on the court so it had to stand. Jim escaped with an 11-9 in the 5th victory and Sante now owes me $40. Back to you, Mick…” Thanks, John – sounds like it was quite the ride!
The highlight of the evening relived mostly what we were anticipating: Jed and Peter going at it like Ndamukong Suh going after a fallen Green Bay Packer. (But without the nastiness!) Pride is one huge motivator. Keg aside, the two would have played just as hard without it, their battle was a roller coaster adventure. The first game is generally one where the players ‘feel’ each other out. Neither risks too much, looking simply to establish length and rhythm. Who would end up being the more patient customer? It was fairly evenly contested, not too much flashy squash going on, and with a couple of smart short attacks at the end of the game, Jed had scored first blood with an 11-9 win.
|Peter Logan and Jed Elley|
In the second, it was just about all Logan. Steady Eddie. Jed does have the tendency now and then to shoot a little too early and maybe the end of the first game sucked him into thinking he should take the ball in short more often. But the tin got in the way on many of those attempts. Peter simply kept it up and let his opponent shoot himself out of it. Peter won it 11-6.
The third saw the pace pick up a little more. One could see that Peter – who had his knee wrapped – was starting to feel slightly uncomfortable with his movement. With increased pace, it would be even more difficult to cover the court, but Peter can read the ball very well. He managed to chase down most of what Jed threw at him, but in the end it did prove a couple of points too many. Jed took the third 11-8.
Back to length in the fourth. With a hampered movement, Peter pounded the back court. Keeping Jed pinned, it would be a matter of not if Jed would shoot, but when. A dangerous tactic just waiting for your opponent to do something – it can backfire very easily – you need to be very precise for a long period of time. Jed would shoot – and often well. It was a long game, Peter’s movement was becoming more beleaguered, and he was hanging on but the paint of his racquet. Eventually, and quite surprisingly – Peter edged the game out 13-11.
The 5th. Sadly, Peter’s fourth game effort put him out of contention to fight for the last one. His movement was no more. Jed recognized it quickly, and made short work of it. It was a pity we didn’t have the 5th game showdown like we did in May, but it is a taste of we can expect come next Club Championships in 2015. Hopefully Peter is healthy and ready for a re-match.
For the record, Jed’s team won the evening 10 matches to 6. Quote of the evening goes to Patrick Petz after he was beaten 3-0 by DJ Boyd: “I just suck”. Nothing further needs to be added there. Special mention goes to Suzanne McGoey and John Parnell who not only had to down a couple of beers before their match, but straight up scotch as well. Not a bad effort! I don’t know how you can do that. And for the ‘scorers’ award, we’ll hand it to Andrew Spohn and Justin Winkelman who ended up with a 4 games to 2 result. Remedial math, anyone?