Friday, March 25, 2016


Boasters League finals~~

From the beginning, the Wardogs were behind the 8-ball. For a couple of reasons: Firstly, three of their players needed subs for the most important match of the season. Travel and injuries aren’t planned around the boasters finals and the Wardogs are simply a victim of circumstance here. All three of those players were ranked highest in their level for the season. So, (technically) any sub stepping in would be a step down. Nor can those subs earn bonus points.

And secondly, I predicted the Wardogs would win. That in itself is a death sentence. Maybe I should predict that the Tigers will not win the World Series this year…

Smelling blood, the Winky-Dinks took advantage – as they should have done. All three of their players who did have to battle against a sub won – and including bonus points, just on those 3 results alone, the Winky-Dinks recorded 11 points to the Wardogs 1. But that wasn’t the only good news for the Winky-Dinks.

Stepping up when push comes to shove, and avenging a loss from the previous encounter in round 8 makes a significant difference when teams are playing head-to-head. Matt DiDio did just that against Jay Bonahoom. He reversed his 1-2 loss into a 2-1 win, and surprised everyone as he survived the match injury free and in no need of some surgical procedure.

Maggie Durant and Jerry-I-can-drop-it-from-anywhere-Rock
In another turn around, and in one of the more exciting matches of the evening, Jerry-“lob-lob-drop-lob-drop”-Rock needed all of his experience, wrist flicking, mis-direction-ing, that he could muster against Maggie Durant. Jerry has beaten Maggie twice before, but Maggie did beat Jerry in the most recent encounter 2-1. Hitting some strong length was a good tactic against Jerry, but somehow, against the laws of physics in some instances, Jerry regularly managed to squeeze his racquet between the floor / back wall / ball and pop in a deft dropshot while facing the wrong direction. It’s a risky way to play squash, but it paid off – just. Jerry took the first game 15-14, lost the second 14-15 and then won the third 15-9.

There weren’t too many highlights for the Wardogs. But it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Marc Topacio scored the biggest reversal from round 8 and he took care of the human pinball Bob Rogers 2-1. Bob had shut him out 3-0 in round 8, but it appeared Marc had figured a way to keep Bob bouncing off the walls just enough. Strong 3-0 performances were all put in by Pat Hughes, Haytham Hermiz and Greg Allare, and Curt Pedersen repeated his 2-1 victory over Mike Cooney.

Of the 15 matches completed, the Wardogs only won 5 of them. The subs had certainly hurt their chances, and we all know about captain Paul Ward’s Achilles injury. Two matches were outstanding – but they weren’t needed anyway as the Winky-Dinks lead at that stage was too great. Final score: 41-30.

Captain Justin Winkelman can be very proud of his team. They came through at the right time, convincing wins in all three rounds of the finals. It is also the Winky-Dinks’ second title in a row. The target is now squarely on their backs as the number one priority for next season from the other captains will be to stop Justin from claiming a 3-peat…

Boasters Players. Happy family!

Friday, March 18, 2016


Boasters League semi finals~~

It was a rather curious night of Boasters League matches. I say that because when these teams played each other in the regular season, the results were noticeably one-sided. I did not expect such a repeated crooked score line on Wednesday, but it was intriguing to see the higher seeded teams – and the favorites – struggle to keep themselves alive. Of course, when the teams are going head-to-head every point is vital, and subs and bonus points can make a significant difference. Let’s see who survived the carnage…

Butter Nutz v Winky-Dinks
Their round 7 meeting ended in a 15 point drubbing where the Butter Nutz won most of the matches and also scored more bonus points. So, predictably, the belief would be this time around the Butter Nutz would have the upper hand as well. Unfortunately, I am sorry to say for the Butter Nutz, that whenever I make any type of prognostication, there is very high chance I have totally butchered their chances of success. If I prophesized the sun would come up tomorrow, we would live the day in total darkness.

This time around, the Winky-Dinks won the bonus point battle and collected 2 more than the Butter Nutz. All 17 matches were played (yay!) and although the Winky-Dinks did perform better than what they did earlier in the season, they still lost more matches than they won. The difference though was that back in round 4, they had six losses with a 3-0 score line, whereas this time, they had only two. The Butter Nutz, on the other hand only suffered three 3-0 losses the first time around, but had six of them on Wednesday.

Six of the Winky-Dinks players improved on their previous scores, the biggest turnaround being John Mann who turned a 0-3 loss into a 2-1 victory. I did get to watch a couple of games and although these results did end up 3-0, the spirited contests were fun to witness. Vikram Chopra is favorite to win just about every time he steps on court at the DAC, and it was no different against Sante Fratarcangeli. Sante did manage to take a game off Vikram earlier in the season, but Vikram was determined not to let that happen again. Sante busted his backside through the match – a great effort – and scored many points with his gritty retrieval. In the end, exhaustion caught up with the Butter Nutz captain and Vikram succeeded in his mission, but he certainly had to sweat for it! Another special mention to Bob Rogers and Tom Fabbri. Bob also took this match 3-0 but many times though the match that result was in doubt. Tom is more successful when his length is controlled and consistent, and had Bob bouncing around the back corners when he achieved it, but it wasn’t consistent enough. Three close scores, all in Bob’s favor.

Winky-Dinks stepped it up at the right time. Picking up those extra games is really a 2 point turnaround when going head-to-head. In an upset, they knocked off the Butter Nutz and advance to the final next week with a 44-35 win.

Wardogs v Fire Birds
The Wardogs won this previous meeting by 11 points. Back then, they won 11 of the 16 matches played and had the upper hand in bonus points. They still scored more bonus point this time, but by a lesser margin, and with 5 subs needed between the two teams, the match-ups were somewhat different.

 Of the matches that were the same… Colin Bayer (Fire Birds) reversed his 1-2 loss to Jay Bonahoom in round 4 to take the 2-1 win this time, and in probably the biggest about-face so far for the finals, Anthony Kalorgeridis (Fire Birds) pilfered all 3 games against Curt Pedersen, a complete opposite from their round 4 result. Nick Petcoff for the Fire Birds also changed his fortune swapping his previous 2-1 loss into a 2-1 win over Andy Combs.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Wardogs, though, as Shaun Dillon was desperate not to fall victim once again to Ashley Thibodeau like he did in their last meeting 3-0. It was an entertaining match, plenty of scrambling rallies, momentum runs. Shaun looked as if he was ready to collapse – or quickly chug a couple of beers – as they walked off the court after the third game and by the looks of Ashley who appeared she was just warming up and ready to run a marathon, one would have thought Ashley had got him again. But, it wasn’t the case – Shaun picked up the win 2-1.

Pat Hughes (Wardogs) also managed to defy the eye as he tackled the (lot!) younger Blake Roller. You could hear Pat’s huffing and puffing from my office with the door closed and music pumping just after the first game, the hands on his knees, internal organ meltdown cries of pain… However, maybe it was a charade, because it didn’t stop Pat from taking all 3 games and leave Blake wondering how it all just happened. It also didn’t stop Pat from guzzling the beer afterwards. It the best cure for organ failure.

This one was a lot closer. With 3 matches to play, only 3 points separated the teams. Fire Birds held the slim advantage, but the Wardogs had more bonus points – the tie breaker in case the scores were even. And slowly, the Wardogs edged closer. After two of the three scores came in, the Wardogs were now only 1 point behind and they had their biggest ace to play – Jed. All he needed to do was beat Robin Basil, a 2-1 would be sufficient. Could Robin defy the odds? In short - No. He couldn’t. Although, he did almost take the first game getting to 13, as he had Jed moving around the court well. And maybe if he did take the first, it may have affected the rest of the match. But Jed held strong and finished the match 3-0, pushing the Wardogs over the finish line and avoiding the upset with a 39-37 victory.

Which brings us to the final: Wardogs v Winky-Dinks. Should I dare predict a winner…? Sure: Wardogs...jinx!” These 2 teams played each other in round 8 and – believe it or not – it was a tie. Each team had the same amount of bonus points, but 5 matches weren’t completed. It should be close.

Monday, March 14, 2016


Blitz Tournament – March 11

And it could have been even bigger if everybody who registered actually turned up! But, 28 players for a Blitz Tournament is the most we have ever had, and it really does make a difference when more people are hanging out cheering on the underdog! It was a delightful atmosphere, and the tone of the mood was set early when Sante turned up in a black onesie, a fashion statement that could not have been more hideous. I unfortunately do not have a photo of it, but it will be hard for Sante to top that effort!

The handicapping for this event can be somewhat challenging but for the most part I think the majority of them were acceptable. We had 23 games that ended up within 1 or 2 points (15-13 or 15-14), and it is rather captivating to see how the players react to such pressure situations. The stronger player will either be overly cautious, terrified of the “what-ifs” or then they start to pound the ball as hard as possible hoping pace alone will be the key. The underdog, smelling victory and imaging the parade they’d receive after getting an upset, starts to run and retrieve like never before, lifting their game beyond what they thought was possible. A fascinating dynamic, did the cream rise to the top?

Jordan Dean and Sante
The players were split into 8 groups of 4. Yes, yes, I know that equals 32 and not 28, but the no-shows are to blame for that. The best match in Group 1 came from Sante Fratarcangeli – who sadly did not actually play in the onesie – and Jordan Dean. Jordan started with 13 points and quickly scored within a few rallies to give himself more than a handful of game balls. With no room for error, Sante dug in his heels and made sure of each shot. Steadiness would be the key. Jordan did his best to stop the momentum thinking if he couldn’t beat him playing squash, he may as well just take him out. The squash ball to the face – just under the eye (thankful for the eye-guards!) shocked Sante – and the crowd. Obviously it was a complete accident, and now almost blinded in one eye, Sante “Cyclops” Fratarcangeli refused to quit. He swept the table, escaping with a 15-14 win and a bag of ice.

Group 2 was probably the most competitive of the 8. Three 15-14 results and a 15-13 score, the order of the players could have easily been very different. Newcomer David de la Torre has virtually zero squash experience, and relied on his racquetball knowledge to battle each point. It wasn’t his lucky day as he was the victim of two of the 15-14 results (and the 15-13 score as well!) but he does get an ‘A’ for effort! He also should get a skin graft or two and learn that diving on a squash court generally ends poorly.

Group 3’s closest match was Tom MacEachern and Mike Parker. Mike can be a little awkward to play as he does love to use the angles and boast, and it took Tom a while to wrap his head around it. Mike had an 8 point head start, and almost pulled off the upset, but fell 1 point short going down 14-15.

Josh Slominski shamed by Ashley Thibodeau!
There were two 15-14 scores in group 4, but the most impressive performance of this bunch came from Ashley Thibodeau. Yes, she had a 13 point lead on Josh Slominski, but Josh took the ‘overly cautious’ route with her and was a casualty of being ‘too precise’. Ashley, won 2 of the 5 rallies they played and walked off a 15-3 winner! Ah, the beauty of the Blitz! Ashley’s luck ran out though, she lost 15-14 and 15-13 in her next two matches. Josh redeemed himself and won both of his other games to advance to the knock-out round anyway.

Adam Longo in group 5 did have all the luck as the two 15-14 scores in this bracket both fell his way. His sudden-death win over Andrew Walawender – also the final match of the group – avoided the top 3 place getters having to draw straws to see who would be playing in the next stage of the event. If Andrew had won that final rally, together with Adam and Jason Currie, they would all have scored 2 wins. But it wasn’t to be and Andrew found solace right next to the keg.

Another very competitive group (6), we didn’t have any 15-14 scores, but there were three 15-13 results and a couple of 15-12’s. A huge welcome back to Liz (McClure) Fratarcangeli who has been out of action for months with back issues, (and now being married to Sante, many other issues as well!) it’s terrific to see her on court again. Plus, she picked up a couple of wins, as did 2 others in the group which did force the first drawing of straws. Only 2 of the 3 players can advance to the next round. Alas, Liz needs to work on her straw drawing abilities, she copped the short one. Mike Rock and Dane Fossee benefitted.

Group 7 was most affected by the no-shows. Two of those missing in action were supposed to be in this group. The math left was pretty simple. The two remaining players were guaranteed to advance. JC Tibbitts and Jerry Rock played their game, clearly the best game the group presented. And also the worst… JC won 15-13.

Group 8 was the only one where each player won at least 1 game. Paul Gormley tried to bribe me for favorable handicaps, but I wasn’t having any of it. He owed me that $50 anyway… It was pure coincidence that Paul then won against his two toughest opponents in Colin Bayer and John Mann, and earned his way through to the finals. Colin was the other finalist from this group, he beat up on Julie VandeVusse 15-13, which was not a very gentlemanly thing to do, and then beat up on John Mann 15-8 which is perfectly acceptable.

So the knock-out final had an intriguing variety of playing levels. I won’t go through each of the 15 matches, but there were many close results – only two of them came down to the sudden-death rally though, the winner of this tournament could have been anybody. (Paul Gormley did not win… $50 only gets one so far…)

Dane Fossee probably had the toughest run. He needs to work on his fitness anyway, so his first match was against Josh Slominski, no handicap at all was required here. Some great squash between the two, and Dane who could still run enough pulled it out 15-10. Next up for him was Tom MacEachern, and once again the game would start from scratch. Another grueling encounter, Tom was controlling many of the points moving the tiring Dane all over the place. However, on more than just a couple of occasions, Dane’s length would be his savior and he found the nick deep on the side wall much to Tom’s frustration. Scraping through 15-13, Dane would have an even tougher time against his semifinalist opponent – Jason Currie. To rub salt into the Dane’s wound, the game started – again – at 0-0. And Jason was fresher, something not exactly needed since he can run all day and night anyway. It was evident that Dane had hit the wall, Jason did not show any mercy. It was a 15-6 unsympathetic pounding.

On the other half of the draw, Sante was the man with the target on his back. He survived his first 2 matches, not willing to let either opponent get anywhere close to game-ball. His biggest challenge was then against Mike Rock who quietly dispatched Paul Dwaihy in the previous round with consummate ease, needing absolutely no part of his 7 point handicap and in fact probably could have given some points  up instead. Mike walked on with Sante with 10 points, and by the time he reached 14, Sante was close behind with 12. Sadly for Mike, he couldn’t convert either of the 3 game balls, although he must be commended for the effort, I never thought Mike could run so fast or lunge so deep. Sante got away with a 15-14 win.
Dane Fossee and Mike Rock

Mike’s fortune did not improve in the 3rd / 4th playoff either. Against Dane – and with an 8 point lead – he did go a couple of points better than when they played in the group earlier that evening with the same handicap, Mike again had 3 game balls to close it out. Dane was near collapse by this stage, but managed to keep the ball above the tin just long enough to steal the game 15-14.

Sante and Jason Currie
The Sante F v Jason Currie final did not come down to the wire as we all had hoped it would. Jason started with 7 points, and I imagined with his retrieval ability he may draw a number of errors from Sante purely by extending the rallies. Could Sante stay steady enough? In short – yes. When Sante puts his head down, he can be very consistent and it was Jason who struggled to avoid the tin on many occasions. The shorter rallies helped Sante, and Jason may have been starting to slow down just a little as the pressure mounted. Sante picked him off 15-11.  For the third time, we can all stand up and applaud Sante – he takes the Blitz crown again, adding to his wins back in October 2013 and March 2104. I have to be harsher on his handicaps…

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