Monday, September 19, 2016


Cross Border Challenge September 17, 2016

USA!! USA!! USA!! Kevin Prather!!
Ahhh, patriotism. Nothing like displaying your countries colors with hideous fashion statements. Screaming “I love America” through Stars and Stripes exhibitionistic ensembles is what makes this country awfully strange wonderful. It’s becoming more of the attraction with the Cross Border Challenge, this, the 19th meeting against Windsor since its inception in 2005.

The first major squash competition for the season almost reached record numbers. Windsor are the current title holders, and visit the DAC in force every time we host. I’m sure it’s the keg passion of competition that draws them over the river, and they would need every ounce of that passion if they were to keep the coveted broken racquet trophy.

The event kicked off at 2pm sharp. Eleven of the twelve players were promptly swapping cross-courts in their warm-up routines. John Birgbauer, however, was applying the mind-games tactic, as he completely forgot kept his doubles opponents waiting, making a dramatic late entrance. Either it upset the preparation of the Windsor team, or it gave them a few more minutes to drink another beer, the strategy worked beautifully. Together with Peter Logan, they dispatched their rivals 3-0, timing the last rally perfectly as they walked off the court exactly at 3pm, keeping my schedule as my German wife would be proud - precisely on time.
Dave Guthrie, Peter Logan, Kevin Furmanek, John Birgbauer

The DAC had a couple more bagels to hand out for the first round of matches. Tom MacEachern did well to keep Steve Allen off the score board. Long rallies were plentiful, which really benefited Steve more than it did Tom, but Tom had the better ability to put the ball away. The third game went to extras, and Tom was starting to feel the effects. At match-ball, he went for a very risky never-in-doubt drop from the back of the service box that caught Steve a little flat-footed. Tom was happy not to have to hop back on court for a fourth!

Continuing the DAC charge early was Matt DiDio and Ted Morris, recording 3-0 and 3-1 wins respectively. Windsor managed to etch a win on their side of the score board with Dave Porter taking down our own John Mann 3-1. It was a healthy start to the event for the DAC, but there were still plenty of matches to be completed. I was starting to hear the ‘excuses’ from the Windsor team that they had not been playing much over the summer months and the rust was still being brushed off. Unlike the dedicated DAC players, that clearly trained 7 days a week… practicing their golf technique and swing.

Matt Maceachern, Sante "Rocky" Fratarcangeli
The second round of matches mimicked the first. Four wins and one loss. One of the best matches of the day, Sante Fratarcangeli harnessed his inner-Rocky - spurred along no doubt by his Balboa shorts (if you talk the talk, you better walk the walk, right?) coming back from 2-1 down against Matt Maceachern. Having to deal with a broken toe as well, Sante battled back tenaciously. If he was hurting with his movement, he wasn’t letting on very well. The long, running rallies went back and forth, both players were attempting to use all four corners. We have seen Sante in these situations many times and he seems to be able to pull himself over the finish line first more times than not. Today was one of those days as well, his 11-9 in the 5th victory was a gutsy result. Adrian Liz would be proud.

At this point we were 8 matches to 2 up. Windsor would need to step it up to have any chance of maintaining custody of the trophy. They did so for round 3, picking up 3 of the 5 results. The closest one being the doubles match. Shail Arora and Justin Winkelman had a formidable task against Steve DeMarco and Mike Obremic. I didn’t see much of this one, but from what I witnessed I thought our lads would struggle. They did - but in a good way. They stepped up to the assignment, pushing the Windsor team to the edge. Coming back from a 2-1 game deficit and also deep down in the fourth, Justin and Shail, desperate for more beer squash, extended the match to an unlikely fifth. Unfortunately, they couldn’t pull it out but they should be happy with their gallant performance.

The DAC was close to the finish line. We only needed 3 more victories to secure the prize. And, we did it in style. Dave Devine relied on his ultimate fitness experience to come back from the brink. He was 2-0 down before he figured out his opponent, Jeff Derochie, and subsequently rolled off the next three games. Or maybe his pink shirt eventually blinded the guy…? Either way, it inched the DAC ever closer.

After new member Steve Brown secured his 3-1 win, illustrating some silky skilled hands, we only needed one more. In the Houdini act of the day, Derek Aguirre provided it. Playing Dave Guthrie, the two displayed some pretty squash and also some not so pretty squash. UnFortunately for them, no one gets points for looking pretty (otherwise our DAC ranking would look vastly different). At 2-1 down, Derek needed all the help he could muster to keep himself in the match. As the fourth game came to a close, it looked as if neither player really wanted to win. Points were decided on mistakes and Derek with an 11-10 lead, eventually won the game on a stroke. He did save a match ball in the process though. The 5th game was eerily similar. Dave reached 10 first and Derek had to survive 4 more match-balls to take it to the tie-break. It was a little messy, but exciting to watch when it comes down to the wire. As fate would have it, Derek only needed 1 match ball to convert the win. 12-10 in the 5th!

The trophy was ours! But we still had matches to complete. The intensity did not let up either. Another nail-biter result, Peter Logan tackled the burly, hard hitting, Kevin Furmanek. Some great squash was showcased here, Peter was very effective with his short angles from the back of the court, using his experience wisely, and Kevin would counter with his powerful, quick length. Once again the DAC player was having to comeback from a 2-1 game deficit. Peter appeared to have some momentum going into the 5th after solid 4th, but Kevin had other ideas. It was neck and neck most of the way, Kevin though had one slamming length too many, not even a desperation slip dive from Peter could reach it, and took the match 11-9 in the 5th. Capping off the day was Vikram Chopra taking on the strong-willed Paul Gebreal. Finishing the competition and we had started it, Vikram was simply too steady for Paul and could handle his power with relative ease. The DAC won the match 3-0, and we had succeeded in our quest for the Cross Border Trophy with a 16-8 overall victory!
Cross Border Players!

In an even more stunning result, the keg was completely destroyed in 3 and half hours. After all these years, I really shouldn’t expect anything less - right Double D?

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