Monday, March 20, 2017


Blitz Tournament Mar 17, 2017

St. Patrick’s Day. It amazes me that anyone can start drinking so early in the morning. I struggle to put my pants on the right way around when I get out of bed, lucky I don’t poke my eyes out when inserting my contact lenses, and it’s remarkable that I cheat death and not slit my throat every time I shave. Hmmm… maybe I should drink…?

I’m as Irish as I am Chinese, so the day doesn’t really mean a whole lot to me, but apparently it does to just about everyone else who claims “Hey! I’m 1/24th Irish on my mother’s nephew’s daughter’s side twice removed”, the perfect excuse to annihilate one’s self as soon as the sun comes up and the bar’s open. It should be, by all accounts, a public holiday.

So when I arranged the Blitz Tournament for March 17, I was blissfully unaware of the significance of the date, was told after I advertised it what a mistake it was, was awfully worried I wouldn’t get the registrations to run it despite the offering of the keg that accompanied the event, and then was appreciably grateful that we did in fact get 21 players. One of which cancelled last minute, probably drowning in some green-colored, booze-filled, shamrock drenched establishment singing thick-accented Irish folk ditties - but at least I got the notice - the other just failed to present themselves at all. Maybe the green booze had actually gotten the better of him by 5pm.

In the preliminary round, the four groups of five players each (1 group ended up with four due to the no-show) went at it to determine which 2 players of each group would advance to the all-important knock-out finals. Derek Aguirre accepted the challenge presented to him like a man on a mission. Like Superman who is impervious to 99.99% of anything thrown at him, the handicaps were virtually useless against him. In games to 15 points, I may as well given everyone 14 points head start, it wouldn’t have mattered. In three of his matches, he didn’t lose a singles rally. He did lose 2 points in his 4th game, but the handicap was only 9 anyway, so it didn’t matter. What could possibly be his Kryptonite on this day? Greg Jones also advance from this group winning 3 of his matches, one of them being 15-14.

The second group ended up with a 3-way tie. Sante Fratarcangeli, Mike Parker and Han Peng all took away 3 wins and would have to draw straws to see which 2 could advance. It was a tense moment. The three players having a stare down, the three straws appearing identical but one of course being the eliminator. Neither player willing to take the first pull… The tumbleweed rolled past the court. A familiar whistle in the background, crows cawing, sun beating down, the town clock struck high noon… Until Mike stepped up and whipped out the middle straw, relieved to see that it was not the short one and would live on to the next round. Inspired, Han then also took the initiative and jumped forwards and without blinking yanked the second straw from my hand… and… tragedy! The sharpened end was a dead giveaway. Han was done. Off to the keg with you. Sante survived the carnage and made his way to keg anyway.
Jon Diewald and Paul Gormley

Jon Diewald takes home the “3-leaf-clover” award for being the unluckiest player of the day. He came away in group 3 with zero wins, but he could easily been in the finals mix had a couple of rallies just bounced his way. He lost 2 games 15-14, another 15-13 and the fourth 15-12. Jon needs to work on the frame-winner a little more. Paul Gormley was also just 1 rally away from advancing. He won 2 matches and lost a third 15-14… Dane Fossee and Chuck Doyle came away with 3 wins each and even though both of them were into the finals, they still needed to draw straws to see where in the knock-out bracket they would be placed. They decided on a sudden-death “rock-paper-scissors” contest instead. Now, I am no expert of this activity, but I have never seen 2 people make the simplest of games into one extraordinarily complex process. What should have taken 10 seconds at most, took 5 minutes of explanation, trial runs, false starts, and re-dos. Dane won in the end, I think his paper was the defining factor. What a move it was too.

The final group was the one that fell a player short and also had this tournament’s sole female competitor. Gina Greer was well up to the challenge, not to be overshadowed by her alpha male counterparts and she ended up with 2 from 4 wins. Jordan Dean joined her into the finals round also taking 2 wins. His only loss was a 14-15 score at the hands of Justin Winkelman. Gina and Jordan also need to draw straws to see where in the finals bracket they would be positioned and after witnessing the train wreck of the previous “rock-paper-scissors” debacle, it was a very straight forward exercise. Gina won. Gina also receives the “quote of the day award” when she remarked during one of the matches, “what a great shot!” - a remark that was spoken a little too quickly considering that shot then hit the tin. “Except for that”, was her attempt to save face. Sorry, the egg hit you squarely in the nose.

The finals bracket. Blowing wind up my own chutzpah, my handicapping here was pretty darn good. Derek took on Jordan Dean and I gave Jordan 12. Derek of course was still on his saving Louis Lane mission, but cracks were appearing in the armor as he managed to drop one point. 15-13 to Derek, hardly a smudge on his flowing red cape as of yet.

Sante v Dane. Before I could announce a handicap at all, Sante chimed in with “4!” followed by a quick retort from Dane with “6!” So, with logical assumption I split the difference and gave Dane 5. Dane should have thought that through a little better and said “8!” or “9!” I was leaning towards 6 or 7 at the beginning, Dane shot himself in the foot and can only blame himself here. Sante controlled most of the rallies and took it 15-10.

Sante and Derek
Gina v Chuck. Gina jumped in with 8 points, a confident number I was sure given the way she was playing this day. And she did the most wonderful thing and prove me to be spot on. Thank you! Unfortunately for her, she ended up on the wrong side of that 14-all sudden death rally, and nothing against Chuck but it would have been terrific to see a woman in the semifinals for the first time. Chuck’s one point experiences were just starting.

Greg v Mike. This one was difficult to judge a fair handicap. Greg is fairly new to the squash program and Mike has only been around for a year or so. I decided the best way to go was to make them play from scratch. That should tell what the handicap should have been afterwards! Brilliant! So, from my unflappable argument, it was clear that Greg should have had 3 or 4 points head start. And now I know. Which of course doesn’t help Greg one iota after the fact.

Chuck Doyle and Mike Parker
The two semifinals were nail-biters. Sante took 3 points into the match against Derek and was off to a flying start. Derek, it appeared had come across his one weakness - fluorescent lime green (or is it yellow?) t-shirts! Superpowers waning, he was playing way too conservatively, scared to lose points rather than playing to win them. But he turned it around half way through and began chipping away at the lead. He did get back to 13 before Sante (Lex Luther in disguise?) managed to close it out. So much for Louis Lane. Oh well. She was annoying anyway. The second semi was even closer. I also gave Mike 3 points heading into the match with Chuck. The hustle between the 2 players was something to behold, I can’t say it was postcard squash but it certainly was captivating. Chuck once again defied the odds to win the sudden-death rally, another 15-14 win.

3rd / 4th play-off between Mike and Derek had us all rooting for Mike of course. His 12 points was another magnificent move from yours truly, Derek was keen to put the Sante episode behind him and at least save himself from further defeat from some other super villain. He may get dropped from the Justice League after this performance, or maybe Mike is part of the Legion of Doom… either way, Mike takes the game 15-14, a noble showing!

For the final, Chuck also stepped on court with a 12 point buffer. Sante was confident coming off destruction of Superman, but things did not go as planned early on Chuck took 2 of the first 6 rallies and suddenly held 11 match-balls. Uh-Oh. No room for error for Sante. Chuck just needed one miss-hit, one framer, one lucky nick… but alas, it was not forth coming. With grim determination, Sante made sure he was faultless and worked himself back to 14-all and with it another sudden death point. One to decide it all… There was no lucky shot from Chuck, but he did -it seemed - have the opportunity to take a ‘stroke’ in the front left corner. He called the ‘let’, but ignored the cries of “STROKE!!” from the crowd, and insisted to Sante on playing a just a ‘let’. A true gentleman in every sense of the word. Now, I will let the people watching decide whether it was a stroke or not, understanding that everybody was naturally cheering for the underdog to win, so some bias is involved here. Chuck’s generosity was not rewarded, Sante took the game 15-14 and with it, his 4th Blitz title! Hats off to the victor, one must admire the competitiveness! I must make a note for the future to really exaggerate his handicapping….

Friday, March 17, 2017


Boasters League semi-finals~~

Give me second… just hopping up to my soap box for a minute…

The joys of organizing a league. Any league. When dealing with as many people as we do here, it’s utterly impossible to keep everyone happy. And I get that. Situations arise every season that are somewhat unique and decisions need to be made – many times with little or no time to think it over – and in the end somebody gets upset. Such is the nature of life.

Cries of rules changes come my way, but in reality the best way to deal with each episode is to try to keep it as fair as possible which of course doesn’t work depending on which side of the argument you’re on. I could add rules to the league for every new event that pops up, but the rule book would be like the NFL encyclopedia (Mark Montgomery already nicknamed me “Commissioner Goodell”!) and then who would read them anyway? So in my opinion, keeping it simpler is better.

The finals of the boasters league runs over 3 weeks and matches have deadlines for completion. We have run it this way for the 13 years I have been here. And, having these finals run through March, a time of the year where many are vacationing or are injured after a long season, makes it often difficult to play before that deadline. Subs need to step in. This week, we needed 8. That is lot more than normal believe it or not, but it’s 8 out of 68 players scheduled. So, in retrospect, it’s not that bad. I mention the subs here because it did cause a little controversy this week and I received the earful from all sides. I don’t have the ‘perfect’ substitute in the closet waiting to go every time one is requested, especially for last minute requests.

This week was an anomaly. Is the system faultless? No, of course not. In the utopian squash world, all players would turn up every week and play at their scheduled time. But, Utopia is far away. And as I step down from my soap box, keep in mind as well that some of the onus does land on you – the player…

Preaching hat off, Blog hat on…

Winky-Dinks v Mongoose
Winky-Dinks were under pressure this week to improve on their round 7 drubbing at the hands of Mongoose. Both team required 2 subs each to fill in for them, and surprisingly, both teams did not pick up many bonus points comparatively speaking – 11 for Winky-Dinks and only 10 for Mongoose. Usually on finals night, I’d expect 14 to 15 at least.

Although this did end up closer than the previous match-up, it wasn’t much prettier. Half a dozen bagels littered the Winky-Dinks score line, and for those mathematicians out there, that’s an 18 point chasm to make up. Winky-Dinks did pull back three 3-0 wins of their own, but it wasn’t nearly enough to make up the difference.

The closest result of the evening was between Adam Longo (Winky-Dinks) and Shane Henry, who was subbing for Mongoose. Adam edged the first game 15-13, and the second game went one point closer. But at 14-all, Shane serving, he had the terrific idea of trying to hit it over Adam’s head, which, at the glass half full attitude, he did. However, the glass half empty viewpoint, he also hit it 10 feet out of court… Oops. Not to be deterred, Shane redeemed himself in the third game, this time making sure his 14-all serve was safely in, and taking the rally to save at least one game!

It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Winky-Dinks. Some bright sparks included Julie Vande Vusse taking care of business – although it was tough business – against David Zack for a 2-1 win and John Perkins doing the same against Mike Petix. But in the end, Mongoose was left standing tall. They are simply a good team. Final score: 38-31.

Butter Nutz v Vivio’s
This one came down to the final match. And we’ll get to that in a minute. Subs also played a big part of this match up, Butter Nutz needing 3, Vivio’s just 1… Bonus points could also play an important role here. Vivio’s picked up one more (13) than Butter Nutz (12), so in case of the scores being equal, they held the tie-break.

In round 5, Vivio’s won by 2 points, so obviously the teams are evenly matched. And they stayed evenly matched through the evening, neither team establishing any sort of significant lead, not more than 3 points separated them at any one moment. The biggest turn around result from round 5 was Han Peng (Butter Nutz) retaliating against Blake Roller (Vivio’s) who beat him 2-1 back then. Han’s lessons must be paying off (how’s that for a cheap slap on my own back?) as he took Blake to the cleaners for a 3-0 sweep. I need to thank Han for that performance as Blake now is begging to get on my lesson calendar. Wednesday evenings open up in a couple of weeks, Blake.

Kevin Thomas with his "Beer Point" Happy B'day!
Shout out to the birthday boy Kevin Thomas who played his match early (winning 2-1) in order to be able to celebrate his 30th birthday on Wednesday. But that didn’t stop him from being the ultimate team player as he still managed (somehow) to turn up to the DAC for his bonus point (and a beer, d’uh!). Not sure he remembers doing so, luckily we had photo proof.

By the time Thursday morning rolled around, two matches were left to be completed. One was already underway when I arrived for the day. Mike Rock (Vivio’s) and Ted Morris who was subbing for the Butter Nutz were locked at 1 game all and 9-8 in the third. At this point, the two teams were deadlocked at 35 points each. A good spirited end to the match, Mike walked off the 2-1 victor, an important win for Vivio’s because now the pressure would be placed squarely on the Butter Nutz.

The deciding match would be Zac MacVoy (Butter Nutz) v Brendan Fossee (Vivio’s). Mike’s 3rd game win meant that in order for the Butter Nutz to win, Zac would have to take all 3 games. I only have 1 recorded result between the 2 players, and Zac took that 2-1. Both players knew the deal going into the court. The battle was on, I’m sure the captains were texting wildly all day laying our game tactics to their players… And in a revenge result, Brendan managed to stop the behemoth that is Zac with a 2-1 victory and thus propel the unlikely Vivio’s to a 39-37 win!

The win comes with a small asterisk, as protests regarding the subs were launched. Did it change the outcome of the victory? I’ll let everyone make their own opinion on that. It doesn’t change the fact that Vivio’s advance.

So we are all set for an interesting final. Mongoose played Vivio’s way back in round 1 where they actually lost 33-30. Still, too close to predict a winner for next week, I’m pretty sure though that Mongoose will need at least 2 subs which may hurt them bonus point wise.

Monday, March 13, 2017


Farris Cup 2017

I guess I was quietly confident heading into the day, although I wasn’t too sure why. It’s generally a difficult task to predict a winner between the DAC and BAC for the Farris Cup, my knowledge of their players is somewhat limited considering we meet just once a year. Maybe the faith lies in the ability of our own players and recognizing their current form. A lot has happened between now and the finals of the May 2016 Club Championships where our team was selected from. The improvement displayed by many of them is a pay-off to their hard work.

We were not the defending champions, in fact we received virtually a criminal assault last year, the abuse we endured losing 13 matches to 4. Returning the favor, however, is not the motivating factor. Winning is for sure important to us, but I am not interested in pounding the BAC into oblivion. The tournament should be competitive, regardless of who ends up displaying the trophy for the next 12 months. If the winner was decided on the final rally of the final game of the final match, that would embody the reason we do this.

Well, it didn’t happen that way (the odds of that actually happening would be rather minuscule, although it was decided on the final match one year!), but we did end up with the closest result since 2008.

The day was a tale of 2 halves. In Part 1, the DAC came out of the gates, hell bent on complete and utter annihilation. Unmerciful in their approach, it was a blitz campaign that took the BAC players by total surprise and before they could regain any of their senses and figure out what hit them, the initial bloodbath was complete. It was like the actor Russel Crowe in the movie Gladiator walking out of the Coliseum covered in all his enemy combatant’s innards and body parts… ugh, gross.

John Mann, Rick Claar
Zac MacVoy, David Zack, Ryan MacVoy, David “Nacho Libre” de la Torre, and Colin Bayer wasted little time taking apart their opponents with 3-0 victories. John Mann had to handle slightly more resistance to secure his victory 3-1 against Rick Claar who unfortunately had to retire hurt in the 4th games with a hamstring injury. We wish Rick all the best for a full and rapid recovery.

Not forgetting the doubles court, an area where the DAC is improving, the first battle of the day had the veterans strutting their stuff. John Dunwoody and Bob Burton teamed up for the 4th straight year for us and clicked together well on this occasion and out angled Joe O’Connor and Nick Post with some wonderfully placed boasts and reverses to take the 3-1 win.

By the time the first 7 match results were in, the DAC held a commanding 7-0 lead and the extermination was on. Considering the ‘magic number’ to win the Farris Cup was 9, the outcome looked all but secure. Sarcastic cries of “will the BAC win any matches” were starting to be heard, but like a Phoenix from the ashes, the BAC started to mount their comeback. Part 2 was upon us.

John Rakolta, George Kordas, Max Franklin, Peter Schmidt
We didn’t make it easy for them mind you, it wasn’t as if we simply rolled over and ‘let’ them win anything. I’m sure our players would have been very content to take all 17 matches, but that was not about to happen. Suddenly, a handful of 1-3 results started to slap us in the face. Tom MacEachern, Jason Currie (who lost 14-12 in the 4th), Andy Adamo, Chris Van Tol, did what they could but fell just short, and then in what would have been the upset of the day, George Kordas and John “JR” Rakolta defied the odds and all logic taking the much favored doubles team of Peter Schmidt and Max Franklin to five games, again, just falling a few unforced errors short to lose 15-10 in the 5th. How George and JR manage to challenge all that come before them considering how little they play together is one of squash’s greatest enigmas. With BAC’s Warwick Stirling handing us our only 3-0 loss of the day, unexpectedly, we only held a 1 match lead. Could this get away from us?

But when in doubt, Sante Fratarcangeli (da-dada-daaaa!) to the rescue! So often I write his name on my blog it seems, it no longer sees “Fratarcangeli” as a spelling mistake. He had a tough match up in Terry Barr, and after they split the first two games I was more than optimistic that Sante had this covered. Terry looked tired, slow movements between points to try to recover, he started to fall back too far from the ’T’ during the rallies. Sante was patient and simply kept the ball long when he needed and then short when the opportunity arose. His 3-1 win temporarily stopped the bleeding and we were just 1 match victory away from closing up shop. We needed one of the final three…

The top level singles matches were under way. Peter Logan skipped to a 2-0 lead against the wily Eric Machus before things started to go a little sideways. Eric wouldn’t just lie down and picked away at the lead slowly but surely to even things up at 2-2…

Meanwhile, on the court next door, Vikram Chopra had his hands full playing the tenacious Seth Rogers, and man we would all love to be able have his athleticism, but not so much his technique! It works for Seth mind you, if I tried to copy it, I’d be looking for new vocation. Vikram, though, struggled to find his line and length. A lot of over-hitting, which many times let Seth off the hook, Vikram needed to sacrifice a little of that power with some better control. It’s great to hit the ball early and hard, but without out the precision behind it, it can - and in this case it did with Vikram - hurt you…

On the doubles court, the final match of the day was underway. Manny Tancer and Matt DiDio were toe-to-toe with Fred Conway and Jamie Moran. I of course can’t be in three places at once (still trying to figure that one out), so I didn’t see any of this match. I did know, however, it was 1 game all. I was getting nervous…

Peter Logan came off after the 4th game and got a little helpful advice from a young observer in the crowd. “use your short angles…” It was the right call. Peter started to strand Eric flat-footed as he flicked some terrific drops and boasts from the back court area, and he started to once again assert himself in the match. Eric had no answer. Peter took the 5th game and the entire DAC team took an enormous sigh of relief in unison - that was the one that pushed us over the edge.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the actors still on court, the squash was still ferocious. Seth and Vikram were still belting the ball back at each other as if their very lives depended on it. Seth never gives up as we have witnessed many times at the DAC Classic, entertaining to say the very least. He was, on this day, too much for Vikram to handle and he took the 3-1 win.

Finishing the day, Manny and Matt placed that bright red cherry on the cake. They too took the match 3-1,  giving us two of the three doubles matches, making sure of the victory in case my math was off. The DAC had limped over the finish line and won the Farris Cup 10-7! Overall, we now hold a 7-6 lead.

A superb event, thank you to the BAC team, they put up a great fight! Next year it will be on their turf, so we’ll need to step it up if we wish to retain. And, if you want to represent the DAC, it’s simple: get to the final of the upcoming Club Championships…!

Virginia Farris with  the Farris Cup!

Search This Blog