Funny how the finals come around and suddenly Wednesday night squash turns into a priority. Of the 34 scheduled matches, 31 of them were decided before Thursday morning. Of course I couldn’t be happier (unless all 34 were played!) but I can’t help but wonder what the season would look like if this level of enthusiasm was portrayed every single week. It’s kind of like play-off hockey. Go through the motions during the home and away, then turn into ‘beast-mode’ once the finals start! Each team required one sub, so no-harm-no-foul on that level, but did bonus points make a difference..?
Vivio’s v Nicker Ballers
As mentioned last week in the report, Vivio’s beat the Nicker Ballers during the season. Save for a couple of results, the score lines came back identical as what they did in round 4. The stand-outs were Peter Huthwaite (Nicker Ballers) avenging his 3-0 loss to Fred Minturn (Vivio’s) with a complete reversal for a 3-0 win this time around, Peter Fromm (Nicker Ballers) salvaging 1 game instead of none against Gina Greer (Vivio’s), and Jeff Frost (Nicker Ballers) taking all 3 games against Mike Rock (Vivio’s) going one better than the 2-1 win weeks ago.
The difference overall favored the Nicker Ballers, and at the end of the evening, they held what appeared to be an unassailable lead, even though 2 matches were yet to be played – one of which was not going to get done anyway. Most people left the building with the knowledge that Vivio’s season was at an end and the Nicker Ballers were set to live another day. But Vivio’s captain Rich Stimson is as stubborn as his red hair suggests he is, and in a show of what can happen if you are dedicated enough, Rich pulled out his cell phone in a desperate and defiant act of ignoring all club house rules, and threatened life and limb to the players in his team that still needed to come to the DAC to pick up their bonus points. And, whether it was the fear of having to live looking constantly over one’s shoulder for a ginger-haired attacker, or whether it was promises of free drinks and cigars (no doubt the former), it worked! And what seemed a dead and buried result, by Thursday morning, they were, remarkably, within reach.
Unintended consequence was that all the pressure was now mounted on the final match. Gus Ploss (Vivio’s) was left with the task of completing this highly improbable comeback with having to beat Drew Van Tongeren (Nicker Ballers) 3-0. And, it was definitely within the realm of possibility considering he had done exactly that in round 4. But pressure can be a double edged sword. Some people step up to the plate and exceed expectations, some collapse on the weight of their own doubts and end up a blubbery, dribbling wet sponge. There was nothing oozing from Gus’ pores on this occasion except the pheromones of a well-earned 3-0 victory. And that, as the saying goes, “was all she wrote”. Vivio’s come back from the precipice of death to win… 37-37 was the overall point score, but the tie-break bonus points get them through.
Next week they have to handle the Butter Nutz. Their round 5 encounter had Vivio’s winning 34-32. So no prediction here… exciting stuff!
Winky-Dinks v Foss Nation
I would have expected this result to be a little narrower, and for most of the evening, it was. It was only when the last couple of results rolled in that one team forged ahead. 16 of the 17 matches were completed here, and the Winky-Dinks also picked up 2 more bonus points that Foss Nation.
The biggest reversal result (from when these teams played in round 5) was captain Dane Fossee (Foss Nation) leading by example, taking care of business against Jordan Ellis (Winky-Dinks) with a 3-0 victory, making up for the earlier 3-0 loss. I was watching a little of the third game in this match, and while Dane did look in control for the most part, I was rather impressed at Jordan’s foot speed and his ability to cover the front corners so quickly.
John Perkins (Winky-Dinks) also got payback on his round 5 loss to Marc Topacio (Foss Nation) with a 2-1 win, which was then almost immediately nullified by James Stuntz (Foss Nation) who did the same turnaround trick to Justin Winkelman (Winky-Dinks).
A number of these match-ups were a lot more completive than what they were those few ago – what were 3-0’s back then morphed into 2-1 results this time, but no team was taking any real advantage or step forward, both content to hold hands and dance across the finish line – it appeared – in a synchronized deadlocked entanglement. Then the last three results came back and the Winky-Dinks had decided to drop the charade and pull up the big-boy pants. Julie Vande Vusse wasted little time yanking up her drawers taking all 3 games as did Tad Lippincott and then finishing the job, stretching those pants to the breaking point, Dave DeCew was merciless taking his 3 games.
Winky-Dinks finished strong and Captain Winkelman can once again drill his team for another week, thankful for this 41-33 win, but pumping up his minions to take on the number 1 seeded Mongoose. A team that Winky-Dinks will need to do better against than what they did round 7 where they were ceremoniously stuffed 39-27.