Monday, April 13, 2015

STARS AND STRIPES SHINE



Cross Border Challenge - April 11, 2015

Talk about waving the flag. In the absence of our shameless fashion guru Karl Lagerfeld - a.k.a. Sante Fratarcangeli - John Mann stepped up to the plate and supplied the patriotic robes to many of our players. At least the shirt this time had some sleeves, but the golden nugget of apparel had to be the knee-high socks adorned with the American flag. The cape was also a magic extra, but pretty much impossible to play in. Made for a great photo-op though.

Inspired by the prolific amount of red, white and blue, the 17th Cross Border Challenge produced a wealth of closely contested matches and our DAC members were well up to the task. Tom Fabbri got the ball rolling for us, his sock flags waving in the wind as he controlled the middle of the court with solid length. He was consistent enough to hold off the charge from Trevor Charles for a 3-1 win, which included a 3-10 comeback in game 2.

Tom Fabbri
Jon Dengel had a chance at revenge. A year ago he lost to Grace Kim in four games during the Cross Border Challenge, and he was determined not to lose to the same woman twice. But, as Jon pointed out after the match, it’s rather difficult to tire out a player who is clearly in better physical condition than himself (?!?). Testosterone, however, can be a powerful motivator and Jon almost pulled it off. Going down 10-12 in the 5th was a gallant effort. Kim was made to work hard for her win, she was seen later on rehydrating hard, a wine in one hand, and something mixed in the other which wasn’t a Gatorade…

After Julie Vande Vusse made the fashionably late entrance, she took care of business against Michaela Birley 3-1, which was then off set by Ian Edwards’ 1-3 loss to James Konrad. At this stage, the two countries had 2 wins apiece, but then we started to pull away.

The igniter was the first doubles result - Bruce Shaw and Ken Katz tackled Peter Wares and Derek Roth for the best doubles match of the day. Back and forth they went, trading games with scores lines of 15-14 and 15-13 all the way through a nail-biting 5th. Our home boys kept it together and absorbed the pressure well, breathing a huge sigh of relief taking that last game 15-13. They couldn’t get to the keg fast enough.

Josh Gershonowicz then produced another down-to-the-wire victory. He had to hustle continuously against the experience of Dave Hornby, a doubles specialist that loves to use weird angles on the singles court. It can be troublesome to find any rhythm against such players, so Josh did well to claim the 11-9 in the 5th and put another notch in the DAC’s win column.

A lot of interest was on our new member Vikram Chopra. It was a good chance to see him under pressure as he tackled the flamboyant Dan Van Moorsel. Dan is a big guy, but covers the court well and can also put the ball away. Vikram has a wristy swing that produces a lot of power and can be relatively deceptive, making his opponents stretch out into the corners. A little consistency cost Vikram game one, as too much over hitting set Dan up a bit too easily. But Vikram improved that tightness in the next three games to take the 3-1 win.

Special mention must be made to Alan Howard who we can excuse for being late to his match. He was on a good-will mission. To make sure that all the Windsor players were indeed able to leave their club safely and get to the DAC, Alan decided to drive to the Windsor Club first, confirm there weren’t any stragglers, and then return. A true gentleman. I doubt Andrew Della Bona thinks so though, Alan’s good-will only went so far as he took all 3 games.

Andy Adamo will be kicking himself slightly as this one got away. He was looking rather good heading into the 3rd game against Doug Fields as he held a 2-0 game lead. Doug is a feisty adversary, and would always be thinking he had 3 games to go, Andy appeared to take the foot off the gas ever so slightly. And that is all it takes. Doug took the next 2 games and the fifth was a battle - Andy stepped it up again as he had to in order to stop Doug’s momentum. It could have gone either way - but it was Doug who got to the finish line first with a 12-10 in the 5th win.

Another 5th set tie break result fell to the Windsorites. Derek Roth made amends for the doubles loss earlier by somehow staying on his feet long enough to beat John Mann 13-11 in the last game. That result almost turned it around for the Canadians - with three results to come in, we still needed one more win to secure the trophy.

But this is what these competitions are about. I would not have been upset in the slightest if we didn’t win the day. The closeness of the matches and the camaraderie is why we run these things. That being said, we still wanted the victory! And finally securing that win was the third doubles match of the day - Patrick Petz and Dane Fossee survived to take their match in 5!

The final two matches had Derek Aguirre battling the hard hitting Paul Gebrael. Paul loves his power - and he has plenty of it - and it can be awkward to counter such a tactic. I instructed Derek to slow the pace and not try to smack the ball with him. The strategy worked for one game, but consistently controlling the ball when it’s coming at you with an uncomfortably quick pace is something we all know is easier said than done. Paul took the match 3-1.

The final match of the day was also a 5-setter. Dave Porter got off to an excellent start and won the first 2 games over Dane Fossee who had jumped immediately from the doubles court to the singles. Maybe Dane couldn’t find his ‘singles’ touch initially, but as the match wore on, Dane was looking stronger as Dave was beginning to fade. Dane made the comeback complete, taking the 5th game and ending the day well for the DAC.

Overall, we won the day 12 matches to 9. It was one of the best Cross Border events we have had. Thank you to all who participated, the 21 match total is the second most we’ve achieved as well - so I’m very pleased with that too. (The record is 28 matches in April 2014). The next event is scheduled for September in Windsor - let’s see if we can find something even more outrageous for our costume... Meanwhile the Cross Border Trophy sits in my office where it belongs!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

HELP!



Assistant Squash Pro Required. Apply Within…

This is proving to be a difficult task. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to find an assistant pro, but I did expect some success last year. So, on top of posting the job on the websites, I’m going to write a short personal recommendation of why the DAC Assistant Squash Pro job is an attractive position for the correct candidate.

There are 2 major hurdles that we need to overcome: 1. The US work permit. 2. Getting someone to move to Detroit. I did receive a handful of resumes last year when we initially posted the job, but 90% of them were from outside of the country and unable to legally work. The DAC is not in the position to arrange the work permit; it is something that is required when applying. From the other 10% of applicants, all but one were simply not a fit for our club. We were very interested in the one that was, but eventually – and unfortunately for us - that person took a job elsewhere.

Detroit has a pretty awful reputation around North America. When I moved here from Montreal over 10 years ago now, the members from that club thought I was certifiably insane. And 10 years ago, the city was a mess. But Detroit has undergone an enormous amount of change over this time, helped a great deal by hosting the Superbowl in 2006 and the World Series in 2006 and 2012. Bankruptcy hit the city hard a couple of years ago, but it was the best thing that could have happened, and now it is bouncing back with vast amounts of investment, people moving back downtown, a resurgence of construction and business’ opening, and when Mr. Illitch get’s his new Red Wings stadium up and running, the downtown entertainment district will be virtually unmatched in the country.

Now that’s not to say Detroit has eliminated its issues (which city has?): crime, blight, infrastructure, road conditions… but we are on an upswing, we are improving, and Detroit is ripe for investment and it’s an exciting place to be. Especially for the sports nut – we have all 4 major sports represented here.

And the DAC? We are smack in the middle of it. Located across the road from the Detroit Tiger’s Stadium (Comerica Park) and Ford Field were the Lions play, the new Red Wings arena will also be walking distance away; we are in the heart of the action. The city’s renewed energy has boosted membership greatly, we are scheduled to open a roof top restaurant on level 7 where you would be able to watch the baseball game, and the DAC is one of the highest ranked and most beautiful Athletic Clubs in the country.

The squash portion has 4 singles squash courts and 1 doubles. And we are jammed. Demand for more courts is a terrific problem to have and that issue will in time be addressed. Court usage is at an all time high, the number of players is at an all time high, the demand for lessons is – you guessed it – at an all time high. Currently there is only one squash pro – me. The program is a monster and is getting too big for one person to handle. In short, I need help.

I have worked in many countries and places around the world, and nothing comes close to matching the DAC. Quality, cleanliness, professionalism. The right candidate has the potential to do very well here. Weekend lessons are available and in demand, building a junior program that we currently do not have, doubles lessons if you are qualified, camps, and any programs that you may wish to employ and fit into the schedule. It’s a full time gig. We run a lot of leagues, ladders, tournaments, and help will be required as well with these activities. Wage will be based on experience, and you can also earn money through lessons and camps.

You will also have the pleasure of living in one of the most under-estimated cities in America. Detroit is a wonderful place to live. Cheaper than most, passionate people, and like me, you will grow to love the place.

If you think you have what we are looking for (and you have a valid US work permit!) please forward your resume to mickj@thedac.com .

Friday, March 27, 2015

NEW LEAGUE CHAMPIONS



Boasters League final~~

Not that I haven’t ever chosen a winner when it comes to the Boasters League, but generally speaking picking a team to win spawns some black magic voodoo over them and they suffer the curse of subjugation. Last week, I did happen to envisage a “Winky-Dinks” conquest over the 2 time reigning champs “Butter Nutz”, and as luck would have it, I feel like a blind squirrel feasting on its nuts… ummm… maybe I could have worded that better…

Anyway, it was a superb evening of Boasters League finals matches. The “Winky Dinks” managed to do what they failed to achieve the week before – turn up in numbers. Picking up 16 of 17 bonus points, it was one more than the “Butter Nutz”, and even more pleasing was the fact that by the end of the evening, all matches had been completed. The reason for such a turnout is simple. The compliments must be handed out to both captains. Sante Fratarcangeli and Justin Winkelman were very active with their communicating and encouragement – much like they were all season long. It is a testament to how much a difference an active leader can do.

The one thing that surprised most people was the amount of 3-0 results that littered the score sheet. Ten of them in total. It surprised me too, but winning is about performing when it’s all on the line, not letting the pressure get to you – or better still, stepping it up when in do-or-die situations.

Jason Massey did just that for the “Butter Nutz”. The last 2 times he had played Matt Hayduk he was spanked 3-0. Given, these results were a while back, but those scores would still be in the back of his mind. This time, after he scraped through the first game 15-14 and both players hurried of the court like they hadn’t drank any water for a week, Jason was the one that recovered more quickly he was off and running at the start of the second game. The momentum stuck and the 3-0 win was in the bag.

For the “Winky-DinksTom MacEachern reversed his round three 1-2 loss to Brian Bartes with a take-no-prisoners steam rolling 3-0 victory this time. And following in Tom’s footsteps was the experience of Jim Miller. He went down to Charlie Dabrowski earlier in the season 1-2 as well before taking him to town with well placed angles and earning an important 3-0 win.

Two more scores came in that were an about face from matches in January. And both of them were in favor of the”Butter Nutz”. Glen Milligan has been a little inconsistent this half, but still managed to beat Robert Welch 2-1 and Shri Rangaswamy came from one game down to take the next two from Mike Cooney.
 
As I mentioned above, there were plenty 3-0 scores. The two teams did not perfectly split the goose eggs, “Butter Nutz” had 6 of them and so it wasn’t an overwhelming difference. And “Butter Nutz” actually won more of the matches that ended up 2-1, but a 1 point advantage is hardly the same as 3, and as the final 3 matches went on to play, “Winky-Dinks” held onto an 8 point lead. Not an impossible amount to overcome, but the “Butter Nutz” needed to win them all 3-0.

They did take all three games in the first match with Marc Lakin’s victory, but the “Winky-Dinks” picked up the first game of the second match which effectively sealed the deal. Even though the result had been determined, the final match still went ahead. Ryan Gannon toughed it and overcame the first game loss against Liz McClure to end the night for his team on a high.

The 44-38 “Winky-Dinks” victory was well deserved. More bonus points, and they won 9 of the 17 matches. As captain, this is Justin’s first Boasters League title, the monkey is now off his back and I’m sure the win was made a little sweeter in the fact he stopped Sante from winning for a third straight year.

Monday, March 23, 2015

EN GARDE, WINDSOR!



Cross Border Challenge – April 11

Yes, you. From Across the river. We are talking to you. We are rather tired (and a little cheesed off) that the Cross Border Trophy is not in our possession. It is an insult to our club the way you have paraded around and slapped us silly at the last two encounters, puffed up your chests and blown raspberries in our faces, rubbing in the humiliation of defeat with a haughtiness unbefitting any civilized society. The fact that we would be doing the same thing to you if we had won has absolutely nothing to do with it!

We hereby challenge you (again) for the privilege – no, right – to the Cross Border Trophy. That tackiest of tacky holy grails of squash belongs on this side of the world, not way up north in freezing Windsor (or is it south?) where you continually send us your polar vortexes and try to pawn off poutine as a gourmet item. It has nothing on our Coney Dogs!

So, Mr. Smarty-Smelly-Pants-Windsorites. Pick your weapon of choice. What will it be? Snowballs? Wanna a snowball fight? Should we play tiddlywinks? No? Then squash it is. Polish your frames and be at the Detroit Athletic Club on Saturday April 11 no later than 2pm. And meet your destiny!!

If you - DAC member - also wish to polish your frames and challenge a player from Windsor Squash, then e-mail me your interest. We will do our best to match you up with a player of similar standard. You will play one match, best of 5 games and try to win for the good guys. (That’s us.) Then, you can drink from the keg and enjoy the rest of the competition. We need players in singles and doubles. Men and women. And, since you are representing not only the DAC but the US of A as well, patriotism is highly encouraged and we’d like to see as much red, white and blue as possible. There is no such thing as too tasteless, right Sante?

Registration deadline is Monday, April 6. We have home court advantage, so let’s make the most of it and save me now that I’ve picked a fight! En Garde!

Friday, March 20, 2015

BUTTER NUTZ GOING FOR A 3-PEAT



Boasters League semi finals~~

I was a little bewildered at the lower participation level for the semi final. Where we had all results recorded last week for the quarters, this week we came up 5 matches short. Who knows if it ended up hurting the teams that lost, but it certainly didn’t help them.

Winky-Dinks v Mongoose

Only 10 matches of 17 were actually completed in this match up. One match was nullified completely, and 2 forfeits were handed out (one for each team). Only 10 players from each team turned up for their bonus points which I suppose cancels each other out on that front, but that it still very low for a semi final.

Less matches makes the ones that were played more significant. Each 3-0 victory carries more weight and the “Winky-Dinks” came through with 3 of them: JC Tibbitts, James Stuntz and Adam Burgess.
Two of those results were rather unexpected if you consider that James and Adam lost 1-2 to the same opponents just 2 weeks earlier in the final round of the season. “Mongoose” scored two 3-0 victories as well with Sean Moran and Brandon Linton taking care of business.

At the top level, it looks like John Rakolta (“Mongoose”) is starting to get some of his old form back (which is good timing with the club champs just around the corner). John reversed the round 9 score against Robin Basil and took down the racquetball-styled-squash-player 2-1. Paul Flanagan continued the “Mongoose” charge beating Brendan Fossee 2-1, but from there on it was slim pickings and a struggle for the 6th seed.

Squeaking out 2-1 victories the rest of the way, Mike Petix, Nick Cinqueranelli and Mike Cooney slowly kept increasing the lead, and although the advantage never reached an unattainable height, having four matches remain dormant as the deadline passed was really the nail in the coffin for “Mongoose”. It may not have made a difference, but either way “Winky-Dinks” advance to the final doing just enough for a 30-26 win. They will have to do a lot better job next week in terms of bonus points if they want to give themselves a chance.

Butter Nutz v Space Geckos

Last week, “Butter Nutz” recorded all 17 bonus points. They failed to do that this time, but 14 is still a pretty impressive total. And it was 3 better than the “Space Geckos”. That’s a full match (3-0 win) to overcome. With 16 of 17 matches completed, it turned out the “Butter Nutz” didn’t need that 4 point buffer anyway.

Both team captains led by example. Sante Fratarcangeli and Josh Slominski won their respective matches 3-0. In fact there were a lot of 3-0 results all around. Only 5 of the 16 matches ended up 2-1, whereas when these 2 teams played back in round two, 8 of 14 had that score line. And, only one of the results was reversed from that day: Space Gecko Andrew Walawender avenged his 1-2 loss to Andy Combs for a 3-0 victory this time around. But of all the 3-0 scores, the “Space Geckos” only managed 2 others.
 
That meant the “Butter Nutz” had a total of seven 3-0 victories, a virtual domination. Adding on the 3 extra bonus points, that’s 24 points the “Space Geckos” would have to overcome. They didn’t. Sealing their fate on Thursday afternoon was Matt DiDio’s win over Chris Van Tol and Marc Lakin taking all the games from Andrew Spohn. By that time, the differences in the scores was more than what was left on the table. The “Butter Nutz” definitely deserved the win here as they took the semi final 42-31.

So we are left with a “Butter Nutz” v “Winky-Dinks” final. The “Butter Nutz” are going for their 3rd straight Boasters League title, and for the “Winky-Dinks” it’s their second crack at glory since they went down to “Mongoose” in 2011. These two teams played in round 3 and it was “Winky-Dinks” who scored a commanding victory 32-23. Only 4 matches weren’t played back then, but neither team picked up that many bonus points either. Based on that, it looks like “Winky-Dinks” may have the edge. But they better turn up…

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