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…

Monday, March 16, 2015

DOING THE ADAMO BLITZ



Blitz Tournament March 13, 2015

The sign of a successful handicap is the sniveling that it creates from both players. One thinks it’s way too high, the other no where near enough. They plead their cases from current form, to past results,  injuries, how many beers they have drunk... If I were to take all that into consideration when making the schedule, it would drive me to the nut house... “now, based on 3 and half beers, a slightly sore knee, the fact that he hasn’t played well the past few days... and his opponent is on fire has only had 2 beers but weighs 30 pounds less and is injury free...”  To save all the nuisance, all you need to know is that I am easily bribed. Money talks, people!

That being said, I’m extending an apology to Griffin Wagner who I grossly overestimated when dishing out the points. Sure, his money is as green as anyone else’s, but I truly did get this one wrong. At least it’s encouraged him to book in some lessons. At last. (Method to my complete madness.)

Group 1. It has become an expectation that Sante Fratarcangeli works himself through the early stages of each tournament and we see him feature strongly in the finals. However, this time it started off differently. Becket Marum was his first opponent and with the 10 point lead to start held off Sante - barely - to sneak the 15-13 win. Surely Sante would bounce back in his next match against Ashley Thibobeau... Nope. Ashley decided that the best way to beat Sante was to let him get to 14 and play a sudden-death rally. Nothing like putting undue pressure on your opponent. Ashley survived 15-14 and suddenly Sante was 0 for 2. Becket on the other hand relished under the tension of close encounters, beating Ashley 15-13 and Dino Ricci 15-14. His clean sweep of the group had him in the finals. Joining him there was Ashley as she took 3 games from the lads. Sante did end up with 2 wins in the end, but it wasn’t enough.

Group 2. The finalist of the October Blitz Tournament, JC Tibbitts, was attempting to go one place further. He started off brilliantly against Andy Adamo as his 7 point head start was - although warranted - unnecessary. He blasted Andy of the court with a 15-6 victory. An important score as it turned out for later in the tournament. JC went on to win 3 matches in the group, one of them being a 15-14 against Paul Fershee, and earned his way to the knock-out round.  The second player to move on from the group would be picked by chance. Ian Edwards started his campaign with an almost upset over Josh Slominski, the two had some compelling rallies, Josh playing a little too tentative at times, and Ian just missed out on the final rally losing 15-14. He made up for it against Paul Fershee in dramatic fashion. Paul headed into the game leading by 8 and had Ian by the short and curlies at 14-7. As hard as Paul pushed himself, Ian matched it and managed to save himself from elimination (for now) taking the game 15-14. Three players ended up on 2 wins each only one could advance. Drawing straws, Andy Adamo lucked out.

Group 3. Can anyone stop the human squash-cannon in Bret Williams? He probably hits it harder than I do, and it is a formidable weapon against lower lever opponents. Having the ball bounce around the back corners with pace is a very difficult prospect to deal with, and adding in the variation that he can hit it low and short as well, his rapid rise through the squash ranks these past few months is understandable (and impressive). Bret blasted his way through the group taking all 3 games, the closest being a 15-14 over Paul Gormley. The player to advance with Bret was decided on the final match of the group. Both Jason Trombley and Andrew Walawender had picked up 1 win each, and the victor between the two would guarantee safe passage. Andrew started off with 6 points handicap, but it wasn’t quite enough. Jason took the close result 15-12 and could breathe a sigh of relief as he moved on.

Group 4. Arguably the toughest of the four groups, it was also the one group that failed to produce a 15-14 score line. Phooey. It did produce three 15-13 scores, with Dane Fossee being on the receiving end of two of them. In fact, Dane - who was touted as the strongest player on his group - only managed to take 1 of his 4 games. Colin Bayer is another player that has been improving swiftly. He is deceptively quick around the court and can also crack the ball rather solidly. Colin won his first three games against the guys in his group before self-destructing in the last game against Julie Vande Vusse 6-15. Was it the female influence, Colin?? We would have to draw straws again here as three players ended up with 3 wins apiece. Since only 2 players can advance, this time, the one drawing the short straw would be excluded. Justin Winkelman was too much of a gentleman and let the other 2 players draw first and through process of elimination was left with the rough end of the pineapple (so to speak!) and was he quickly off to re-fill his beer cup. Getting through was Julie and Colin.

The Finals. I asked before who could stop Bret Williams? The answer on this occasion was Andy Adamo. I let these guys play straight up (no handicap) as they have played each other twice in box ladder before with Andy taking both matches 3-2. The “hoodoo” continued for Bret as Andy won the game 15-9. Colin Bayer’s run ended in riveting fashion against Becket Marum. Always fun to watch Colin bulldoze himself from corner to corner, no ball ever too far away not to run for. Becket had a 7 point handicap which was, by the narrowest of margins, adequate. A 15-14 win for Becket had him playing Andy in the semi.

Another nail-biting encounter, Andy  had to give Becket 10 points head start. Once again, I’m allowed to pat myself on the back as the game came down to another sudden-death rally. Both Becket sand Andy are pretty cool customers, their feathers don’t seem to ruffle terribly much, and Andy calmly swiped the rally for a 15-14 win and a spot in the final.

On the bottom half of the knock-out draw, JC Tibbitts had to be very careful against Ashley Thibodeau, who walked on holding a 12 point advantage. With scarcely any room for error, JC wasn’t about to let Ashley off the hook. Strong and safe  length was the recipe of success, JC walked off winning 15-13. Jason Trombley recently lost to Julie Vande Vusse in the box ladders. So based on that result, these two played from 0-0. I can hardly give a handicap to a player that had won their last match, can I? Julie thought I should, and maybe she was a right in hindsight. I must have used the same crystal ball that I was looking into when I did Griffin’s handicaps... I better get a refund on that one. Jason won 15-9, not so bad, but a 3 or 4 point handicap would have made it a little more fascinating.

The semi final was close. Jason started with 8, JC started in a similar fashion as he did with Ashley. Trying his best to eradicate any unforced errors, JC closed the gap at a steady pace. But Jason wasn’t going down without a fight and some nice winners put a sense of panic into JC as the game drew a close. However, JC scraped up the final 2 rallies and took it 15-13.

The final was a rematch of the group match: Andy Adamo v JC Tibbitts. Based on JC’s convincing victory, I lowered his handicap from 7 to 6. I was tempted to lower it even further, but I somehow doubted Andy would be as generous this time around. His tactic of letting JC hammer him first match, getting into the knock-out round with a 33% chance of drawing the right straw, and beating Becket 15-14 in the semi final, paid off. Brilliant strategy. But JC picked up his game and played very well indeed. It wasn’t easy for Andy, JC made it tough and pushed him in the rallies. However, Andy got the victory 15-12 and secured his first Blitz Tournament victory! For 3rd place, Becket beat Jason 15-8.
 
You will notice that there aren’t any photos of the event in the article. That is because my camera is on the fritz - I have no idea what happened - and I am yet to replace it. So, I managed to find a pic on line that depicts our group of tournament players that it is almost indistinguishable from the real thing...

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