Monday, September 15, 2014


Cross Border Challenge

“Whipping.” “Walloping.” “Worked.” “Whacking.” “Wrecking.” The one ‘W’ that we didn’t do is “Win”. As usual, however, I do like to emphasize positives and even though it was our goal to bring victory for the DAC and return proudly with the Cross Border Trophy, we can all be satisfied with our splendid efforts for one, and two, for the fact that we had 22 participants! Considering that the event took place in Windsor, that’s a record!

Also gratifying was the amount of ‘new’ faces that made the short journey through the tunnel. The interest is growing - especially at the 3.0 level and below - and it is definitely one of the best things one can do to gain invaluable experience. If only the 4.0+ level players would follow suit.

The day started off evenly enough for the two clubs. There were 3 matches to kick off the day at 2pm. Patrick Petz and Mike Petix dominated their doubles match and took all 3 games comfortably. Our 2 singles competitors didn’t fare as well, and we lost one in 3 and the other 3-2. But the day was young. As it turned out, that day turned rather bleak fairly quickly. We didn’t win another match for 2 hours.
Graham Duguid, Doug Fields, Mike Counsman, John Dunwoody

Of the next seven matches completed that continuously added notches in the Windsor win column, only 2 of them were 3-0. Three of them were 3-1 and in all honesty we did stand a decent chance of grabbing those victories. They would have needed to be at the top of their games to do so, but they were by no means blasted off the court. The other 2 matches went 5.

‘Match of the Day’ must be handed to Josh Gershonowicz. Playing against Peter Ryan, I was a little skeptical that Josh stood much of a chance. But he unmistakably proved me wrong. Losing the first game 12-10, he hustled himself to a 17-15 game 2 win. Josh’s counterpunch had Peter coming back with one of his own as the 3rd game went Windsor’s way. Josh swung back and muscled through the 4th to set up the grueling 5th neither player really had the lungs for. But that didn’t stop them from fighting for every rally and back and forth it went - all the way for fitting tie-break. Josh had his chance at 11-10 up, but a cross court from Peter (un)luckily found the middle of Josh’s chest, handcuffing him completely. It was the only opportunity he would get as Peter somehow scored the next two points for the 13-11 victory. Lady Luck was not on our side.

Not to be outdone, running himself into exhaustion was Shri Rangaswamy. He had it tough against a shooter and after the first game I thought Shri had no chance. But he stormed back with plenty of better, tough length, which of course makes it difficult for anybody to hit winners from. Another 5-setter was ours for the taking, but once again it slipped from our (Shri’s) fingers. He gave it all he could - and I’m sure he felt every piece of it on Sunday!

In a good trend, we had 4 women sign up to represent. It was a nice touch that Windsor managed to give each of them a female opponent as well. Unfortunately for us, they were all a little too skillful for our tastes and our ladies went 0 for 4. But, it was great to see them out there and I’m sure we’ll be seeing some of them come over to the DAC for some ladies only practice sessions.

The DAC’s second win came from our ever more reliable Sante Fratarcangeli. Sante took care of business 3-1 with a solid performance. Naturally, playing just once is never enough for him, and Sante was kind enough to step in for a DAC player who cancelled late in the day. He won that match too (also 3-1) for our third victory. Our fourth and final win was from new member Ian Edwards who scored all 3 games against Michaela Birley.
Tom Porter and Andy Adamo

For the final match of the day, Andy Adamo had it tough against the wily Tom Porter. Obviously we had lost the day, but that didn’t stop Andy from pushing Tom the entire match. Tom is an awkward customer to handle with his flicky technique and unanticipated angles. Andy almost pulled off the upset, but it would another 2-3 result to ponder.

Overall we lost the day 16 matches to 4. Wow. I knew we would have it tough when I saw the match-ups, but I did think we could have made it closer - we had our chances to do so. We still would have fallen short even if we had won all the 5-set matches. No matter, we need to do better. And we’ll get our chance in April when we host them at the DAC. Most importantly, we all had a great afternoon of squash and socializing. Thank you to Windsor and Dave Guthrie for being the gracious hosts and thrashing us with such friendly smiles!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Nash Cup, September 26-28

Remember the classic film? The American backpackers are attacked by a werewolf in the Yorkshire moors, killing one and turning the survivor into a werewolf himself. Every full moon, he would transform into the creature and go hunting for victims through the streets of London. Similarly, we have all been bitten by the dreaded “squash-wolf”, which is a darn sight worse since we don’t have to wait for full moons to morph into beer-thirsty, racquet swinging fiends, searching for drinks and hungry for victory. We are like that permanently.

Now is your chance to take that hankering to the quaint little village of London and unleash your inner beast upon the local population. The “Nash Cup” is ready to accept your presence for their ever more popular annual squash tournament. It is scheduled for the weekend of September 26-28, which – in case you haven’t been keeping up with the DAC calendar – is the same time as the “Back-to-the-Club Night” party. Now I know that it is tough to compete with our biggest bash of the year, but if you are so inclined to join me in London, it would be a fantastic chance to not only play some very tough squash and gain a ton of experience in the process, but you will also get the opportunity to watch the professionals and learn even more! That pro men and women! It would also be a chance to let your hair down (grow) and attack the neighboring establishments.

Going from past years, the standard at this event is very high. You have a number of categories to choose from:
  1. Open. If you can compete with me, enter this one.
  2. Men’s A. If you can compete with Jed (our club champ), enter this one.
  3. Men’s B. If you are a 4.5 – 5.0+, enter here,
  4. Men’s C. If you are a 3.5 – 4.4, this is your domain.
  5. Men’s D. If you are 3.4 or below, you belong here.
  6. Women’s A. If you are female, and can play with Jed, enter here.
  7. Women’s B. 4.5 – 5.0+.
  8. Women’s C. 3.5 – 4.4.
  9. Women’s D. 3.4 and below.

You will definitely need to bring your ‘A’ game, your animalistic determination to do well at this event. Squash-wise that is. Party-wise, I think we should have that covered! And party at this tournament is almost a requirement of entry. The women’s pro final will be scheduled for the Friday night (Sept. 26th) and the men’s pro final for the Saturday night, beer pong tables will be set up, you will be hard pressed not to enjoy yourself. All for a $70 CAD entry fee. Bargain.

For registration and accommodation information, check out the link: . The deadline to enter is September 21. Ready to be an American Squash-Wolf”? This is a weekend you should absolutely sink your teeth into. Don’t make me the only DAC representative. (The lone wolf…!)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Cross Border Challenge - Saturday, September 13 @ Windsor

Our winning streak over the Windsor squash club came to a spectacular crashing halt in April when they pulverized us 20 matches to 8 – not to mention that within those 8 victories, 4 of them were on the doubles court! Even our uber-patriotic uniforms could not deter them from walloping us (it probably gave them good reason to laugh, though!). The 28 matches was a record for the Cross Border and although I don’t expect we’ll reach such heights this time around, we should be able represent in solid numbers.

Even though we had great participation, it’s hardly worth calling the Guinness Book of World Records to see how far off we were from the most registrations ever for a single event. There was recently a table- tennis tournament in Tokyo that had 791 players (and an estimated 188 million viewers in China alone… squash could use a number like that!). Sounds like a lot, but the record number for a single table-tennis event stands at 2,038. (Before the event started, there were a lot more, but 288 of them no-showed! I wonder how frustrated the organizers were?) Squash hasn’t quite been able to eclipse that participation level. The best I’ve heard about is still impressive: US Squash Junior Open had over 800 players in 2012. That event attracts players from all over the world.

A fencing tournament in Ohio this year attracted more than 4,300 musketeers… ummm, I mean fencers. That’s one huge sword fight. But all that pales in comparison to a woman’s only bowling event that attracted over 77,700 of them. It took 96 days to complete. Who has three months to play a tournament? I wonder how many courts we’d need to run a draw of that size…? The parking must have been a nightmare. As the line for the loo. (Makes our DAC Classic look puny!)

This will be our 16th meeting over the years with Windsor, and currently they lead the overall head-to-head with 9 victories to our 6. We need to close the gap and we need you to help us. Singles or doubles, step up and represent the good ol’ U. S. of A. and more importantly, the DAC! Patriotism is definite must. I’m sure with help from Sante, we can utterly overdo the red, white and blue, splash it around shamelessly. Clothing, flags, tattoos, badges… whatever screams “America”, display it with pride!

E-mail me if you wish to be a part of our team and join in on all the fun. Matches will be at Windsor, starting around 3pm. A keg will be available for all to enjoy (it will probably be Canadian beer in it, but in this case, we can hardly complain about that!). It doesn’t matter what level of player you are – along with Windsor’s pro – Graeme Williams – we will attempt to find a competitive match you. Registration deadline is Monday, September 8.

Monday, August 25, 2014


I met Hashim Khan only once. It was during a PSA tournament in Denver back in the 90’s. I had traveled from Europe and it was my first experience being involved in an American professional event at a massive private club - the Denver Athletic Club.

The difference in hospitality between playing a tournament in Europe and playing one in the States was colossal. Red carpet treatment appeared to be the norm. Players were revered by the general membership who were genuinely excited to come out not only to watch you play but spend time with you and show off their club, city, tourist attractions, houses, cars, brothers, sisters... just like a young toddler showing off for their parents for approval. It was awesome.

It was here that I also witnessed hardball doubles for the first time. The Denver Athletic Club was running an amateur event with the pros. Up to that point, hardball doubles was only a folkloric game to me - an American I had met a few years earlier in Australia attempted to explain it. We couldn’t understand why the Americans played a different version of squash. At that time, Mark Talbott was their Jahangir Khan. “Mark who?” we asked.

As I watched my first doubles match, I remember seeing 2 very old guys warming up. Once they were done, a much younger pair took to the court to complete their warm up. Surely the old guys weren’t expected to compete against these two? They didn’t stand a chance. Nonetheless, the 2 old guys walked back on 5 minutes later and the racquet was spun for the first serve. I was about to behold a train wreck.

Not understanding the first thing about the tactics of the game, I couldn’t figure out how the old guys were doing it. One in particular. Every time this one guy would hit it, the rally would either end immediately, or shortly thereafter. And it wasn’t because it was an error. He hardly ran, didn’t hit it very hard, and had a partner who seemed to have enough ability to keep the rally going long enough for the ball to eventually come to him. The size of the court was made to look gargantuan to the younger, flailing opponents as the ball found weird angles and spins I had never thought feasible.

As I was watching, a local member walked up to me and asked if I knew who the old guy was.

“No”, I said.

“That’s Hashim Khan. He’s in his 80’s”.

Holy shit. I was in the presence of squash royalty, watching the legend himself play and kick butt!

After his victory, I was introduced to him briefly, shook his hand. I was simply another squash player bug-eyed to meet him, he was as humble as a 5 foot 4 inch Goliath could be.

Hashim Khan died on Monday, August 19, aged approximately 100. (No one is sure of his exact age, but it estimated between 100 and 104.) He won his first British Open at age 37 (estimated) and went on to win the following 6. He was renowned for his uncanny ball control - something I was fascinated by when I watched him play that doubles match - and for his straight forward, no nonsense, common sense coaching tips. “Keep eye on ball” being his most famous. Other little tidbits of genius include these excerpts from a 1962 Sports Illustrated interview - advice that hold true today:

“When opponent likes fast game, Hashim plays slow; when opponent likes slow, Hashim plays fast. Against big man, Hashim makes him stoop to floor with low shots. Against tennis player used to open court, Hashim hits ball all the time very close to wall.”

“Against player wearing glasses, Hashim gives many high shots, which he has difficulty seeing because of light overhead. When Hashim teaches, he emphasizes thinking.”

The squash world lost a deity. I know that some of you (DAC members) also met Hashim when he used to live and coach in Detroit and certainly would have some stories to tell - as the photo would indicate. Raise a glass to him. Be happy and thankful that we had the chance to cross his path.

N.B. Two years ago I posted some writings from Hashim Khan from some documents he wrote. You can see them here: The Hashim Files
Recognize anyone? From left to right: John Dunwoody, Pete Lyons, Roy Winn, Mr. Holloran, Ted Popowitz. Hashim is standing tall in the front.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Doubles Select Tournament – starts September 2

Ever wondered what it would be like if cloning were possible and you could partner up with yourself on the doubles court? Would you argue with yourself about whether you want to play left or right wall? Would you blame your other self for losses? Would you hate yourself? Hug yourself after a win? Weird. On the other side of that coin, we all have opponents that are… for lack of a nicer word to use, “awkward” to play against. Imagine hopping on court and having to battle against two of them! For scenarios such as this, we can be thankful cloning hasn’t reached the Hollywood sci-fi levels yet.

As Labor Day approaches faster than we all thought possible (I mean, the summer hasn’t even really started yet, has it?), it’s synonymous with getting back on the squash court. And as it has been for many years, the first event we throw at you is a doubles one. Specifically, the Doubles Select. Maybe now you wish you could clone yourself and send your clone to the courts while you continue to enjoy sipping your drink under the warm sun…? Alas, no, I guess you’ll have to force your tanned body to get with the program and whip out your racquet and slip on your shoes… can you still touch your toes?

At least I make this easy for you. Don’t worry about finding a partner – all you need to do is enter. I’ll match you up with someone (not your clone). Every effort will be made to make all the teams as equal as humanly possible. Everyone will be tossed into one big knock-out draw, matches will be best of 5 games, if you win you move on, if you lose you can hit the practice track, and last team standing will receive a nice little prize.

The draw will be released on September 2. I am expecting record entries (like I do every year!) so you will need to be pro active when organizing your match times. DO NOT let the tournament fall behind. Deadlines need to be adhered to or you risk the wrath of default…!! Registration deadline is August 29.

Just a side note here: If you think you aren’t ‘good enough’ to enter this event, you are dead wrong! This is a great way to learn more about playing doubles by getting on court with more experienced players – take advantage! I encourage everyone from beginners to club champions to join in. Also, we have had players from D level to A level win this tournament, so every pairing has a chance!

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