Thursday, February 26, 2015

HAVE SPACE GECKOS DONE ENOUGH?



Boasters League round 8~~

One would think so. “Space Geckos” have opened up a significant 27 point lead over the second placed “Winky-Dinks”. Significant because they will be sitting out the final round of the season but with such an advantage the earth would have to stop rotating in order for them not to finish in the top 2 and earn the first round finals bye.

It was a productive week for the “Space Geckos”. They scores a league’s best 36 points, 5 more than the next best effort which was from “Vivio’s” with 31. As it has been for the past few weeks, the more interesting competition is coming from the teams fighting for the last play-off spot. Currently on the outside looking in, in 7th position the “Wardogs” are only 3 points back of “Mongoose”, but did themselves zero favors this week picking up only 20 points – and rubbing salt into that wound, they only picked up a measly 4 bonus points yesterday. As Captain Obvious from Hotels.com would say, “you can’t score points if you don’t show up”.

Foss Nation” can be thrown under the same bus. Even though they picked up 7 bonus points, they again scored a league’s worst 19 points for the week. That’s only 1 more than “Winky-Dinks” who had the bye. Not that I would say they can kiss their finals hopes goodbye for the season, but making that 24 point gap to 6th appears an unlikely prospect.

Round 8 match highlights include: Anil Kathuria (“Mongoose”) taking a 2-1 victory over Jerry Rock (“Space Geckos”). Both players could not be more pleased with the match, (well, Jerry may have been a little more pleased if he had won!) compliments all around for the most enjoyable contest! John Hanley (“Mongoose”) picked up his second win of the half with a sturdy 2-1 win over Paul Fershee (“Space Geckos”); Becket Marum (“Vivio’s”) ran down a ball too many for Marty West (“Wardogs”) to take his 2-1 win and remain undefeated for the half; and in the rivalry match of the evening, Andy Adamo (“Foss Nation”) took on Captain Butter Nutz himself – Sante Fratarcangeli – and overcame Sante’s flash, his dash, and his tongue talking trash for a (no-doubt satisfying) 2-1 triumph and setting up many more bouts to come!

With one round to go, 7 days to get any and all matches completed, the teams ranked 3 and below should not be feeling comfortable at all. All are at risk of not making the finals and should be doing their utmost to avoid such a fate.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

DOUBLES DUELS



Doubles Club Championships- Starts March 16

Some of you may not know that hardball doubles is a rather unique adaptation of squash. It is only played in North America, and I only saw it for the first time in my life 13 years ago when I first moved to Montreal. Growing up Australian, we had heard of the hardball game, but it was like a ‘mythical’ American invention, a bastardization - if you will – of the internationally renowned ‘softball’ version. Once, back in the last 1980’s, an American named Marty Clark (you may have heard that name before) came to train with us in Australia for a few weeks and he bought a singles hardball with him. We thought it was ridiculous, smashing a ball as hard as you could in the enclosed area of the squash court, a ball that could literally kill you if your head happened to be in the way.

But of course now that I live here, hardball has drifted into the realm of normalcy, but it had me wondering, now that the shoe was on my other foot, what other sports out there in the world would appear alien and bizarre to the American. For example… Cheese Rolling. Yes, who doesn’t equate a round block of cheese with rolling it down a steep hill and having a hoard of Brits chase after it? First to catch the cheese wins, but since that rarely happens, the first to cross the finish line is declared the victor. So why the cheese? Underwater Rugby. Natural evolution would suggest that all sports will eventually end up under water, right? After all, we started in the ocean as single celled organisms. Underwater Rugby comes from Germany and is a similar concept to aboveground rugby; I guess the scrums would be a little… umm… uncomfortable though. Bossaball. Simply, this is volleyball on giant trampolines. Hmmm, sounds safe. The name ‘Bossaball” comes from the Brazilian music style “bossa nova” because the referees in this sport play the drums during the game. Coming from Belgium, were they high when they invented the rules? Imagine playing squash underwater or on trampolines…

Now that I am way off topic, the 2015 Doubles Club Championships kicks off in a few weeks. So, you will need to get your partner secured and enter. Take note – I will be placing you in the category I believe best fits your team. We will an A, B, and C category. It would also be helpful that you enter with a partner. Please refrain from asking me to find a partner for you.

On another, very important note, you MUST be flexible with your schedule. The tournament cannot fall behind because you are taking a 10 day vacation (for example). If you are going to be away for more than a week in between March 16 and April 15, then do not enter. It is not fair to your fellow participants. Be prepared to be accommodating when organizing times to play, be considerate of your opponent’s timetables, and make concessions. All the finals can hopefully be played on April 15 – would be great to get a crowd out to watch them all on the same day. If you plan on making the final, pencil that date in your calendar now.

Registration deadline is Thursday. March 12. There is no limit to how many teams can enter, but there is no consolation draw. All matches are best of 5 games to 15 points, no tie break. And everybody will be fair and understanding with the ‘let’ calls, correct?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

THE INCREDI-BALLS – TAKE 9



Squash Marathon

In the olden days, squash scoring used to be “hand-in-hand-out”. That meant, you needed to have the serve in order to win a point. Growing up, it’s all we knew and a major attraction of the sport to me was the attrition factor – the painful grind required in order to win matches, the fitness levels needed to outlast your opponent. It was a physical and a mental challenge that I relished.

The longest match I ever had was 2 hours and 15 minutes (135 minutes).  It was a league match, I lost in 5, and I remember I needed about 3 days to recover from it. It was over 25 years ago, and we used hand-in-hand-out scoring. Even in today’s standards, 135 minutes is a very long match, but not very close to the record.

Professional squash did away with hand-in-hand-out scoring around 1988-89. 1989 was the first World Open played with point-a-rally scoring to 15. Amongst other factors, shortening the matches was a big reason for the change. Players were becoming fitter and more skilled, and matches were taking longer and longer to complete. It was taking a toll on player’s bodies.

But, like anything else, players adapt to change. It didn’t take that long before even that scoring system was having the same outcomes in terms of match length. So in 2004, professional squash moved to current scoring method we all use today: point-a-rally to 11, win by 2.

Initially, it made a dramatic effect on match lengths. Overall, it shortened them considerably and a large percentage of early opinions on the change were quite negative. Even I thought that it was taking away from the attritional attributes of squash – a unique trait of the sport that differentiated us from other disciplines. But – and I’m repeating myself here - like anything else, players adapt to change.

Together with the lowering of the tin from the amateur height of 19 inches (what we use here at the DAC) to the professional height of 17 inches, squash became faster. Fewer points made each one earned more valuable, lower tins made it more rewarding to attack. The game changed and morphed to what we see today: incredibly quick action, players constantly on the attack, amazingly fit athletes, indescribable skills that 25 years ago didn’t exist. And, now, matches that are taking even longer.

Recently in a tournament in Canada, Leo Au from Hong Kong and local player Shawn DeLierre wrapped up a semi final match that took 2 hours and 50 minutes (170 minutes). Leo won the match 16-14 in the 5th, and the 5th game alone took an amazing 78 minutes to complete. There were 97 points played through the match, averaging out to be about 1 minute 40 seconds per point. That is not taking into consideration: time between games, time between points, the amount of ‘let’ calls (we don’t know), or the amount of time arguing those ‘let’ calls. Still, whatever the make-up of the 170 minutes, it’s a darn long time – and a new professional squash tour record.

It beat the previous mark set by Jahangir Khan (Pakistan) and Gamal Awad (Egypt) in 1983 where Jahangir won in 166 minutes. They used hand-in-hand-out scoring of course – but the match was also only four games. Imagine if it had gone to a 5th.

Shawn DeLierre is no stranger to long encounters. He now holds 3 of the top 4 longest recorded matches in professional squash history. He has had a 157 minute match and a 150 minute match – both of which he won in 5 games. Shawn is currently ranked 52 in the world.

If you are wondering, Leo Au played the final of the tournament the following day after his marathon with Shawn. Incredibly, not only could he still walk, he endured another 85 minute, 5-set match. And he won it. Leo is currently ranked 34.

We are more often seeing matches go over the hour and a half mark. It hasn’t reached epidemic proportions yet, but I wonder if the powers that be are already contemplating what rules they can implement to counter the trend… again.

Now all of this pales in comparison to what I witnessed a couple of weeks ago at a 10 and under tennis tournament that my daughter was participating in. There were two girls that seemed to never want to end a rally. They just lobbed the ball back and forth over the net at each other, and points were – I kid you not – taking 5-6 minutes to complete. By the time my daughter had completed her entire match, these two girls had just completed 6 games. Fittingly, the match was decided in a tie-break and in the end the match was recorded as taking 4 hours 8 minutes. They played only 2 sets, with a 10 point tie-break. The poor girl that lost had to play her consolation match later that day… she lost that one too.

Monday, February 23, 2015

CAN YOU BLITZ?



Blitz Tournament ~ Friday, March 13

What is a Blitz? A lightning blitz is a scary prospect and it does scare many people to the point of having a phobia. And rightly so when you look into what exactly makes one up. The temperature of a lightning blitz can reach up to 50,000 degrees F - that’s 5 times hotter than the surface of the sun, but not quite as hot as the DAC shower temperature. A blitz can travel up to 60,000 miles per second. That’s faster than a Bob Rogers court sprint, but slower than a Bret Williams forehand. The energy in a single blitz can power a 100 watt light bulb for 90 days, or my wife’s hair dryer for almost 30 minutes. About 200 people are killed by lightning every year in the States, so the chances of that happening to you is about 1 in 2 million. That’s the same odds of dying from falling out of bed. You have greater odds of becoming a movie star. Lightning also occurs on Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus. But the odds of you being killed by one of those lightning blitzes are probably close to zero.

The Blitz Squash Tournament can be just as daunting. Imagine having to face uncharted opponents, having no knowledge of their strengths or weaknesses, playing a game that can as long (or short) as a lightning blitz, dealing with handicaps… oh the humanity!!

Scheduled for Friday March 13, matches will start at 5pm. You will start off in a group environment and play a round robin against a variety of opponents, handicaps will be assigned as necessary. Each game will be to 15 points. Depending of the standard difference, handicaps may be as high as 13. The top two players of each group will move onto the knock-out round, where we will play through to find who will be the Blitz hero. Players from a 2.5 level have won this event, so everybody does have a chance. I encourage players of all standards, men and women, to participate.

I can only take a maximum of 40 players for the event and a keg will be provided, I do not expect you to attack the keg with a Blitz-like mentality…  Registration deadline is Wednesday, March 11.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

BIG WEEK FOR NICK AT NIGHT



Boasters League round 7~~

Nick at Night” have made it very interesting. Over the week, the team made up a significant amount of ground and picked up a league’s best 35 points, jumping them from 7th place (and out of a play-off spot) to 3rd and well in contention. That does not mean that they are a sure thing. Quite the contrary. The team that is now in 7th – “Wardogs” is only 5 points behind. In fact, the “Wardogs” are only 1 point off 4th.

Keeping in mind that the last 3 teams will be eliminated for the play-offs, it will be fascinating to see which teams in the hunt will make that conscious push. The top 2 teams appear to be out of the danger zone, but both of them still need to sweat through a bye week – The “Winky-Dinks” next week, and the “Space Geckos” for the final round. If either of these 2 teams are ‘lazy’ over that period, they may find themselves losing a first round finals free pass.

Even “The Nicker Ballers” and “Foss Nation” are by no means out of the hunt, but they better get cracking. Once again, they were the 2 teams that scored the least amount of points since round 6 (if you don’t count “Mongoose” who had the bye).

Once again, the Wednesday night match completion was not particularly stellar. There were also a couple of communication issues between members that left a couple players standing courtside with no opponent in sight. It is imperative that you contact your weekly opponent to either confirm or rearrange to avoid such situations. As crazy as it sounds, don’t expect your opponent to be ready and rearing to go at the scheduled time if you haven’t confirmed with each other.

The tightest match of the evening was between Shaun Dillon (“Wardogs”) and Lauren Kirchner (“Nick at Night”). All three games went to 15-14, Shaun just happened to be on the winning end of two of them. It looked as if both players had played 10 games when they walked off! Brendan Fossee (“Winky-Dinks”) handed Josh Slominski (“Space Geckos”) his first loss of the half with a hard fought 2-1 victory; Rich Stimson (“Vivio’s”) figured out an effective tactic against Dane Fossee (“Foss Nation”) – which I will not give away here! – to take him down 2-1

There are only 2 weeks to go before the finals. Deadline to get all matches completed is March 5. If teams are tied, then bonus points will be the tie-break, and if they are also tied, then it will be who won the season head-to-head matchup. Unlikely that would also be tied, but if it is, a stale mate will be declared and we’ll have to start the season all over again…

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