Sunday, March 6, 2011

Web Round-Up

It's great when new internet sites about squash crop up, and I try to troll around the web from time to time trying to find the latest stuff. 

I recently got an email from a new site called Squash Hero, an admirable effort whose principal goal is to give those interested in purchasing a racket a variety of statistics on rackets and then try to identify the cheapest internet source. The site also has a section on squash tips, which are taken from other sources and amalgamated on their site. 

The breakdown of racket specifications on Squash Hero is a good service. It provides specific data about each racket that would otherwise require a lot of searching to get together in one place: it reviews weight (and whether it is appropriate for beginners or doubles play), head size, head-heavy balance (being the distance between the midpoint of the racket's length and the center of its mass), and string density (which they calculate as number of mains x number of crosses/racket head area). The site then notes the lowest price they have found for the racket. When you click on the racket's image, you get additional information, such as beam width, type of stringing, and type of grip. 

Obviously, the principal benefit for the squash player is being able to quickly go to the squash internet store that offers the cheapest price, and generally speaking the site does indeed offer up the cheapest I could find. But they are not flawless. I looked up the Wilson Hyper Sledge Hammer 120G: Squash Hero finds the lowest price on Amazon for $149, but my favorite squash store is Squash Gear, and they list the racket for $139. 

The site takes a little getting used to. You can sort your racket selection by manufacturer, weight, head size, or cost, all of which is great. But it takes some diddling to really get the feel for how the system works. Overall, though, I'd say it is worth it. It would be nice if they populated the site with additional squash tips, news, photos, etc. We'll see. 

A great site that is absolutely not to be missed is No Let!, a video review of squash play with very interesting commentary. I'm not sure who is responsible for this blog; there doesn't seem to be any attribution for it on the site. But whoever is doing the commentary knows his stuff, and I highly recommend this site and encourage whoever you are to keep at it!

Another blog you should definitely bookmark is Racquetsphere, by squash's very own James Zug. He covers not only squash but also the more rarefied sports of racquets and court tennis, which are worth reading up on. Racquets really is the mother sport to squash, and court tennis is the mother sport of tennis. Both are minuscule peculiarities in the world of sport nowadays, but I can vouch for the fact that court tennis is a lot of fun, and I can also aver that I haven't the cohones to venture onto a racquets court, for fear of getting killed by its golfball-like ball that ricochets around the court at nearly 200 mph. Zug gets around in the world of all three sports and has interesting observations and anecdotes about all three.

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