Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Best Club in NYC? Quite Possibly.... Check out CityView

I just joined the Cityview Racquet Club, a relatively new club which boasts 7 Har-Tru clay tennis courts, 3 singles squash courts, and 1 doubles squash court. Not too long ago the venerable Printing House squash courts were torn to smithereens by uninformed jackanapes who double as executives at a fitness club chain. Long may they burn in hell.....

But I digress.

A goodly chunk of the Printing House players eventually gravitated over to the CityView club. As for me, I was looking for a club. I met one of the immigrants, who told me about it. I grew curious. I signed up. 

There is lots that is great about CityView. They have an active tennis program, which helps fund their nascent squash program. (There is a locker with an "A Roddick" nameplate, you dig?) The pro also happens to be John Musto, not only a great player but, more important, a very good pro. (There are a lot of clubs out there that have great players as their pros but many fewer clubs with great pros who are good  players.) The touring pro, by the way, is the stylish Egyptian Wael el-Hindi, currently ranked #13 in the world.

The club is artfully designed, really a beautiful club. It is also one of those clubs that knows how to have fun, with kids whose squash rackets are half their size running around excitedly swinging away, even before they get on court. I've been to plenty of clubs where the stiff-upper-lip attitude would never countenance a gang of young ruffians wreaking havoc. And that is much to their discredit.

The club also has an absolutely gorgeous lounge with a mesmerizing freestanding fireplace and great bar. You can hang out there and have a great time when the squash is over. And, during the summer, you can head on out to the huge balcony where, you guessed it, there is a great view of the City.

That's right, the view is so great of Manhattan because this terrific club is not in Manhattan, which is why it remains a bit undiscovered. It is actually only a few stops on the #7 subway line into Queens. I timed it; it's less than 10 minutes to travel from Grand Central Station to the CityView stop.

I just played a 4.5 squash tournament there and did well, considering my balky knees had to play 3 full and difficult matches in one day. The toughest match was the first, in which my opponent and I played one another to near exhaustion, but after about 70 minutes I finally won the match in 5. I was extremely lucky; my opponent had already played his first match so his energy finally ran out in the fifth. My next match was just an hour away and I felt thoroughly depleted, so went down ignominiously 0-3. My opponent later noted that I was tied with him in each game to about 6-all, when suddenly I started going for the cheap shot, which of course didn't work. I then had a 3-hour wait till my next match, which allowed me to rest up, and I won that contest by 3-0. Not bad, I thought, as I limped homeward.

Check out this club if you are in the New York area; it's damn good.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Another Home Run for US Squash

One of the interesting things about the game of golf is the fact that the scores are inputted following the round of play and one's handicap is calibrated accordingly. It means that a player knows exactly where he stands in relation to the rest of the golfosphere. That level of accuracy has always been missing in squash, until now. 

US Squash -- or USQ, as they like to be called -- has just instituted what I view as a game-changer in the world of squash, which drags our great sport into the modern era, kicking and screaming, so that we can also know in real time exactly where we stand. 

As part of USQ's Play Squash initiative, everyday club matches can be inputted into the association's website computer, thus influencing one's rating and ranking. If I play the same group of 3 or 4 guys 90% of the time, which I do, why not use those games to create a more accurate accounting of my level of play? Now I can do that.

If you were to look up my rating you would see only a handful of games, all played in 2009 during a time when I had an ongoing ankle problem (that eventually required surgery). My ranking went down and down through 2009, and that is where it has stayed, remaining idle because I have not played any sanctioned tournaments since then. But I've recovered since 2009 and played a lot of matches with friends, so my ossified rating now reflects the problems I had 2 years ago, not the present-day me. 

With the Play Squash initiative, that will change. I will start inputting all of the matches I have with players who are USQ members -- it doesn't work for non-members. And as I've opined before, if you are not a member of USQ then you are not supporting the sport and helping it advance -- with programs like this.  

Both players have to agree beforehand that this match will count -- and I bet the intensity level will ratchet up a notch or more because of that. The only other requirements are that the match must be best 3 of 5 and the approved Dunlop ball must be used.

So next time you are out on the court, ask your partner to play this match for real. No kidding around. Results go straight to your ratings, and from there on up to your ego. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Jag Resa Slutligen till Sverige - Inte!

Jag har noterat den här bloggen att min mor var född i Sverige och att jag är en elev i svenska. Mycket tyvärr dog min lärare i svenska, men jag fortfarande läser svenska, kallas oftast på en webbplats "8 Sidor" -

I ett desperat försök att besöka Sverige, försökte jag att vara en av ett några personer som valts att vara i en "reality TV show", kallas den Stora Svenska Adventure. Jag förstår att 1300 personer sökt, och jag överlevde till den sista 100 Men jag tror att det bara fanns 12 människor i slutet. Serien börjar filma i juni. 

Jag tror att det finns mycket att beundra om Sverige. Jag kommer att resa dit de närmaste åren säkert, och även jag hoppas kunna spela lite socialistisk squash.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The American Tennis and Paddle Tennis Association

England's National Racketball Championships will be held May 6 - 8 at the Edgbaston Priory Club!

Or so England's squash association tells us. That's because in England the squash association is called England Squash & Racketball. And therein lies the rub.

If I remember correctly, England's squash association decided only a few years ago to welcome lovers of racketball into their warm, suffocating embrace. I didn't understand why they did that then, and the rationale for it still eludes me. 

Racketball is a different game. It uses different rackets than squash and a different ball. It is played, in England at least, on the same court as squash, but that is its only similarity. True, squash players can readily pick up the game of racketball, and indeed the current top-rated men's racketballer in England is squash's own Daryl Selby. But this is akin to a top tennis player picking up a paddle tennis racket and having a go at it. Those are different games. No one has proposed incorporating the American Tennis and Paddle Tennis Association.

I think this is a question of a sporting association forgetting that, for the purposes of effective governance and good marketing, it needs to consistently tell a story to the public. What is squash's story? Why would England Squash want to bifurcate its message by throwing in another sport that is kinda like squash but not really?

I suspect there is money at the root of this issue, although I don't know what it is. I do strongly believe that it is not good for squash to have a national sporting association also promoting another sport. I think it's a really bad idea.