Sunday, October 21, 2012

Thoughts on 'World Squash Day'

World Squash Day was a success, having generated much-needed publicity for our game and providing a great excuse for the squash-infatuated public the world over to get together and play some squash. 

The publicity aspect is very important. Heightening the profile of this often subliminal sport should be the principal focus of everyone who really cares about the game, including local clubs, regional and national squash associations, squash equipment marketers, and those whose job it is to impress the Olympics committee to give squash entree into the quadrennial games. 

There were a lot of clubs the world over who participated, indeed in all continents except Antarctica. It shows once again the universality of this great game

But, writing as an American, i was less than impressed with US Squash's commitment to the day. Barely a notice on their website, only one last-minute mention as the day was nearly upon us. 

For an organization that usually gets things right, I was underwhelmed and surprised. I'm not sure what the the motivation was behind the lackluster involvement, but the results showed. There were not a lot of US clubs who participated in World Squash Day, and that number surely would have risen if US Squash had made an effort. Is there something wrong with publicizing your sport worldwide? Please let me know; I don't get it.

Other national squash foundations were also absent or nearly absent, while, fortunately, others were more fully involved. I personally feel that an effort like that of World Squash Day could only serve the sport well, and hope next time national squash foundations will get off their butts and get behind it.

As for my actual squash on World Squash Day, I had an interesting match. I was playing a fellow who closely matched my abilities. We played a tough first game, which he ended up winning 11-9. In the second game i started strong and maintained a lead all the way up to 10-8, game ball to me, but my opponent serving. His serve is a lazy one, well off the wall. In those cases I will often hit a hard shot into the front side wall corner, which sends the ball whipping around and bouncing twice before my opponent can get to it. I hit this shot, and I hit it well. Really hard, just above the tin, no chance to get it, game The Squashist.

Oh no, says he, he heard a bit of tin. What? I couldn't believe it, tin? The ball was hit smoking fast, any tin that might have been hit would have made itself a lot more apparent. Plus the ball's bounce would be deformed. But he insisted. He heard tin. There were about 10 people watching our game. I opened the door and asked, Anybody think that ball was no good? Nobody was willing to say either my shot was definitely good or the shot had definitely tinned. I could not believe it. But I thought, well, this is supposed to be a friendly match, i'm not going to get upset about it, let him have his tin. 

Then, rather cheekily, he takes the point -- not a let, he just gives himself the point -- and serves again to me from the other side. It's a better serve, a little off the wall, so I let this one drift by, thinking I'll get it off the wall. But, lo and behold, the ball hits a perfect backwall nick, and rolls out unhittable. He laughs, as do a few of his friends watching. 

I felt a synapse in my brain collapse, as did the rest of my game. I lost 3-0.  I was as irritated by that match as i've ever been on the squash court. 

Later, after i calmed down, I joined a foursome and, for the first time in probably 6 years, played doubles. Now THAT was fun.


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