Sunday, December 30, 2012


This year I’m determined to better my squash game by focusing on the following:

  1. Be much more aggressive cutting off loose lobs and going for the front-court drop-shot. I’m 6’ 4”, for Christ sake, what the hell am I doing letting so many lazy shots float by me to take off the back wall? Can someone please answer me that?
  2. I resolve to hit many more rail shots, and when I do hit a cross court, make sure it is wide and long, thereby reducing the opportunity for my opponent to hit a lazy shot out from the wall, as in #1, above. 
  3. I resolve to hold as many of my shots as I can. Sometimes the rail shot -- which I will be hitting more of, as per #2 above -- can be surprising if you hold and show the more typical cross-court. Try to make the opponent think, and double-think. 
  4. I resolve to think about every shot, as in #3, and not just hit an automatic response. I vividly remember a match I played at the University Club in NY several years ago. It was a quarter-final in the Bs, which, since there were about 90 contestants, was a victory in itself. My opponent and I were very closely matched, with the match see-sawing back and forth. I remember thinking really well that day, and one thing I did was I always hit a certain shot when put in a particular position. Every time I was stuck way in the backhand side with only a little room to hit the ball off the back wall, I would loft it up and hit it back deep on the backhand side. Every time that scenario came up, I had the same response. In the fifth game, I noticed my opponent was anticipating this shot and edging over just as I was hitting it. Next time the scenario played out, I waited and waited as the ball dropped off the back wall, and then hit a drop to the right front wall that had the guy flat-footed. I won by a whisker (that was as far as I got in that tournament), but remember in the shower afterward thinking that I had done so much cogitating out on the court that my head hurt! It was, in truth, a wonderful feeling. 

I resolve to have more squash-induced headaches, of the good kind, in 2013.

Monday, December 24, 2012


Everything I've heard about the recent presentation before the Olympic bid committee, on December 19 in Lausanne, Switzerland, has been positive, and the production qualities of the two videos that were played at the bid meeting were great. They featured Ramy Ashour and the stellar Nicol David, who is not only the greatest female squash player that ever bounded across a court but also its greatest proponent. She will receive my vote for President of the World, should that vote ever come up... US Squash should take a bow as it has had quite a lot to do with the increased professionalism evident in this latest bid to the Olympics committee, but most of this work has occurred behind the scenes and, due to the politics of the bid, will remain that way.

James Willstrop was at the meeting and he said two things that I've been hearing a lot lately: "Squash represents the essence of Olympic sport. It’s gladiatorial given that we are the only racket sport where players share the same space, and to excel requires a mix of mental strategy, skill, athleticism and fitness..." 

Two things: First, I would think that racquetball players, whose numbers are still in the millions, might object to squash depicting itself as the only sport played in a box. This description of squash as being the sole boxed racket sport is being repeated all the time now, by various proponents of the game, and it is flat-out wrong. Being wrong bugs me; people should stop saying this.

Another thing that people keep saying lately is that the sport is "gladiatorial." Willstrop is not the first to say this; he is echoing someone in the squash establishment who, months ago, when trying to market the sport, had the word 'gladiatorial' pop into his or her head and the darn word got stuck there! 

When I read that word for the first time in the context of squash I thought, Wow, what a stretch, and how silly! Now, I keep seeing that word and I think, Jeez, enough with the gladiators! 

My point: There are lots of words that correctly describe squash that marketers, whose job it is to puff things up, could use to accomplish the task. When you use a word like 'gladiatorial,' the message gets lost in the medium. People stop and ponder the word, rather than the intent of the word. 

It's a fantastic sport; you'll find no stronger proponent than I. But its not the sole this or the gladiatorial that.