Monday December 22, 2008
I had a great squash lesson once, and it really stuck with me. Like most adolescents over fifty, I have an aversion to cheating, so I was intrigued to hear the coach tell me to 'cheat over to one side'
Here's the lesson:
First off, 'cheating' means positioning yourself slightly to one side of the court, or perhaps forwards of the T, anticipating a particular shot. It's not really cheating in the normal sense of the word; it's more like committing yourself in advance to a certain course of events.
The course of events that you want to create is to have your opponent hit a ball that you can volley in the air
, before it bounces (thereby taking away your opponent's reaction time). Whenever you volley, it's usually much harder for your opponent to get to the right place in time to hit the ball.
So, when to cheat? Whenever you have succeeded in getting the ball deep
, behind your opponent, on his/her backhand side. Due to the way the human wrist works, if the ball is truly behind your opponent, his or her next shot won't be a crosscourt. At best, it will come floating along the wall, just ripe for your cutoff volley!
I hope you enjoy the rewards of 'cheating'!
Thursday December 18, 2008
What a week. In one moment, I managed to hit one of my friends very hard with a tennis ball right where a guy doesn't want to get hit, and sent him to the doctor's. In another moment, I took a half step on court, heard my footbones crunch, and felt the shooting pain of a stress fracture in my left foot.
What's odd is that I don't think I could stop either of those things from happening again. They weren't unusual circumstances, they just happened. I certainly didn't try to hit my opponent, and I certainly didn't miss my footing when the stress fracture occurred. Apparently, in both cases, it was just time.
Maybe my freak accidents can be a good reminder for someone!
- You will get hit, at some point, if you play squash regularly. Wear protective eyewear.
- You will get a muscle or bone injury, at some point, if you play racquet sports. Cross-train for fitness, and respect your injuries by promptly stopping play. (You'll heal more quickly.)
Monday December 15, 2008
What an amazing heritage for an intercity racquet competition! Court tennis's Payne Whitney Cup has been going strong since 1930, and the 78th competition was held this past weekend at the Racquet and Tennis Club in New York City. Held initially at the Whitney's estate called "Greentree", in Manhasset, Long Island, the Whitney Cup annually brings together amateur court tennis players from almost all the clubs in the United States.
Each club, or regional, team is comprised of five doubles teams, ordered by skill level. At least one team must be comprised of players who are age 55 or older. The other teams have no age limits. The level of play is always good, and the camaraderie quite warm since court tennis is a difficult game
, and playing it well takes dedication. The players seem to appreciate seeing what others can do.
Similar in lineage to squash's Howe Cup, or perhaps the Fitzgerald Cup (the annual Baltimore/DC battle in squash), the Whitney Cup provides a fine tradition of sport, sportsmanship, and celebration of all the fun that swinging a racquet can bring.
For all those with inquiring minds, since you won't be able to read about it in your daily newspaper's sports section, the team representing New England bested the team from Washington, DC
three matches to two in the finals on Sunday, December 14. The US Court Tennis Association has already posted a fine summary of this year's Whitney Cup
. It was a hard-fought victory, and well-earned.
Thursday December 11, 2008
I predict the new squash scoring system endorsed by US Squash will catch on like wildfire.
This point-a-rally (PAR) system, played to 11 point games, will be welcomed first by juniors, and then by all squash players nationwide.
Disagree? Learn all about squash PAR scoring
, and give up that old 'hand in', 'hand out' mentality!