Monday, May 28, 2018

Club Championships


     Matches continued Thursday evening, although it was a little quieter than previously nights.  In the Junior draw semi-finals, Ryan Guthrie and Amin Khan went back an forth for a good 45 min.  Despite having 4 match balls in the fifth game, Ryan couldn't pull it out giving Amin a 12-10 victory.  On the other side of that draw, Jagroop and Aaron were battling it out.  Unfortunately, Nagy had to withdraw due to injury.  This sets up a Jagroop vs. Amin final Saturday at 3:15.
     The B semi-finals is set for Friday as Steve Allen dispatched Arthur Nagy.  One half of the 40+ semi-finals is set as Dave Guthrie defeated Mike Wilbur.  In B doubles, the team of Usman Khan and Jagroop Bhangoo took on the "experience" of Herb and Ron Funkenhauser.  Game 1 game down the the final point and an unfortunate error by Jagroop gave Funkenhauser squared the game.  Game 2 also came down to the final point.  This time is was the Funkenhauser's who made the mistake.  It was looking like this match was going to back up the doubles courts for the evening.  As the match progressed the Funkenhausers began to fade allowing Khan/Bhangoo to take the match.
     The final match of the evening was an A doubles semi-finals of Guthrie(C)/Williams vs. Guthrie(D)/Lansens.  The match consisted of many uncharacteristic errors by Guthrie/Lansens which allowed Guthrie/Williams to cruise to victory and earn a spot in the finals Saturday at 4.


     What a night for squash!  No matter what court you were watching, there was a great match being played.  Starting off the evening was a tough, gut-it-out match between Doug Fields and Anis Khan.  Rallies left both players gasping for air.  Doug hit a couple of key winners that gave him game 5, earning him a trip to the B finals.   On the other side of the draw, Hannah Guthrie had her hands full with Stevie Allen and his speed.  This match too went down to the 5th game.  Steve blew a very big lead and hit a costly tin at 9-9 that led to him losing the match.
     In the A draw, Ryan Guthrie was trying to play the role of giant slayer and take down Paul Gebrael.  The rallies were long and neither player was giving an inch.  However, Paul proved to be to strong on this day taking down Ryan 3-1.  On the other side of that draw, Jagroop Bhangoo was hoping his strong play would carry him past Amin Khan.  While he played Amin very tough, Amin had too many shots tonight for Jagroop.  A Final is set for Saturday!
     In the 40+, playing partners Al Valente and Craig Guthrie took each other one.  What do you know?  Another game 5.  Valente made a couple of crucial errors down the stretch that cost him the match, setting up brother vs. brother final on Saturday.
    In the remaining A doubles semi it was Allen/Fields taking on top seed Eugeni/Gebrael.  Eugeni/Gebrael showed why they are the top seed, dispatching Allen/Fields 3-1.


     Finals day!  First match of the day was the UK racquetball final between Paul Gebrael and Chris Greig.  On a hot day with an already bouncy ball, the rallies were long.  However, Paul had too many shots for Chris and took the title 3-0.
     Onto the mixed doubles draw.  Usually a high competitive draw, this year it saw only two teams entered.  The experienced team of Doug Fields and Janice Funkenhauser versus the inexperienced team of Hannah Guthrie and Kabir Bhangoo.  In the first 2 games, Fields/Funkenhauser moved Guthrie/Bhangoo all around the court, forcing them into many, many, many errors.  However, the tables were turned in the next two games as Guthrie/Bhangoo started hitting tighter shots.  In game 5 Guthrie/Bhangoo continued this strong play and defeated Fields/Funkenhauser.
     In the other doubles matches of the day, upstarts Jagroop Bhangoo and Usman Khan took on Carlyle D'Souza and fill-in Jay Patel.  Bhangoo/Khan were looking like doubles veterans as they worked D'Souza/Patel all around the court as they cruised to victory.  In the A doubles, two players that were partnerless a week ago (Guthrie/Williams) took on the favourites of Eugeni/Gebrael.  Eugeni/Gebrael chased down the best shots Guthrie/Williams could throw at them and threw in a few good shots of their own.  Stymied at every turn, Guthrie/Williams lost 3-1, giving Paul his second title of the day.
     In the 40+ draw the Guthrie brothers took each other on.  I think next year you will have to submit government-issued ID to confirm your age in this draw.  Neither player looked anywhere near their true ages.  As was every match in this event, it was a tough one.  Players alternated games and then in game 5, points.  In the end, the older brother (Dave) took the 40+ title.
     Straight off the doubles court and onto the singles it was for Dougie Fields and Hannah Guthrie.  Doug was looking to exact revenge for his doubles loss.  Their styles couldn't have been more opposite with Hannah relying on her speed and court coverage to overcome Doug's hard drives and reverse winners.  Despite being exhausted, Doug did not relent, consistently hitting winners at every opportunity and winning the B draw.
     And for the match that the crowd showed up for, Amin vs Paul in the A final.  Could Paul go 3 for 3 on Saturday?  Or was Amin going to add to his just-won junior title?  It looked that way early as Amin played mistake-free squash with a lot of winners.  However, a slight let-up in game 3 opened the door for Paul and he took advantage, stealing games 3 and 4.  And why wouldn't the last match of the tournament be a tough game 5?  Both players badly wanted to win but it was youth that prevailed and Amin won both the junior title and the A title.  Well done Amin!
      Those of you that came out Saturday afternoon/evening not only got to see some great squash but got to experience the BBQing skills of Dave and Graeme as they fed the crowd hot dogs, sausages and burgers.  A couple things to note about this week.  People seemed to like this format very much.  The club was busy every night with a lot of matches going on.  For next year, we will stick with the same format, the Tuesday after Victoria Day.  Also, it was much talked about the quality of matches.  Everyone was going that extra mile and not willing to give an inch, which at times led to some testy exchanges.  In the end, the quality of squash was much higher than a typical league night as can be attested by the number of matches that went 5 games.
     Complete draws can be found here.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Club Championships- Early Rounds

      It is that time of year when we determine who the Club Champions will be.  This year the Club Championships are running over the course of this week.  Matches started on Tuesday and continue through to the finals on Saturday, which wraps up with a BBQ.   This year there were a lot of divisions to be decided and many juniors were scattered throughout the divisions, forcing the "old-timers" to step up their game.


     A busy night as most people that entered were playing.  In the A draw, Jagroop Bhangoo made a statement by defeating Brian Porter in the first round 3-0.  In the B draw, all the seeds moved on but the highlight match of the night was Jay Patel vs. Steve Allen.  Jay hyped the match early by declaring Steve would have a tough match ahead of him.  By end of the evening however, all seeded players prevailed and Steve Allen survived to play another day.
     In the 40+, the big match of the night was Wilbur v. Lansens.  A match that could go either way.  On this night, Wilbur brought his A game and defeated Lansens in a tight match.  Other than that, all the seeds moved on.
     Moving on to doubles, which featured many entertaining matches on this night.  In B doubles the team of D'Souza/Charles rode Charles' frame winners to victory over DeMarco/Brousseau.  In A doubles, up and coming team of Khan/Guthrie (Amin/Ryan) took on veterans Guthrie/Lansens.  At first glance it appeared that the veteran experience was more valuable than youth energy.  However, as the match went on and headed into game 5, it was anyone's match.  Veteran experience eventually won out in a tight game 5.


     Matches on this night proved to be much closer than the previous night.  The A draw saw a great match between #1 seed Paul Gebreal and upstart Jagroop Bhangoo.  Bhangoo took Paul to a fifth game but couldn't defeat Paul in the end.  Paul is the lone adult in the A semi finals.  Jagroop, however,  was not done this night.  He continued his strong play and took down Usman Khan to earn a spot in the junior semi-final draw.
      In the 40+ draw all the seeds moved on leading to some great Friday night matches.  Without a doubt though was the match of the night.  Young vs. Old(er) (sorry Anis but as you put it "40 years of experience needs to get going").  And get going it did.  Anis was down 2-0 to Aparna but somehow found the fountain of youth and made an incredible comeback to win in an amazing game 5.   Chalk one up for the older guys.

     Matches continue every evening right through until Saturday at 4 when Graeme and Dave will be BBQing some food for everyone.