By Guest Blogger Runa Reta!
Have you ever been in a group conversation and had no idea what they were talking about? Do you mitigate the chances of looking like a complete idiot by creating some “go-to” phrases that will get you out of a tough jam, like “oh, that is SO pedantic!” or (when speaking of philosophy or other such obscure fields) “well, that is an existential question that I dare not enter into”….If you are reading this right now as a squash player and shaking your head as if you’ve never done such a thing….you’re probably lying to yourself.
Here is the proof: if you have ever refereed a squash match, or assumed yourself to be a connoisseur of the sport, you have likely witnessed a player being hit by their opponent’s racquet while trying to strike the ball. When confusion arises as to what the call should be (ie. stroke, let, no let), it seems that the classic “go-to” phrase, the one that demonstrates a sophisticated knowledge of the game, is “was the player hit on the back-swing?” Everyone: the ref, the players, the spectators all turn to one another with this question. But does anyone REALLY know what this assessment means for the call? Or is this like that episode of Seinfeld where Kramer keeps insisting that the postal company will “write off” the mailing damages, without actually knowing what a write-off is?!
What’s the call if you are hit on the back-swing, versus being hit on the follow-through? Is there a difference?
According to the WSF rules, there isn’t. In fact, from what I can tell, there is really only one clause that addresses the problem of hitting an opponent with the racquet, which states that a stroke will be awarded if a player’s “reasonable swing” was impeded from making a “good return” (12.8.2) ….which certainly clears everything up! [Yes, insert sarcasm here] I think, in layman terms, this means that if you hit your opponent at any point of your “not showing off/imitation Jonathan Power” swing, while going for any shot, other than a dodgy reverse boast off the frame, (or some other return that only you find to be ingenious), a stroke will be awarded.
Putting aside the fact that the WSF squash rules are more porous than a US-Mexico border crossing, I think the more disconcerting issue is that we have been using the wrong terminology all along! Nowhere in the rules is there talk about “back-swings”, which could be the source of this continued confusion. It’s actually all about the “reasonable swing”! So the next time the referee is searching for the right call, we should all be turning confidently to one another with the new and improved “go-to” phrase: “reasonable swing?!?” We still won’t know what that means for the call, but at least we’ll be able to nod our heads and wink at each other, secure in the knowledge that we are all completely clueless and lost in this wonderful sport together.