Monday, May 26, 2008

Hey ref! What's the call?

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.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Squash BC Logo Poll: Results

The keypunch voting machine has been referenced, the ballot box has been emptied and the Chads are all clean: The official results of the Squash BC Logo Poll are in.

We go now to our own Squash Situation Room for the breakdown.
Forty-three (43) total votes were cast and you should know that we didn't vote. Not even twice. (Ed Note: We at the Squash Republic don't like the logo. Surprised?)

Of those 43 votes only seven "Loved" the existing logo. Hmmm. How many people are on Squash BC's executive? Six you say? (I keed. I keed with you.) On the other side of the spectrum, ten people "Hated" the logo. Ouch. That's almost a quarter of the votes!

Three voters didn't even know that Squash BC had a logo. (Or they're being sarcastic which we appreciate:)

The largest group of votes fell into the "Yawn, I guess it's okay" group: 53% of the voters or 23 votes. If I was running for office and the majority of polled voters said that I was "okay" I wouldn't call my Mom to report the results.

So what now? The Squash BC AGM is just around the corner - this Saturday as a matter of fact - and I wonder if our little poll will be mentioned. We know that the current and past presidents of Squash BC both know about it but will they listen to the people? I hope that they decide to canvass their membership* and look at updating their brand. If they do, we can help:)

Next week we hope to have some feedback from those in the know. We'll get back to you and maybe share with you the logo we submitted for their approval over two years ago. Peace.

(Ed. Note: Our poll was mentioned, and a link supplied to our blog for easy voting, in Squash BC's email newsletter to members.)

Next week: Guest blogger Runa Reta on "Racquet Interference."

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Squash Ball Warmer!

Squash toys you never knew you needed! Part 1: The Squash Ball Warmer

You're in tough: It's 8-6 and you're serving for the match against someone you've never beaten before. You know you shouldn't be thinking about it but you can almost taste the ranking points that are waiting for you in change room. You see yourself drying your mom's tears of joy and being toasted by admiring fans, don't you?

"Focus!" you whisper to yourself as you serve a beautiful lob serve - the kind you have been working on with your coach - and you watch as they return it straight into the tin. The match is yours!

But wait, they're pretty sure that the ball is broken and they tell the ref. The ref checks and, by gosh, it is broken! "Here's a new ball," the refs says as he throws down a frozen lump of rubber that you two are now expecting to warm up to "game heat". You try to stay focussed as you drive the ball to warm it up but you can feel it slipping away: The match was yours! You should be off the court bitching about having to ref so soon after a monster match while everyone congratulates you for winning. Finally the new ball is warm and you serve for the match again. You serve it out, don't you? Of course you do. And your opponent then goes on a tear, scores four straight and wins 10-8. ALL BECAUSE OF A BROKEN BALL!

Well, I'm here to tell you that those days are over amigo! Karakal has produced a dandy little appliance that solves all those nasty issues: A squash ball warmer. Nice.

What are you waiting for? The box promises it all!
• Your technique will improve!
• Diminish the risk of muscular injury!
• Keep your concentration on the match!

I quote from the back of the groovy package:
"With Hot Ball, (© 1996-1999 AETOS), your ball will bounce appropriately upon first hit. All your concentration is now at your disposal to execute your shots and no longer for warming up your ball!" - "With Hot Ball there is no need to hit like a brute to warm up the ball. You will thus reduce the heroic achievements needed to fight the cold and welcome the odour caused by excessive heat!"

(Ed. Note:
I translated this from the French on the package and it's been a while since I spoke French:) I'm pretty sure it said that or something close:)

Next week: Logo Poll Results