Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Alberta Closed - Provincial Championships

It appears that I’ve neglected this blog for over a year, so what better way to start up again than by reporting on the Alberta Provincial Championships. I was lucky enough to get down to Edmonton for the weekend and watch some amazing squash matches as 16 men and 5 women competed for the Open Crowns.
Play started Friday night with 5 of the 8 mens matches going the distance. Royal Glenora Club Pro Jeff Williams was pummeling Calgarys Paul Adamiak, winning the first 2 games easily with Adamiak making flurries of mistakes. Adamiak battled back in the third and fourth by extending rallies and keeping the ball tight, making it difficult for Williams to attack and forcing him to hit the tin. The fifth game saw both players struggling to catch their breath as a composed Adamiak continued to extend rallies and Williams trying to finish them with amazing overhead shots from both wings. In the end Jeff  won 11-9 in just over an hour.
Tyler Parrington and Phattaya Dhitvara both of Edmonton battled it out, Phattaya sustained an injury sometime during the fourth game, but opted to play through it only to lose the fifth easily.
Ryan Jadusingh surprised everyone by dispatching the up and coming junior and number 4 seed Graham Kerford of the Calgary Winter Club.  Both players played a casual game waiting for the other to attack.  The squash itself was actually quite boring to watch, entertainment came from  Ryans constant commentary to himself and shouting after errant plays. This was made more apparent by the contrast in Kerfords quiet frustration, and negative body language. In the end Ryan allowed Graham to self destruct in the fifth.
Andrew Linklater of Edmonton took on another top junior from the Calgary winterclub, Neil Pohlman.  Linklaters classic style and quick feet extended the rallies, while Neils sharp shots and creative strategies had Linklater flying around the court. It was anyones match with the first 4 games being decided in extra points. The fifth game saw Linklater continue to be steady, while Pohlman kept going for too much losing every rally in the fifth, 11-0 to Andrew.
In the most heated match of the tournament, Calgarys Allan Maculay battled it out with Edmonton firefighter Ray Patricio. 6’8” Maculay got more than he bargained for as Ray fought for every point in this match, literally. This was the most physical match I’ve ever seen and if there was pushing and bumping there was yelling and arguing.  With both players refusing to give up any space on the T, and forcing their way into the other player, it made for an intense duel. It didn’t help that the referee was making terrible calls, allowing for this type of play to occur. On a side note – if you bump your opponent while going for the ball, you must stop and ask for a let at the time of contact. If you continue to move and attempt to hit the ball but suddenly stop and decide that it’s not gonna be a good shot, then sorry…the opportunity has passed, it’s a “NO LET”, why? cause you’re at the ball and you’re opponent is not in the way. People seem to interpret the rules to suit them and that’s total BS.  Anyhow Al lost in 11-9 in the fifth and it was terrible for everyone involved, probly the worst match in the history of squash… yeah that’s a little dramatic, but seriously it was bad.
In the other 3 matches,  3rd seed 52 year old veteran Dave Safton took on 21 year old Aleem Merali, who couldn’t keep pace with Safton. Although rallies were long and fast, Dave took the majority of points with consistent play and he just watched as Aleem deteriorated. Nothing went right for Aleem, as his glasses broke after going on a 5 point run in the 3rd, only to lose the match in straight sets.
The oldest player in the tournament, Tom Bedore at almost 60 (I think? – sorry Tom), took on number 2 seed and top ranked Alberta junior Tyler Lee. Tyler played consistent, focusing on hitting clean shots, he dropped a game to Tom, but didn’t seem to mind as he came back to win the fourth game convincingly.
Top seed Grayson Witcher from Calgary took on newcomer Ibrahim Elshorafy. Grayson came out of the gates slow getting behind 3-8, only to win 11-8 and then take the next 2 with games effortlessly. Another side note – Grayson spent almost an hour warming up, stretching and getting ready for his match that lasted only 20 minutes and then spent another 30 minutes stretching and cooling down after his match.
2nd Round –
Grayson breezed thru the second round dispatching Jeff 3-0.  Tyler beat Ray 3-0 as well in a swift and easy match for him.  Dave Safton and Andrew Linklater played yet another terribly refereed match (seriously, where do they find these guys???), Andrew and Dave took the opportunity to showcase how bad refereeing could be, explaining many reasons to why the referees calls were wrong. Both players did however play awesome and it’s a shame that someone had to lose that, Andrew won 3-2 in an evenly contested match. Parrington beat Jadusingh 3-1, sorry I only watched a bit of it, but we probly didn’t miss that much, just kidding – but seriously.
Semi finals –
Grayson again was not challenged, showing Parrington off the court pretty quickly. Andrew however was able to take a game and made Tyler work pretty hard to claim the victory.
One of the most exciting finals yet! Tyler Lee came out ready to run and it looked like Grayson was content to dictate play. The points were fast with Grayson taking the ball early and sending Tyler in every direction. Tyler had no problems playing retriever and waiting for the loose ball that rarely ever came. Game one to Grayson 11-8. More of the same in the second with Gray dictating play, but there was a shift in Lees game as he started to volley and push Grayson off of the T. Looser shots off Grays racket allowed Tyler to show off his incredible racket skill at the front of the court, hitting unreturnable drop shots and devastating cross court nicks. Game to Tyler 11-5. Tyler continued to blaze, putting pressure on Grayson who appeared he wouldn’t be able to keep up with the pace of Tylers game. Grays frustration surfaced a number of times in the third as he opted to argue with the ref rather than make the effort for the ball. Game three to Lee 11-6. Again in the fourth Tyler Lee showed us why he is the best junior in the province, making amazing gets and forcing Grayson into some poor shot choices and simple errors. At 3-8 down, Grayson added some pace to his ball. Tylers racket couldn’t handle the heat of the Witcher backhand drive. Gray picked it up a notch and found another gear, and started to pound the ball relentlessly into the backcourt and Tyler couldn’t keep up. The momentum had swung back around and Gray won the fourth  11-8. Gray stuck with what was working for him and continued to send Tyler into the back corners with blinding speed. At 9-2, Grayson served only to stop play, as it appeared that Tyler had cut his knee and was bleeding. Lee left court for close to 15 minutes, while Gray was forced to try and stay warm. When Lee returned, the points were short and Gray won 11-5.
Heather Yong demolished the competition winning the ladies side.
Congrats Heather and Gray!

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