Thursday, March 9, 2017

2016-2017 The good, the bad, the ugly...and then the good again!

In the 2014-15 season, Derek and I decided to start a new team at level 2. Both of us felt that we just weren't playing enough to play level 1. We recruited Kyle Fiolka and Kyle Porter from Bankers and Vicrum Vaidya from our level 5 team. We weren't sure how we would do, but we won level 2, beating bankers hall in the finals. I made the decision to not move up to level 1. So we played level 2 again the 2015-16 season...again we won. We beat the Winterclub 5-0 in the finals. I probably won't ever forget my finals match against Alex Moir who had an 18-0 record going into the finals. And 4 of those wins were against me, plus he had played me once the year before and won that match as well. 

So Alex was by far the best player at level 2. I had lost to him twice at level 1 and twice at level 2. Every game in every match was close and we both know we have to work really hard if we wanna win. Alex has a lot of weapons, a 6'3" frame with huge reach, great volley skills, a quick hold and snap in the front and he's played as a junior so,has great technique. But in the finals, I had nothing to lose, my team all expected us to win 4-1 (me being the 1) and let me play first so I wouldn't have any pressure. Our team had really come together and having the support of your teammates is really difficult to find. The first game I felt like I was playing well but lost 15-4. I remember coming off court and my team shaking my giant cardboard head at me telling me I was playing awesome, moving awesome, but I needed to lift lob 2" higher and that would change everything. So that's what I did. Games 2 and 3, everything changed, now suddenly, Alex wasn't able to volley. Sure he had lots of time at the back, but now I wasn't having to play off balance. I was able to get to middle and have him play out of the corner. It was still long rallies, but I wasn't scrambling and with the extra time, I could start dictating play. I won 15-11, 15-12. Game 4, Alex changed it up and started striking the ball with more pace and forcing me to contend with hard hitting length and surprise boasts and drops. He caught me off guard and won 15-5. Both of us were exhausted going into the fifth. The crowd had gathered behind our court and the cheering was awesome. My team told me what I always tell them
 "straight, straight, straight...and when you get a loose ball...hit the right shot." 

Game 5- Alex was finding it tough to move forward to volley and letting me force him into the back. His shots were still coming at me hard but I started to play boring patient slow tight straight length, waiting for him to hit loose. And when I got him behind me, I hit a boast get him scrambling to the front. I kept the strategy simple, and I got to 14-12. I was up 14-12 and after a long exchange of backhand straight length, I stepped in to volleyboast, Alex dove into the front and looked like he was going hard cross but framed the ball... It spun up and I had to sprint forward but couldn't get to his mishit winner. At 14-13, the point was identical, but this time, I set up the volleyboast, again Alex dove, but was able to get under and lob the ball. I was looking for the drop so I doubled back and jumped up with a swinging overhead backhand, this time I framed the ball and it spun into the opposite front corner, Alex dove across the front of the court and ripped the ball cross court while I was still recovering from my desperation shot. I had barely even turned around before Alex blasted 
The ball off the front wall cross court, unfortunately for Alex, the ball just grazed his shoulder and I had won the match. The rest of the team won as well. Everything was going great, but after that...

I lost my job, spent the spring and summer golfing in Europe, injured my elbow, got a cortisone shot. Strained my knee badly. Spent most of sept to November coaching volleyball at centennial high school where my brother teaches (made it to dig 1 city finals) but pretty much not playing squash. 

Fast forward to 2016-17 season. Again Derek and had to recruit a new team to play level 1. We merged with the fit plus team, and added Danielle Letourneau. Our team hasn't really meshed yet, and I played my first match in December, then played the Banff tourney in January. It was not good, actually it was ugly.
So 2 weeks ago, I reset, like I've done so many times before. I focused on my racket prep and my footwork. And reminded myself that working hard is why I play. I registered for the AB Closed. My inactivity had dropped my ranking out of the top 100, but I somehow qualified to play men's A. Every match was a battle, and I loved every second of it. The semifinal, I clawed back from 0-2 down and found a new gear, picking up my level of play. The banquet night made it difficult to play in the finals, but I still played one of the longest matches of my life, losing 3-2 to an up and coming junior. 

Anyhow, to sum it all up, again, I've strained my knee and my elbow,  but after a little recovery time, I'll be back with a lot more energy and looking forward to more time on court. 


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