Friday 2 September brought dark clouds, ominous winds, power failures and plane-loads of masochistic, mature Masters Squash players to Port Elizabeth. Worried brows were eased by bitterly cold brews as the Opening Function was pushed forward and players gathered in blacked out places with the Crusaders Castle hosting the host province's players in candle-light to set the mood with some balmy barmen and brazen and brave-hearted banter .
Saturday brought more winds as the tents were repaired and re-prepared and it was time for these fine men and women, reasonably fresh, and ready, stretched and strapped, to greet old buddies and meet new friends , pass judgement over the virgin players ready to broken in, and drag back memories from those misty days of yore. ( Chris Holden and I worked out that we have been going to schools IPTs ,SAU's, Jarvis, Young Masters, and Masters for 37 years since a tournament at Hilton in 1974 !! - where half of my Border team were sent home for drinking and I wasn't !!) . Not much has changed.
On a personal level, the EP 50-54 boys bonded briefly on Saturday morning before kicking off against the KwaZulu Sharks. Fearful of the A Section, they coped admirably, claiming silver behind the Golden Giants from Gauteng .Tony McEwan, fresh from freeing fish, should have gaffed the Most Improved Player prize as he started at 5, and ended the week at 3, and he truly did improve with every performance. Stu Hancocks, under more pressure from his bosses than his opponents, had to bale after day 3, and had a great win against Andre, the reverse angle fiend from the Bosveld. How we missed the free-running Hancocks against the plastic-knee’d James in the Gauteng encounter. The Staple-bullet, after reeling off wins against the 2 Richards, was in trouble but rallied against Bosveld Bielies’ tricky Tony, but then Xhosa-clicked his knee into a swollen blob that effectively ended his week. It was just left to Van Der Byl to slice his throat, and send him gutted, hobbling in Hansa’d pursuit. Bushbuck Emslie, moving more like a kudu, was at his magical, mystical best with high-hanging lobs and soft, soothing drops that even had the slow game Maestro, Holden, mesmerized. At No 1, our Boertjie , Anton Van Niekerk, ran and moered as if he was chasing and moering Malema, and even the handsomely handy, hamstrung Hanson could not hold him. Off the bench, Robbie Adair, that one with one "i", came, saw but was conquered by the ringing, calf-wretched Van Rensburg, and then went golfing, and the Dulce'd Fuller was a little under-cooked against the Bulle on Day 5
For 5 days they courted and quarter’d , at courts all over the Bay with just the special few being treated to the jewel of the Hage. Bio-oiled, braced ,bandaged and beered , the bodies, now slower , daily, slowed more, in stiffness and soreness. But the skills were slicker, ( on court and off), tactically wiser (on court and off), in competitive camaraderie (on court and off), winning and losing on the courts. But off the courts, all Winners..
After wowing the world with their rendition of the anthem at the All Black test a week earlier, Port Elizabeth once again, wowed the over 800 participants with warmth, proximity and pub-friendly friendliness. Off court the real tournament triumphed, with quarts being quaffed, the clubs buzzing, the bars, bustling and bubbling, the Fines Meetings, fierce, frenzied and fizzy but above all, hospitality, so P.E and so homely, Like the Squash bodies, the wind tired, and died, leaving our visitors with opportunities to humiliate Humewood , and memories of a beautiful city.
Brothers&Sisters-in-arms, squires&maidens-in-squash, the old buddies bonded and new friendships were founded. From the commanding control of Craig Van der Wath to the gregarious Giorgio Giaconi, from the trauma and tremor of Trevor Wilkinson’s power to the lovable power of Elsabe’s laugh, from the tightness and touch of Toothil to the elegant range of Rae Masters’team’s clothing , from the serenading mad Scotsman to the cruel Keevy Fines Master, from the Roaring Twenties to a fine tented Final Function, from zany Zimbo’s who travelled and “tored” to the layers of locals who laid it on thick, from the ageing to the aged, from plumbing problems to police patrols and from Lisa’s cooked Calender Girls Cook Books to bloody blisters and beer, we bid you all, Farewell. Stories will be told, secrets will be stored and memories will be many. And we ask Jimmy Catt and Rae Masters, and their team of merry workers, to take a bow, for A Job – Well done. Thanks may be few but appreciation will be sincere. Well Done.
And we wait, and prepare, in anticipation for East London , 2012 ..
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Squash features in the copy of Sport elizabeth that is going to sell zillions.
Click on the image to download a pdf in perfect resolution.
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A Year of Living Dangerously
As the Christmas letters start flowing in ( and keep them coming - so good to hear what you have all been up to), I skulk into my conscience, and then calm myself by realizing how busy-busy we have all become. And hopefully by relieving the Stapey-Up-date drought, I might send messages to heaven to relieve the Eastern Cape “green” drought, we have experienced this year – and similarly, while some of you may have been nourished via my Facebook scrawlings and dribbles, we need a serious long downpour to fill our withering dams. And if I don’t bronze my bulging little body this year, then that’s ok, at least we’ll be able to enjoy a decent shower
When last we chatted, I was preparing myself to transcend technology and launch myself into the world of the Blackberry. And like many things we fear because of the unknown, after a couple of mishaps, I seem to be coping quite well . Am sure I am only using a small % of its capabilities, but am loving being able to keep abreast of all e-mails, and it has doubled my addiction to that little Facebook wench, who sucks your time, and makes you laugh, and finds your old friends in nooks and crannies all over the world. Apparently people are stopping their Herald subscriptions in lieu of my cryptic statuses !!
Looking back at my world of work, the highlights over the last few months have been undoubtedly the organizing of events like the Trade Show where we went bigger than ever , with a western “Showdown at the SPAR Corral” theme, a huge shing-ding and massive success, co-organising the Mystery Golf tour which had us flying off to Natal, living in luxury and belting heaps of balls into the roughs and rivers of Mount Edgecomb, Prince’s Grant and Zimbali, hosting and M.C’ing a Supplier’s Indaba, and as the thinnest, most malnourished and bald Father Christmas ever, I featured in a video presentation and played MC for our Christmas Retailer Meeting. All the nice warm and fuzzy stuff.
But with the real nitty gritties, in real rands and cents and gross profit and margin terms, this year has been a real toughie, and we have lived frugally and dangerously. For me, moving out of the relatively safe, structured environs of the Buyer, life has been a bit unstructured, and very different. If I had to rate myself as a Manager, I think I still have a lot to learn and a long way to go. The categories under my control, Health and Beauty, General Merchandise, and Cigarettes all suffered seriously under the rigours of the recession, of deflation and a tough economic climate, and only Coca Cola kept me in the black on my Annual Review.
At 51, you kind of think you are in control of your life, and I pride myself with my commitment to making long “To Do Lists” but we were put through PEP – a Personal Efficiency Programme, and it is scary to see what bad habits one forms, and how much time we waste, and how disorganized we actually are. Had 2 massive blapses during the year, where I sent out a spreadsheet containing Trade Show financials to our Retailers, and then missed my final 4th quarterly Business Review deadline, both through rushing and bad planning. So, I have gone on a purging process, chucked out piles and piles of useless paper, re-organised my office/cell, and I am trying to review the way I have conducted business over the past 14 years at SPAR. Quite tough to break all those habits, but I am sure, I’ll get there. And when I squeezed my e-filed tax in, one day ahead of deadline, I realized that I also need to transfer some of those learnings to our home affairs. I said at the beginning of the year that I need to learn to say “NO”. I have not listened.
Trish and I continued our flirtation with exploring Virgin Territory, for our 25th Wedding Anniversary – ssjjooee, she is a very brave or very stupid woman !!- headed off to The Fernery, a really beautiful, secluded and obviously very popular spot for Honeymoonists and Anniversarians in the Tsitsikamma region. The first time in over 21 years that we have gone away together, alone ! Ever since the kids arrived, we have always gone away with friends so I think we were both quite nervous about what we were going to do and talk about etc etc, but we had a great time, and that Fernery place is highly recommended. Oh, and to continue our year of White Rafting and Sea Cruising, we sneaked in a little zip-line which was fun but actually quite mundane, relatively-speaking. Stopped and watched some Bungee-jumpers, and there, my bravado and courage deserted me.
Was good also to see the demise of the Blue Bulls, and really encouraging to see the quality and style of play that took the Sharks to the Currie Cup victory – quick, and slick and clever. With the EP Kings moving to The Soccer Stadium, we also became fervent supporters as they flirted dangerously with A Section stuff and the vibe at the packed stadium for their last match was something to behold – for us little PE folk anyway. And it is going to be good to go and watch them play some of the Super 14 sides early next year. We were also treated to the Champions League Cricket in PE which I don’t think really caught on all over the country, but it was exciting and vibey and , like the soccer, good to be at full stadiums, And I could get onto my hobby-horse about South Africa’s ignorance in sports mind-training and handling Big Match situations. It was quite interesting to attend a SASCOC Coaches Conference in Joburg a couple of weeks ago, and to see that while fitness, and nutrition, and periodisation and development, and commitment were all discussed, this little area of mental-training was not even touched on.
Our merry little League squash side continued its merry little way without threatening the Log leaders too much, and after a mediocre 1st half of the season, I ran into some hot, cold weather winter form and had some good wins. But it was more about a really good bunch of guys, competing and having fun, and fining ourselves into smithereens which created another opportunity for a little “ Golf tore” together with “The Other” Saders team to Kasoega. There, we played Port Alfred and Fish River, and I re-claimed the national title of “The Kakkest Golfer to play some of the best courses in South Africa”. I was also involved in helping with the hosting of a Citrine Super Squash Series tournament where the top SA players participated, and I landed up featuring twice on Supersport, once for the NMMU Cricket Re-Union and later in the week in a squash Press Conference ! …and with weekends packed with Private Coaching , a weekend trip to Cradock, the afore-mentioned Coaches Course in Joburg, speaking at the Grahamstown Awards evening and writing for Sport Elizabeth and blogging, squash still willingly, takes up a fair chunk of my time.
Am looking at doing a Perpetual Squash/Sport Training Diary/Journal, using some of my articles next year. Watch this space.
And then November raised its ugly head, ……and I took the theme of Living Dangerously to the limit .While Ian, and many others, were mustering some miserly moustaches together , I launched myself into a month of misery and pain. This seems to be becoming an annual event at the end of the year, so I am sure God allows me free reign to debauch myself for most of the year, and as my Medical Aid runs dry, He calls in my sins and punishes me,
Trish was invited to play in the Ladies section of the SA Masters Doubles tournament in Cape Town, so contrary to all the Coaching and Marriage Manuals advice, Braveheart Stapes agreed to partner his wife in the Mixed ! But more drama lay in wait.
On the Tuesday before leaving for Cape Town, had a quick game of squash with my “Bunny”, Brad Muller and after supper and packing, headed for an early night but my knee felt a bit sore, so as a preventative measure, with about 10 games of doubles ahead of me, I took some anti-inflammatories. Within an hour I had woken, with swollen lips, itchy welts all over my body and a feverish sweat - all repeat symptoms of my previous bee-sting and penicillin allergic reactions. Rushed to the bathroom, and on the way blacked-out, smashed into the wall, and collapsed in a pool of blood from a gash above my eye!! Trish, Ian and Kerryn rushed to help but could do very little .The next I knew I was being attended to by medics with ambulance lights and sirens blaring . Once at the hospital, aided by some adrenalin and oxygen and another 6 stitches around my eye, recovery was swift, and I was given the green light to head off to Cape Town with Trish taking over the driving responsibilities in our new car - a Cruze, purchased in October
While I was not a very pretty sight, (when am I ??), with stitches and a massive black eye, I felt “fine”, and it was good to hook up with all the old squash buddies at WPCC. What an awesome club. And great to spend some time with the Crankshaws. However, once Trish and I started our little doubles adventure, I realized that things were not perfect, as I was getting dizzy spells which have been put down to vertigo as a result of The Fall. Anyway, the mixed section was fun, and good, if unsuccessful and all the reasons and repercussions for “never playing with your wife”, did not materialize. Unfortunately my PE men’s partner injured himself so I was forced to prostitute myself onto one of the Cape Town guys, and poor Chris Boyes landed up with having to cope with a dizzy, dumb, vertigoed partner. We set out to play exciting crowd-pulling nick-crunching squash, but ended up challenging each other for the most error filled stuff you can imagine. Our matches were short, and funny, and other people liked playing against us.
But there was more drama on the horizon. A week later, I headed off to Joburg for afore-mentioned Coaches weekend, with a painful pimple on my neck. After a sleepless Friday night, listening to my Trade Unionist neighbours singing expensive whiskey drenched, Struggle Anthems, I awoke to a massive, painful, pussy boil-like thing on my neck for which I had no medication. Still not sure as to what exactly had brought on the previous allergic reaction, I was reticent to take anything “strange” and then , later, as the day, progressed, my wrist started swelling and became more and more painful. After about a year and half of gout-respite, the bitch was back. And again, I had no medication and feared another re-action. The Sunday was hell. From a pain perpective, as well as a presentation perspective, as they moved from Coaching to the Olympics and Development, and then the politicians started sprouting forth. That was serious torture.
Was only able to medicate the Boil and Gout on Monday, and with me having to play Santa and MC at the Members meeting on the Tuesday, I had to work my way through 2 days of huge pain. Couldn’t drive, couldn’t write and the “boil” – Infected Hair Follicle, made me feverish and body sore. Anyway, I scrambled and crawled my way through the week which co-incided with getting that e-filed tax return in, 1 day ahead of deadline. Never again !!
Anyway, with all of the above, and trips to Transkei, and Durban, I have been forced into a Cold Turkey lay-off from squash for a month and a half which is also probably good for me. For one of the Sport Elizabeth articles, I calculated that between coaching and playing, I have had over 200 sessions on court this year !! But I do need some exercise now.
Enough about me.
As mentioned, Trish has also taken up the squash bit, but is only playing Doubles, and getting better and better. We have started a regular little 5pm on a Sunday match against the Judds which ends/starts/rounds the week off quite nicely. She is also doing a fair bit of walking and running , and often scurries off early on a Saturday morning to do a“quick “5k” so my Anniversary present to her was a romantic pair of purple-tinged Running Shoes, - (what do they say about purple ?) – I did also buy 25 Red Roses. And hers to me, an even more passionate pair of Squash Shoes !! Work-wise at Conti, the scenarios seem to be changing and while she is still handling the ABET classes, it seems as if she is becoming more and more a “Catch all” kind of person. Her extra Maths lessons are also going well, particularly towards the end of the year, when she had to try and do some hatchet-cramming-repair jobs, but the word-of-mouth advertising seems to be doing some good rounds. And then, probably her most secret talent, Flower arranging has once again come to the fore with her arrangements at Gareth Jordan’s wedding last week, and Derryk’s in a couple of weeks time. She really weaves magic with these flowers, and this from me, who does not know a daisy from a dandelion. And, OH !,I forgot. Art. The 1st masterpiece has been created. A really simple but impressive little painting of 2 feet, protected by an umbrella on a pier. Roll over, Vincent. You have had your time in the sun. While the classes are a bit erratic, she is loving the whole vibe and creativity and the people.
And then the joys of our lives. Kerryn continues her bubbly little journey, and cracked her first year with a distinction in Business Management!! Maybe, I should get some help from her ! I think she will be very glad to have Accounts behind her back. Her Lindt Promotional work is teaching her lots and keeps her very busy, and student-wise, fairly financially secure. Was good to be running the Trade Show, with my daughter as one of the Exhibitors, though no-one believed that I could produce such a pretty daughter !! And now towards the end of the year, she and Ian and friends, became quite sought after as bar-attendants at the various SPAR functions, which filled their coffers a little more and eased some driving angst for me. After putting a high up-and-under for JP, she seems to be running free and barging in and bumping off a couple of tackles, though there is an ex-Kingswoodian, with whom she appears to be combining quite well ! Am still working with her on some angle running, and dummy passes.
The BIG family news however, is that Ian after quite a shitty year with broken wrists, and breaking hearts and a tax return which he will have to sort out next year, and which will cost Mom and Dad another year’s varsity (which I wish I had, had ) - is now in the big U S of A. He and a group of buddies have gone over to work on a Ski Resort at Lake Tahoe. He left 2 weeks ago, and after a couple of banking problems, appears to be settling down well. Chatted to him on the phone this morning, and after a couple of days of orientation, he starts his work as a “Waiter’s Assistant” tomorrow. Be scared Lake Tahoe residents. Don’t order soup and do wear use a serviette. He is a messy fellow. Has been up to the slopes and been initiated into the joys of Snowboarding,, met up with some Yankees, who he says are quite different and staying 8-up in an apartment in a tiny little place called Truckee.What an awesome experience for him, and I am sure he will return, richer, wiser and more mature. Have set him the goals of seeking fame, fortune, wine, women and song – if he achieves one, the trip will have been a success.
With him overseas, and Kerryn, Lindt-lighting in East London last week, Trish and I have had our first scratchings of that ugly empty-nest syndrome which you hear about, don’t worry about, but when it hits you, feels like you are in a silent vacuum. And with Brad and Megon, also in America , we are headed, it seems, for a Quiet Christmas.
I am on leave this week, but have drawn the short straw again and will head back into the office for the whole Christmas period next week. It is a weird period for us as it could get hectically busy, putting out other people’s fires, and could also be very quiet, which will then allow me to continue with my “paper purging”, setting up my e-files and doing some much needed planning for 2011, which I think is going to be as tough, and as different, and hopefully as exciting as 2010.
We are having our traditional Stapleton/Stewart Christmas Celebration at Jacqui’s (Tricia’s niece) place, which takes a bit of pressure off Trish in terms of preparation. But before that, we have Andrew Parker’s 21st tonight, where Ian is doing his final 21st speech for the year, via Skype, tomorrow Bushbuck Emslie and I have our final Winner-Takes-All Challenge of the year, then we have Derryk and Janine Jordan’s wedding on the 28th, where, I once again explore some virgin territory of being an MC at a wedding. Have done quite a bit of similar work so hopefully will be able to do them proud. Was very privileged to be one of the speakers at Charles Pautz’s Retirement Function where we were given 60 seconds to speak. Quite a challenge but it went well.Then there is the Indian/SA cricket tour which I think is going to be a cracker, and hopefully another weeks leave in January where I can hopefully finish all the stuff I don’t do this week at home, and before we know where we are, Ian will be back (mid-Feb) and we’ll all be helter-skelter into 2011, with its cricket,and rugby World Cups, and we’ll all be chasing all those goals and targets and dreams we have been dreaming up as the year closes .
So without further ado, it leaves to me to wish you all a blessed Christmas, some Relax-time, some Family-time, some You-time, and best wishes for a wonderful 2011. Thanks for all your smiles, your Face-book statuses, and for your friendship. It is treasured.
Stapes, Trish, the Yankee Gum, the Chocolate and the Toffee.
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I am riting a note becos I no you must go shopping and I am so happy wen I get presents but I always hope I am going to get some squash stuff, and I never get any so I thort I wood send this to you erly so you can look out for stuff wen you shopping
Enjoy the pie and beer my mommy left for you
I love my family, and I love Christmas, and I love the anticipation that abounds around that Christmas tree, marooned by gifts and glorious goodies. But mostly, even as a 51 year old chopper, I love the excitement, as you ( me- anyway), rip the wrapping apart after trying to feel your way to guessing the contents. And then it’s kisses and hugs and your eyes wander to the next nugget, lying, waiting to be ravaged. Sadly, there is often a sense of disappointment, as despite your family’s best intentions , you don’t always get what you wanted.
So for all those folk with Squash-fanatics in their family, some ideas , before you helter-skelter into the hurly-burly of Christmas shopping.
Be careful. Selecting squash racquets is like buying underwear. A very personal choice. Squash players become intimate with that racquet. It becomes an extension of their being. It must mould into the hand, its weight, its feel, its look. It is almost a spiritual thing. A wand. And s/he should own two.
Racquets are difficult to select, and whether you a buy a R400 cheapie, an R800 middle-of-the-road chap or a R1 500 de luxe model, the reality is – racquets break, and invariably, it is the person , holding the racquet that is at fault.
Weight and feel are key. The person who is going to use the racquet should feel the racquet, swing with it, and ideally, hit with it before purchasing. I have a range of differently weighted Tecnifibre racquets available, should you wish to trial the different options. A good idea is to take a couple of racquets, close your eyes and swing with each racquet individually. The racquet that FEELS good, is probably your baby.
Guidelines on weight are that your average is around 140g. Lighter racquets are more geared for touch and control players but have a smaller “sweet spot”, while the heavier models are more suited to Power “Menere.”
Gone are the days of the nifty little carry-pack type bag, with the racquet sticking out. Now, bags are Bold and Beautiful and carry loads of racquets and clothes. Squash Players won’t admit it, but we are vain, and we want people to think we are good, and sponsored etc ,so if you are buying a Bag, choose the brand of racquet that s/he uses
Shirts,/Skirts and Trousers
Another tough one, as these are also personal and squash players who play in tournaments, generally pick up quite a bit of kit as they travel their journey. A tournament top becomes an emblem, a signature of where you have been , and a reflection of how good you are.
Squash clothes have changed quite dramatically over the years. Styles have changed too -from the old all-whites, Fred Perry shirt, rugby trousers, and Bata tackies, to baggy shirts and those disgusting ball-busting little running shorts, to baggier shorts and the dry-comfort tighter fitting tops in colours ranging from pink to purple.
Pssss…. Anyone buying for me. I love those long-sleeved dry comfort tops. Great for warm ups, warm downs, coaching
I cringe when I see initiates to the game, playing in Running Shoes. Firstly, - they are messing up the courts, and secondly - it is only a matter of time before they go over their ankle , injure themselves, and blame squash as being a dangerous past-time.
The link between feet, incorrect choice of sports shoe and injuries related to the lower back is close, so please, if you are looking at squash shoes for your squash lover, go to a specialist Sports Shop . Squash shoes are specifically designed for the game,and need to be tight fitting.
Goodies for the Stocking
Eezi-peezi – socks, grips, balls, bandanas, resin bags for better grip, Trion:z bracelets, wristlets ( wish someone would stock those long ones the tennis players use). Squash Glasses are now compulsory for juniors, and for Doubles, so they are a very functional gift
Serious Squash Players should have a watch with a stop-watch facility for training and for timing when sitting in the Marker’s chair. For choppers, like me, a heart-rate monitor is an option, and a skipping rope should be part of one’s training equipment. Those Training Ladders are great, transportable tools for increasing speed-off-the-mark, stamina and setting targets.
A couple of Coaching sessions with a coach might also be an appreciated idea
Books and Video’s
Some suggestions –
Murder in the Squash Court by Jonah Barrington – a magnificent book on the mind and mentality of the Squash Player and Shattered – story of a squash freak, Peter Marshall who played double-handed, and through sheer guts and training reached the top of the Squash tree, and then suffered a break-down and was forced to re-view his life, with some interesting conclusions
The Squash Coaching “bible” – Ian Mckenzie’s “The Squash Workshop”
For parents of Squash Players/ Sports children, “Raising Big Smiling Squash Kids” by Richard Millman should be prescribed reading.
Tennis books can always be “translated” into squash. “Winning Ugly” by Brad Gilbert teaches the average player to raise his game through the brain. Gilbert, a “journeyman” tennis player with limited talent had significant wins against the world’s best and later coached Leyton Hewitt, Andy Murray and Andre Agassi. And Agassi’s “ Open” is a great read.
Jonathan Power’s coaching DVD’s “Exposed” and “Above The Tin”, are brilliant. But you’ll have to get onto the net, and they are quite expensive.2 Squash Magazines, you could subscribe to are The Squash Player, and Squash Magazine.
And if you are wanting to be creative and kitschy
What about building a miniature perspex or glass Squash Court, with all the markings, and create a little Squash “Zen-garden” ? Or down-load some Squash photographs and make a Squash calendar. Or personalize a diary, which your squashaholic can use as a training/match journal
Or using broken Squash balls , cut them in half, and create a House Number on a board so that you can announce yourself as a Squash Player, and your friends will know where to pour you out, when they drop you off after a League game. Not sure if your wife will be impressed. In fact, you can do quite a lot with broken squash balls. Cut them open, insert Lindt Chocolates, and re-seal, good for door jammers, toys for pets, teenage music ear-protectors, attached to a key ring, they create quite an impressive pocket impression, nipple protection for topless sunbathing ….
And if all else fails, buy a case of beers, and I am sure he’ll be happy. We, squash players are quite simple folk
To all of you who have waded through my mire of squashed fantasies over the year. Many thanks for your time, and may you and your families enjoy a blessed period of Christmas love and goodwill. And if I don’t see you around the Christmas Tree, I’ll see you at the courts, when you are back from bronzing your beautiful bodies.
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Balls-to-the-Wall: Review, Re-new and Re-do
Billy Joel’s ‘Piano Man”, one of the best songs ever written, could easily be adapted to the AGM process which replicates itself every year. Something like, “It’s 6-o-clock on a Wednesday, and the regular crowd shuffles in, There’s an old man sitting next to me, who is standing for Chairman again…..By now, committees will have been re-voted in, some folk will have escaped, and there’ll be new faces, with new (and old) revolutionary ideas on how to re-vitalise their clubs. As in Boardrooms around the country, 2010 will come under the spot-light as businesses look to repeat or repair the rights and wrongs of the year. As in Boardrooms, last year’s goals dreamed up at the previous year’s Strategic Planning Sessions will be dusted off, reviewed and re-set And so, using our January Squishy-Squashy wishes for 2010, let’s see where the warrelling winds took squash in PE this year
Squash SA – moved a step closer to a local circuit with the Citrine Super Series and Port Elizabeth, embarrassed Cape Town and Durban by hosting the most successful leg of the circuit where we marveled at the skills of Steve Coppinger, Clinton Leeuw and 14 of Africa’s top players. Bouquets to Mark Millborrow and the Londt Park team for putting on a great event
EP Squash – The Citrine Series fell into our lap, but congratulations to EP Squash for embracing the opportunity. Lisa O Grady again ensured that the 17 Men’s and Women’s Leagues, comprising 144 sides and 750 players, ran smoothly, and while the World Cup made the Tournament Calender a bit lop-sided, players of all abilities were catered for in a variety of formats. So often we wonder what provincial associations do. You’ll be surprised !!
Club Administrators – Londt Park, together with the provincial squads had a massive Squash Day with coaching, competitions, and lots of fun. Old Grey, ambitiously adopted 5 Township players, who went on to win the 7th League, Westview introduced a finger-swipe payment system, grew their income and started a Junior Pitch-and-Play on Saturdays, Crusaders are introducing a new “all-in once-off payment” for lights, Walmer came back into the 1st League, Swifts hosted a Markers Evening and re-invented their weekend tournament, suitably, in tribute to EP Chairman, Henry Slater. And there were more …
Sponsors – Congratulations and Thank You to SPAR and Europcar for supporting our provincial sides, and to Citrine and Protea Hotels for bringing the pro’s to town
EP Provincial Squads– it’s ages since the squads trained as hard as they did this year. Credit to Greg La Mude, Alton Senekal and Di Van Eck for driving this initiative and growing great “gees”. The Jarvis A side was pipped at the Promotion post, and a host of debutants brought vitality to the EP Ladies sides. On the negative side, there were some selection issues that can be resolved and it was disappointing that the young guns are still not really threatening the brigade of La Mude, Rudi Van Niekerk, Zane Swartz, Sean Viljoen and Quinton Masters. And La Mude leaves a huge hole to fill.
EP Juniors – if we are looking for highlights , look no further. We dominated the junior scene with ranking lists littered with EP names - Lume and Elani Landman, Sarah O Grady, Aimee Brenner, Thomas Jordaan, Jarryd Terblanche, Jacques Theron, Jethro Thorburn, Johan Thiel, Sorika Tait, Kacey Dodd, Ashleigh Schepers, … and Framesby clinched the Top Schools tournaments. Will these guys push on and make the lives of the top players uncomfortable ? Or will they leave to greener, funkier pastures ?
Coaches: National Coach, Richard Castle visited, a Coaches Course at the end of last year and new criteria in the pipeline so hopefully, the “apprentices’ can be fast tracked, Junior Coaching Days in Uitenhage and Cradock, Fast Track League. We will be losing Greg La Mude, but on the positive side, we welcome Scotty Moffat, a World Masters finalist, and experienced coach with time on his hands and a sheer passion for squash
League Players – Congratulations to all the winners. Enjoy your moments and your memories. Was good to see catering creeping back into the courts, but sad that many sides, mostly in the upper leagues are not returning their League Cards. A hefty little fine, should sort that one out !!
Markers and Referees – International referees, Mike Collins , Sven and Cecile Van Rie visited and presented courses. Sadly, attendance was disappointing, so the bitching and moaning will continue. But, that’s almost the nature of the beast, and the debates do drive Bar Sales
Doubles fanatics – a WOW of the 2010 season. Peter Bridges at St Francis Bay, Peter and Jacqui Ryder at Londt Park, Rae Masters at Old Grey and Lisa O Grady at Saders set up and ran hugely successful leagues and tournaments. Where ever you look, the courts are 4-men-women-full
Those Calender Girls, who perkily pinched our pennies to get them to Germany – what a great fund raiser, drawing attention to squash, cancer awareness and raising temperatures and pennies to launch Lisa O Grady to another Silver Medal at the World Masters in Cologne, some modeling careers and a successful trip for the rest of the girls.
Social players – I am so envious of the unabashed, unadulterated FUN these folk have. Laughing, running, bashing, screaming and smashing into walls, and each other. So much untapped potential …if we could only convert them to a league commitment
To my League team – thank you for a wonderful season. We competed, never capitulated and ended somewhere in the middle. We fined, and we fed, “fueled and fatigued”, we arrived home, sometimes late, in yellow, and sometimes pink. I will remember the laughter, the harassment and the camaraderie. Where we ended, will soon be forgotten.
To my Squash buddies and pupils – thanks for your time and for heeding my desperate SMS calls to duty. Jan to Oct – 85 matches played. At an average of 3 beers per match = 255 beers and lots of good discussion, 89 Coaching sessions – hopefully something was learned. League matches – a 61% Victory rate. Injury Count – Nil. Summary: A Great Squashing Year
It’s 6.15 on a League Night, the regular crowd rambles in. There’s a young chap sitting next to me, making love to his racquet and ball…. I said , Son can you play a game with me, I ‘m not really sure how I‘ll do,, but if it’s good, or it’s bad. I ‘m sure we’ll work up a sweat… So sing us a song all you, Squash players, …It’s gonna be a great year, next year.
2010 EP Squash League Winners and Award Winners
SUPER: LONDT PARK
1ST LONDT PARK
GOFFER: LONDT PARK
1ST LONDT PARK
7TH OLD GREY
11 OLD GREY
13 GREY HIGH
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Hi , my name’s Alan but people call me Stapes. I am a Squashaholic. It’s my Dad. He’s to blame. He used to bribe me with Chips and Coke to come and watch him play in his white shirt, rugby pants, Bata tackies, and funny wooden racket. I was tiny and we were still in Rhodesia, and who was I to say “No” . I didn’t watch much, chowed my chips, sucked on my Coke and played with my bag of balls, my comfy blanket. I quite liked those squiggly little trickle boasts he used to play. And maybe I can blame him for my chipaholism as well. And maybe he fed me beers at the courts. Can’t remember. But it sort of makes sense.
Some love that thwack of leather on willow, or the swoosh- tink of a glorious golf drive. Others, the doef of leather boot on ball or the oomph of human against human, grunting into a scrum or a tackle. Some think the thunk-woer of a topspin tennis backhand, or the whoosh of a wave breaking around your ears, is music. Many , ponder over the poof of a snooker cue and the pink of pool balls clinking together. Bowlers rumour over the clunk of bowls as they ruminate over their next shot and for hockey players , the tick-smack of stick against ball, is heaven . But me, I love the whack that little rubber ball makes, as it smacks into the strings, and smashes into the wall. And sometimes, I get to hear that whack, and “Aaaggh “, as that little missile sears into a soft upper thigh, smoking. And I giggle.
The wide open veld – peaceful and tranquil with wild animals and guns, is a place of sanctity for lovers of the wild. Others go ga-ga over the freshly cut grass of hallowed cricket arenas, many are in awe over the immaculate beauty of our soccer stadiums . Gyms, for fitness freaks, are inspiring, and for aquatics and sun-lovers, a pool - cool, smooth and serene - is the symbol of architectural beauty But for me , my St Pauls, my Stonehenge, is that virgin white, rectangular box , accessorised with romantic red touches and smears of black rubber. Cold cavernous courts, with noticeboards , pinned with old AGM notices, snippets of coaching info and lists of non-paying members. There, I find my zen. My Alpha and Omega.
Not for me ,Supporter 23, or yellow Bafana top. Not for me, the white flannels of Lords or the colour-coded attire of a 17 handicapper. Uggh, those bright, body hugging, self-adoring , psychophantic, psychedelic, size-showing skins the cyclists wear. And speedos – naah, not with this body. Me, I need a shirt, a baggy one. Never new. It must smell of sweat. It must have licked at defeat , chewed at competing and rolled in victory. It must have spent a night, locked up, wet, sweaty, and forgotten in my black squash bag. Shorts – baggy, best un-ironed. Socks - yes and squash shoes, buggered, bent and blistered. Aaaah ! Comfort.
Not for me , the hurly-burly of Humewood in a howling South Easter, not for me a crowded, smoky pool bar, not for me, tossing serves into gusty gale force winds, or a four hour fine leg/mid off shift and an embarrassing duck walk in the blazing summer sun. Not for me, standing around, practising line outs on a cold, rainy winter’s evening, or that 4.30 a.m alarm buzz for that the slow burn, up Brickmakers in a lashing 5am storm. Not for me a bond extension on the latest, lightest bike or those four-digit membership fees of the golfing fraternity.
For my little fix, irrespective of weather, unrestricted by time, day or night - even a lunch-time quickie is still satisfying - all I need is a racquet, a ball, squash shoes, and 20 bucks, - which will probably get me a beer as well. I feed my addiction in the comfort of my court. All it takes is 45 minutes, sometimes less, sometimes more. Having a partner is best. Anyone will do. And if no-one is willing, alone, I can still spend time, running routines, sweating and skilling my game. The drug is devilish. It’s all consuming. It sucks me in, swirls me around, and like the yellow submarine, whisks me away from the worries of work and the world, the whims of my wife and the chunking of my children. And I am spat out, depleted, tired, sweaty and soppy but happy, exhilarated, relaxed. Feeling Good.
I have dabbled in the addictive dens of various sports and sought sanctity there. Cradled in the fables of cricket, its traditions taught me much and brought me many friends. Injured and gristled in the glory and honour of school 1st XV rugby, and a once- lover of languid soul-searching long-distance running, till the jarring , lock-jawed my knees. As a child, I dreamed of being worshipped at Wimbledon and I have experienced the fantasy-world of Fancourt, the splendour of Sun City and the poise of Pinnacle Point, but am always mystified by the mysteries of golf.
But only squash has offered me the all-inclusive package of speed, power, guile ,chess-like thinking, the competitive verve, the convenience, the economy, the “tores” and tournament camaraderie, the individual drive within the team spirit dynamics , the comfort of hot shower on squash-sore body, the cold post-match beer , win or lose, rolling down a thirsty throat, and that stiff bum, as you rise, next morning…… My beloved, addictive friend, Squash.
For a slower fix, I have also dealt in coaching . How glorious to watch as a beginner buzzes with the excitement of actually hitting consecutive shots ? How rewarding to see the hard-working, ambitious climb that ladder? How stimulating to see a side, gelling , and growing, and for an addict like me, to see others , joining and enjoying my addiction.
So, as the Winter leagues wither, we head into the quiettime of the season, and before the splash of Summer League begins, a desperate call to all my other squash junkies. Heed my frantic SMS’s, Voice Mail and e-mails. And know you are serving society, and keeping crime off the streets by feeding this junkie with just a jab of your time.
Anyone for a game today? Booked a court at 5.15. Kit’s in the car.
Corporate Squash League – Searching for more Addicts
On a trial basis, Crusaders Squash Club are looking at starting a Corporate Squash League. The League would run on a similar basis to Summer Leagues, with 30 minute matches , played once a week for a 5 week period. The idea would be to start at 5.30, and with 5-man/woman or mixed teams, play would be finished by 8pm.
While a log would be kept, the focus of the League would be to attract new and social players to the game, build a bit of Corporate “gees”, and have a good time. What they don’t want is companies, “loading” their sides on a mission to win the League
Companies, Professions ( Doctors/Lawyers etc) or Sporting Codes who might be interested in putting a side together and getting involved are welcome to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone me – 082 4170712 for more information
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In a scintillating display of controlled power, South African No 1, Steve Coppinger clinched the Port Elizabeth leg of the Citrine Super Squash series at Londt Park when he defeated Western Province’s 2nd seeded, Clinton Leeuw, 3-1 yesterday afternoon.
Coppinger , who defeated Rudi Willemse, Zambian, Kelvin Ndhlovu, and Rodney Durbach on the way to the final, was made to fight hard in the 63 minute final, before eventually pocketing the R10 000 winner’s purse and drawing further ahead in the 4-tournament series which will culminate in Johannesburg in September. Leeuw, who was given a scare in the quarter finals by Zuko Kubukeli, and struggled initially against KwaZulu Natal’s Gary Wheadon in the semi-final, threatened, but could never quite gain tee-supremacy over the rangy Coppinger.
The see-saw , energy-sapping 23 minute 1st game , characterized by long patient rallies, and some nervous unforced errors saw Coppinger sneak ahead 13-11, and then with tight wall-clinging length, dominate 11-5 in the 2nd. But Leeuw came back in the 3rd, with some incredible retrieving, and intelligent pace variation to call “game on” when he won the 3rd , 11-6. And when Coppinger wobbled with some uncharacteristic unforced errors on his lob and boast, the match looked like it was heading into a classic 5-setter, but the Cape Town-based Natalian eventually settled to take the 4th 11-9.
The tournament has been a huge success for Eastern Province Squash with the Port Elizabeth squash fraternity supporting the event with biggest attendances yet received on the series. The province’s leading 2 players, Greg La Mude and Rudi van Niekerk showed that they can punch with the best, both losing narrowly to the Zambian pair of Ndhlovu and Ray Simbule respectively.
After a Marking and Refs Course run by Sven and Cecile Van Rie, the raucous PE crowd was treated to their 1st version of Blitz Squash with 8 of the losing players, playing off in matches of 3 points, in a brilliant blitz tournament of half an hour spectacular which was won by Western Provinces, Zuko Kubukeli.
Further good news for EP squash was that the Framesby girls side, won the National Top Schools Tournament in Pietermaritzburg when they defeated Epworth in the final yesterday.
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