Balls to the Wall Like Lovers ….we wait

There’s a breathless buzz at the Courts  to-night — 
Two nil down and the match to win — 
A bumping opponent and an ignorant marker, 
3 games still needed and the last man on. 
And it’s not for the sake of a League Trophy, 
Or the selfish hope of a season’s fame, 
But the Team-mates hands on his shoulder smote 
“Play up! Play up! And Play the Game!” .. with apologies to Henry Newbolt.
Already Summer Leagues, Westview Tournament and Super / Goffer Leagues are part of 2014 history. Now Squash Players, await the League Season, like long-parted lovers. And like lovers, we will laugh, argue, sweat,  smile,hustle and hug. There will be good times, tense times and bad times. But we will also make some wonderful memories, meet some wonderful people, and probably, very soon forget, who even won the League
If you have never played League squash, you probably won’t understand. This is a bit like cricket.  Individuals , playing for themselves within a team. Individuals with different backgrounds, different loves and hates, different personalities but pooled  and pulled together  by squash. Under-pinning the League rules, there is an unwritten Code of Rules which holds this seething mass of patched personalities together.
For the uninitiated, take notes. For the experienced,  just a reminder.
  • Take responsibility – if you are not going to be able to play next week, let your captain know and ideally find a replacement. There is nothing worse than the 3pm on league day call “ Sorry, I can’t play”
  • This is a Team Game. I repeat a Team Game. By opting to play, you have taken on a responsibility and a commitment. Arrive on time, ( 6.15 is starting time, so be there at 6) And if you are going to be late, let your Captain, and ideally your opponent, know.
  • The Warm-Up is not a 5-minute period of self-batting – hitting to yourself  with an occasional flick to your opponent. Find your length, get the feel of the heat of the court and then suss out your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Stay, and support your team-mates. Create a Vibe. And stay to the end of all 4 matches, at least
  • If you are playing at home, you will have to mark/referee a match – a unique feature of squash , where  players officiate over their team-mates. Very few enjoy the time in that Marker’s Chair. Some hints – read, or get to understand Rule 12 – The Interference Rules and the 4 Freedoms due to a player.  Speak loudly, so players and spectators can hear, and make decisions, quickly and firmly. At least give the impression that you know what you are doing ! You will make mistakes. We all do. Bryce does. That’s part of the game.
  • For some, League is threatening. They fear letting team-mates down and have a sense of trepidation because of the official nature of the Event. Relax. Have fun. It is just another game of squash, and tomorrow the sun will rise. Others, they relish in the competitive nature of the league. And then there are a few, who sometimes, over-flow in competitiveness, and the importance of the moment becomes too much. Play, compete, point-for-point,  but within reason. You might be doing business with your opponent next week. He might be taking out your daughter. Respect both opponent and Marker.
  • The true sense of “Hosting” has slid out of League Squash but it is creeping back. This is not about expensive meals and barrels of beer.  This is just about spending a little bit of time with team-mates and opponents, net-working , some skinner and maybe a bit of post-match analysis. And hopefully, what you give, you will receive. 
Play Up, Play Up and play the game !
Under the leadership of Johan Olivier, the Frontline Underwriting Managers Londt Park Open Squash Tournament has been re-incarnated and will be played between the 1st and 4th of April.
Olivier has assembled a smorgasbord of quality players and Squash fans will be treated to a feast of top squash as Christo Potgieter, the reigning champion returns to defend his  title. But it will be no easy task as the war-horses of SA Squash, WP’s Rodney Durbach and KZN’s Adrian Hansen and, Gary Wheaton will join up with  South Africa’s most exciting talent, Queenstown’s  Michael Wood to challenge. PE prodigal son, Greg La Mude returns from 2 years in America, Rudi Van Niekerk, Jason Le Roux, as well as a host of other “Bubbling Unders” like Kyle Maree and SA U/19 No 1, Lawrence Kuhn  will all be in contention for the totalled prize money of R24 000. On the Ladies front, SA No 2 and 3, Cheyna Tucker  and Lauren Siddall  will be seeded to contest the final but might find some tough challenges from EP’s Jacqui Ryder, Janet Byrnes and top SA Schoolgirl Kacey Leigh Dodd.
With the backing from Frontline, the tournament  is set to establish itself as one of the premier squash tournaments in the country and, hopefully,  fully fledged PSA ranking status will be awarded which will then  entice international stars to our shores.
Much, however will depend on the support of the PE squash players and public. Sadly, the Twizza Rhodes Open was very badly supported by EP players but hopefully they will make amends and enter ( there are 5 sections), and  fill the Exhibition Court which is being specially erected, as they watch and learn from some of the cream of South Africa’s squash crop.

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