Monthly Archives: August 2012

Successful NSA Open

The National Squash Academy Open was held last week and it would be my first tournament in nearly two months. I had put in a good, consistent summer of training and was very anxious to finally get on court and see what improvements had been made. It was a nice change to be feeling 100% physically and take some rest days before the match, as summer training is very high volume and taxing on the body; you’re never quite fully recovered from your last session before you start a new one.

I was drawn against Tyler Hamilton, a fellow Canadian and opponent I’ve trained/played with often. I had never beaten him in a competitive match and had been thinking about the impending showdown every day since the draw came out a month before the event. I wanted to perform well at my home club, but more importantly wanted to prove to myself that I am indeed improving. I was extremely nervous the entire 24 hours before the match, which is a rare feeling for me. A poor performance would mean another first-round loss and a (seemingly) wasted summer of training. I tried to cope by visualizing well-played rallies and key points. Thankfully, I was able to positively translate this nervous energy. I forced a very high pace and got to a few more balls than I might normally reach. Tyler was off his game on the day, and these factors combined to a 3-0 win in under 25 minutes. I had a massive sense of relief and validation at achieving my goal.

In the quarterfinals I played Colin West, who ultimately finished second in the event. I continued in the same vein as the previous match, trying to keep the ball relatively tight and playing defense as needed. I was able to steal the first game, but Colin maintained a standard of play I could not match for long. Eventually I lost 3-1 in an hour, but again was pleased with my efforts.

As I thought about the tournament afterwards, I concluded that one of the keys to my win over Tyler was desperation; I brought a life-or-death attitude to the match, because I would not have been able to deal with the consequences of losing in my own mind. Leaving myself with no other options, I was able to perform at my best almost out of necessity. This desperation has been a common theme in many of my good performances in PSA matches, and I am going to try and reach that high level of intensity before all matches from now on.

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Asics Gel-Blast 4 Green Indoor Court Shoes

Buy the Asics Gel-Blast 4 Green Indoor Courts shoes from Control the 'T' SportsThey look great, feel great, and perform great!  The new colour of the Asics Gel-Blast 4 has been selling tremendously for us. Why?  It is simple, not only does the new colour look really incredible more importantly the shoes themselves are just tremendous.

The support they provide is second to none for squash. Squash is a very demanding game on your shoes and feet. We are constantly changing directions and need our shoes to perform well under these conditions.  The Asics Gel-Blast 4 excel at this.  They are by the best I have ever used for this.  They instill confidence in the player that they can plant their foot hard to stop and change direction and not have to worry about their shoes not being to handle the directional change.

Not only do they perform well they do so while providing excellent comfort.  The Asics Gel Blast series is noted for fitting like a glove and the 4 is no different.  The Gel system almost molds the shoe to your foot while providing excellent cushioning in the both fore and rear of the shoe.

The Asics Gel-Blast 4 have several improvements over there predecessors.  The addition of AHAR rubber around the toe-box really helps improve durability in this high wear area. The mesh upper greatly improves breathability of the shoe.

If you are looking for a pair of these great shoes click here.

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National Squash Academy Open 2012 – Mike McCue Wins His First Round Match

As mentioned in an earlier entry Mike McCue who blogs for us is playing in this year’s PSA 5K National Squash Academy Open.  Mike played his first match last night which I was lucky enough to see and he won convincingly!  Mike played Tyler Hamilton who is also from Canada.  Tyler is the higher ranked player ranked #170 in the world to Mike’s #197 ranking so this was a bit of an upset.

From the outset Mike was very focused on the task at hand.  This was evident in his demeanor even during the warm-up.  Once the match started Mike got off to a very quick start and never really looked back.  He put Tyler under a lot of pressure with some exceptional length.  There were several points won on straight length balls that Tyler looked to play early, decided not to because they were just too tight to the side wall and let them pass only to watch them die in the back court nick.  Tyler was clearly not having one his better days on court but part of that was due to the quality of Mike’s shots.

When Mike was put under some pressure by Tyler he was able to play some good defensive squash.  He covered the court very well.  Tyler was able to play some nice tight drop shots in to the front but Mike covered them well and was able to get the ball behind Tyler even from this difficult position consistently.  When Mike was given a good chance to attack he was able to either put Tyler under a great deal of pressure or hit some great outright winners.

Mike won the first two games convincingly but winning the match is not always as easy. I know Mike well enough to know how much he wanted the result.  He wanted the win.  He is at the beginning of his PSA career and training extremely hard.  Playing in these challenger tournaments is tough.  They are hard to get in to and with a bad result it is one match and out.  Knowing how much Mike wanted to win the match I was really hoping he could close it out.  Mike managed to maintain is focus brilliantly in the last game.  Even when there was some discussion with the ref by Tyler about a call you could still see the focus on Mike’s face the same as you could early in the match.  It is very important in situations like these to maintain that focus.  It is easy to let up a bit when you are up two games and your opponent is struggling.  Letting up though can result in your opponent getting back in to the game and finding some form. This can lead to a momentum switch and really put the pressure back on the guy who controlling play early.  Tyler pressed back a bit late in the third game but Mike was having none of it.  He closed out the match and moved on to the second round match where he will play Colin West.

Congratulations Mike on a well-deserved victory!


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Dunlop Biomimetic Max 2012 Squash Racquet Review

Dunlop Biomimetic Max 2012 Squash Racquet

As you can see from the image above this is the racquet that Dunlop has marketed Ramy Ashour as playing with for the upcoming season.  The new PSA squash season starts up soon and I look forward to watching it on and one of the things I will be watching for is what racquet is Ramy Ashour using.

To purchase the Dunlop Biomimetic Max please click here.

Now on to the review of this racquet.

Dunlop Biomimetic MAx 2012 Squash Racquet Review

I have had a couple of chances now to get on court with the Dunlop Biomimetic Max 2012 and have compared it to the original Biomimetic Max as well as just coming up with an opinion of it unrelated to the original.

The specifications of the new Dunlop Biomimetic Max 2012 Squash Racquet are:

Frame Weight: 130g
Balance: Extra Head Light
Head Size: 500cm2
Stiffness: 80
String Pattern: 14×18 Powermax
String Tension: 20-30lbs
Construction: HM6 Carbon
String: Precision

There are 3 differences from the original Biomimetic Max – the Frame Weight, Balance, and Stiffness.  The new racquet is 10 grams lighter, the balance more head light, and slightly stiffer than the original; all 3 were actually noticeable when alternating hitting between the 2 racquets.  The 2012 edition definitely felt lighter in the hand and the balance was more towards the handle.  When swinging it the balance was quite evident.  You could really feel the racquet coming through quicker and what felt like the same swing between last year’s model left me ahead of the ball with the 2012 edition.  That took some adjustment but once that was made you could really feel how quick the racquet is.  The other difference this year as noted is the stiffness of it.  The 2012 edition is enhanced this year with Anatomic Construction which is designed to provide better torsional control on off centre hits.  The racquet did feel slightly stiffer than the original.

Overall the racquet has a lot of power due to its long main strings.  It is extremely quick due to its extra head light balance and overall light weight.  It is a fairly stiff racquet as well and does not flex much on normal hits or off centre hits.  It is definitely a different feel than the more traditional feel of the Dunlop racquet that you would in the Pro GTX series which is quite soft.  As it is very head light it does take some skill to not come through to the ball too quick. Once you have gotten past that though it is a great racquet.  Its quickness makes it great for quick volleys at the ‘T’.  Its power makes a good racquet for drives as well.  Overall if you like a stiff racquet that is head light and have good technique this is a great racquet.

Here is the marketing information from Dunlop:

The updated Dunlop Biomimetic Max Squash Racquet is an ideal racquet for any advanced/intermediate player looking for pure power.  The teardrop head shape provides long main strings for greater string deflection enhanced by Powermax string pattern.  Control and pin point precision is improved with the inclusion of Anatomic Construction technology which increases torsional stability during off centre shots.

The racquet is constructed with graphite and features Dunlop’s Biomimetic technology.  HM6 Carbon enhances the racquet feel, Aerogel technology reduces aerodynamic drag making the racquet faster through the air and the Gecko-Tac grip gives ultimate control in all conditions.

To purchase the Dunlop Biomimetic Max please click here.

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Mike McCue – In the Main Draw of the National Squash Academy Open 2012

Mike McCue who blogs for us is entered in the National Squash Academy Open 2012 that starts next week and we would like to wish him the best of luck.  Mike trains out of the National Squash Academy (NSA) so this is a tournament on his home court.  Many of the entrants in this tournament train out of the NSA.  Mike’s first match is against Tyler Hamilton a fellow Canadian.  It should be a very tough match.

I will be going to watch the first day of the tournament at least next Wednesday and expect to see Mike’s first match.  I definitely hope to be watching a win for Mike but I know for certain I will be watching some very high quality squash.   If you are in the Toronto, Ontario area this is definitely an event worth seeing.   Will this years top seed, Dane Sharp repeat as champion or will someone else take the title?

Good luck Mike!

To check out the draw click here


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Olympics/Back To Basics

This post will be a two-themed piece; I will briefly touch on the Olympics, and then get into a squash specific discussion.

The Olympic Games are currently in full swing in London and as always, squash is conspicuously absent. The pinnacle of world sport is happening while the world’s best squashers are toiling away on the back courts of the world in the midst of summer training. The absence of our game from the Olympics is still an elephant in the room whenever the topic of pro squash comes up in discussions with the average sports fan. Everyone knows it is a serious injustice to the sport; no need to reiterate the usual arguments. Furthermore, this Olympics has seen several controversies with regards to athletes giving their full effort and over-involved referees. This would never happen in squash.

Now onto some actual squash talk. Every player has come across a frustrating opponent who is not far better in overall level, but seems impossible to beat or even put under pressure. It feels like this play can read and control play, never get tired and win rallies at will. They seem invincible, only to be convincingly beaten in the next round by a higher class player. Suddenly your foil seems mediocre and has no answers. What is the cause of this distinct difference in standard? The answer is usually “basic game”. Slightly better length, fewer errors, more consistency and smoother movement. The player who is better in those four areas will feel comfortable with the pace and have confidence to win big points near the end of games. This should be encouraging, because it means that you probably don’t have to reinvent your game or hit shots like Ramy to take down your nemesis! If you watch any pro match, one player will usually look slightly more efficient and comfortable from the outset. Even if their opponent hits some explosive winners or has a few hot streaks, the calmer player will almost always win the match.

In summary, you can never spend too much time working on basics. The final 5% on each shot makes the difference between perfect width and clipping the sidewall, for example. Something that simple can make the difference between being in control and getting run ragged around the court.


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