The 2017 Canadian Squash Championship

I had the opportunity to go to Mayfair Lakeshore this past Friday and Saturday to watch the 2017 Canadian Squash Championships. What an incredible 2-days of squash. Having 2 athletes we sponsor in the semi-finals made it pretty exciting for me. We sponsor Mike McCue and Samantha Cornett. Mike was facing Andrew Schnell in the semi’s and Sam was facing Danielle Letourneau.

Mike’s match with Andrew was a big challenge for Mike. He has not beaten Andrew before and Andrew was the higher seeded player. Mike was seeded in the 3/4 position and Andrew Schnell was the #1 seed and defending National Champion. To make things even harder for Mike he had just played Andrew’s brother Graeme. Mike did beat Graeme in 4 games but they were extremely tough games with a match that had gone right around the 1-hour mark. Andrew had made relatively quick work of his quarter final opponent.

The match between Mike and Andrew was an incredibly grueling affair. I am constantly amazed at the court coverage of squash players of this level. In addition, how fit they are to be able to perform at this level over such a close 5-game battle is astounding. I truly believe the average club player would have been struggling fitness wise after the length, and intensity of the first few rallies. The 1st game was extremely close with nobody taking a big league. Andrew played the better squash at the end of it though and won it 11-9. It was Mike’s turn next though as he came back to take the 2nd game in extra points, 12-10. The pattern of close games continued with Mike taking the 3rd 11-8. Andrew though in the next game seemed to find himself and built a lead. Mike seemed to have perhaps lost a bit of focus. In the mid to late part of the game though Mike really found his game again and start to really press. He nearly got the game back to level before finally losing it 11-9. The score was now 2-2 and the 5th looked like it was going to an incredibly tense game. I know I was certainly tense as I was really hoping for Mike to pull the match out. Mike came out strong in the 5th, played a great game and managed to beat Andrew 11-7 and advance to the final. What amazed me the most about Mike’s performance was how focussed and calm he kept himself even in such a tense situation. Neither the pressure of the situation, or the pressure Andrew was putting on him phased him and Mike played up to his full potential in one of the biggest matches of his career. Not an easy thing to do. Congratulations Mike on making your first final! I hope it is the first of many.

On to Sam Cornett’s match. Sam was the #2 seed. She had won the Championship in 2015 but missed last years’ tournament due to injury. Danielle was ranked in the 3/4 spot. The match was very hard fought and close but Danielle seemed to be more of control of it and Sam was having to fight to stay in it. Danielle was really attacking well with some great variations and was taking the ball in short on the boast beautifully. She was really putting Sam under some immense pressure. Danielle went up 2-1 and up in the 4th game with several match balls. Sam played incredibly tough and fought off a couple of them. The last point unfortunately ended in a very hard stroke call against Sam. I was surprised and even some of the people near me that were cheering for Danielle seemed surprised that it was given as a stroke. You can be the judge if you like. As of writing this the video can be viewed below. It is a good match and worth watching. For the point in question pick the play up at 34:30 which is the start of the last point. While I was disappointed that the match ended on that call, Danielle had played extremely well to get to match ball. I was also impressed by Sam’s poise in this situation. I can only imagine how she felt losing the match on a call I am certain she believed was wrong but she handled herself with class. Of that I am not surprised. Sam Cornett is one of the truly great ambassadors for our sport.

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The second day I was there, Saturday was finals day and I was very excited for it. I was hoping for Mike to win his first National Championship. I was also hoping that Sam would win her 3/4 match. Sam seemed to struggle in her match against Nikki Todd. She once again showed her grit and determination though and fought back from 1 down and then again from 2-1 down to level the match up. The 5th game was a very close game as well but Sam managed to win it to finish 3rd. I would also like to congratulation Hollie Naughton who beat Danielle Letourneau in the final. Hollie won in 2016 as well so is a back to back Canadian Champion.

On to the final match to be played. The men’s final featuring Mike McCue versus Nick Sachvie. A 3/4 seed version the other 3/4 seed. The first game of Mike’s match against Nick was close in the beginning of it but Nick built a lead and closed it out well 11-7. The hard work that Mike had put in to get the final looked to have taken a toll on his legs. Nick on the other hand had won all his matches 3-0 and never really looked threatened in any of them. Nick went on to win the final 11-7, 11-5 and 11-5. A truly incredible performance by Nick Sachvie. I would like to congratulate him on winning the 2017 Canadian Squash Championship. There were a lot of people in the crowd that were very happy for Nick. While I was hoping for a McCue victory I too am very happy for Nick. He had a great season on the PSA tour and is now the 2017 Canadian Champion.

The lob and counter drop

Like many squash players I am a member of Squashskills.com and enjoy their training videos and programs a great deal. I have really enjoyed their focus on the lob and counter drop over the past couple of weeks. Covering these two shots in back to back weeks makes a lot of sense as you are in the same court position, at the front of the court for both. You also are in a similar body position for both shots and you hit both shots with your racquet out in front of you. Peter Nicol really does a great job in this video (Squashskills.com membership required) discussing how well the lob and counter drop complement each other. He focuses on the fact the counter drop takes the opponent deep in to the front corner and the cross-court lob takes them to opposite back corner. I want to focus on how having a good counter drop makes your lob easier and more effective. The opposite is true as well, having a great lob makes your counter drop easier and more effective. Continue reading

Time to get fit

Following up on our last post about Paul Coll today’s post is going to look at fitness. Squash is a tough game physically and being in good physical shape is imperative to performing at your top level. There are 4 key elements that I want to focus on. The 4 are endurance, core strength, flexibility and explosive power. The reason I am focusing on them now is twofold.  it is just about the new year so a lot of people will be making new years’ resolutions. I am also focusing on them now as I need to work on them myself! Watching Paul Coll’s run at the Channel VAS Championship a couple of weeks ago, really brought in to focus just how far athleticism can take you.

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Paul Coll – Superman the 2016 Channel VAS Champion

Paul Coll 2016 Channel VAS Champion

Photo credit to www.psaworldtour.com

What a great tournament Paul Coll had at the 2016 Channel VAS Championship. He put on an amazing display of athleticism and squash. Coll earned his nickname previously in large part due to his flying dives he made to get seemingly unplayable balls back. What impressed me the most with his play this tournament was how in control of his body he was. There was no need to dive. His movement to and from the ball was incredible. His tactics were also excellent. He was defensive when he needed to be and attacked when appropriate. The quality of his squash was also very impressive. Paul Coll really showed what a quality squash player he is at the Channel VAS Championship. Continue reading

A review of the Salming Kobra Indoor Court Shoes

When Salming first started marketing their Kobra line I was very excited about the shoes. I made sure we ordered them right away and we were one the first stores in North America to have them.  I was excited to not only get them in the store I was also excited to get a pair for myself. The previous pair of Salming shoes I had been using were the Viper and I was interested to see how they would compare. Things that I wanted to compare were how well they perform and comfortable they are.

Salming Kobra White Indoor Court Shoes Continue reading

Karim Abdel Gawad the 2016 PSA World Champion

Karim Abdel Gawad 2016 PSA World Champion

What a fantastic run Karim Abdel Gawad has had since the 2016/2017 season started. I have always enjoyed watching him play because he has such excellent control of the ball. The “Baby Faced Assassin” is such an appropriate nickname for Gawad. He looks so relaxed and casual but if you leave the ball loose the point is over. At the start of this year’s world championship tournament he was certainly one to watch but I don’t think he was a favourite to win. I know I was certainly expecting Mohamed Elshorbagy or Ramy Ashour to win. Gregory Gaultier and then perhaps Nick Matthew would have been my next picks. I was wrong in those picks and should have been picking Karim Abdel Gawad. Congratulations to Karim Abdel Gawad as he is the 2016 PSA World Champion! Continue reading

A Review of the Asics Gel-Fastball 2

The original Fastball were a well-received shoe for us. They were an excellent alternative to the Blast 6 for those that were looking for a lighter, lower profile shoe. They are indeed quite light and keep the player very close to the court. The Fastball 2 pick up right where the original Fastball left off. They are light, comfortable, low to the court and offer excellent lateral stability. Mike McCue, one of our sponsored athletes recently switched from the original Fastball to the new Fastball 2 and he was kind enough to provide feedback on them. Mike has played in Asics Blast 4, Blast 5, Blast 6, Blade 4 and the original Fastball so he is able to compare them to many of Asics most commonly used models for squash.

Here is Mike’s report on the Asics GEL Fastball 2:

“The Fastball 2 is the latest incarnation of the Asics model that bridges the gap between the ultra-light Blade and bulkier new Blast models. Having recently worn the Blade and Fastball 1’s, there was no major shock transitioning to the Fastball 2. There is more support in the metatarsal area, which had been a bit thin in the past and could lead to some foot pain. The mold also easily accommodated my slightly wide foot, which has sometimes been a problem as well. Despite this reinforced support, the shoe is still incredibly light and barely noticeable when moving around court, which is always a good sign. The break-in phase was minimal and there were no problems with slippery soles. The Fastball 2 is an obvious choice for anyone who has previously enjoyed Asics footwear, and a new option for those seeking more durability out of a high performance shoe.”

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A review of the Head Graphene XT Xenon 135 Slimbody AFP Squash Racquet

I decided I wHead Graphene XT Xenon 135 Slimbody AFP Squash Racquetanted to give a racquet with a smaller head a go again as I believe it compliments my game. My game is not a power game it is more about moving my opponent around the court. I like to volley, I like to take the ball short and I really like to lob. When I am playing well and having success it is generally because I am moving well and because my control of where the ball is going is on. I try to make the court big for my opponent by hitting in to the corners and by hitting in to open spaces. The Head Graphene XT Xenon 135 Slimbody AFP Squash Racquet is really designed for control. While Omar Mosaad, “The Hammer of Thor” can certainly crush the ball with this racquet (he used its predecessor last season) it is designed around control and not power.

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A Review of the Tecnifibre Dynergy AP 125 Squash Racquet

One of the racquets I have been most excited about receiving in the past little while was the new Tecnifibre Dynergy AP 125 Squash Racquet. I was excited to get in for a few reasons. First I thought the Arch Power (AP) technology would really add a new dimension to the Dynergy series of racquets. Having one of the most exciting players in the world, Miguel Angel Rodriguez playing with it I thought would add some real excitement to the racquet as well. It is also the first racquet that Tecnifibre strung with the new DNAMX 1.20 mm. I have taken the Tecnifibre Dynergy 125 AP Squash Racquet out for a hit a couple of times now. I really quite like it! It is quite good for hitting drives and also good on the volley. Touch was also good.

Flying Miguel Angel Rodrigues with Tecnifibre Dynergy 125 AP

When hitting drives I found that while being light it had enough mass to hit effective length shots. I believe that its slight head heavy balance of 355 mm helps the racquet in this department. Its puts enough of the racquets mass behind the ball to help with hitting length shots. I did find that there was a bit of give in the racquet that was most noticed on off centre hits. On balls hit in the sweet spot I really felt like that ball took off and that the racquet was providing excellent response.

On the volley I found this racquet really help me establishing a good volley to length game. As noted above I really found a lot of extra spring to the ball when catching the ball in the sweet spot. This allowed to allowed me to cut off even difficult balls to volley and keep the ball high and tight with a shorter swing while still get the ball to good length. Having the confidence to do this allowed to hold the T more effectively which is definitely a positive.

The touch of this racquet was good as well. I find with light racquets touch can sometimes be a bit tough as you can’t feel the racquet head as much in your hands. While light the Dynergy AP 125’s slightly head heavy balance moved enough weight up in to the head to allow me to feel the head of the racquet enough to control my short balls. This allowed me to play effective drops and counter drops.Tecnifibre Dynergy AP 125 Squash Racquet

One other aspect of the racquet that I think is worth touching on is the string pattern. The Tecnifibre Dynergy AP 125 features a 16 x 16 string pattern that fans out from the arch in the throat of the racquet. As such it is a fairly open string pattern through the hitting zone up through to the top of the head. This helps with producing power and spin which is a real asset of the racquet. It is similar in this regard to the Powerbite series from Prince although not quite as open. The Prince’s Powerbite series feature a 14 x 15 stringing pattern. It is worth noting that with the strings being spaced out as much as they are at the top of the head shear string breaks are a possibility. Shear breaks are when the string breaks right where the string meets the frame. This happens most commonly when a player takes a hard swing at a ball and misses the sweet spot and hits the ball right near the frame of the racquet. The less strings there are to absorb the blow the more likely a string is break.

The Tecnifibre Dynergy AP 125 Squash Racquet is a very nice racquet to play with. I found it be very responsive to balls hit in the sweet spot. It was good to hit drives with, good on the volley and also good from a touch perspective. For a player looking for a good overall racquet and for a racquet that rewards them for hitting the sweet spot and gives them a bit of feedback when they don’t this is a great fit.

To learn more about the Tecnifibre Dynergy AP 125 click on the View in Store link below!

Tecnifibre Dynergy AP 125 Squash Racquet

EC3D Compression Garments

I like many of you have seen both amateur and professional squash players using compression clothing on the squash court. For squash it is most commonly a calf sleeve or a long sock that comes up to just under the knee that is used. I had always wondered how beneficial they would be for an athlete. I did some reading on them to get an idea on the reasoning behind using them and what the purpose was. After my research I decided it was a good idea to add compressions garments to our product line-up here at Control the ‘T’ Sports.

ec3d Twist Compressoion SocksSo to start with how are compression calf sleeves or socks supposed to help? They are designed to increase oxygen flow and improve lactic acid clearance. Increased oxygen flow helps performance. It allows the athlete to perform better by improving muscle power and endurance. In squash this translates in to more speed around the court, for a longer period of time. Lactic acid build up can lead to delayed onset muscle stiffness commonly referred to as DOMS. It is quite common for squash players to feel DOMS the day after playing or training really hard.

My experience with using compression calf sleeves and socks has been very positive. The performance increase is really hard to measure for me. I believe I am moving around the court better since starting using them but it is hard for me to objectively measure that. Where I have found the most benefit in the sleeves and socks is in the recovery phase. I have found that I have been much less stiff in the calves since starting to use them. It has been a very noticeable difference.

EC3D CompressGo Universal Calf Sleeves BlackOne other aspect of them that I have found really beneficial is in wearing them before playing. I sit at a desk for hours at an end at work and I am certain doing so hurts circulation in my legs. It is common for people that sit at a desk for long stretches to suffer from poor leg circulation and even swelling in the legs. The best solution/prevention for me is to get out of my desk and get mobile, even briefly to get better circulation to my legs. Work can sometimes get in the way of that and I have definitely found wearing the long socks in particular to have really helped improve how my legs feel after sitting at my desk. I attribute this to improved blood circulation and in particular less buildup of lactic acid in my legs.

The line of compression garments we are carrying are from EC3D. EC3D is a Canadian based company. They have a full line of compression garments. Their product is not only used for sport but is used in medical applications as well. There are 3 core parts to EC3D’s compression garments. Medical grade compression, graduated compression and targeted compression zones.

From EC3D’s site:

Medical Grade Compression

“Compression is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg).To be considered Medical Grade,compression level must be 20 mmHg and over.”

This results in:

  • INCREASED BLOOD CIRCULATION
  • INCREASED MUSCLE OXYGENATION
  • REDUCED MUSCLE INFLAMMATION
  • LOWER RISK OF INJURY

Graduated Compression

“Strategic compression zones stabilizing key muscles and reducing muscle oscillation. Stabilized muscles are able to relax so you’re able to stay in the game longer.”

This results in:

  • FASTER REMOVAL OF METABOLIC WASTE FOR BETTER RECOVERY
  • REDUCED FATIGUE DURING EXERCISE
  • INCREASED EFFICIENCY, ENDURANCE AND STRENGTH

Targeted Compression Zones

“Strategic compression zones stabilizing key muscles and reducing muscle oscillation. Stabilized muscles are able to relax so you’re able to stay in the game longer.”

This results in:

  • BETTER MUSCLE ALIGNMENT, POSTURE AND STABILITY
  • REDUCED MUSCLE OSCILLATION
  • STIMULATE BODY AWARNESS (PROPRIOCEPTION)
  • MORE POWER AND PRECISION

To check out our current selection of EC3D’s compression garment please click on the “View in store” button below!

EC3D Compression Socks and Sleeves at Control the 'T' Sports