Monday, August 31, 2009

Squash Legacies

I have been truly blessed with a son that shares this long time passion of squash with me. Squash Fathers are put on this earth hopefully to pass on to their sons (and daughters too) this love and interest for what is the greatest game ever invented. I was at best a high B level player, a real dasher and basher, supremely fit which seemed to make up for the lack of overall technique. I used to take my son to the courts with me from the time he was two years old. He was still in diapers when he would sit transfixed watching me play. I once found him with one of those small umbrellas which you extend out swinging it against the couch reenacting a match he watched me play. I bought him at 3 years old the Dunlop child's squash racquet with the big sponge orange balls. We played games with that, I taught him racquet skills and footwork. He had his first lessons in Durham North Carolina at Metro Sports with Jim Masland, the former Harvard all American, top 100 touring pro, who became our good friend and remains so 20 years later. Jim recently visited us in New York stayed with us and played my son some matches. He has over the years visited us frequently and played and thrashed us, me more than my son. Jim is truly a genius at this game, he has studied it and broken it down into its most simplest forms in order to convey the complexity of this game. My son and I study this game and discuss squash endlessly with each other and anyone who will listen, in the same way Jim and I did for years. I learned so much about squash from Jim all of which I passed along to my son. So as I remember seeing Jim on court with my little boy so many years ago, I missed their recent match (unfortunately I was away on business). According to my son, Jim was fitter and playing better than the last time they played. Jim, now nearing 40, still has the pro level length and change of pace, but doesn't move quite as well to the front of the court. According to Jim, he lost a couple of games to my son and it really "pissed him off" -- he was pressured into mistakes. Jim is extremely competitive and gives nothing away on the court, so if he was pissed at my son taking games off of him it must have meant my son definitely improved. According to my son, the games were all very competitive and he could see his improvement since the last time he played Jim. There was tremendous respect on both their parts for each others game in the phone conversations I had with them after wards. My son has worked 6 hours a day training this summer for squash and the up coming season. But this posting is aptly dedicated to Jim Masland our great friend and whom we still greatly admire for his court mastery. It is also dedicated to my son's immense passion and love for this game that after so long is finally coming to him. I play my son some really tough matches now, tough on me, I had to lose 50 lbs to compete. When we serve it up I no longer see the boy on the court but a young man that reduces me simply to a dasher and basher (I think Mike Way, the great squash coach, coined this).

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