Thursday, March 18, 2010

Be Careful What You Wish For -- Squash Alive and Well at LA Fitness

What a difference a year makes -- I've written before how squash at the Lake Success, NY LA Fitness club has gone from empty courts to a solid squash membership. A year ago the courts were empty, few people played, and whenever I'd call for court time and ask what was available the front desk taking racquetball and squash court reservations would laugh, "any court you want anytime;" followed by "what exactly is squash?" It was around that time that we heard rumors that one of the two squash courts would be converted to a racketball court (sort of like devolution if you ask me). That was really worrisome, because it would be first one court then the other and then no squash for us, except playing in the City. My son and I spent years playing and paying in the City to the tune of thousands of dollars in court time, tolls, gas, driving and parking.

My son and I both coach so we decided to start making some things happen at the club. It's worked out so far beyond what we expected. We have literally an influx of players from racketball who have converted to squash. Some are really good. and will no doubt be even better as they play more and take some lessons. We match up players and I was doing many lessons each week and spending hours on the court, often hitting and just pointing things out about someone's game. And then people watch me and my son play and the fierce battles (in my own mind -- my son is playing in his head conditional games) we have and they like that, especially when I come off the court drenched in perspiration and breathing so hard I think my lungs will burts, "quite a good workout," they'll ask. To which I say, "the best there is."

We have a very active Saturday afternoon round robin that is very competitive, especially now that we've implemented a handicap system. The better players have to really play the points hard, because with a 5 point disadvantage in par scoring anything can happen. The energy is great and we don't charge -- it also gives me an opportunity to see my students play and see what we need to work on for the next lesson time. We've just now put together a league of our own fielding 5 teams of 3 players and 1 alternative. Juniors are assigned to a team and play the junior member of the opposing team. It's worked out very well and you can see players stepping outside their usual circle. The round robin has also spawned match play among players who played well against each other. Pooya and Faraz had a great round robin match last weekend, both solid 3.5 players +, they had long rallies, very structured points, they just fed into each other's games and it was very fun to watch. We also referee the match because my students came back from a tournament asking rules and referee questions, so best to just do some hands on refereeing with them during these matches.

So with all this activity, wouldn't you believe you just can't get a court now, they are booked 6 am until 10 pm every night! People are complaining, is this a good thing? We're beginning to eye the racketball court next to squash court 7, can you imagine now, "can I reserve a squash court for next Wednesday, 7 or 8 pm?", the front desk says, " Court 8, 8 pm is the last court available." I book it just happy to have that court. In the long run those complaining will welcome what's going on ... there will be a bigger pool of better players, better matches and better play. Wishes do somtimes come true.

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