By Jay D. Prince
Hi. My name is Jay Prince, and I am a 4.5 player. There, I said it. I’m not 100% committed to it, but after losing in the quarterfinals of this year’s U.S. Skill Levels in the 4.5 division, the argument I’ve been trying to make for the past few years had a huge hole blown through it.
That argument would be with Kevin Klipstein, CEO of U.S. SQUASH. The gist of my point has been that players on the West Coast are undervalued compared to those in the East. While I still believe that is true, I guess I’ll have to tone it down a bit.
The Skill Level Championships have been the topic of conversation for a lot of people, particularly since they were separated from the Masters divisions a few years ago. I am not completely sold on the two events being split from each other, but given the difficulty of staging the combined tournament at more than just a couple locations (due to size), I have accepted the current status.
And I think some things will be clarified this summer regarding the breakdown of the individual skill levels. According to Kevin, there is momentum for adjusting the levels such that a 5.0 player would be anyone rated between 4.51 and 5.0 (as opposed to the current 4.76-5.25). Personally, I think that will make things easier to decipher and, of course, it will put me back into the 5.0. For those of you who questioned my entry in the 4.5 this year, I was rated as a 4.56 at the time of the event so that’s why I played in the 4.5.
More troubling to me, however, is a thread I’ve been following on the U.S. Squash online forum. An individual posted a complaint about the U.S. Skill Levels because there were junior players in the tournamnent. What? Why should that be a problem?
While there were a few juniors who played, the person singled out in the forum was Chloe Chemtob, a nice player with a lot of potential. Chloe played in the U.S. Junior Championships in March and lost in the quarterfinals of the Girls U13. In April, she entered the Women’s 3.5 Skill Levels and won the tournament. She didn’t lose a game in her four matches.
The last time I checked, the U.S. Skill Levels have never been limited to adult players only. So what’s the problem? Is it a bit awkward for an adult to be getting crushed by a young junior player? Maybe. A lot of us have been on both sides of that coin at some point in our sports lives. Was I happy about Christopher Jung beating me into submission at the ripe old age of 15? No. But he became a better player than me, so what was I supposed to do, go complain to random people about getting my you-know-what kicked by a kid? I don’t think so.
Okay, enough of my soapbox for this month. I’m hopeful of being able to proclaim myself as a 5.0 player by this time next year.
On an entirely different front, you may have noticed that this issue of Squash Magazine is Apr/May. For a variety of reasons, we have decided to alter our production schedule to better fit not only the squash season but also our capabilities. Do not worry, we will still print 10 issues each year. However, rather than combining the July/Aug and the Sep/Oct, we will now combine the Apr/May and Sep/Oct, with monthly issues in June, July and August.
Our primary reason for doing this is to make it possible to produce a “National Championships” edition each year. With the current tournament schedule of U.S. Squash, all of the big national events take place between late February and mid April. For the past few years, we have been holding the April issue for a few weeks to make it possible to include all of these national tournaments. Going forward, we will build this into our annual production schedule.
See you on the courts!