Letters February 2010

More PAR Bashing
As I sit having my second cup of coffee and easing into the day by reading the lastest edition of Squash Magazine I am struck by the continuing number of letters opposed to PAR 11.

So here I am adding my voice to the chorus of complaints. Please understand these comments are viewed from MY level in the sport, not the needs and benefits that might be perceived by higher ranked players, or tournament directors.

I generally don’t bother getting involved in such discussions, particularly when it is apparent that it will have no effect. Obviously the ship has sailed on HiHo, but here are a few thoughts on the topic.

First, based on the number of letters to the editor there has clearly been a majority opposed to the change. Now this just may be a matter of the ‘squeeky wheel’ getting all the attention, but the only voices I remember having been in favor have been pros.

Second, clearly the change has, and will continue to, alter the nature of the game. Conditioning, for the average player, has clearly been taken out of the equation. I consider myself an upper level 4.0 to lower level 4.5 player and at the advanced age of 55 still feel able to run around. Personally for me game one is part of the warm up. No longer. Now I am just getting into a match when it is over.

Other changes, as others have alluded to, the ‘come back’ has largely gone. When I get up a few points in a game even I find myself thinking, ‘OK, all I need to do here is exchange serves.’ A very different mindset.

This is possibly going to sound selfish, but I think it makes a point. I am now losing to players I normally haven’t. Why? Here’s my view. As I said, conditioning is not the issue. I’m a patient player, maybe I don’t have the talent or temperament to play more attacking squash. I’m continually told I need a drop shot! Accurate aggressive returns of service are now rewarded with a point, rather than just the serve. This is a clear incentive for players with the skill to pull it off to shoot, rather than rally.

Rightly or wrongly this prompted the following thought. Is this sport just going to become racquetball with a longer racket?

A third point, based on the letter from Richard Wynne in a recent copy of the magazine, and I hope you aren’t offended Richard. Actually I don’t find the change has affected my service delivery that much. Sure I have been bitten by an errant serve, who hasn’t. But wouldn’t it ultimately benefit a player’s skill level if they had to deal with the tougher shot, rather than being given an easier time of it. I get the frustration level of having to deal with 3 shot rallys, actually I am experiencing 2 shot rallys as my opponent, or myself, goes for a point and the serve on a loose serve by either player.

So as I sit here sipping my third cup of coffee!!! Who has been in favor of the change?

Seems to me like tournament directors seem happy with the change, after all their schedules are probably more predictable. Which possibly also adds a financial benefit that they can open the draws to a larger number of players.

Higher level players, I’m talking 6.0 and the pros, can make the case that it is easier for them in tournaments, after all the strain of playing several long matches really takes it out of you. Frankly these guys play a different game than the one I play, so perhaps they should have different rules.

OK that’s my two cents. RIP HiHo.

Tim Osborne
via Email

Continuing the dialog of scoring systems, our league of 50+ players at the Oakwood Athletic Club in Lafayette (CA) opted to conduct its Inhouse League with PAR 15 scoring. This was our response to the oft-cited brevity of matches, and is being widely embraced as a good solution now that we are well into our Winter season. Matches are of more reasonable length, and there’s enough time for momentum swings within each game. I for one like it because of my 35 years of hardball playing before switching, 15 years ago, to softball. I find myself very much at home with PAR 15, the psychology of the game is so similar to hardball that I “know” at any point in the match where I am with respect to cruising, struggling, or focusing on winning the next point. Now…if we could only bring back the two-serve rule.

An observation…I played a local tournament last weekend, with PAR 11, it’s the first tournament I’ve been at in many years where not only was the schedule “on time” but in fact courts were empty for embarrassingly long stretches of time on the busy Saturday. Is this good?

Jose Alonso
via Email

 Time for a Vote. As an older amateur player, I have been against Par scoring from the beginning for all the reasons that have been written in these last few issues. Around our club, the opinion is that US SQUASH messed up pushing this change through for amateurs, and do not want to change in order not to lose face. Let the advantages of Par scoring (whatever they are) be applied to the 5.5 and above players, and let the amateurs play our tournaments and league matches the way we most enjoy the sport. It was pathetic watching 15 minute matches in the recent tournament in New York in the 3.5 level.

As everyone in the room is saying to the Association that maybe you’ve had a bit too much to drink and should not drive home, maybe you should listen and take a cab.

I say bring it to a vote! Announce the vote in your next issue, tell us how to e-mail in a vote with our membership number, and let the politics of this end already.

Mark Fishbein
New York, NY