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WP Squash

Contact PersonGlenda Erasmus

Tel:  021 674 6717
Fax: 021 674 6717
Email: administrator@wpsquash.co.za

WP Masters:
President: Andre Naude
Cel: 076-370-5436
Email: andrefnaude@yahoo.com
 

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HELL HATH NO FURY LIKE A WOMAN SCORNED

We all know that old adage, and some men (those with a smattering of wisdom) for safety, sanity and to protect their bank balances, still apply it to their daily living. But scorn or abuse a Squash Player, with a No Let, or, even worse, a Stroke, and you are equally as likely to be the receiver of ear bashings, eye drillings, and curses that may even threaten that mortal coil that Shakespeare mentioned somewhere in his wonderings.

 The schizophrenic nature of Squash Players is never more clearly illustrated when you compare the Friendly Game with no Marker or Referee to the League or Tournament game with Marker and/or Referee.  In the friendly game, players are happy and smiley, and double bounces, and clipped tins are volunteered while lets and strokes are offered with gay abandon. But, let a Marker in their life, and you endure and secure eternal strife. Now, the mere request for a let, opens up opportunity for a torrent of questioning, gesturing, about how idiotic the marker is and how paraplegic the opponent is. Glowering glares, mumbled mutters and sarcastic treacle-smeared threats spew from the mouths of two players, who just 30 minutes before were heartily chatting about their round of golf over the weekend. In another 30 minutes time, they will probably be gulping down a beer, planning a friendly “hack” next week and laughing about that imbecile sitting next to them who marked their game. That same idiot who had a far better view of the whole court, was not emotionally involved with the match at all, and was not plagued with perceptions misted by fatigue and desperation.

The position of a Squash Referee and Marker is not one to be envied, sought-after, and will seldom be found in one’s “still want to do” lists. Either, he is a lonely soul sitting on a baby-like High Chair, similar to those medieval petty thieves who found themselves in the stocks, waiting for a verbal torrent of rotten eggs and tomatoes. Or, he will find himself ensconced in the gallery or in the stand, amongst the partisan crowds, supporters, parents and coaches. Whichever decision he makes, will be 50% wrong, and will be met with head-shaking, mumbles and mournful moaning and criticism.

Pity those poor International Refs who sit amidst the mad Egyptians in top PSL matches.

Consequently, the scene before a League match frequently follows this scenario. Two players emerge onto the court, warm, stretched and bristling with competitive fervour. They start bashing the ball around. The area outside the court evacuates. The two, who have just played, limp off to stretch, shower, or grab a beer. The other “team-mates”, quietly snicker off to send an SMS, or answer a call, or check to see what talent is playing down at Court 7. After 5 minutes, (the official time allocated for the warm up), nobody has returned, and the 2 combatants, now eager to tear into each others’ physicality and psyche, are left, searching the corridors for someone they can abuse over the next 45 minutes or so.

Clearly, very few people like Marking or Refereeing. But it is a function and part of Squash that is not going to go away, and the sooner we embrace it, and become better at it, the easier our lives will become. It is also a very sad fact that squash will not be part of the next Olympics, largely because the Olympic officials could not believe how badly the top International players behaved when relating to the Markers and Referees.

So how do you become a good/respected/accepted Marker or Referee? Probably the best place to start is by reading the Rule Book. I would hesitate a guess that less than 5% of  provincial, and top league players have ever read this little “best seller”, and an even lower percentage of “normal” league players will have paged through this little literary wonder. The rules are fairly easy to understand and comprehend, but it is when you come to the interpretation of these rules at a stressful point in a match, that the squishy entanglement of guts and bones and intestines of this animal become a blur. Sadly, most players’ understanding and interpretations of the rules have come from garbled post-match discussions around the pub amongst a group of ill-informed participants which have resulted in a whole batch of Urban Myths which have come to populate our courts.

I somehow doubt that you are going to scurry off and go read the rule book, but at worst, try to read through Rules 12, which deals with Interference, Rule 15, the Duties of the Player - Yes, there are rules which dictate what you may or may not do on the court - and Rule 17, the Code of Conduct. A little bit of information can also be dangerous but a clear understanding of the 4 Freedoms to which the striker of the ball is entitled, will probably take you a lot closer to that Holy Grail.

  1. Freedom to have a Fair View of the ball after it has re-bounded from the front wall.
  2. Freedom to hit the ball with a reasonable swing.
  3. Freedom to play the ball directly to anywhere on the front wall.
  4. Freedom to an unobstructed direct access to the ball (after your opponents’ completion of his follow through)

Linked to these Freedoms is the understanding that the player makes every effort to clear the ball, and must make every effort to get to and play the ball - a common cancer amongst many of our local juniors who often lose out on winning opportunities as they desperately “fish” for strokes.

Let us quickly shatter some of those myths that swirl around the courts causing chaos and confusion.

  1. In the normal run of play, including service and service returns, if your shot which is heading towards the front wall hits your opponent, it is a stroke to you.
  2. If you have turned (moved around with the ball, or allowed it to move around you), and you strike your opponent with the ball - it is a stroke against you!
  3. Different rules DO NOT apply to the Service/Return of Service and the normal run of play.
  4. A stroke is NOT automatically awarded if there is contact with your opponent on your backswing. The decision and interpretation here should depend on how much interference there was? Were you “prevented” from playing your shot – probably a stroke! Was your shot merely “interfered” with – probably a “let”! And how much effort was your opponent making in moving away from the striking position?
  5. You are allowed to hit the ball between games.
  6. You must leave the court if you are bleeding, and stop the flow of blood.
  7. Code of Conduct penalties are being enforced and if you swear, throw your racquet, hit the ball unnecessarily in between rallies, or make excessive physical contact with your opponent you can have a point, a game or a match awarded against you.
  8. Taking your bags on court is not theoretically permitted but in South Africa it has become accepted. A stroke is not awarded against the person whose bag is struck.

As we head into League season, accept that nearly all rules concerning strokes vs lets are subject to interpretation and discretion, and therefore, you will not agree with every decision. In most cases in league the Marker and the Referee is the same person, but when a Let or a Stroke is awarded, that poor individual is wearing his Referee’s Hat. The Referee’s decision is Final. He can’t change it so there is no point in ranting and raving. Accept it and move on, and hope that he applies that rule consistently.

And finally if you are going be that idiotic imbecile who climbs up into the baby’s High Chair, make sure that you use a pen and paper to keep the score, speak clearly and loudly, commit yourself to the game, and concentrate on what is happening despite the fact there is some scrumptious skinner being discussed by that beautiful blonde at the bar. And finally, be consistent. Your understanding and interpretations may be faulty, but if you are consistent, at least the clever player will be able to work out how you see the game, and adjust his game to your calling!!

 
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