Maybe your New Year's Resolution could be to open a Twitter account and follow https://www.twitter.com/BerkoSquashRbll - we post a tweet most days and our Friday ‘Did You Know’ series is becoming a social media sensation. Well, we are now up to 63 followers. Did you know that the Titanic had a squash court on board? Did you know that Elvis had a racquetball (US version of racketball) court built at Gracelands because he was a keen player? See what you’re missing?!
Finishing 2019 on a high
Well done to Corina Sampson for organising the inaugural WhatsApp Cup for squash boxes 11 to 20 on the Friday before Christmas, and congratulations to Lee Rowbotham for winning it! A great excuse for a few games and a few drinks - no need to wait for an official organised event. Contact Paul, Simon, Ed or Corina if you want to join their WhatsApp gang - it’s a great way of finding people to play when your fellow box players are all injured or on holiday. There is a similar WhatsApp group for squash boxes 3 to 10 - contact Fids if you want to join.
Starting 2020 with a bang
What’s happening in January? Well, pay attention and listen up.
The 2020 Club Champ details will be going live any day - keep checking your inbox. Finals Day will be Saturday 25th April - mark it in your diary now! A packed house for some excellent squash and squash57 will be a fun afternoon and early evening. And it's Spurs vs Arsenal on the TV! There will be body checks, blocking and contentious referee decisions everywhere you look - it will be fireworks throughout the clubhouse, you’d be mad not to be there.
At sometime in the next fortnight, the dark carpet in the corridor will be replaced with a light wood vinyl flooring to improve the sight of the ball on courts 5 and 6, which have the new glassback walls.
On Thursday 9th January, the 1st team have their first home match of 2020. Kick-off is 7:45pm. Come and see some fabulous squash for free. Arrange a game beforehand, or join in Mike’s Skills & Drills coach-led group training, and stay on with a drink in hand to see how you should be doing it next time you play. In fact, January is a bumper month for 1st team home matches. There is also a game next Thursday 16th January, and 2 weeks after that on Thursday 30th January. Grace will be playing in the first two of these, and we could well see Adam playing too. Adam made a winning return to the team at the end of 2019 and it seems to have rekindled his enjoyment of competitive squash.
If your game pales in comparison and you want to blame your racket for this gulf in performance, Adam now has the latest top-of-the-range Dunlop Hyperfibre rackets available on a try-before-you-buy basis from Dave and Nick at Berkhamsted Sports. Borrow the Ali Farag racket - you are sure to be able to replicate his game in your next box match.
The current round of boxes for both squash and squash57 finish on Sunday 26th January. But a word of warning not to leave your final game until that weekend. SquashSkills will be using our courts for a coaching camp on 25th and 26th January. There will be courts available before they start in the morning at 9:45am, when they break for lunch at 12:45, and when they finish for the day at 5pm. SquashSkills is an online coaching company who have used our facilities before - if you search for them on YouTube, they have published some excellent tips on how to improve your game that is applicable for all levels of ability.
BEST Academy and squash coaching
You will have seen Adam’s email at the weekend about the next block of scheduled coaching through to mid-February. In response to our general question about what might encourage more ladies to play squash, Grace will be taking a Ladies group on Saturday afternoons between 4 and 5. It's open to all abilities, including anyone who has never played before and is inquisitive about taking it up. Ladies, if your New Year’s Resolution is to tick-off 10,000 steps a day, don’t do that, do this! 45 minutes of squash will get you there.
Or try squash57. Bigger ball, bigger racket, bigger rallies! 45 minutes of squash57 will get you 6,000 steps.
If you followed the Men’s World Team Championships in Washington last month, you will have seen some brilliant matches. England came through an amazing semi-final battle with France, with Adrian Waller from Adam’s academy beating world #14 Gregoire Marche in a 5 game thriller. Unfortunately, they came up short against the number 1 seeds, Egypt, in the final, although Adrian did brilliantly take a game off the world #1 Ali Farag. The pro tour platinum events now move onto the Tournament of Champions in New York - on a glass court in Grand Central Station! - starting on Thursday.
2020 will be Grace’s first full year on the Women’s pro tour, and she starts off with the Edinburgh Open on 29th January. After leaving Uni last Summer, Grace broke into the world top 100, and we’ll be following her progress keenly this year.
Bar opening earlier on Saturdays
For a trial period Graham will be opening the bar earlier on Saturdays, from 2pm. The reason we mention it here is that it is partly linked to the Saturday afternoon Juniors group. Some of the Mums and Dads stay at the club while their children are on court between 2pm and 4pm. And it has also become quite a popular time for a few of our members to have a bit of a round-robin. It may not be quite wine-o-clock, but coffee and soft drinks are available! And it generally makes the whole place feel a bit more alive when the bar is open, Sky Sports is on the TV, and we have people milling around and enjoying our brilliant club.
Shirts and warm-up tops
John’s going to do one last order with Dunlop later this month, to sweep up a few people who missed out in 2019. It won’t be the cottage industry that he turned it into last time; nevertheless, if anyone wants anything (additional shirts to complete the set; a warm-up top to match; a pair of shorts to be fully on-brand), let him know (firstname.lastname@example.org).
That’s just about all for now. Enjoy your squash and squash57 in 2020! If you’re reading this because you have retained your membership even though you have let your involvement lapse, make this the month that you return to the court - we’d love to see you back!
We’re going to finish with (below) a draft calendar of some key events happening each month during the year to come. Some are just placeholders at the moment and there is a bit of artistic licence with some of the unannounced dates but, as you can see, there is always something to grab our attention!
Squash & Squash57 Committee
(John Shaw, Mark Shattock, Adam Fuller, Gill Trimmer, Rob Harbron)
Draft 2020 calendar:
Jan: Club Champs 1st round matches (everyone gets entered!)
Feb: British National Squash Masters (Ali? Steve?)
Mar: Canary Wharf Classic (usual BLT&SRC suspects will be there)
Apr: Club Champs Finals (will Grace disrupt the pattern of Adam vs Ali?)
May: John Cheshire Memorial Doubles (always fun and a great cause)
Jun: Bucks Summer Squash57 League starts (2 teams this year?)
Jul: Tring Mega Derby (we will make 2020 the resurrection of this)
Aug: Squash/Squash57 tour to Club La Santa (probably not, but it would be good)
Sep: Women’s Squash Week (nationwide event organised by England Squash)
Oct: World Squash Day (we may link it to a Fun Evening)
Nov: Tring PSA Pro Tournament (some world top 100 players, 10 mins away)
Dec: Herts County Champs (go on, enter - they do graded levels and masters)