28 June 2011


We've had so many examples with Ramy intercepting beyond reason, here for once he's been taken on the wrong foot. To achieve it El Shorabgy bended extremely and played the ball relatively late, close to his body. Such preparation generally suggests a drop, and as you do not stretch your arm to hit the ball, you can relatively easily flick the wrist late and go suddenly for a cross-court. So even if some coaches teach in general to stay away from the ball and to hit it as early as possible, to add a higher deception factor to your game, you might rather chose to allow the ball close and hide it with your body. This way you will hold the shot and have more options (creating more uncertainty to your opponent) and also more control if you chose to go for the drop. Of course, to increase even more your deception factor, it makes sense to hit the ball at times also early and straight forward without any deception. Just like in chess, you look to drive your opponent crazy, and to do so, you have to keep being unpredictable.


26 June 2011


The three referee system was definitely a wise thing to introduce to such a quick sport as squash. Three pair of eyes see more than one and the players are disabled to argue with one person - it's a committee they are facing. Situations like the below one - where the three referees make three different decisions - show the complexity of the referees' job. There are so many borderline decisions to make, therefore one of the most important principles is consistency. However, in the current case in my opinion the borderline was more between 'Let' or 'No Let', even if Willstop's shot was loosish, but it was way too fast and Shabana reacted too late to get a 'Stroke'. Funny acceptance of this funny situation both by Shabana who counts by name the different decisions and by Willstrop who notes somewhat sourly: "All different".


23 June 2011


You will definitely like the final trademark backhand volley into the nick by Ramy. But observe also the heights and the low pace of his shots in the early part of the rally. His first six shots are all lob-like, El Shorbagy either has no chance to volley it at all or can volley it only behind the service box without much harm. Lobbing the ball constantly will also make your opponent's 'T' position push back by a few feet, which is beneficial once you decide to go short. I remember Nick Matthew, when he had that unbeaten streak for a six months span in the first part of 2010, the only guy who made him doubt for a game and a half was Mohammed Abbas at the North American Open, employing exactly these tactics.


21 June 2011


The greatness of Amr Shabana consists in the mixture of simplicity and high creativity. We've been saying this already a couple of times: creativity and deception supposes you have also a steady basic game, otherwise your tricks will not work. Shabana is a master of both, and when you expect the trick, you'll get just a tough and tight basic length, whereas when you expect the basic length, you'll get unseen shots, just like this very rare angled crazy trickle boast. Observe it, remember it and employ it - not in every game though, not even in every match, but once in every 2-3 matches it might serve I guess - but only after having played already deep from the same position a couple of times earlier in the match. Extra note: it's funny that Shabana teaches a trickle-boast angle to James Willstrop, the master of trickle-boasts himself.


19 June 2011


WEEKEND BAGATELLE is a new series at No Let!, showing humorous or just strange situations from the pro squash circuit. Eventually we could have started with our previous post where John White produced that funny little scare to Gregory Gaultier. As for now: well, as far as I can judge, the majority of club players cheer for Shabana, Jonathon Power, Ramy, John White and Thierry Lincou. I've hardly ever heard that David Palmer would be someone's favourite player. I think people also look at sports as circus, and Palmer's personal appeal lacks maybe some charm. Well, myself I am almost a fan of his squash, of his steadiness, mental strength, shot selection, but one thing has always disturbed me: his clearing after playing  drop shots. A part from Anthony Ricketts and El Hindi, nobody blocks that much tendentiously in this situation. The below rally is a perfect demonstration of this, with the funny addition that Palmer, realizing maybe that he really exaggerated the blocking this time, thought it might have been useful to emphasize his action even after Gaultier was calling for 'let'. I guess Palmer intended to demonstrate his opponents behaviour, but instead - as Gaultier is all but a blocker - he ended up doing a slightly absurd self-parody.


17 June 2011


It's been always a pleasure to watch John White on court, as well for the quality and high entertainment factor of the squash as for the human aspects. He never refused any opportunity to make some fun; the below joke was slightly scary, as you don't want to be hit by anyone, and surely not by one of the hardest hitters ever. However, even the scared opponent, Gaultier appreciated the joke. We might appreciate the sportsmanship spirit even more knowing that all this happens in the middle of a main tournament, at 5:6 in the deciding fifth game! As far as I know the history of squash, it's been John White to introduce this kind of relaxed, funny and friendly attitude on court. And to become world #1 with this attitude deserves the highest ratings of our appreciation.


16 June 2011


Some time ago we've already featured a rally with Adrian Grant and Aamir Atlas Khan as a demonstration of the difference of high and low-elbowed racket-preparation. This time I refer to the bellow rally mostly because of what Peter Barker is explaining in the commentary box. He is reproaching Grant's racket-preparation not in technical but rather in tactical terms. He is saying that instead of looking to keep the racket-head in front of him in search for a volley he immediately positions the racket backwards. I feel this point is very true and concerns not only Adrian but in general the old-school British attitude (except Matthew and Willstrop of course). How many times do we see mediocre cross-courts that the player lets pass himself to hit it then off the re-bounce from the back-wall. Looking for the volley does not mean looking for cheap winners, you are welcome to hit it deep if you feel it's not time to go short, but if you have the opportunity to volley a ball just do it, it will take away time from your opponent, which means less recovery for his body between two shots and more uncertainty about where the ball goes as from the 'T' where you volley you have definitely more options than from the back of the court. As the volley is often a reaction-shot, without time or necessity for a back-swing, a firm wrist will help the precision of your shot. Therefore - to follow Peter Barker's suggestions - it makes sense to keep the wrist already cocked when the racket is in front of you whilst you wait for your opponents shot.


08 June 2011


Amr Shabana, Nick Matthew, Karim Darwish, Gregory Gaultier. And a bit back in time probably David Palmer, Thierry Lincou, Anthony Ricketts - these are the players Ramy Ashour has/had to give it his all to beat them. (And James Willstrop? Well, even though he has lost to him at a few occasions, in general Ramy looks deeply relaxed against James, just as at their last PSA meeting in New York this year January, where Ramy produced one of his most outrageous masterpieces in about only 30 minutes). But then, outside the top10, he just plays cat and mouse with his opponents. He just knows where the shot goes before his opponent plays the shot. And this is particularly amusing against someone as quick as Aamir Atlas Khan. No disrespect to Aamir - one of the quickest feet ever to run over a squash court - but there as very little he can do against the magician; as little as Alister Walker could in this older example.