NASH Cup 2016 – Day 6 Recap

Nash Cup Friday 23rd September

Reporting Jay Francis

Well the NASH CUP 2016 is complete. The 9th for the men and the 4th for the women. The amateur draw was a huge success with 75 players and it was run on two venues. Over $5,000 was raised for the developmental squash programs (junior programs and the university teams). Tournaments like these do not happen without the support of all the sponsors and the members of the club, who embrace the tournament 100%.The Club has been packed since the 1st round of qualifying on Monday, how often can you say that? This has been the busiest Nash Cup yet according to Mr. Jay Nash – the driving force behind the event. We were blessed with an incredible women’s final with Danielle Letourneau winning 18-16 in the 5th game. It was definitely the most amazing women’s match ever seen at London Squash & Fitness Club. Basically every game going to extra points and full of tension, with the home crowd rooting for the 1st Canadian Female winner of the Nash Cup. And then there was the men’s final!! You can ready the summary’s written by Brad H. (aka Stingray) below for all the details.

It was a full house. Over 100 spectators were silent as they took in two of the best squash matches that could have been imagined….an incredible night

7:00pm Danielle Letourneau vs Misaki Kobayashi
Danielle wins 9-11,16-14,11-13,14-12,18-16(65mins)

day-6-kobayashi-vs-letourneauMatch Reporter Stingray Hanebury back in action. The beers are all free tonight. My Twitter followers made their voices heard. Thank you StinkyPants99 for your support.

The match begins and this reporter wasn’t here to see it, as he was picking up his Pulitzer Prize. However, he has it on good advice that the rallies were long and hard fought.

Misaki takes a good lead in the beginning and gets to 10-6, but Danielle battens down the hatches (I watched Pirates of the Caribbean last night) and after some long rallies forces several errors out of Misaki. At 10-8, Misaki digs in her heels (which likely hurt due to the nature of wooden floors) and manages to win on a stroke call.

London Squash club pro and all out terrific person, Jay Francis, hands this reporter his second complimentary beer. What a great guy.

Misaki begins the second game looking calm and relaxed. She clearly has a game strategy in mind and is not planning to deviate from it. Danielle, not happy with her performance at the beginning of the first game, looks ready to fight the first person that looks at her funny. This reporter advises avoiding eye contact, even if you’re watching on the stream. She’ll know. Oh, she’ll know.

Misaki gains a small lead early in the second game. Her quality of length is making it difficult for Danielle to get out of the back court.

This comment brought to you by Sleeman Beer. “Sleeman. It’s drinkable.”

In the later stages of the second game, Danielle battles back to a 6-9 deficit. She’s making Misaki work to maintain her T position. Three rallies later and she’s tied the game up 9-9 (known as “The Gretzky” in these parts). A tricky boast later and she finds herself with her first game ball, however Danielle is the victim of a similar shot the next rally. 10-10. The crowd is already predicting a 21-19 final score for this game. Good thing we don’t have a casino in London.

Down game ball in the second, Misaki tightens up a little and misses a few key opportunities, only to find a golden opening later on and hit a wonderful boast from the back that ties the game. One ‘no let’ later — opening the refs up to a great deal of heckling (they’re used to that around here) — and she has game ball. However, Danielle retaliates with two well executed shots in order to get game ball herself. Back and forth they go for several more rallies, until Misaki makes an unforced error off of the serve and give Danielle the second game.

While we wait in-between games, let’s give you some other results from the Amateur draw at the Nash Cup: I lost.

Back to the match.

With the games tied 1-1, the crowd becomes very boisterous waiting for the third game to start. Danielle enters the court early, perhaps letting Misaki know that she’s still feeling fresh and ready to run. Misaki plays on her phone for a while. There’s a lot of Pokemon in the vicinity of the squash club.

A hush goes over the crowd as the game begins. A literal hush. This place is silent.

The beginning of the third games sees Misaki take an early lead at 6-2. Danielle puts in a few good rallies herself and gets back to 4-6. Misaki clearly looks rattled and makes a few unforced errors, losing the majority of her lead. A suspect ‘No Let’ calls gives Danielle a tied game at 7-7.

Danielle, clearly a hockey fan, gets back to 9-9 in order to say she had a Gretzky.

The game goes extra points with Misaki winning 13-11.

The crowd is very divided in who in they want to win. It’s like the USA presidential election. Only in this case both players are likeable and honest.

Misaki the first one on court. She practices hitting forehand nicks. This reporter hit a forehand nick once. He still talks about it.

The fourth game is back and forth with no player gaining much of an advantage. Danielle makes several unforced errors, giving Misaki a 6-4 lead. The short rallies are not doing much to help her game, which normally favours longer rallies and more attritional squash.

The players continue with short rallies, trading points until they get to ANOTHER Gretzky 9-9. Danielle misses a key shot and gives Misaki her first match ball. A No Let call ties the game at 10-10. A lucky nick in the next rally and Danielle is up 11-10. With writing this descriptive, you don’t even need to watch the match!

Misaki ties the game up again at 11-11, only to hit a poor drop into the tin. A quirky ‘lob boast’ and a smash backhand winner later, sees Danielle taking the fourth game 13-11.

The fifth game begins, but this reporter’s beer is empty and he has yet to receive a replacement, so he will not be reporting on the match. Such wonderful squash. Some of the best this reporter has ever seen. Such a shame it will never be put into words. He just got a beer. It’s 1-0 Danielle. This reporter may have overstated the quality of the first rally.

4-4 in the fifth game and both players are showing a bit of impatience, the refs join in as well, giving a No Let to Misaki on a controversial shot.

After a lovely forehand winner and an unforced error from Danielle, Misaki goes up 6-4. Danielle, feeling the support of her home crowd, fights back and ties the game up at 6-6.

At 9-9 the players get yet another Gretzky. Not since the fabled 2009 match of Mick Joint vs. Brad Hanebury has anyone seen this many 9-9 scores in a match.

Danielle gets the first match ball, only to lose it on a stroke call. 10-10. She comes out strong the next rally, but hits an unforced error into the tin from a winning position.

Two unforced errors from Misaki give Danielle her second match ball at 12-11. The crowd goes silent. A ‘No Let’ and Misaki ties the game 12-12.

13-12 and Danielle has her next match ball, but Misaki has a wonderful retrieval and ties it up again. Another No Let call and a good width cross court sees Misaki with her second match ball of the night. A long rally sees Misaki try to force a boast winner, which barely clips the tin.
14-14 and the players reset. A gutsy volley winner drop from Danielle gives her another match ball. A clutch boast from Misaki that rolls out in the front ties the game up again. More wonderful squash and the game is 16-16, but Danielle comes back with a winner off the serve to get 17-16. Misaki misses the serve and Danielle takes the match 18-16.

On the way out of the court, she receives a standing ovation from the crowd, giving ‘high fives’ to the crowd on the way past. Possibly the biggest win of her career thus far.

Danielle: Beer tastes amazing right now! My biggest tournament win ever. My 1st 10k victory. Am still a bit of a daze at this moment , beating the number 2,3 & 4 seeds including 2 Canadian ladies is amazing. I was very focused the entire tournament and just kept my head down and played squash. Am happy to have just ground it out at the end, obviously one of those matches with basically every game a tiebreak, so it could go either way! Felt fine physically even at the end, the adrenaline and the crowd just kept me going, when there’s so much energy from the crowd you don’t even feel your body. The home crowd helps so much it’s amazing. My ranking could go up to the low 50’s, which can make such a difference in draws and which tournaments I get in. I’m 3rd reserve for the US open, so need some things to happen to have a chance of getting in. The Nash Cup is truly amazing, I’ve always loved coming here, there’s always so much going on and loads of fun. It’s such a community here. Pro/am doubles, kids clinics, bbq’s, parties every night, the lightening round this evening, It’s so cool having a full crowd from the 1st round of qualifying – which we don’t always get! 1st Canadian female winner so that’s just awesome! Time for some fun!
8:30pm Diego Elias vs Declan James
Declan wins 11-9,11-5,2-11,6-11,11-6(90mins)

Match reporter Stingray Hanebury back again. Sorry.

This match is highly anticipated from the club, with the betting evenly split between Diego — The Big Kahuna — and Declan.

day-6-elias-vs-jamesThe two have never played before, The beginning of the game sees the players feeling each other out. The Big Kahuna takes an early lead 4-2 on some unforced errors by Declan. Declan, shutting the court down and patiently waiting for some openings, ties the game at 5-5. A controversial let call has The Big Kahuna miming some actions on the court. The refs don’t seem to understand what he’s going on about. We’re quite uncultured here in London, Ontario.

At 6-5, The Big Kahuna performs some wrist maneuvers in an attempt to fool Declan, but it doesn’t work quite as intended and the rally ends in a Let.

A very long rally ensues. Declan hits what is through to be a clear winner, but The Big Kahuna manages to retrieve it and continue on for 20 more shots, running corner-to-corner. Declan wins the point, eventually, and stands before the audience, arms raised, perhaps in awe of his opponent’s retrieval ability?

A stroke call at 8-8 gives Declan a 9-8 lead. One more point for the Big Kahuna and we have ourselves another Gretzky!

And there we have it. Another Gretzky. Goes to show that even people outside of Canada love their Hockey.

Declan scores the next point and gets to 10-9, the first game ball of the match. An extremely controversial Stroke call gives Declan the game. The Big Kahuna looks confused and argues with the refs for the next minute. The crowd is not quite sure what happened, but at least the bar is back open so they can get another beer.

The second game begins and this reporter is wondering if The Big Kahuna will be able to recover himself mentally after the disappointing end of the first game.

A very long rally early on and The Big Kahuna opens the court up with several attacking shots. As the pressure builds, Declan eventually cracks and hits an unforced error into the tin. He is not overly upset however, as he knows the The Big Kahuna put in a great deal more work in the rally than he did.

Another long rally and Declan hits yet another unforced error. The Big Kahuna gets a 4-2 lead.

The following rally ends with another strange call from the refs with a No Let to The Big Kahuan. This reporter suspects the refs of also sampling of the Sleeman’s beer. Investigation is underway.

Two more rally’s and two more calls later and The Big Kahuna is the recipient of some difficult calls. He retaliates with a wonderful winner off of the next serve and nearly tie the game.

Declan runs away with the game and gains a 9-5 lead. He follows this up by hitting a lucky serve that rolls out in the back court. The Big Kahuna can blame that one on the contractors who did the floors at London Squash. We’ll send him their names and addresses after the match.

The third game is underwear (that was supposed to be ‘under way’ but was auto corrected. It’s funny so I’m leaving it in for the bizarre mental image). The Big Kahuna knows he needs to respond with a strong start.

Early in the game, The Big Kahuna receives another tough No Let call. He becomes visibly angered. He’ll need to collect himself and understand that the refs now use a Magic 8 Ball.

He manages to calm down and plays some smarty squash, closing the court down and waiting for his openings.

In another bizarre rally, the refs call a ball of Declan’s down, only to reverse the decision post rally. Looks like they shook that Magic 8 Ball one too many times (just kidding guys!)

The Big Kahuna rebounds with a rally that ends in a fantastic (fantastic!) winner. Declan, in a fit of Hulk Strength, breaks the handle of his racquet attempting to retrieve the ball.

Following the racquet break, Declan suffers a lapse in concentration, giving The Big Kahuna a 7-2 lead. The Big Kahuna rides the wave of his lead and wins the game 11-2.

The Big Kahuna, knowing he has the momentum on his side, begins the fourth game with well paced length followed up with excellent finishing shots. He takes an early lead 4-1.

Declan finds his length and comes back to 3-4 down, but after playing a well calculated point he clips a tin on a volley drop. It’s like watching me out there.

To get up 7-3, The Big Kahuna hits a back court nick. I guess in-between games he phoned up the court contractors.

The next rallies have Declan pulling back and saving his energy for a fifth game. The Big Kahuna wins the game 11-6.

The fifth game is about the start and the crowd is at odds over who will take it. The Big Kahuan or Declan or myself? Declan needs to regain his intensity if he wants to have any chance of winning. Possibly he is suffering some fatigue from his previous matches, but more than likely it’s all mental at this point.

The start of the fifth has Declan up 2-0, although four Lets happened in-between. Both players appear cautious and unwilling to be the first person to open up the court. This style of squash would seem to favour Declan, who is known for being able to consistently hit tight, straight rails. The pace has also significantly slowed down. Possibly due to the ball having been punished through four long games, but also possibly a strategic decision by one or both of the players.

At 3-0 Declan, The Big Kahuna’s arm cramps up apparently after receiving a bump earlier by Declan. He now is able to take three minutes to rest the arm and see if he can continue.

This short break brought to you by Advil. The only reason most of us can continue playing squash.

The Big Kahuna returns to the court with much applause from the crowd. They are looking forward to a banger of a fifth game (I heard one of the English players use that term).

After the break, Declan continues hitting excellent length, preventing The Big Kahuna from opening up the court. He gets up 4-0. The following rally is of exhibition quality with both players sprinting across the court (at different times, obviously. That would be weird otherwise). It finally ends in a No Let for The Big Kahuna. 5-1 for Declan.

The noise level of the crowd raises several octaves. Is it the dramatic squash being displayed on court or the quantity of beer being served? This reporter only asks the questions.

Declan continues to apply pressure on The Big Kahuna via his tight game and finishes a point with a well position centre court pressure to get up 7-2. The Vegas bookies are getting nervous now and so is this reporter, as his free beer ends at the completion of the match.

The Big Kahuna needs to give himself a big push here. The crowd wants him to do it. They want to see a tight fifth game.

9-4 up and Declan is looking in charge. The Big Kahuna plays a drop shot in desperation and makes it. Still 5-9 down, he’ll need some more Tinkerbell fairy dust if he wants to win this match.

After two rallies ending in Lets, Declan hits a severe low crosscourt to win the point and get his first match ball.

The Big Kahuna fends off the point with some very gusty shots to get to 6-10. Still a ways to go.

The final rally and The Big Kahuan’s leg cramps up, leaving him unable to retrieve. Declan wins the point and the match. 11-6.

This reporter is now taking a vacation for twelve months. He’ll see you next year at the 2017 Nash Cup. Thanks again to the tournament referee, Mr. McGoo (just kidding!).

Declan: Feeling great, 2nd year as champion is amazing. Hope that I can comeback for the hat trick, (as long as your ranking is not too high for us palJ). Tonight was so tough against Diego, 90mins of attacking hard squash! We are both very young so I hope this is the first of many battles on the way to the top 10!. It’s been an amazing week here in London. What an amazing club an atmosphere. This is way ALL the players come back year after year and more and more come. The hospitality is amazing here, and my billet for the last 2 years, Nancy and Steve Tallon are just amazing. Thanks everybody and hope to see you next year.

day-6-the-finalistsThe NASH Cup is in the books…and what a week it’s been. It’s hard to put into words how strong the squash community is here and how much effort goes into putting this event on…..truly world class. The players are interviewed; trophies are given; and there are thanks given to the committee; staff; referees and sponsors. Each of the champion’s drinks from the cup and it’s announced that the event will return in 2017 for its 10th year (September 18-23). The tournament is over….but the evenings party has just begun.

Thank you to all who have posted these summaries, and to all who have read them.

2016 Photo Galleries