The Exhibition: A Wholly Different Experience
By L-J Anjema © Dec 6, 2006
Laurens-Jan Anjema and SquashTalk LLC
|Put on the exhibition face … (photo ©Debra
NOW TWO PROS playing a fun match with spectacular shots,
strange angles and making jokes may not seem like a hard job for two
athletes who do nothing else then playing squash all day and every day.
However, let me give you an insight into the difficulties of playing
a good exhibition. When the ‘chemistry’ between the players
is not right and one takes the match a wee bit more serious then the
other, you got a problem.
I had this problem a long time ago when I played an exhibition in England
with a fellow pro. We played our second exhibition in a month after he
won the first one in a spectacular and entertaining 3-1. The second exhibition
was going horrible however as for some reason the chemistry that day
wasn’t right. There was no creative shot-making, there were no
jokes and there were way too many lets and strokes for a match which
was supposed to entertain a crowd of 150… It was like a last round
qualifying match on a back court in Pakistan!
After a long 70 minutes of unappealing and ugly squash the score is
13-all in the fifth game and I’m thinking: “Why doesn’t
he lie down??” the unwritten rule ‘you win one, I win one’ memorized
in the back of my mind. I finally win the match on a stroke (!) and ashamed
of the performance, a few hands clapping here and there, we walk off
to the changing room where the following conversation took place:
Me: “Wow man, this was like playing a local in Pakistan. What
happened? Why didn’t you lie down?”
Fellow pro: “Me, lie down?! I was waiting for you to take it
Me: “Come on, man. You beat me last time, now I beat you. It’s
only fair… Who cares anyway…”
Fellow pro: “I coach at this club, man. Would have been nice of
you to let me win in front of my pupils…”
I felt pretty stupid not knowing the fact that my fellow pro was indeed
the teaching pro at this club and that the majority of his pupils were
there to witness the skill and excellence (and a victory…) of
their local hero.
Yeah, that was pretty ugly.
Now we laugh about it.
The other difficult thing about playing a good exhibition is that it’s
completely different, almost the opposite, of playing a tournament match
where your priority, above all, is winning. Now you suddenly need to ‘open
up’ the game to make spectacular shots possible as opposed to playing
straight and tight (in a match) to PREVENT your opponent from playing
those shots. Now you suddenly need to jump, dive and look good every
rally whereas in tournament matches you try to conserve energy for when
All in all, it’s a difficult and extremely tiring affair but if
pulled of right, a very rewarding one.
(Written Tuesday 28th of November,, Philadelphia)
PSA Ranking 11-1-2008: #14
His website (www.princelj.com)