New Hope for Old Crocks – A Cherry (puts you) on top.

As you will know if you read my last blog – I just had a very satisfying competition in Niagara on the Lake, Canada. Winning the Canadian nationals was a dream, especially considering that just a few months ago I thought my playing career was over.

A number of contributory factors conspired to put me at my competitive best in Canada. One of them was completely unplanned by me and was coincidental. But what a happy coincidence!

I had arranged to stop off with some good friends on my way up to Niagara from New York City. While I was there my friend Kirk mentioned to me a Cornell based enterprise that he had invested in. Usually when a friend starts telling be about an investment I am pretty skeptical – but Kirk is a shrewd cookie and so I was more open than I might normally be. Anyway he started talking to me about Tart Cherries and their extraordinary natural benefits.

The company he had invested in was now producing a range of Tart Cherry health drinks and so Kirk gave me a selection of the flavors and suggested that I try using them over the course of the tournament – drinking before during and after each match.

Kirk is a great friend, so I agreed to give it a go, although – if I am honest – I didn’t expect to experience any effect whatsoever. It tasted fine ‘though, so I could’t see any harm.

Off I went to Canada. I arrived at the event with my knee giving me some trouble. I had felt fine the previous weekend playing at the Rothenberg Big Apple Open but I guess pushing myself farther than I had been able to for sometime had produced a negative effect.

I played my first match at the Canadians – and really struggled. I couldn’t push off and anytime my opponent played a boast or took me long and then short – I was done.

I drank my Cheribundi – the Tart Cherry juice before during and after the match – and managed to hold on to win in what felt like pretty ugly style.

I then went to see Dr.  Joe Pelino (more on him in my next blog), a sports chiropractor resident at the White Oaks Resort and Conference Center where the event was being held and told him about my knee issues.

I didn’t think about the Tart Cherry juice – I had only just finished the match.

My next match was against my friend Andre Boissier. Andre is no slouch and with my knee issues, I was quite concerned. I had a full day’s rest and some treatment from Dr. Joe, but the knee was still tender every time I put my foot down and created pressure. In the event I didn’t play any worse than I had in the first round – no better – but certainly no worse and I managed to scrape through three hard games. Again I drank my Cheribundi before, during and after. And again I didn’t give it much thought – although the games against Andre had twisted and turned me a good deal and I knew that I would have a little glute and hamstring stiffness the next day. But a good warm up should alleviate that.

The next day was the semi-final against the number three seed, Dave Safton, from Calgary. I was quite concerned about this because the player he had beaten – Mike Blythe – I considered to be a good competitor – and Mike had lost in three close but straight games. Talking to Mike the evening before, I got the impression that Dave was in good shape and played a very good basic game. This gave me a mixture of thoughts. On the one hand he was fit – so that sounded like hard work physically. On the other hand he didn’t have much variety or deception, so that might be good for me if I could twist and turn him. I was concerned about my fitness – both in terms of muscle soreness and the injured knee. I would have to really prepare and warm up well.

The first surprise was when I got out of bed the next morning. I eased my legs onto the carpet and got ready to deal with the usual glute and hamstring pain as I stood up. Nothing….Weird. No matter how fit I am after two matches in tournament play and having been twisted around I ALWAYS have some muscle soreness. Now I started to wonder about Cheribundi.

I had breakfast (three and a half to four hours before my match for food), drank loads of water (to the point of having to pee every few minutes)  and then a couple of hours later headed to White Oaks to do my usual hour preparation for a serious tournament match: ten minutes raising the body temperature on the elliptical, ten minutes of dynamic stretching to loosen the squash specific movement muscles, ten minutes of light ghosting, ten minutes of solo drills if I can find somewhere to hit (I used a racquetball court this time) and then traveling back and forth to the court I am due to play on to check on the status of the match preceding.

Dave and I had a good match. On this occasion my pre-match assessment wasn’t too far off the mark. He was indeed in good shape and he did indeed hit very solid basic length. In the first two games I was able to bamboozle him with my trickery sufficiently to gain a small but consistent edge. After the second game however, Dave implemented a strategic change – he decided to really hit the ball early hard and deep. This worked well because it prevented me from getting in front of him to wrong foot and confuse him. I lost the third game and had to rethink my approach for the fourth. I determined that he could only attack me if I gave him ball to attack. If I played tight enough to the side wall, he would be limited in his options. This I was able to do and unfortunately for Dave, my tightness down the back hand wall was pretty immaculate – if I say so myself. As a result Dave was either trapped in the back or hit the ball back at himself. My movement was uninhibited – no muscle soreness – and peculiarly my damaged knee wasn’t causing me any trouble. Of course the treatment that Dr. Joe Pelino had given me two days before was likely coming into effect, but even considering this is was a little strange that I had NO negative effects.

I drank my Cheribundi.

The next morning I woke up and prepared for the ubiquitous fourth day of competition fatigue and muscle soreness. Or at least I wouldn’t have been surprised to feel them. But once again – NOTHING.

I followed the same pre-match eating, drinking  and warm up routine and got ready to face Dominic Hughes in the final. You’ve probably read my blog about the final so I won’t take you through the whole story again. Suffice to say, that we both did  our level best to physically, mentally and emotionally disembowel each other, while maintaining the honor and etiquette of the sport that we both believe in. In the end a single point separated us (it was actually 14-12 in the fifth not 16-14 as I earlier reported).

Not only have I not subjected my body – or rather had my body subjected to – the kind of physical torment that five hard fought games against one of the best players of his age in the world results in – I wasn’t physically capable of doing so for nearly a year. Suddenly out of a weird combination of a new sport – more on that in an upcoming blog – that helped me regain fitness without impact – sports specific training that I developed using a medicine ball – another upcoming blog – Dr. Joe Pelino’s “Active release” therapy – yet another upcoming blog and a funny little drink called Cheribundi – I am able to throw this  poor old body into the cement mixer – and come out smiling!

As you saw in the earlier account of the Canadian’s – I then traveled for 22 hours in a car and was able to spring out of it at the other end – WITH ABSOLUTELY NO STIFFNESS.

In fact I was pain free for a full 48 hours after the tournament. But having run out of Cheribundi, I guess the natural anti-inflammatory effects of the Tart Cherries wore off. Wednesday was a tough day on the coaching court as my body suddenly reminded me that I am, indeed, over 50.

Brother did I order my supply of Cheribundi quickly after that!

Anyway – this is my experience and I can’t guarantee that it will be the same experience that everyone has. But I certainly think it is worth a try. So much so that I am recommending Cheribundi to all my clients and followers.

You should certainly check out the research and other commentators – don’t just take my word for it – although it has made a big difference to me.

Here are some links that you may find useful:

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About millmansquash

Richard Millman, a world renowned Squash Professional, has trained children, high school students, and adults to achieve all levels of proficiency and realize the enjoyment they derive from squash. A multiple time National Coach for the United States, Richard has steered many teams to championships and successes! His students include British Junior Open Champion, Michelle Quibell, as well as multiple National junior and adult champions. With his wife Pat, England’s 2010 Captain of the Ladies over 55+ team, and 2010 US National Champion over 55, Richard brought his vision and enthusiasm for this sport to the United States. A regular contributor to Squash Magazine, Richard is also the co-author of "Raising Big Smiling Squash Kids," with Georgetta Morque, and "Angles, A Squash Anthology." Richard's 30 year love for Squash is infectious. His love for kids is infectious. Put these two loves together, and you can't help but want to get involved as well.

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