USA DEFEND QUADS TITLES

Pretoria, South Africa - USA captured the Quads title over Israel on Saturday in the ITF World Team Cup being played in Pretoria. The defending champions won the coveted wheelchair tennis title when they beat a spirited Israeli team 2-1. This is the seventh time that the American’s have captured the Quads title.
In the opening rubber, Israeli number two, Noam Gershony upset the world number 4, Nick Taylor 6-3 6-2 to give his side the early lead. USA then leveled matters when world no 1, David Wagner needed just 63 minutes to beat Shraga Weinberg 6-3 6-3. In the deciding doubles rubber the Americans regarded as the world’s top Quads doubles pairing were far too strong for the Israeli’s. Taylor and Wagner, Paralympics gold medal winners trounced Gershony and Boaz Kramer 6-2 6-0 to lift the title for USA.
“We are ecstatic over our victory” said Taylor. “This is the biggest event of the year for me personally and being part of the winning team is a real honour” continued Taylor.
Wagner admitted he was nervous going into his singles rubber after the USA had lost the opening match of the Tie. “it’s never easy having to go out knowing that you have to win to keep the Tie alive” said Wagner. “But knowing in the back of my mind we were favourites in the doubles, I had the confidence to pull off the win over Shraga.
Great Britain captured third place in the Quads section when they beat Canada 2-1.
Meanwhile Japan’s men’s team celebrated their promotion to World Group 1 when they convincingly beat USA 2-0 on Saturday to capture the World Group 2 title.


SA DEVOUR CHILE TO CLAIM BRONZE

Pretoria, South Africa - On a day that the world celebrated the Royal Wedding, South Africa’s men’s wheelchair team enjoyed their own momentous achievement by winning the bronze medal at the 27th ITF World Team Cup in Pretoria, South Africa, on Friday.
The Rainbow Nations’ warriors defeated Chile 2-1 in the Men’s World Group 2 third/fourth play-off in a contest which offered suspense right to the end.
Chile’s Francisco Cayulef dashed South Africa’s hopes at the start of the tie when he posted a straight-sets 6-2 6-3 win over Evans Maripa.Next up, South African Sydwell Mathonsi halted the Chilean charge when he claimed theopening set 6-2 in his clash against Robinsón Méndez but the South American fought-back bravely in the next to reduce the stalemate when he clinched the tie-break 7-6 (2).
Maripa and Mathonsi were spurred on by a large band of South African supporters as they set about attempting to clinch the rubber - and the gold medal, in the deciding doubles encounter.
Most of the games in the eventual two sets were fiercely contested before the SA pair Maripa / Mathonsi cried off with a 6-4 6-3 triumph in just under two hours.
In Men’s World Group I competition, unseeded France caused an upset in their semifinal clash against fourth-seeded Sweden, who were beaten 3-0.
The French upstarts will play top seeds, The Netherlands, in Sunday’s final. The Dutch posted a 3-0 win over Korea Republic in their semifinal clash.
There was more glory for the Dutch when their top-seeded women cracked the whip in their clash against the unseeded Swiss and ran out 3-0 victors in their World Group semifinal clash.
Second seeds Germany were extended in their 2-1 win over third seeds Great Britain and will have their work cut out to topple the awesome Dutch in Sunday’s women’s final.
On Saturday, top seeds USA, spearheaded by world No 1 David Wagner, play third-seeded Israel in the quad final. The Israelis scored an upset win over Great Britain in the semifinal round.
Team USA could be headed for a double if their men’s side, the second seeds, can deny top seeds Japan in the Men’s World Group 2 final, also on Saturday. The winner of the match will win automatic promotion to the elite Men’s World Group 1 next year.


HIGHS AND LOWS FOR SA WHEELCHAIR MEN

Pretoria, South Africa - South Africa’s men’s wheelchair side made history by reaching the semifinals at the 27th ITF World Team Cup in Pretoria, South Africa.

The sixth-seeded SA side, playing in the Men’s World Group 2 section, achieved the milestone in style with a 2-1 rubber win over the third seeds, Canada, thanks to a brilliant effort by their doubles pairing Evans Maripa and Sydwell Mathonsi who posted a thrilling 5-7 6-3 (10-2) win over Philippe Bedard and Corey Blatchford.

Earlier, South Africa and Canada had each won a singles match, which set up the doubles clash as the rubber-decider.

Mathonsi could not hide his elation after the historic doubles win, which meant that country had reached the semifinals for the first time since their debut nine years ago.

The wasn’t the best of matches in terms of entertainment but we ultimately won the match and that was great for Team South Africa,” said Mathonsi. “It will boost the confidence in the team ahead of our semifinal match against Japan.

Beating Canada is in itself an achievement and we were really playing against history so this will be one milestone Team South Africa will be very proud of.

Now that we’ve achieved this milestone it’s just a matter of the players building for the future. We’ll be looking to all our players to improve personal performances and our performance against Canada showed that we are capable of greater things.”

However, the SA side still appeared to be up in the Pretoria clouds when they rolled onto to court for the semifinal against Japan.

In the opening singles clash, Japan’s Takashi Sanada blew away Evans Maripa 6-1 6-2, while Mathonsi, in the after-glow of his doubles win against Canada, found the going uphill against the 7-5 6-1 winner Satoshi Saida, which saw the Japanese leap ahead 2-0 in the rubber.

South Africa’s Kgothatso Montjane continues to make a name for herself in the world of wheelchair tennis and yesterday she defeated Chile’s Mantonieta Ortiz 6-7(1) 6-3 6-0 in a Women’s World Group clash. With this victory she made significant moves to a top 10 world ranking.

Montjane’s teammate Rose van der Meer wasn’t quite to the task and was peppered with a show of power tennis by Chile’s Francisca Mardones, a 6-3 6-1 winner.
In a Junior Group A encounter, South Africa whitewashed their neighbours Zimbabwe 3-0.

US Men’s World Group 2 campaigners Jon Rydberg and Steve Welch overwhelmed Chile with a dashing display for a 3-0 rubber margin at the 27th ITF World Team Cup in Pretoria, South Africa, on Thursday.

The only hiccup along the way was that the all-conquering side dropped a set for the first time on their SA safari but the setback only seemed to fire Welch into all-out action.

In a quick-fire contest lasting 48 minutes Rydberg blew Cristian Aranda away with a 6-0 6-1 margin. Rydberg was into his stride at the outset and posted a steady stream of winners to either side of the court in a show of power tennis.

Welch was up next against Robinsón Méndez and he needed more time to see this Chilean off after he lost the first set, mainly as a result of a spate of unforced errors.

But he bounced back in championship fashion to claim the next two sets with a fine display of all-court skills for a 4-6 6-3 6-4 win.

Welch found his range midway through the second on the back of some big serves and once he reduced the stalemate he mixed up his game to keep his nose ahead in the deciding third set.

At the end he set up match point with a perfectly-placed lob which must have gutted Méndez just moments ahead of his demise.

And that touch of Welch wizardry reduced Méndez to tears after the customary end-of-match handshake.

I didn’t know too much about Méndez but the plan was to attack the ball early,” said Welch. “After I lost the first set I decided to go for it a little more to raise my levels (of play).

It was just a matter of managing my errors from that point onwards and he made it easier for me towards the end he made far more errors.”

Chile conceded the doubles clash, which gave the second-seeded US men more time to ponder their game plan ahead of Saturday’s final against second seeds Japan.

On the adjacent courts, the US powerhouse quad twin spearhead of Nick Taylor and David Wagner secured North American bragging rights by taking Canada’s best to the cleaners for a 3-0 whitewash.

Taylor disposed of Adrian Dielemang 6-1 6-0 and Wagner rolled over Hunter with a 6-1 6-2 scoreline.

There was misery in store for the Canadians in the doubles as the Taylor/Wagner duo finally sent them packing 6-0 6-1 in under an hour.

With this win the top-seeded US secured a final berth against perennial rivals, Great Britain, the second seeds.

There was great jubilation in the US camp after Ryan Nelson recorded his first WTC victory following his 6-1 6-1 win over Argentina’s Gonzalo Pascual. This personal Nelson milestone paved the way for a 2-1 rubber win over the never-say-die South Americans.

Shelby Baron never came into her own against 6-1 6-1 winner Ezequiel Casco but it was another chance for the green horn to cut her teeth on the WTC stage.

Baron, however, joined Nelson in the doubles contest and did their country proud as they scrambled a 6-7(1) 6-1 6-0 win over the Pascual/Casco pairing.

The two US rookies showed great composure when the pressure intensified later in the match. It also a great deal that they retained their focus and fed off each other’s inspiration as they staged a gallant, yet patient matchwinning fightback.


THE SPAR WOMEN’S CHALLENGE IS ABOUT MORE THAN RUNNING

Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa - Seventeen years into a democratic South Africa, domestic violence continues to be a scourge in our society.

Figures released by the Department of Justice indicate that one in four South African women are survivors of domestic violence. Even more disturbing is the number of women who are killed by an intimate partner. While the South African constitution is regarded as one of the best in the world, in the privacy of their homes, many women are still engaged in a desperate battle for survival.

Many women wishing to escape from an abusive relationship are faced with the problem of a lack of money and also the lack of a place to go. However, help is at hand in Nelson Mandela Bay, in the form of the Yokhuselo Haven, which provides safety and shelter for abused women and their children – and proceeds from the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge at King’s Beach on Saturday May 7 will go to help support the Haven.

Yokhuselo has two different homes, which cater for survivors at different stages of their crisis. Prospect Hill Crisis Centre, which is situated in central Nelson Mandela Bay, is the crisis centre. Victims stay here on a short-term basis – usually just one night. They are provided with food, clothing, a hot bath, and a warm bed and most important of all, safety.

While they are there, the supervisor will arrange for statements to be taken, as well as counselling and an evaluation by a social worker, who often recommends that the family be relocated to Yokhuselo’s second phase, The Haven. The Haven is a secret safe house, providing shelter for families who are in danger. While they are there, the families are provided with accommodation, clothing and three meals a day. They are also helped to obtain protection orders, receive ongoing counselling, and are assisted in finding work. Women often stay at the Haven for up to three months at no charge.

All this costs money, and you can help by taking part in the Challenge. You don’t have to run – walkers are very welcome – and for those who think 10km is too far, there is also the 5km Fun Run, which is open to all females over the age of nine.

Yokhuselo Haven’s senior supervisor, Lindsay Ziehl, has appealed to the women of the friendly city to take part and support the Haven. “Being an NGO, we rely on the generosity of the people of Nelson Mandela Bay,” she said. “The support of SPAR and the SPAR Women’s Challenge has been an amazing boost for us. I would like to applaud SPAR for supporting to eradicate the plight of abused women and children, and for their wonderful contribution and continued support.”

“The race is loads of fun, and you can have a fantastic day if you take the Challenge. I will certainly be putting on my trainers and getting out there. You get to meet so many people and the atmosphere is always friendly and happy.”

“It is always a day of fun and friendship and you can enjoy it even more knowing that you are helping to keep another woman safe from harm,” she said. “Remember, domestic violence knows no boundaries – it occurs in all communities, rich or poor, educated or illiterate, young or old. Do something to help these victims because who knows? The next time it might be you knocking on Yokhuselo’s door.”

Entry forms for the Challenge and Fun Run are available from all SPAR, KWIKSPAR and SUPERSPAR stores, or online at www.spar.co.za


DUTCH REIGN SUPREME AT WHEELCHAIR CUP

Pretoria, South Africa - The Dutch celebrated South Africa’s Freedom Day in style as their men’s and women’s teams crushed their opponents on the third day of the 2011 ITF Wheelchair Tennis World Team Cup, in Pretoria, on Wednesday.

The Netherlands top seeds overwhelmed eighth seeds Poland 3-0 in their men’s World Group 1 clash and their ladies, who headed the seeding in the Women’s World Group, did likewise against the Korea Republic.

In the Men’s World Group 2 competition, Japan and USA opened their bids to gain promotion back to the elite set of nations with 3-0 wins over Sri Lanka and Israel respectively.

South Africa’s Men’s World Group 2 team, seeded sixth, was up for a fight in their tie against third-seeded Canada.

The Canadians moved in with Philippe Bedard leading the charge against SA’s Evans Maripa. He took fright and double-faulted in his opening service game and was never able to recover from this setback. He suffered the same fate again in his third service game and he gifted the set 6-2 on a platter to the Canadian.

Maripa raised his hopes briefly in the next set when he broke Bedard in the fourth game of the next set but that was the last of his heroics as the Canadian broke back in the seventh and ninth games for a 6-2 6-4 match winning scoreline.

In a late afternoon showdown, Sydwell Mathonsi brought some cheer to the SA camp when he produced a spirited performance to defeat Canada’s Yann Mathieu 7-5 6-0, which reduced the tie to a 1-all stalemate.

The doubles encounter will be played on Thursday. In their other encounters the South African contingent suffered heavy losses.

The week’s grind is clearly taking its toll as the local teams failed to win a rubber and their lone match win came after Great Britain defaulted in the quads doubles after their management said their players were taking strain after battling with stomach illness.

Britain started off on a winning note despite a valiant fight by Lucas Sithole who captured the second set after Jamie Burdekin emerged victorious 7-4 in the first-set tie-break.

However, Sithole who had shown excellent form earlier in the week, failed to sustain his charge in the deciding set and Burdekin clinched the match 7-6(4) 2-6 6-4.

In the other singles match, Britain’s Antony Cotterill made light work of his clash against David Mathebula and won easily 6-1 6-1.

Britain decided against playing the doubles match but still emerged 2-1 victors in the rubber.

In the Junior Group A clash, the Spanish Armada moved in with a vengeance and moved down the SA challenge 3-0.

Roberto Chamizo defeated Gift Thabang Lakhanyane 6-0 6-0 and Donald Ramphadi enjoyed the dubious distinction of winning at least one game against Daniel Caverzachi who won 6-1 6-0 to give the Spanish a 2-0 lead in the rubber.

In the doubles clash, the Spanish found the going plain-sailing en route to a 6-0 6-0 win.

The all-conquering wheelchair quad triumvirate of David Wagner, Nick Taylor and Bryan Barten kept the US flag flying on a day when illness depleted America’s ranks at the 27th ITF World Team Cup in Pretoria, South Africa, on Wednesday.

Sweden became their latest victims as the quads ran out yet again 3-0 rubber winners.

An upset stomach restricted Taylor to spectator’s role but Bryan Barten stepped into his shoes with aplomb and the US quads side, after three rubbers, have yet to surrender one set.

Barten posted a 6-3 6-2 win over Christer Jansson after a tentative start which saw him drop service in the third game and trailed 1-2.

He showed composure to wage a patient fightback as the set wore on. The ploy worked well as he broke back in the fourth and later again in the eighth ahead of a 6-3 first-set win.

Jansson started off well enough by holding serve and then breaking in the next game. However, he was rendered helpless as his 2-0 lead disappear into the Pretoria skies after Barton bounced back in spectacular fashion to win the next six games on the trot for a 6-3 6-2 victory.

Wagner came down hard on Anders Hard and seemed but then switched to cruise-control mode en route to a 6-4 6-1 win.

Sweden brought in fresh legs, or wheels rather, when Marcus Jonsson teamed up with Hard for the doubles tie.

The Barten/Wagner pairing still proved far too strong as they cantered to 6-4 6-1 win.

The sheer weight of the US duo Jon Rydberg/Steve Welch proved overwhelming as Israel suffered a 3-0 tie loss.

Rydberg was absolute against against Israeli Haim Lev and won comfortably 6-1 6-3, and Steve Welch brushed aside a late show of resistance from Asaaf Stokol before he posted a 6-3 7-6 (8) win.

Rydberg and Welch seemed to enjoy the Israeli challenge in the doubles clash and there were times when their accuracy went awry.

The result was that on occasions they were pushed to hold serve but they emerged unscathed from their 6-3 6-2 triumph.

The US women came to grief in their match against Great Britain, the eventual 3-0 tie winners.

The problems struck long before the team reached the courts when Kaitlyn Verfuerth was laid low by a stomach illness.

Dana Mathewson made it on to the court but was overcome by illness and retired in the first set against Louise Hunt, who led 5-4 at the time.

Emmy Kaiser was up for the fight against Jordanne Whiley but she ran out of gas in the third set with the Brit winning 6-3 2-6 6-3.

Sadly, America had run out troops as the doubles clash came up and the Brits enjoyed a walk-over for sign off their 3-0 tie win.

The US juniors were poised for a good start in their Group A clash against The Netherlands as Ryan Nelson made all the early running against Florian de Boer, the eventual 7-6(3) 6-1 winner.

At one stage Nelson seemed to have the first set well in his grasp with a 5-2 lead but he allowed the Dutchman back into the match.

Losing the set seemed to drain Nelson’s resolve and it was reflected in the second-set 6-1 scoreline.

Next up rookie Shelby Baron brought the Dutch to book by posting a highly credible 6-0 6-4 win over Rody de Bie and the tie was delicately poised at 1-all when the doubles got under.

Kate Stuteville teamed up Nelson and De Boer was joined Diede de Groot and two sets later each side had lifted a set, which brought the dreaded tie-break into play.

This time there was no stopping the Dutch who emerged 2-1 tie victors courtesy of their 6-4 4-6 (10-6) doubles conquest.


JAPAN, USA HAVE A CHAMPIONSHIP LOOK ABOUT THEM

Pretoria, South Africa - Japan and USA were the stand-out performers on Tuesday at the 2011 ITF Wheelchair Tennis World Team Cup in Pretoria.

The No 1 seeds Japan and second-seeded Germany are the leading Men’s World Group 2 teams and both are on a mission to gain promotion to the elite Men’s World Group 1 next year.

Japan produced a clean slate with a 3-0 win over Asian neighbours Malaysia and America produced the same result against Italy.

All the leading sides in the Men’s World Group 1 section will be in action today after their rest day on Tuesday.

In the Women’s World Group, the eighth-seeded Spain and unseeded Switzerland wrapped up their matches on a victorious note, after bad light curtailed play on Monday.

The Spanish women beat Russia 2-1 and the Swiss scored an upset 2-1 win over the sixth seeds Belgium.

South Africa handed Greece a 3-0 whitewash in their Men’s World Group 2 clash.

It was an emphatic display over the more experienced Greece side who were among the stand-out performers three years ago when the showpiece was held in Italy.

The SA-Greece tie started out under cloudy skies but it turned out to be a great stage for Evans Maripa’s star to shine brightly as he lead the charge for the host nation.

Evans needed just 50 minutes to dispose of his Greek counterpart Aristomenis Nikolopoulos 6-0 6-1.

Greece’s Georgios Lazaridis was next in the firing line as South Africa’s No 2 Sydwell Mathonsi took aim in the next match.

Mathonsi traded heavily on a big serve which had Lazaridis under pressure from the start but as the match wound its course there was never any doubt who the eventual winner would be. Mathonsi too ended the match after 50 minutes with a 6-3 6-0 scoreline.

After a short break he returned to the fray to partner Marshall Marsh to roll over the Greek doubles pairing of Nikolopoulos and Lazaridis 6-0 6-1. The 3-0 tie win ended with a hefty 87.8% overall games won. Mathonsi, who on the winning side twice against Greece, was literally up in the clouds with South Africa’s performance.

It was a wonderful team effort and a really first-class performance,” said Mathonsi. “I tried to stay with game plan and tried to work hard right to the end. This performance will give us great confidence for our next matches.

In the doubles we had to be patient and I could not use my big serve there.

It was just a matter of being patient and keep getting the ball over the net.”

South Africa’s quads team were at the receiving end of a 3-0 hiding at the hands of Canada in their Group B encounter.

Lucas Sithole was first up against the Canadians and his opponent Sarah Hunter produced a measured performance as she wrapped up a 6-0 6-0 result.

Steven Kekai offered a greater measure of South African resistance but he too came unstuck against Canada’s Adrian Dieleman who clinched the match 6-0 6-1.

After their convincing singles display, the Canadians Dieleman and Gary Luker put in a workmanlike performance against Sithole and Kekai on their way to a 6-4 6-2 win to crown their 3-0 tie conquest over the tournament hosts.

Classy Jon Rydberg laid down the championship marker in the Men’s World Group 2 competition when the US side made it’s bow at the 2011 ITF Wheelchair Tennis World Team Cup on Tuesday.

Rydberg and his teammates had a vacation day on Monday but when they swung into action Morocco bore the full brunt of the US challenge, which is on a mission to win promotion to the elite Men’s World Group 1.

The Morocco No 1 Mohamed Bakhtali was blown away in a matter of 36 minutes as Rydberg swept to a 6-0 6-0 win.

It was just a smooth, solid performance and I was not trying to do too much,” said Rydberg afterwards. “It was a good chance to work on net play and when I had a chance I gave it stick.”

Rydberg’s cavalier approach made for a treat as his supporting US team mates lapped up his show of power tennis, laced with bouts of serve and volley.

Steve Welch was next up to continue the rout and Morocco’s Boukartacha Haj wilted under his 6-0 6-2 onslaught 53 minutes later.

Paul Moran stepped into the fray along with Rydberg to round off the 3-0 tie drubbing with a 6-0 6-2 triumph over Haj and Ayoub Ettali.

The impressive US quads side were made to work hard against Italy in their Group A clash, but they prevailed 3-0 in the end.

First up, Nick Taylor overcame an indifferent start and ground out a workmanlike performance for his 7-6(4) 7-5 win over Italy’s Antonio Raffaele.

David Wagner didn’t have it all his own way initially against Marco Innocenti but once he pocketed the first set 7-6 with a 7-4 tiebreak scoreline he wrapped up the second set fairly comfortably for an eventual 7-6(4) 6-1 win over the Italian.

Taylor was up for the kill in his power chair later again when he was joined by Bryan Barten for the doubles showdown against Innocenti and Giuseppe Polidori.

After a first-set breeze the Americans duo were stretched to the limits but they seemed to feed off the courtside support as they ran out 6-1 7-5 winners.

Wagner said afterwards the US team were mentally attuned for the week-long event and were wary of under-estimating opponents.

Wheelchair tennis has shown that anyone can beat anyone on any given day,” said Wagner. “Our team seem to have benefited from the play at Sun City last week, and I for one, have not been affected by the high altitude.

At a tournament such as this there can be many distractions so one can expect some testing times when you need to stay focused.”

Near the end of day, the US juniors ran into the Spanish Armada and were at the end of a 3-0 defeat in their Group A clash.

Spain’s juniors won the championship last year and their experience was in always in evidence as first Roberto Chamizo defeated Ryan Nelson 6-1 6-1 and then Daniel Caverzachi triumphed against rookie Shelby Baron 6-2 6-2.
The Spanish duo of Chamizo and Caverzachi rounded off with a 6-0 6-3 win as the US pairing Nelson and Baron went down fighting to the end.


PROTEAS PLAY IN TRI-NATIONS IN GABORONE

Botswana, South Africa - The SPAR South African netball team will get some much-needed match practice next week when they take part in a tri-nations series in Gaborone against Botswana and Singapore.

The three countries will be playing in the same pool at the World Netball Championships in Singapore in July, with Jamaica making up the fourth member of the pool. The teams that finish first and second will go through to the quarter finals of the tournament.

The Tri-nations tournament will be played on April 30 and May 1. The first match will be between Botswana and Singapore on Saturday morning, with South Africa taking on Botswana that afternoon. On Sunday morning, South Africa will play Singapore, and the tournament final will be played on Sunday afternoon, between the two teams with the most points.

South Africa, currently ranked sixth in the world, are the highest ranked team in the tri-nations, but head coach Elize Kotze will be taking nothing for granted. “It’s a good opportunity for us to flex our muscles and put into practice all the hard work we have been doing at our training camps,” she said.

“It will be an opportunity for all three teams to get the measure of the other teams, and the team that comes out top will have the confidence advantage when we go to the World Championships,” she said.

“It will also be an ideal opportunity for us to try out various combinations, and to see where we need to polish up our game.”


WHEELCHAIR BIG GUNS ADVANCE IN STYLE IN PRETORIA

Pretoria, South Africa - The top four seeded men’s sides all scored emphatic 3-0 wins on the opening day of the 2011 ITF Wheelchair Tennis World Team Cup in Pretoria, South Africa, on Monday.

The No 1 seeds, the Netherlands, led the charge in the Men’s World Group 1 by destroying European neighbours Germany 3-0 and the second seeded France followed suit in a later match with the same overall scoreline.

Great Britain, the third seeds, were much too strong for the Slovak Republic and the highly experienced Swedes rolled over Columbia without raising a sweat.

In the women’s World Group competition, the unseeded Americans caused an upset by whitewashing the fifth seeds, Chile, 3-0.

Much of the local focus centered on the 24-year-old Kgothatso Montjane, who provided South Africa with a great start when she defeated Germany’s Katharina Krueger 2-6 6-2 6-4.

The 20-year-old Krueger, the Germany’s number one, lead the charge for the tournament’s second seeds but she failed to reckon with the fighting resolve of the South African, who only a few day’s caught the eye with a straight-sets win over the German at Sun City during the SA Open.

Afterwards, the 20th world-ranked Montjane said her shot selection was the key to her victory over the 11th world-ranked Germany. “I made errors with some of my shots but overall I’m happy with my performance,” said Montjane. “When I looked back I think that although I made errors with my shot selection I persevered with my game plan and that saw me home later in the match.

This win will rank as one my best in my career, and now I’m just looking forward to the next match.”

At the start of the first set the players exchanged service breaks and scores were level at 2-all after four games but then Montjane suffered a lapse of form and failed to hold service in the rest of the set.

In the next set Montjane put her German opponent under pressure with a tremendous return of serve performance and the resultant pressure gave her two breaks of serve and the South African reduced the stalemate with a 6-2 margin.

A real dog-fight marked early play in the third set and after either suffered service breaks, normality was restored at 3-all.

After Montjane had run up a 5-4 lead on serve, she dug dig for a strong finish as she broke to round off a thrilling 2-6 6-2 6-4 victory over the German.

However, the rest of Montjane’s teammates could not repel the charge of the second-seeded Germans who took the honours in the remaining singles and doubles clashes to clinch the tie 2-1.

Earlier in the day, the 14-year-old South African Donald Ramphadi saw the ‘Rainbow Nation’ off to a great start in the juniors clash against the USA when he defeated Ryan Nelson 6-2 6-4 6-3.

Ramphadi looked the part in the first set but the American showed far more enterprise in the next and reeled off a series of forehand winners.

However, Ramphadi’s fine returns in the decisive set saw him break the American’s serve twice to run up an early 4—0 lead, which paid the way for his eventual 6-3 final-set scoreline.

The American juniors came back strongly in the remaining two matches to run out 2-1 overall winners.


SUPER SEVENTY FOR SONJA AS SHE RETURNS TO THE ROAD

Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa - One of South Africa’s most successful athletes of all time, Sonja Laxton, will have much to celebrate when she runs in the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge at King’s Beach in Port Elizabeth on May 7.

Laxton will be celebrating running her 70th SPAR Challenge – a record for this event. She will also be celebrating her return to competitive running, after being out of action since September because of a burst appendix followed by a back operation. “I’m so happy to be back and I’m especially happy that I will make my return in a SPAR race,” said Laxton.

“I love the Challenge races – it is wonderful to take part in a women’s only race, where you are not swamped by male runners, and the atmosphere in the Challenge races is always so friendly.”

She said that for many of the elite athletes, the Challenge races were as important as the national championships. “They are very competitive races, and SPAR are pretty generous with prize money, even in the age category sections, so many runners try to peak for the Challenge races.”

Laxton was also very pleased to be making her comeback in Port Elizabeth. “I spent my high school years in Port Elizabeth, at Pearson High, so I have a very soft spot for PE, and I always enjoy running in the Challenge there,” she said. “The course is a very good one – there’s a tough little hill after two kms, but otherwise it is a very nice course, and providing it isn’t too windy, you can usually do good times in PE.

“The atmosphere at the PE Challenge is always very good and PE certainly lives up to its reputation as the Friendly City,” said Laxton.

In a career spanning more than 45 years – she now competes as a grandmaster – Laxton claimed 70 national titles, on the track, on the road and in cross-country. She set 28 senior national records over the 1500m, mile, 3000m and 10 000m on the track, and over the half and full marathon distances on the road. She also set numerous SA age group and provincial records.

One of her greatest achievements was being the first South African to be awarded national colours in all three branches of running: track, road and cross country. “I just love running,” she said. “I really miss it when I can’t do it. It’s such a wonderful thing to do – if you travel, and you run, you get to see so much more if you go for a run in a strange city than you would from a car. And all you need for running is a pair of running shoes. You can buy all sorts of other things, but really it is a very cheap sport.”

Entry forms for the SPAR Women’s Challenge are available at all SPAR, SUPERSPAR and KWIKSPAR stores, or online at www.spar.co.za


EASTER TIME IS TENNIS TIME

Tshwane, Gauteng - ITF Wheelchair Tennis Assistant (Events/Projects) James Hamill-Reeves has announced that some of the 330 players from 44 nations that will contest the 27th edition of the Wheelchair Tennis World Team Cup (WTC), will start arriving in Pretoria today.
Just over 100 players from 19 countries have already been in the country since last week when they started out in the Wheelchair Tennis South African Open at Sun City.
The Wheelchair Tennis Team Cup, an ITF flagship wheelchair tennis event, runs from Sunday, April 24, to Sunday, May 1, on the hardcourts at the University of Pretoria.
Many of the players headed for South Africa’s executive capital city are seasoned journeymen and competing abroad in high altitude conditions hold no terrors for them.
“With this being the 27th edition of the WTC, most of the teams and players are used to travelling and dealing with all sorts (of challenges),” said Hamill-Reeves. “The teams hold no fear with regards to chair or any other technical problems that might arise.”
The eight-day event, which gets under way on Easter Sunday, has been dubbed “Easter Time is Tennis Time” by the tournament publicists.
This will be the first time that the world championship team event will be staged on African soil, and South Africa’s sporting fraternity can take a bow for hosting yet another world first for the continent, just months after staging the FIFA World Cup 2010.
Jacaranda City, as Pretoria is popularly known, has already hosted many international events in the past, and the University of Pretoria’s modern sports complex includes 22 tennis courts.
The men’s defending champions, Sweden, will be led by coach Toni Gustavsson who was voted the International Wheelchair Tennis Association’s “Coach of the Year”.
Their No 1, Stefan Olsson, will lead the charge on court and is ranked No 4 in the world presently.
The Netherlands are the defending women’s champions and their hopes rest heavily on the shoulders of the celebrated Ester Vergeer, a two-time Laureus award winner.
The sports Oscar-winning Vergeer is the world No 1 and she continues to dominate female wheelchair tennis after an unbeaten streak spanning several years now.
Hamill-Reeves anticipates that the competition will be keener than ever because of the proposed change in format for qualifying next year.
“The most defining factor of this year’s WTC is that from 2012 we are introducing a new format to the competition with the reduction of the Men’s World Groups 1 and 2 and the Women’s World Group from 16 to 12 teams each,” said Hamill-Reeves. “This will mean that if teams do not finish high enough they will have to participate in regional qualifications next year in order to try and qualify.
“This really is the big incentive and what we think will make the competition very strong this year.
“The men’s WG1 will be, we think, a three-horse race between defending champs Sweden, Netherlands and France.
“In men’s WG2, Japan have come with one top-10 and one top-20 player so they will be a strong favourite to get promotion to WG1.
“The Netherlands women’s team will be once again be strong favourites to retain their title that they have held for the last 11 years.
“The Quad draw is very strong this year with the US, GBR and ISR all leading contenders for the title.
“The Juniors once again will be very strong with the Dutch as favourites, as they have won the last three edition


VAN FINALLY LIFTS SOWETO TITLE

Herman Gibbs

Izak van der Merwe lifted the Soweto Open men’s title with a 6-7 (4) 7-5 6-4 win in dramatic fashion in an all-South African final against his Davis Cup team mate Rik de Voest at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre, in Jabavu, yesterday (SUBS: SUNDAY).
Earlier, the final was interrupted by rain but when play resumed in near darkness, Van der Merwe’s star shone brightly as he powered his way to victory with a dashing come-from-behind matchwinning effort.
The players rewarded the large Soweto crowd who braved the rain and long day’s programme by agreeing to play to the finish, or rather ‘to the death’, despite the failing light conditions yesterday evening.
The 2011 final was a magnificent stage for South African tennis who only a few weeks ago savoured a great moment when the Johannesburg-born Kevin Anderson managed to secure the SA Open title for the first time in over two decades when he triumphed in Gauteng.
De Voest and Van der Merwe finished runner-up in the 2009 and 2010 events respectively.


THE SOWETO TENNIS OPEN SUPPORTS PROTEA FRIDAY

Soweto, South Africa – Amanda Mynhardt, captain of the SPAR National Netball Team, conducted the coin toss ahead of the Soweto Open quarterfinal match between Rik de Voest from South Africa and Michal Pryzysiesny from Poland.

From left Michal Przysiezny(POL),The Chair Umpire Jon Blom(Aus), Proteas Captain Amanda Mynhardt and Rik De Voest (SA)
Picture by Reg Caldecott

Mynhardt was a guest of the tournament on “Protea Friday” endorsed by The Minister of Sport & Recreation which encourages South African’s to sport the netball Tees on Friday in support of the South African Netball Team who will be playing in the World Championships in Singapore in July. De Voest in a gesture of support wore the netball Tee for his match.

Netball tees are available at Sportsmans Warehouse or through the Netball South Africa offices on 011 344 5971.


DIE POORT LAERSKOOL COACHING CLINIC WITH ELIZE KOTZE

Kameelsdrift, South Africa - On 14 April 2011, Elize Kotze, head coach of the SPAR Proteas netball team, conducted a coaching clinic at Die Poort Laerskool in Kameelsdrift Oos.


Pictures by: Ashleigh Morris

The clinic was aimed at coaching as well as providing netball up and comings with tips and tricks of how to best play the beautiful game.


SEEDS HANG ON FOR DEAR LIFE

Rain was the winner on yesterday’s fourth day of the 2011 Soweto Open as two cloudbursts disrupted play during the ITF Challenger ladies quarterfinals matches.

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VAN SENDS BRIT QUALIFIER PACKING

South Africa’s Izak van der Merwe reached the quarterfinals of the ATP Challenger Soweto Open quarterfinals by disposing of the British qualifier Chris Eaton 6-4 7-6 (3) at the at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre, in Jabavu, yesterday (SUBS: Wednesday).
Eaton had no answer to the allround court game of the fourth-seeded Van der Merwe, last year’s finalist, who finished strongly in a tie-break which he claimed handsomely 7-3, after a reeling off string of passing-shot winners.

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GO GREEN AND GOLD AND SUPPORT SA NETBALL

South Africa - South Africans from all walks of life donned football shirts last year, in support of the Fifa World Cup and Bafana Bafana on what came to be known as Football Fridays. Earlier this year, they put on cricket shirts to show support for the Proteas cricket team at the ICC World Cup in the sub-continent.

World Netball Championships squad members Nokuthula Qegu and Vanes-Mari Du Toit in the green and gold Magnificent Friday shirts next to vice-captain Nthabiseng Moabi and captain Amanda Mynhardt.

Picture by: Reg Caldecott

Those events are now things of the past, but there is another team needing the nation’s support as they prepare for the ultimate competition. Members of the SPAR Proteas netball team are hard at work preparing for the IFNA World Netball Championships in Singapore in July, and South Africans are being asked to show their support by wearing team t-shirts on Fridays until after the Championships.

This is part of the Magnificent Friday’s campaign announced earlier this year by Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, who called on the nation to get behind their sporting heroes.

South Africa won the silver medal at their first post-isolation appearance at the World Championships in Birmingham in 1995, beating New Zealand in the semi-finals and going down to Australia in the final. Since then, the team has not been quite as successful, although they have always reached the quarterfinals.

South Africa are currently ranked sixth in the world, and head coach Elize Kotze has her sights set firmly on a semi-final berth.

Netball South Africa (NSA) President Mimi Mthethwa welcomed the Magnificent Friday’s campaign, saying it was an effective tool to draw attention to netball as well as a platform for their main sponsor SPAR. “It should be particularly effective at school level, where the thousands of school children playing netball will be able to feel part of the national set-up,” she said. “We expect all the regions to host their own festivities to promote the campaign and to galvanise support for the Proteas, of whom we are very proud. “This campaign makes us realise that netball has really arrived on the big stage in South Africa.”

Proteas’ captain Amanda Mynhardt was very excited at the thought of Magnificent Fridays.
“Netball is the most popular women’s sport in South Africa, and we hope that everyone will throw their weight behind us,” she said. “We will be inspired by the knowledge that we have the support of the nation when we represent South Africa in Singapore. We promise we will do everything we can to repay the faith shown in us.”

The shirts are available in children’s and adult sizes, for both men and women. They can be bought from the NSA offices. Children’s shirts are R120 and adults’ R180, and long and short sleeved tops are available.

For more information on sales of the t-shirts, contact NSA on 012 344 5971, or visit their website www.netball-sa.co.za


BROWN’S STANDING HIS GROUND

The ATP Challenger Soweto Open top seed and defending champion Dustin Brown yesterday showed why he’ll not relinquish his title without a fight as he clawed his way to a 6-2 3-6 6-3 win over South African wildcard Nikala Scholtz at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre, in Jabavu, yesterday.

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VAN PULLS OUT ALL THE STOPS

South Africa’s Izak van der Merwe came up to speed literally as he battled the twin intimidation of speedy courts and the fast-paced aggressive game of his British opponent Daniel Cox before he ran out a 7-5 7-6 (2) winner at the ATP Challenger event in Soweto yesterday.

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KALMER BACK TO WINNING WAYS

Cape Town South Africa - Fresh from her victory in the 5000m at the South African Championships in Durban on Saturday, Nedbank CGA’s Rene Kalmer won the Spar Women’s Challenge in emphatic style on Sunday morning, with a time of 33.07 minutes.

Rutendo Nyahora (Nedbank AGN, 33.23) was second, followed by Zintle Xiniwe (Nedbank WP, 34.21), Irvette van Blerk (Nedbank CGA 34.28), and Annerien van Schalkwyk (Nedbank AGN, 34.47).

“It’s always nice to run in Cape Town, and it’s always nice to win,” laughed Kalmer, who struggled with glandular fever during 2010. “I was a bit concerned before the race, because of having won the 5000m in Durban yesterday, but I just told myself to keep that as a positive in my mind.

Although Nyahora shot into the lead, Kalmer closed the gap by the two kilometre mark. The two ran side by side for some way, before Kalmer took the lead after six kilometres. “Rutendo really went off like a fire-cracker, and I thought it was going to be a really tactical race. She pulled us both into good times.

“It was very much a yo-yo race,” said Kalmer. “I took the lead after six kilometres, and then went ahead again, and I had to close the gap again, but with two kilometres to go, I decided I had to put my head on the block and go for it. She really pressed me hard today.”

Kalmer’s victory puts her in pole position in the Spar Grand Prix, but she will not be running the second race in Port Elizabeth on May 7, as she makes her international marathon debut in Prague the following day.

“My goal at the moment is to qualify for the Olympic Games Marathon in London next year,” she said. “My next big event is the Two Oceans half marathon in two weeks’ time. That is an important part of my training for the marathon.”

Van Blerk, who won the Challenge Grand Prix last year, was a bit disappointed at her fourth place, but said she had been battling with flu.

“On the other hand, I wasn’t in the lead bunch at the start, so I’m quite pleased that I managed to force my way into fourth,” she said.


NELSON MANDELA BAY TOURISM BACKS SPAR CHALLENGE

Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa - Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism (NMBT) have thrown their weight behind the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge at King’s Beach on May 7.


From left: Wendy Westraadt, Promotions and Advertising Manager SPAR Eastern Cape, Titus Chuene, Marketing Manager NMBT, Phrosne Phillips, Events Coordinator NMBT, Martin Webber, Marketing Manager SPAR Eastern Cape.
Picture by: Amy Shelver

“We hope that women from all over South Africa – and particularly from areas around Nelson Mandela Bay – will come to enjoy the most beautiful race in South Africa’s friendliest city,” said NMBT Marketing Manager Titus Chuene. “We see the Challenge and the 5km Fun Run as an ideal opportunity to promote Port Elizabeth as a world class sporting destination,” he said.

NMBT supports athletics and road running, and we particularly welcome the SPAR Women’s Challenge, which has become a highlight of the sporting and social calendar in the Nelson Mandela Bay area. We are proud to be associated with an event that attracts thousands of women and girls from all walks of life. The Challenge promotes a healthy lifestyle, with many first-time participants going on to become regular road-runners. Furthermore, the event provides an opportunity for tourism and sporting stakeholders to meet and network in a friendly environment, which may help us to grow NMB as a destination.”

Chuene said it was very pleasing that top athletes like Irvette van Blerk, Rene Kalmer, Zintle Xiniwe and Nandipha Dywili will take part in the race. “Many of them have said they particularly enjoy the Port Elizabeth Challenge because of the beautiful route and the friendly people,” he said. “We are hoping that women will also come from places like Grahamstown, Port Alfred, Cape St Francis and other places up and down the coast to enjoy the day. “We also hope that people who come from further afield will take some time to explore our beautiful city, which has so much to offer.”

Local boy band Escape will be providing the entertainment at the race, and Chuene said the Challenge would showcase their talent to thousands who might not have seen them before. “We are very proud of Escape and we know their fan base will increase after people have seen them at the SPAR Women’s Challenge.”

Entry forms for the Challenge and Fun Run are available from all SPAR, KWIKSPAR and SUPERSPAR stores, or online at www.spar.co.za


WILD CARDS FOR SOWETO OPEN ANNOUNCED

The two winners of the SA National tennis tournaments have been rewarded with wild cards into the Soweto Open to be played at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre from April 11 to 16.

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SPAR PROTEAS TO PLAY MALAWI AS A CURTAIN RAISER IN PERTH LATER THIS YEAR

Perth, Australia - Perth will host two international netball matches, featuring four of the top seven teams in the world, in the week leading up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) this October.

A feast of international netball kicks off on Sunday October 23 at the Burswood Dome when South Africa and Malawi play a curtain raiser to the Australian Diamonds v New Zealand Silver Ferns Test match.

Premier Colin Barnett said the Government was pleased to bring major international sporting events to Western Australia. “Sport has the power to cross national, political, and religious boundaries to bring people together in fair and friendly competition. In a sports-mad country like Australia, these sporting events will give fans the chance to see elite athletes pitting themselves against the best in the world,” Mr Barnett said.

“The State recognises the importance of attracting major international events and we are constantly looking to secure new and exciting events that will improve vibrancy and draw visitors to Western Australia.”

Netball Australia CEO Kate Palmer said the Diamonds v Ferns match, part of the Holden Netball Test Series, promised international netball at its best with the world’s top two teams vying for the Constellation Cup. The inclusion of the South African Proteas, ranked sixth in the world, taking on the seventh ranked Malawi Queens, meant that sports fans would also get to experience the diverse range of styles across the four nations.

This special sporting fixture is an unprecedented opportunity to witness some of the world’s greatest players in action,” Ms Palmer said.
Blanche De La Guerre, Vice President of Netball South Africa (NSA) says that they are excited to take up the challenge. “The SPAR Proteas have a solid vision this year of taking South African netball to new heights. What better way to do this, than to play a host of international teams in one year.” “We are honoured to be given this opportunity to play in Perth, and as always, are looking forward to taking on Malawi.”
“We are delighted that international netball is set to return to Perth for the first time since 2005, when the Diamonds hosted South Africa” said Palmer.

This is ‘must see’ netball – fast, furious and physical.”

Tickets will go on sale in the coming months. For more information visit: www.netball.asn.au .


NORTH WEST UNIVERSITY TO HOST SA V NETHERLANDS DAVIS CUP TIE

Potchefstroom, North West Province - New ground will be broken when the Euro/Africa Group 1 Davis Cup tie between South Africa and The Netherlands will be staged in Potchefstroom at the North West University’s Puk Campus Sports Grounds.
The tie will take place from Friday July 8 until Sunday July 10.
The Potchefstroom Campus hosted Soccer World Cup champions Spain during last year’s tournament and boasts first-class sporting facilities. Recently, two International Junior tournaments were hosted in Potchefstroom at the Riaan Venter Tennis Academy which is based on the NWU Puk Campus. It was due to the success of both tournaments that the South African Tennis Association (SATA) have decided to take this event to the same venue.
“The reason this venue has been chosen is to bring international tennis to smaller places in South Africa and at the same time adhere to the players’ wishes to play at altitude,” explained SATA chief executive Ian Smith. “Potchefstroom has been very good to tennis and the NWU Puk has always given great support.”
Director of Sport at the NWU Puk, James Stoffberg, said they were anticipating a superb event. “We have already proved that we are up to the task in hosting international events and we know the players will be well catered for. It is also exciting for us to stage an international tennis event at the NWU Puk. “
South Africa and The Netherlands have until Tuesday 28 June according to the Davis Cup and ITF rules to make their team nominations.

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