THE NETHERLANDS FIELD BEST POSSIBLE TEAM FOR DAVIS CUP TIE AGAINST SOUTH AFRICA

Amsterdam, The Netherlands – The Netherlands were dealt a blow when Dutch number 2, Theimo De Bakker made himself unavailable for their Euro/Africa Zone Group 1 Davis Cup tie against South Africa. The tie will be played at the North West University in Potchefstroom on July 8, 9 and 10.
However the Dutch have named their best possible team minus De Bakker for the crucial Tie which will include world no 58 Robin Haase, Haase will be backed by Thomas Schoorel, Jesse Huta Galung and Igor Sijsling. Their Captain will be Jan Siemerink.
“This Dutch team named is a very competent team said SA Davis Cup captain John-Laffnie de Jager. Obviously without De Bakker the team has been weakened somewhat but Haase is a fantastic and talented player and the rest of the team are not to be taken likely. The Dutch like South Africa have played well to get to this position and are not going to go down without a fight.”
De Bakkar pulled out of Wimbledon last week because of injury and will not be fully recovered for the Tie.
There is also doubt over Dutch number 1, Robin Haase who also pulled out of Wimbledon due to injury and is apparently “ having fitness test to see if he is ok” according the reliable source close to the Dutch Team. However Haase was nominated as the deadline for nominations to the International Tennis Federation closed at midnight last night.
Haase is at 58 in singles and 81 in doubles while Schoorel is at 99 in singles and 355 in doubles. Jesse Huta Galung is 110 in singles and 227 in doubles with Igor Sijsling 188 in singles and 396 in doubles.
The South African team announced last week, is the strongest side Captain John Laffnie De Jager could name. It comprises of reigning SA Tennis Open Champions Kevin Anderson, Rik De Voest, Izak Van der Merwe and doubles specialist Wesley Moodie.
This will be the first time Potchefstroom will host a David Cup tie and the University stadium holds 1000 people.
Tickets are available at Postnets across the country and at www.ticketpros.co.za
“The demand for tickets has been excellent” said Ian Smith, chief executive of the South African Tennis Association. “Tickets are well priced and we hope that everyone comes out to support what is the best team we can field for this crucial Davis Cup tie.”
The Dutch are yet to name their team but the core of the squad is likely to come from Robin Haase (ranked 59), Thiemo de Bakker (801), Thomas Schoorel (102) and Jesse Huta Galung (117).


SUPERSPORT AND SPAR BRING THE WORLD NETBALL CHAMPS TO AFRICA

Supersport has teamed up with netball sponsor SPAR in the broadcasting of the upcoming 2011 World Netball Championships live from Singapore starting on Sunday, July 3rd to July 10.

“We are pleased to have been able to offer SPAR the opportunity of branding this content to leverage off their wonderful commitment to the SPAR National Netball Team, said SuperSport’s Sponsorship Director Sooz MacKenzie.” “We already have a fantastic relationship with SPAR on other SuperSport content and we hope to build on that success with the broadcast sponsorship of this international event.”

The SPAR National Netball Team as South Africa is affectionately known along with Botswana and Malawi will be carrying the hopes of the entire continent as they try to wrestle the Netball Championships crown away from Australia.

As with tradition in all tournaments, the hosts open the tournament and Singapore will do likewise on Sunday against African hopefuls Botswana live on SS 2 from 12.55pm. On Monday, South Africa then tips off against Jamaica in the early hours of the morning at 04.55am live on SSHD1.

SuperSport will be broadcasting all of South Africa’s pool matches.

Broadcast details
World Netball Championships

Sunday, July 3
Singapore v Botswana
SS 2, 2A (12.55pm CAT)

Monday, July 4
Jamaica v South Africa
SSHD1, 2, 2A (04.55am CAT)

England VS Malawi
SS 2, 2A (11.40am CAT)

Wednesday, July 6
Singapore v South Africa
SSHD2, 5, 5A, 5N (1.55pm CAT)

Friday, July 8
Quarter Final 1
SS 5, 5A, 5N (07.05am CAT)

Quarter Final 2
SS 5, 5A, 5N (09.25am CAT)

Quarter Final 3
SS 5, 5A, 5N (11.35am CAT)

Quarter Final 4
SS 7, 7N (1.55pm CAT)

Saturday, July 9
Semi Final 1
SS 6, 6A (09.25am CAT)

Semi Final 2
SS 6, 6A (11.35am CAT)

Sunday, July 10
3rd & 4th Place Play Off
SS 7, 7N (08.25am CAT)

Final
SS 7, 7N (10.35am CAT)


SPIRITS HIGH IN SOUTH AFRICAN CAMP

Singapore, South Africa - With less than a week to go before the start of the World Netball Championships in Singapore, spirits in the South African camp are very high.

“There is a great atmosphere in the team,” said manager Marchelle Maroun. “The girls are training hard, but they are all keeping up well with the demands that are being made of them. “There are no injuries and no illnesses, and they are all just very excited about the thought of getting going in their World Championship campaign.”

Maroun said the SPAR Proteas had played two warm-up matches against the Australian Institute of Sport, and although they had lost both matches, head coach Elize Kotze was very pleased with the focus the players had shown. “We’re playing Trinidad and Tobago on Thursday,” said Maroun. “That should be a very good indicator of progress made by the team, because we played them recently in Cape Town, where we won all three matches.” She said there would also be a warm-up match against Sri Lanka.

Maroun said that although it was very hot in Singapore, the players were not affected by the heat, because most of their training sessions and all of their matches were played indoors, where there was air conditioning. “We had a couple of fitness sessions on the beach, which the players enjoyed, but then the rain came down, so we had to go indoors again. But the heat is not a problem at all – in fact, it can be quite cool indoors.”

The players have been engaged in three training sessions a day, but Maroun said they were now beginning to taper off ahead of their opening match against Jamaica on Monday.
“They are really looking forward to getting onto court,” said Maroun. “They are a closely-knit unit, and they are really excited about representing their country.”


VAN BLERK EXTENDS HER SPAR GRAND PRIX LEAD

South Africa - With more than half of the five SPAR Women’s Challenge races completed, Nedbank CGA’s Irvette van Blerk appears to have a firm grip on the R60 000 Grand Prix.

Van Blerk won the Durban race on Sunday in a personal best time of 32.50 minutes, and now has 76 points – 14 ahead of her nearest rival, Zintle Xiniwe of Nedbank WP, who has 62. Van Blerk finished second in the Port Elizabeth race and fourth in Cape Town, while Xiniwe finished third in Cape Town and Durban and fifth in Port Elizabeth.

Picture by: Reg Caldecott

Irvette van Blerk winning the Durban SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge at personal best time of 32.50 minutes

Defending champion Van Blerk, who returned from New York last week, said only the thought of the Grand Prix points persuaded her to run on Sunday, as she was battling a cold and a bad cough. “I just said to myself – get some Grand Prix points and stay in contention for the prize,” she said after the race. “Once I started running, I decided I really wanted to win.” She said the Grand Prix was a great motivator. “The money comes in very handy, and it’s an achievement to win it,” she said. “I won it last year, and would like to come out on top again this year.”

Annerien van Schalkwyk of Irene is in third position, with 55 points. She finished fifth in Cape Town, ninth in Port Elizabeth and fourth in Durban, proving that runners who perform consistently can do well in the Grand Prix. Ntombesintu Mfunzi is in fourth place with 40 points and Catherine Skosana is in sixth with 34.

Two-times winner of the Grand Prix, Rene Kalmer, appears to be out of contention for the first prize, after dropping out of the Durban race at the three kilometre mark because of injury. She won the Cape Town race, but international commitments kept her out of the Port Elizabeth race. She and Diana-Lebo Phalula, who won the Port Elizabeth race, are joint seventh with 30 points.

Because veteran front-runner Grace de Oliveira moves up into the master category when she turns 50 next month, the Grand Prix competitions in the veterans and masters categories were closed after the Durban race. The top three athletes will receive two-thirds of the prize money. Points from the last two races, in Pretoria and Johannesburg in August and October, will count for the remaining third of the prize money.

De Oliveira won the veterans category, and will receive R1800. Maya Lawrie was second and Catherine Naane third. Olga Howard won the Masters category, with Annetjie Botes in second position. Bev Charters and Sandy Fismer were in joint third place and will share the prize money of R600.

Lien Botha is in the lead in the Grandmaster category, with Hester Kotze and Sonja Laxton in joint second position, while Dominique Scott, with two wins and a second place, leads the junior category. Happiness Mkhize is in second position and Asiphe Snyman and Jamie-Lee Schlemmer are in joint third place.

Nedbank CGA, with 149 points, dominate the club leaderboard. They are 76 points ahead of their nearest rivals, Nedbank WP and Boxer, who have 73 points each.


NETBALL TEAM CONFIDENT AHEAD OF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

Johannesburg, South Africa - There was an air of calm confidence when the SPAR South African netball team left for Singapore on Tuesday for the World Netball Championships which begin on Sunday July 3.

“The team is well prepared and is probably the best-conditioned netball team which has ever headed off to the World Championships,” said head coach Elize Kotze at a media briefing before the team’s departure.

Picture by: Reg Caldecott

Newly appointed vice-captain of the SPAR Proteas, Zanele Mdodana with head coach Elize Kotze and captain Amanda Mynhardt at a press conference prior to their departure for the World Netball Championships.

The four member coaching panel took over in January, and embarked on a rigorous training programme, involving regular training camps, a tri-nations against Botswana and Singapore and a test series against Trinidad and Tobago. South Africa won both tournaments. Botswana and Singapore are in the same pool as South Africa at the World Championships.

“We were able to track the players’ progress through the six months, and were very pleased with the progress they made,” said Kotze. “They are physically and mentally very strong, and we are confident that we will surprise a lot of people in Singapore.”

Kotze said the series against Trinidad and Tobago had been particularly important, because it provided the players the experience of playing against a Caribbean team ahead of their opening match against Jamaica on July 4. “We have watched a lot of video footage of Jamaica, and the players all know who they’ll be up against and what to expect,” she said. “They play a very aerial game, and so we have been practising for that style of netball.”

Ten players will be making their World Cup debuts, but Kotze said they all had experience of playing in tournaments such as the Commonwealth Games and Under-21 World Championships. “They are all individuals, but they work very well together. Everyone understands her role in the team, and they have complete trust in one another.”

“The vibe in the team is awesome,” said captain Amanda Mynhardt. “We are so well prepared and now we just can’t wait to get on that plane and take on the rest of the world. I really believe we are going to surprise a lot of people.”

Netball South Africa President Mimi Mthethwa announced that Zanele Mdodana had replaced Nthabiseng Moabi as vice-captain of the team. “For personal reasons, Nthabiseng was unable to attend all the training camps and as a result it was decided she should not go to the World Championships. We decided to give Zanele the opportunity to exercise her leadership skills,” said Mthethwa. “The former Under21 captain, Bongiwe Msomi, has taken Nthabiseng’s place in the squad.”

The players will have three training sessions a day in Singapore ahead of the Championships. They will also play warm-up matches against the Australian Institute and Singapore, and are also hoping to play against Fiji and Samoa.


PRESIDENT ZUMA WISHES PROTEAS WELL

Tshwane, South Africa - President Jacob Zuma and Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula have assured the SPAR National Netball Team that they have the support of the nation when they leave on Tuesday for the World Netball Championships in Singapore.

Zuma invited the team and its managers to his official residence in Pretoria on Sunday afternoon to express his personal support for the team. After being introduced to each member of the team by Captain Amanda Mynhardt, Zuma described them as the most beautiful girls in South Africa, and welcomed them to Mahlamba Ndlopfu.

Picture by: Reg Caldecott

Tshwane, South Africa – The SPAR National Netball Team and team management with the Minister of Sport Fikile Mblalula, President South Africa Jacob Zuma and Director Demarcations Netball South Africa Mami Diale.

He said that before going to war, warriors would go to the Big House to receive blessings for their endeavours and that was why he wanted to meet the team. “This meeting here gives us an opportunity to say good bye and good luck and for you to receive our blessings. You are our number one team,” he said.

The President said it was part of South African culture to love sport and to want to win all the time; “I have heard that you carry this culture. In Africa you are number two and in the world number six. This shows that you are a team of quality that is focused.”

“I am happy that you have come, and would like you to know that the whole nation is behind you. We want you to win. We want to let you know that we support you fully.” “What you can do for us in return, is bring back the trophy,” he laughed. “July is Nelson Mandela’s birthday month – maybe you can give him a nice birthday president.”

He promised that either he or the Minister of Sport would travel to Singapore to see the Proteas in action. Mbalula who gave the squad the name Amantombazane said South Africa was celebrating all sporting codes, because sport helped to bring the nation together. “Netball has the clearest understanding of transformation, as we can see the rainbow nation sitting here in front of us,” he said. “You have the full support of the President, and it is up to you to represent your country with dignity, discipline and courage,” said Mbalula.

Netball South Africa’s Director Demarcation, Mami Diale, said the players were very honoured to meet the President and receive his blessings. “This is the first time the SPAR National Netball Team has received an official presidential send-off,” she said.

“As netball we promise to represent South Africa with pride, and our priority is to hoist the South African flag as high as possible.” “Our goal is to be ranked third or fourth in the world. We want to come home with a medal,” she said.

The World Championships open on Sunday 3rd July, and South Africa’s first match is on Monday 4th July, when they take on Jamaica


THE BATTLE IS ON FOR GRAND PRIX POINTS

South Africa - The eventual winner of the SPAR Grand Prix could well be decided this weekend, when the Durban leg of the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge takes place.

The Durban race is midway through the five-race series. The runner with the most points after all five Challenge races have been run will pocket R60 000. The runner-up takes home R30 000 and the third placed athlete receives R15 000. There are cash prizes for the top 20 on the leaderboard, while the top three in the various age categories also receive prize money.

At this stage, last year’s Grand Prix winner Irvette van Blerk (Nedbank CGA) is well in the lead with 47 points, after finishing second in the Port Elizabeth race last month and fourth in Cape Town in April. She has a 13-point lead over Zintle Xiniwe (Nedbank WP), who came third in Cape Town and fifth in Port Elizabeth.

But, Van Blerk will be aware that teammate and long-time rival, two-times Grand Prix winner Rene Kalmer will be back in action on Sunday and could make up lost ground. Kalmer was out of the country, preparing for her maiden international marathon in Prague, at the time of the Port Elizabeth leg.

Kalmer, who won the Cape Town leg, is currently in joint third position with Diana-Lebo Phalula of Gauteng Striders, who snatched a narrow four-second victory over Van Blerk in Port Elizabeth. Phalula did not run the Cape Town leg. Kalmer and Phalula have 30 points, one ahead of Catherine Skosana, who finished sixth in Cape Town and seventh in Port Elizabeth.

However, Van Blerk and Kalmer will not have everything their own way, with most of South Africa’s top runners competing in Durban on Sunday. The Phalula twins are not running, but among those who have confirmed their entries are Annerien van Schalkwyk, Charne Bosman, Mpho Mabusa, Christine Kalmer and Jenna Challenor, all of whom will be aiming to earn valuable Grand Prix points.

More than 10 000 runners have entered the race, which starts and ends at the iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium.


HELFANT TO DEPART ATP AT END OF 2011

LONDON - ATP Executive Chairman and President Adam Helfant will not seek to continue his position with the Tour beyond the completion of his three-year contract at the end of this year, the ATP announced today.

Helfant joined the ATP in January 2009 and has overseen impressive growth at the Tour during difficult economic times, including in the areas of sponsorship, television and digital. Helfant’s contributions and leadership have been instrumental, most recently in the Tour’s lengthening of its off-season and its signing of two major new sponsors, Corona Extra and FedEx.

“I recently informed the ATP’s Board of Directors that I have respectfully declined their offer to continue on,” Helfant said. “Since I joined the ATP I have felt an immense sense of responsibility to the sport, and the people who have devoted the better part of their lives to it, to leave things better than when I arrived. I am proud to say the Tour is stronger than ever –- in terms of on-court action and our business –- and is well positioned for the future.

“I am proud of what we’ve accomplished. Yet, there comes a time when it makes sense to look to the future and consider other opportunities. For me, that time is now. I have enjoyed the challenges during my time at the ATP, and the position has been rewarding; but when my contract is up at the end of this year, it will be the right time for me to move on,” he said.

“It has been a privilege for me as a life-long tennis fan both to lead and serve the ATP. To the fans, players, tournaments, commercial partners and dedicated men and women of the ATP, I extend my deepest thanks and best wishes for continued success,” he said.

The ATP will begin the search process for Helfant’s successor in the near future.

Roger Federer, President of the ATP Player Council, said, “On behalf of the player council and all the players, I would like to thank Adam for his excellent leadership and contributions during his time at the ATP. We achieved a lot together and will be sorry to see him go at the end of the year. The sport is in great shape and we look forward to helping to identify a new leader for this important position.”

ATP Board Member Gavin Forbes said, “Adam has done a terrific job as President of the ATP and we are disappointed he will not be returning next year, but we respect his decision and wish him all the best. The Tour is in a fantastic position and well-placed to continue on the same exciting path.”

An extended statement from Adam Helfant follows below.

Statement from Adam S. Helfant
Executive Chairman and President of the ATP

“I have recently informed the ATP’s Board of Directors that I have respectfully declined their offer to continue on as ATP Executive Chairman and President beyond the completion of my three-year contract at the end of this year.

Those who know me will not be surprised to hear that I prefer to keep the conversation about my leaving to a minimum. It’s important, to me, to keep the focus where it belongs –- on the tennis court, and the absolutely incredible level of play fans around the world are witnessing on the ATP World Tour.

Since I joined the ATP in January, 2009, I have felt an immense sense of responsibility to the sport, and the people who have devoted the better part of their lives to it, to leave things better than when I arrived. I am proud to say the Tour is stronger than ever –- in terms of the action on-court and our business –- and is well positioned for the future. The players have delivered in countless ways. The combination of inspirational and transcendent champions, and the staggering depth of talent on Tour, has driven interest in men’s professional tennis to an all-time high.

The ATP has taken advantage of the increased demand created by our players. During my time at the ATP, by the end of this year, ATP commercial revenues will have increased roughly sixty-five percent (65%) and ATP net assets (reserves) will have increased by more than eleven hundred percent (1100%). This represents truly impressive growth during very difficult economic times, and provides the ATP a solid foundation for the future. In addition to expanding and extending relationships with a few of our existing sponsors, last year we brought on two major new sponsors, Corona and FedEx –- brands that bring powerful marketing cache and support to the Tour. In 2009 and 2010, we held two extremely successful year-end championships –- the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals –- and I have no doubt that this year’s edition will be an unqualified success as well.

I am especially pleased with the calendar reform that was agreed at the end of last year, which will take effect in 2012. As many of you know, I prioritized an effort to lengthen our off-season to provide our players with more time to rest, work on their fitness and work on their games. And we did it, overcoming issues that had seemed insurmountable in the past, by forging a broad consensus on what was right for the long-term health of our players and our sport, and working together in a way that delivered meaningful progress in this very important area.

I have had the pleasure to work with a very passionate, experienced and talented ATP management team and staff, without whose hard work none of this would have been possible. They are the lynchpins of the ATP and will be invaluable to the individual who succeeds me in leading the organization.

It’s important, too, that I correct the speculation over my decision to leave the ATP. Recently, erroneous news reports, citing unnamed “sources,” inaccurately characterized the tenor of my conversations with the ATP Board. I made no demands, monetary or otherwise, of the Board. I did not ask for more money, or threaten to resign, despite what has been alleged and reported by others. These facts are clear to those with direct knowledge of my conversations with the Board; I was made an offer to stay longer-term with the ATP, which I declined for professional reasons.

I am proud of what we’ve accomplished. Yet, there comes a time when it makes sense to look to the future and consider other opportunities. For me, that time is now. I have enjoyed the challenges during my time at the ATP, and the position has been rewarding; but when my contract is up at the end of this year, it will be the right time for me to move on.

My last day will be December 31, 2011. It was important to me to provide the ATP sufficient notice of my decision to allow for a suitable search process. In the meantime, I will remain fully focused on fulfilling my responsibilities through my last day as President of the ATP. There are several important items on the agenda, and if all goes well, we’ll have an announcement or two before the end of the year.

For those who have kindly asked where I may be headed, I have not yet considered what I might do next year, and am in no rush to do so.

It has been a privilege for me as a life-long tennis fan both to lead and serve the ATP. To the fans, players, tournaments, commercial partners and dedicated men and women of the ATP, I extend my deepest thanks and best wishes for continued success.”


SA FIELD STRONG TEAM FOR DAVIS CUP TIE AGAINST THE NETHERLANDS

Potchefstroom, South Africa - South Africa will be at full strength for their Euro/Africa Zone Group 1 Davis Cup tie against The Netherlands. The tie will be played at the North West University in Potchefstroom on July 8, 9 and 10.
World No 39 Kevin Anderson has confirmed his participation in the tie and he will be backed up by Izak van der Merwe, Rik de Voest and Wesley Moodie.
“I am very happy that I was able to select the best team,” said SA Davis Cup captain John-Laffnie de Jager. It is great for South Africa that Kevin is back. Holland is a very tough team and we need our best team to win this tie.”
Anderson is currently in action at the AEGON Championships at the Queen’s Club in London. He started particularly well, taking out grass-court specialist Ivo Karlovic 6-4 7-6 in the opening round.
“I’m really looking forward to the Davis Cup tie,” said Anderson. “It’s an honour representing South Africa and I am pleased to be able to do so. Netherlands has a very good team and we will have to play well to get through. But we all look forward to the challenge, I’m sure it will be an exciting tie.”
Van der Merwe is ranked at No 132 in singles and 130 in doubles while De Voest is 154 in singles and 146 in doubles. Doubles specialist Moodie is currently ranked at No 27 in the world.
This will be the first time Potchefstrrom will host a David Cup tie and the University stadium holds 1000 people.
Tickets go sale from Thursday, June 9 and are available at Postnets across the country and at www.ticketpros.co.za
“Tickets are well priced and we hope that everyone comes out to support what is the best team we can field for this crucial Davis Cup tie,” said Ian Smith, chief executive of the South African Tennis Association.
The Dutch are yet to name their team but the core of the squad is likely to come from Robin Haase (ranked 59), Thiemo de Bakker (801), Thomas Schoorel (102) and Jesse Huta Galung (117).

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