DE VOEST WELL ON THE MEND

Rik de Voest has overcome the finger injury he sustained three weeks ago after he crashed into a scoreboard at the Farmer’s Classic in Los Angeles. In the collision De Voest slashed his ring finger, but, he returned to action soon afterwards and on Wednesday he was in action at the ATP PTT Thailand Open at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand.

De Voest has become a crucial force in South Africa’s drive to reach the ITF David Cup World Group and he is in peak condition for the all-important Davis Cup World Group promotion/relegation tie against Croatia from 16 to 18 September, at the Potchefstroom’s North West University tennis stadium.

Initially I suffered some nerve damage to the ring finger, but, the healing has gone pretty well, ” said De Voest, who was joined by fellow South African Davis Cupper Raven Klaasen on a tele-conference call with the SA tennis media on Wednesday. “I no longer have to wear any protective gear and it’s back to normal as far as my finger goes. Also it will help a lot that Potchefstroom will be a lot warmer than the places where I’ve been playing recently, especially if I am going to play a lot of (singles and doubles) matches.

I think conditions will also be easier for us (South Africans) because it will bouncey conditions and that’s something that we’ll be aware of. This could make matters tricky for the Croatians as they’ll need time to adjust to these strange conditions.”

Klaasen is unlikely to play in Potchefstroom, but, he’ll provide cover for both singles and doubles. He’s also playing in Bangkok and on Wednesday he reached the second-round of the doubles competition, playing with American John Pierre Fruttero.

I’m just grateful to be in the squad, and ready to fit in wherever I may be needed,” said Klaasen. “I last played in 2010 against Finland and I’m ready to play again. Nowadays my programme is geared to advance my cause in doubles and my target is to make it to the Grand Slams next year.”
De Voest and Klaasen will join SA No 1 Kevin Anderson and Izak van der Merwe in the squad for Potchefstroom, where despite the home advantage, Croatia’s strong line-up will be the favourites. Their top three players, Marin Cilic (28), Ivan Ljubicic (31) and Ivan Dodig (33) all have top-50 rankings. The visiting Croats will also be bouyed by their superior ITF Davis Cup world ranking of 12, as against South Africa’s 22. The world rankings for the South Africans are 34 (Kevin Anderson), 129 (Izak van der Merwe), 124 (Rik de Voest) and 254 (Raven Klaasen).

The SA camp will be overjoyed with the news that the form of their No 1 Anderson is red-hot, more so after his 6-3 6-1 demolition of world number four Andy Murray in the second round of the Rogers Cup Masters event in Montreal a few weeks days ago.
Croatia have informed the South African Tennis Association that they will only name their side 10 days before the tie according to the rules of the ITF.
Start times for the forthcoming Davis Cup World Group Play-off Tie are as follows:
Friday 16th September: 10h00 local time (08h00 GMT)
Saturday 17th September: 13h00 local time (11h00 GMT)
Sunday 18th September: 10h00 local time (08h00 GMT)

Tickets are available at Postnets across the country and at www.ticketpros.co.za. Tickets for the Friday’s two single matches are R50, Saturday’s pivotal doubles encounter, R30, and Sunday’s reverse singles matches, R50. The price to attend all three days is R100.


DE JAGER NAMES STRONGEST POSSIBLE TEAM FOR CROATIA TIE

Team captain John-Laffnie de Jager has been able to select the strongest available team for the upcoming Davis Cup World Group promotion/relegation Tie against Croatia to be played at the North West University Tennis Stadium from September 16th to the 18th .

South Africa – Raven Klaasen joins Team South Africa at the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group Play-offs at the North West University, Potchefstroom, 16-18 September 2011
Picture by: Reg Caldecott

South Africa, Potchefstroom - South Africa’s Top player and world No Kevin Anderson as he defeats Thomas Schoorel, 6-7(5) 6-4 7-6(4) 6-1 at the Euro/Africa Zone Group 1 Davis Cup tie, South Africa v. The Netherlands in July
Picture by: Mario van de Wall

World No 34 Kevin Anderson, who beat World No 4 Andy Murray convincingly at the Canadian Masters in Montreal last week, will spearhead the team and he will be backed up by Rik de Voest (ranked 126), Izak van der Merwe (131) and Raven Klaasen (256). With Wesley Moodie, ranked 43 in doubles, having placed himself in semi-retirement, these are the four highest-ranked doubles players in the country. Van der Merwe is ranked No 99, Anderson at 125, De Voest at 145 and Klaasen at 164.

“I am very happy with the team as it is the best I was able to select,” said De Jager. “I had to look for a new player after Wesley announced that he had decided to stop playing indefinitely. His are big shoes to fill, but, Raven is playing well and he can cover for singles and doubles. He has been part of the team for a few years so he knows how we do things.”

The opposition is powerful as they comprise four really decent singles players in Marin Cilic (ranked 26), Ivan Ljubicic (30), Ivan Dodig (36) and Ivo Karlovic (104). Dodig hit a career-high ranking this week and comes off a victory over World No 2 Rafael Nadal in Montreal last week.

“Croatia is going to be our toughest opponents in the last six years. They have three players in the top 40 in the world and then they have the big-serving Karlovic as well,” added De Jager.

“We will focus on what we will have to do to win the tie. It is crucial for South African tennis that we get back into the World Group next year.”

Start times for the forthcoming Davis Cup World Group Play-off Tie are as follows:
Friday 16th September: 10h00 local time (08h00 GMT)
Saturday 17th September: 13h00 local time (11h00 GMT)
Sunday 18th September: 10h00 local time (08h00 GMT)

Tickets are available at Postnets across the country and at www.ticketpros.co.za. Tickets for the Friday’s two single matches are R50, Saturday’s pivotal doubles encounter, R30, and Sunday’s reverse singles matches, R50. The price to attend all three days is R100.


DAVIS CUP TICKETS GO ON SALE

 South Africa up against former Davis Cup Champions Croatia
 North West University in Potchefstroom hosts second South African home Tie

Johannesburg, South Africa - Tickets for next month’s Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group Playoff, South Africa vs. Croatia will go on sale tomorrow, Tuesday 23 August 2011. The Tie will be played on the specially constructed 1800 seater Davis Cup Championship tennis court at the Potchefstroom Campus of North West University from 16-18 September 2011.

Advanced sales are available at Postnet outlets nationwide or through www.ticketpros.co.za. Tickets will also be sold at the Box Office on site each day of the Tie, however, with a limited amount of tickets on sale, tickets are advised to be booked in advance.

Tickets for the Friday 16 September will be R50, for Saturday 17 September R30 and for Sunday 18 September R50. A season ticket for all three days will be available at the discounted price of R100.

Following last month’s impressive victory for South Africa against The Netherlands, Ian Smith the CEO of The South African Tennis Association predicts there will be keen interest from the tennis loving public.

The Tie will be played on Friday 16th September (09h45 – Opening Ceremony followed by two singles matches), Saturday 17th September (13h00 – one doubles) and Sunday 18th September (10h00 – two reverse singles matches). All the matches are played as the best of five sets until a result has been achieved.

Davis Cup is truly the Grand Slam of men’s team tennis. Just a few days ago, world No 1 Novak Djokovic underlined its magic when he said: “My dream is to do well on the ATP World Tour and in the Grand Slams, but a main objective is the Davis Cup, which I love to play in. To win that is a dream.”

South Africa (with a population of 45 million) will be up against Croatia, an East European country with just over four million inhabitants. But, such is the nature of traditional Davis Cup tennis that unpredictability and magic have become its hallmarks since it first started out in 1900. Numbers count for nothing.


IRVETTE TAKING THINGS IN HER STRIDE

Irvette van Blerk will be hoping to extend her substantial lead in the SPAR Grand Prix when she takes part in the SPAR Women’s Challenge at Supersport Park in Centurion on August 27.

Van Blerk (Nedbank CGA), who won the Durban leg of the Challenge, after finishing second in Port Elizabeth and fourth in Cape Town, appears to have a very firm grip on the winner’s cheque. She has 76 points – 14 ahead of her nearest rival, Nedbank WP’s Zintle Xiniwe, who has 62. Xiniwe finished third in Cape Town and Durban, and fifth in Port Elizabeth. Annerien van Schalkwyk of Irene is in third position, with 55 points, after finishing fifth in Cape Town, ninth in Port Elizabeth and fourth in Durban. With only two races left, the top three on the leaderboard are unlikely to be overtaken, with the next athletes well below them.

Two-times winner Rene Kalmer (Nedbank CGA) is right out of contention, although she got the year off to an excellent start with victory in Cape Town. She missed the Port Elizabeth Challenge because she was making her international marathon debut in Prague. In Durban, she dropped out of the race after three kilometres because of injury, and she will miss the Pretoria Challenge as she represents South Africa at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea, that weekend. She is currently joint seventh on the leaderboard with Diana-Lebo of Gauteng Striders, who won the Port Elizabeth Challenge. They each have 30 points.

After the five Challenge races have been completed, the runner with the most Grand Prix points will receive a cheque for R60 000. The runner-up receives R30 000 and the third-placed runner R15 000. There are cash prizes for the top 20 runners, while the top three in the various age categories also receive prize money.

The Grand Prix, which was introduced five years ago, has proved extremely popular with the athletes, who regard the prize money as an excellent motivator on a cold winter’s day.


CALDER PAYS A VISIT TO THE SPAR NATIONAL NETBALL CHAMPS

Bellville, Cape Town – Dr. Sherylle Calder, founder of EyeGym, a one-of-a-kind online software visual training program, stopped by the Bellville Velodrome to support the teams participating in the SPAR National Netball Championships.

I this picture Dr. Calder (middle) is seen with coach and captain of winning team Gauteng North, Elize Kotze (left) and Erin Burger (right).

Picture by: Reg Caldecott


DEFENDING CHAMPS DO IT AGAIN

Bellville, Cape Town – For the second year running, Gauteng North has claimed the title of the SPAR National Netball Champions, managing to beat Free State Motheo by a narrow 37 goals to 31.

The triumphant Gauteng North team with the trophy after beating Free State Motheo in the final of the SPAR national netball championships played at the Bellville Velodrome in Cape Town. From left to right: Behind: Elize Kotze (Coach), Riana Bezuidenhout (Manager), Vanes-mari du Toit, Melissa Myburgh, Rozanne Matthyse, Anneret Viljoen, Annemarie Frost, Desmarie Roux, Jenny van Dyk (Asst Coach). Front: Vasta Mhlongo, Martha Mosoahle, Erin Burger, Momazizi Mzayidume and Heike Kotze.
Picture: Reg Caldecott

It was a closely contested final match, and could have been anyone’s game, but Gauteng North were the better team in the end, and deserved to win.

2011 has been a successful year for the Gauteng North side, as this win will make it their 20th championship title and their third under coach Elize Kotze, after beating the Free State team in last year’s final and also winning in 2007. Gauteng North were also the champions of the U/19 and U/21 tournament this year, and even sneaked the men’s title at the champs, beating Gauteng Central 40 – 34,

Without their Protea star shooter, Chrisna Bootha, Gauteng North used Vanes-Mari du Toit in the circle and she filled her shoes admirably, scoring 29 of her team’s 37 goals.

The Pretoria team came out firing and took a 3-0 lead before Motheo were able to score their first goal. The Free Staters found their rhythm, drawing level at 5-5 and the teams ended the first quarter with a draw of eight goals each.

Working with a different team rhythm due to a new goal circle, the Gauteng North team played more of a staccato game. “Our rhythm was a bit disturbed” said Kotze, “but you have to make a plan.” “This was a typical Free State game, they never give up. We just managed to gain more control in the end.”

Putting up a good fight, it was in the second quarter that Motheo lost the game. They had more possession but missed goals at crucial times and went almost five minutes without scoring. Passes went astray from both teams but Gauteng North capitalised on their opponents’ mistakes and took an 18-13 lead at half-time.

Adele Niemand, voted best defence player of the tournament, controlled her team from the back and frustrated the Gauteng attack throughout the game. Motheo went ahead for the only time in the match at 19-20, and seemed to have Gauteng North on the back foot at one stage.

Motheo Centre Shirolene Smith found space and held her own against the dynamic Erin Burger, who was once again voted player of the tournament. Unfortunately though, it was once the ball was in the circle that the Motheo let themselves down again. Both sides scored nine goals in their third quarter but it was the seven misses to three, which counted against Motheo.

Kotze said she was extremely proud of her team and admitted they had been worried about the absence of Bootha. “I think Vanes-Mari did a fantastic job. We had to adapt our attack, as we’re used to a faster game, but Vanes held her own, and will no doubt do well in world netball” Kotze said.

With Du Toit shooting in goal, Kotze used veteran South African goalkeeper Desmarie Roux, who has 67 international caps under her belt, to take charge of her defence. “I was very excited to see how well our defence team worked together with Rozanne Matthyse as wing defence and Desmarie as goalkeeper. Rozanne and Erin also worked well together.”

Losing coach Burta de Kock said her team lacked consistency and lost a lot of possession. “Our inexperience showed out there and we just couldn’t keep the ball in hand,” said De Kock. “We’re missing four or five of our more experienced players so we brought in our youngsters and they did well for us and gained a lot from the tournament — so I can’t ask for more.”

Ekurhuleni won the bronze medal beating Nelson Mandela Bay 56-44 while the women’s B-section was won by Amathole from the Eastern Cape, who beat Western Province B by 40-24.

Mpumalanga’s Gert Sibande, beat Western Province C by 41-29 to win the C-section.

In the men’s final, Gauteng North beat their neighbours from Gauteng Central by 40-34.


SEMI FINALS DECIDED

Bellville, Cape Town – In the closest match of the tournament, Ekurhuleni managed to sneak past Boland to beat them 42-41 in a semi-final decider of the SPAR National Netball Championships.

Adele Niemand from Motheo Free State (left) and Angelique Lochner from Ekurhuleni compete for the ball in their game on the fourth day of the SPAR National Netball Championship being played at the Bellville Velodrome in Cape Town.
Photo by Reg Caldecott

Both teams were undefeated going into the match and fought neck and neck throughout. Boland looked to be the stronger team at the start and crept ahead every now and then. They led 11-9 at the end of the first quarter but Ekurhuleni fought a good fight and trailed by just one goal at half-time (20-19).

Boland increased their lead to 31-28 as nerves seemed to get the better of their opponents in the third quarter but they stepped up their defence and pulled off a remarkable victory in the end.

Ekurhuleni will meet defending champions Gauteng North, who finished top of their pool, in the first semi-final on Friday. Centre player Erin Burger mentioned that the team is feeling positive about their chances. “It helps that we are so far ahead, and are able to play the bench. We are getting better and more confident each game.”

Ekurhuleni coach Manny Ferreira said he was familiar with Gauteng North’s game plan and had worked out a strategy to beat them. “It’s going to be a challenging game and we hope to pull off a big surprise,” said Ferreira. “Our defensive pattern got us through this match against Boland and each and every individual followed the instructions they were given. “We’re a low profile team without any big names but this team has a lot of heart.”

Motheo, last year’s runners-up and winners of the recent National Grand Series, were unbeaten in their four pool matches after defeating Ekurhuleni (who played twice on the same day) 60-25 in an earlier match.

Coach Burta de Kock said Motheo had expected a tougher contest from Ekurhuleni but they were able to use the match to try out different combinations ahead of Friday’s semi-final. “Today we worked on getting the basics right. The girls capitalised on their opportunities, especially in goal,” she said. “We weren’t too sure what to expect from Ekurhuleni. They’re a bit of an unknown quantity under their new coach (Ferreira) and we hadn’t seen them play before. “Once we had built a substantial lead of 27-15 at half-time, we were able to use the third and fourth quarters to look ahead and test different combinations for our next match.”

After a less-than-expected performance against Boland on Wednesday, captain Adele Niemand felt the team had upped their game in today’s match. “Today we had a better game and concentrated on the basics of netball. It’s what works for us,” Niemand said. “All the players know what they have to do in the team so they need to step up and do it.

Despite losing to Gauteng North 34-65 on Thursday, Nelson Mandela Bay made it through to the semis. Disappointed coach Reg Sharp said the girls from Gauteng North were just too strong for them. “We expected an onslaught from them because that’s their style but, to be honest, we were a little overwhelmed,” said Sharp.

“The speed of their play caught us out. We started well and went 3-0 up and then we were level at 6-6, but then we made a few mistakes and they just capitalised on them.” Although losing the match, Sharp remained upbeat and the Eastern Cape side made the most of the situation. “We’re a very young team and we played a very experienced side so we were psychologically bombarded. We played a bit better in the second quarter but when we knew we could never pull it back, it gave us a chance to experiment. “We’re through to the semi-finals so we’re still in with a chance for a medal and, although the result may not show it, we took a lot out of today’s game.”

In the other Section A match played on Thursday, Gauteng West bagged their only win of the tournament narrowly beating Kenneth Kaunda 50-45. The North West South region ended their campaign without a single victory.


A FEATHER IN THEIR CAP, AS GAUTENG NORTH DOMINATE THE COURTS

Bellville, Cape Town – The Gauteng North team was once again on top form today when they beat hosts Western Province 60-29 in the first A section match of the day at the SPAR National Netball Championships.

All sporting feathers in their hair, something of a token of good luck to coach Elize Kotze, the team definitely showed that they have their eyes on the prize at this tournament. However, the first quarter of the match did not emulate that of the rest of it, as Western Province kept up with Gauteng North almost goal for goal. “Province started out so well in the first quarter. They were excellent and we couldn’t break their rhythm” said Kotze. “We need to work on our consistency as we cannot afford a first quarter like we had today.”

Although the Gauteng North team has three SPAR Protea player’s on their side, their strategy for the tournament is to give all players a chance on court, and this seems to be working well for the team. “We’re building every day” said centre player Erin Burger, who also switched positions to play later as goal attack. “I really enjoyed playing on the attack side, it’s a different challenge.”

Fellow Proteas player, Chrisna Bootha who turned 28 on Wednesday played as goal shooter for three quarters of the match and was equally impressive when she was switched to goal attack, ending with a goal scoring percentage of 91. “The match was great today, our defence was strong. I just wanted to improve on my goal percentage so that was a highlight for me, a great birthday present.”

Western Provice’s goal shooter Nuraan Jacobs and wing attack Shela Lekalakala were the strength of the host team. Nuraan was accurate in her shooting in the time that she was on court and Lekalakala darted around the court making the most of Province’s possession. The Pretoria team were forced to raise their game in the second quarter, adding 20 goals and taking a 35-19 lead at half-time. They showed their versatility in the third quarter, making a few changes and were able to use their commanding 22 goal lead to improvise further in the last quarter.

Gauteng North play Nelson Mandela Bay on Thursday and Bootha said they would go and rest before deciding on their tactics for the next game. “We watched a bit of them yesterday and they do their basics well, so we’ll try and force them to make some errors,” Bootha said.

Nelson Mandela Bay, who thumped Griqualand West 53-19 in the last match of the day, should prove a challenge to the star studded Gauteng North side. “We know where their strengths and weaknesses are, so we will adapt our team accordingly,” said Kotze. “They’re a strong side so we will be cautious but, if we’re too careful, then our players lose their instinct and creativity. “It’s important to treasure the ball in hand and be more disciplined. “

Free State Motheo remain unbeaten in the tournament, defeating Boland 41-28 in their match today. Centre Shirolene Smith controlled the middle of the court and said the Bloemfontein team had played well apart from a slight dip in the middle when Boland outscored them by 10 goals to seven in the second half.

Boland’s goal shooter Michelle Segal kept up her impressive record, hardly missing a shot but Motheo stepped up their defence, denying her too many more opportunities. “We had a good start but then made some basic mistakes which we need to work on. We had to work extra hard in defence today but it paid off in the end,” said Smith.

Free State Motheo play Ekurhuleni in the first A section match on Thursday. Ekhurleni, who have also won all of their matches, should provide for some good competition to the Bloemfontein side. “Most of their key players are not here but we can’t underestimate them. They are like Boland and they gel well as a team and have strong goal-scoring unit,” Smith said.

Ekurhuleni beat Kenneth Kaunda 45-50 in their match today, making it the third of three matches the North West Side has lost.


Defending Champs on form in their first match of the SPAR National Champs

Cape Town, South Africa – The star studded defending champions were the team of the day in the second day of the SPAR National Netball Championships at the Bellville Velodrome. Gauteng North beat Griqualand West by a whopping 34 goals, taking the match 61 – 27.

Chrisna Bootha from Gauteng North in action against Griqualand West in their game on the second day of the SPAR National Netball Championships being played at the Bellville Velodrome in Cape Town.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott

Not getting any official match time yesterday, as opponents Gauteng Central failed to arrive, Gauteng North was eager to get onto the court. Although without star players Amanda Mynhardt and Leigh-Ann Zackey, the Gauteng North team is still fielding a number of Protea players and this is visible in the match quality, and score. Centre player Erin Burger who controlled the game and was well supported by her team mates was very pleased with the result, commenting that “it was a good effort and a convincing win.”

With a healthy lead at half time (29-14), which increased steadily in the third quarter, Chrisna Bootha - SPAR Proteas player who has recently moved to this region from Dr Kenneth Kaunda, moved to goal attack, allowing Melissa Myburgh an opportunity in the goal-shooting position. The different combinations worked well for Gauteng North who added 14 goals in the third and 18 in the fourth quarter.

The team’s strategy to give all the players a chance on court and introduce fresh legs as often as possible worked well for them and Burger said she was very happy with the result. “We wanted to give everyone a chance to play good netball, and it was a great start for us providing us with a good platform to build on.”

Bootha is excited about playing for a new region; “the energy is good and the intensity is great. It doesn’t feel like a new team though, since we’ve been playing together for so long!” It’s about playing the game we love and making each other look great, as you would in any team.”

Bootha’s former side Dr Kenneth Kaunda didn’t have as much of a successful match however, as a solid performance from Free State Motheo earned them their second victory on the trot when they beat them 48-27.

Although putting up a fight early in the first quarter, the Free Staters pulled away from their opponents and went into the first break with a 15-10 lead. The gap widened in the second quarter when Motheo were able to turn over the ball more frequently. Both teams made errors and the shooting was less accurate but Motheo still managed to increase their lead to 25-13 at half-time.

Kaunda staged a mini fight-back in the third period but it was never enough as Motheo continued to mount pressure and force their opponents into losing possession. There was no turning back as Motheo outscored the team from North-West South by 11 goals to six in last quarter. SPAR Protea Karla Mostert and captain and goalkeeper Adele Niemand were consistent in defence. “We put in a solid performance and gave it our all again today,” said Niemand. “I am very impressed with our young players who are doing very, very well. It’s scary to come to a senior tournament and perform at this level but they need to get experience and they’re gelling really well with the older players.”

FS Motheo face Boland on Wednesday and will need to be at their best against the Cape side.
“It’s like Boland’s home ground,” said Niemand, “so we will need to be strong, especially in the front, and improve on some of the mistakes we made today.”

In other matches played in the Women’s A section on Tuesday, Nelson Mandela Bay beat Western Province by a large margin of 63-37. Gauteng West had a tough day as they were first beaten by Boland 50-26 and then by Ekurhuleni 55-33.

Tomorrow sees Gauteng North up against Western Province, Ekhurleni v Kenneth Kaunda, FS Motheo v Boland Bizhub, and Griqualand West v Nelson Mandela Bay.


PLENTY OF ACTION ON DAY ONE OF THE SPAR NATIONAL CHAMPS

Cape Town, South Africa- There was no slow start to the SPAR National Netball Championships, as before play had commenced, one of the top A section teams, Gauteng Central, pulled out at the last minute.

According to Netball South Africa (NSA) Executive, Professor Chipeya, coach to the side, called one of the organisers last night at around 19h20 stating without reason that his team would not be coming to the tournament. Bennie Saayman, Director Coaching NSA, said “this was surprising, and we didn’t see it coming as the team had already registered and Gauteng Central’s B and men’s teams are here.”

Gauteng Central A were scheduled to play defending champions Gauteng North A in the opening match of the week-long tournament being held at the Bellville Velodrome, at 8.45am on Monday morning. “We were very disappointed to hear about this” said Elize Kotze, coach of Gauteng North A team. “We were looking forward to a tough match.” “We were offered to play a B side in place of Gauteng Central, but I don’t think that it would be fair. The SPAR National Netball Champs is an elite tournament, and participation in this tournament is a privilege. Teams register in the sections according to their capabilities.”

The women’s A section consisted of 10 teams, divided into two pools of five. All teams in Pool 1 will be given a walkover, earning a maximum two points, for their games originally scheduled against Gauteng Central.

In match action of day one, it was the Free State Motheo team, led by SPAR Proteas assistant coach Burta de Kock, that outshone the other teams with an overwhelming 63-20 victory over Gauteng West.

Playing as the Lightning Roses, the girls from Bloemfontein won the inaugural Netball Grand Series (NGS) on Saturday and were determined to carry forward their winning momentum. They were runners-up at the national championships last year, losing 38-21 in the final to Gauteng North.

Captain Adele Niemand said she was pleased with her team’s performance on Monday and that it was a great start to their campaign. “We want to take our win from the NGS forward with us and let it carry us through to the end,” Niemand said as she came off the court. “I was very impressed with the girls. Free State always struggles with depth, but this time we mean business.”

Niemand said she saw Gauteng North as their biggest threat but each game was a challenge and would be difficult. “But we are going in to every game focused for a win,” she said.

In an earlier match, Western Province beat Griqualand West 46-33 after being a goal down at the end of the first quarter. They held a narrow lead at half-time, scoring 17 goals to Gauteng West’s 15, and steadily increased their lead as the match progressed. The Griquas, who were without their star player Claudia Basson, made two changes to their side in the last quarter but, if anything, it made things worse as Province ran away with the game.

In the last Section A match of the day, Boland beat Kenneth Kaunda from Potchefstroom by 43 goals to 31.


PLAYERS DELIGHTED WITH POTCHEFSTROOM DAVIS CUP VENUE

South Africa - The South African Davis Cup team will have another opportunity to break into the World Group when they face Croatia in a promotion/relegation playoff Tie at the North West University tennis stadium in Potchefstroom from September 16 to 18.

Tickets will go on sale for the Tie at all Postnets from August 23.

While some questions may have been posed as to why a Tie of this nature has not been held in a bigger city, the previous Tie against The Netherlands was hugely supported by the public in Potchefstroom and according to coach John-Laffnie de Jager, they team are happy to go back.

“We had a great win against The Netherlands in Potch and had the best support in years at a Davis Cup Tie,” said De Jager. “It was school holidays so the kids and students were out of town. I think the support will be even greater for this next Tie as the schools and university will be open. I know there has been criticism that we are not playing in one of the major cities, but, we did play five of the last six home ties in Johannesburg or Pretoria and the support was unfortunately below par. What does it help to have home-court advantage and nobody in the stands? The people of Potchefstroom got behind us in July and with the hype of a World Group Playoff, the support will be great.”

The tie is the first between these two nations and while South Africa are looking for their place in the World Group, Croatia will be attempting to stay in the top echelon. They have a respectfully strong team, the core of which is expected headed up by Marin Cilic, big-servers Ivo Karlovic and Ivan Ljubicic plus Ivan Dodig. Croatia have confirmed that they will only name their side according to the rules of the ITF, which is 10 days before the Tie starts allowing them time to secure their best possible side for the Tie.

“This will be a thrilling Tie with a lot at stake and the ticket prices are more than competitive for top-class international tennis” said Ian Smith, CEO of SA Tennis.

Tickets for the Friday’s two single matches are R50, Saturday’s pivotal doubles encounter, R30, and Sunday’s reverse singles matches, R50. The price to attend all three days is R100.

“Both the players and the fans were very happy with the facilities at the university,’’ continued Smith. “The on-site facilities with the hotel and gym are excellent, there is a tremendous sporting culture with university students who all very supportive of our team. In addition the infrastructure was already up there from the Holland Tie, so it made sense to leave it there. It was crucial for me that the players were happy, which is of utmost importance, and it is nice for smaller towns to see our top players in action as it helps promote the game. Finally, from a development point of view, the kids in smaller regions do not get too many opportunities to interact with our top players so they are also thrilled when national teams come to their areas. The ITF inspected the venue last week and expressed their satisfaction on the facility giving it full approval.”


Dorothy Tsotsobe Inducted into gsport Hall of Fame

BY THE GSPORT FEATURES DESK

Eastern Cape women’s rugby pioneer, Dorothy Tsotsobe has been honoured for her selfless contribution to the development of the women’s game in South Africa. She was unveiled as the 2011 gsport Hall of Fame inductee at the 6th Annual gsport Awards, at the prestigious Wanderers Club on Monday.

Winners of the 2011 gsports Awards
Picsture by: Reg Caldectt / gsport


SPAR Sponsorship Manager South Rand, Belinda Nel accepting the gsport Sponsor of the Year award.
Picure by: Reg Caldecott

Tsotsobe joins a star-studded list of women in the gsport Hall of Fame, including swimming icon, Penny Heyns, marathon queen, Elana Meyer, eighties netball phenomenon, Hazel Gumede, former Banyana Banyana captain Desiree Ellis, and newly elected vice president of Athletics South Africa (ASA), Motlatsi Keikabile.
Ten years ago, Tsotsobe gathered a group of enthusiastic women, and started women’s rugby in her community of Kwamagxaki. The women’s game quickly spread to other communities, and today, women’s rugby in the province is thriving.
Tsotsobe’s work is reflected in the fact that the Eastern Province (EP) won the provincial league title two years ago and has become an unofficial feeder to the national team, with a host of current national players coming from EP.
The Tsotsobe family is known across the Eastern Cape for their passionate contribution to sport. Tsotsobe’s late husband, Toto, excelled in rugby, and Dorothy is the mother of former Springbok women’s rugby captain, Nomsebenzi, and Proteas fast bowler, Lonwabo.
Tsotsobe was the first woman ever to serve on the South African Rugby Union (SARU) Presidents Council, under the leadership of Brian van Rooyen in 2004, and is currently the only woman serving on the Eastern Province Rugby Executive. She is also the Eastern Province women’s rugby coordinator.
On receiving her cut crystal award from 2010 gsport Hall of Fame recipient, Motlatsi Keikabile, Tsotsobe said: “It is an honour and a privilege to receive this award. I would like to thank people of South Africa for the interest and belief they have shown in what we do as sport loving women of South Africa. It is something I will treasure for the rest of my life,” said Tsotsobe.
The cream of South African women’s sport gathered for the 6th Annual gsport Awards, an event held annually to laud the valuable contributions of individuals dedicated to the promotion of women’s sport in South Africa.
Leading international goal scorer and national hockey star, Pietie Coetzee, was named the 2011 gStar of the Year. This award recognises an athlete who stands out because of her achievements, both on and off the field. Coetzee brought an extended hockey career to a remarkable apex in the 2010/2011 season, when she became the player with the most number of test goals to her name, eclipsing the previous world record of 220. Having come back to the game after an earlier retirement, Coetzee has demonstrated that her place in history is well-deserved.
Deputy editor of Kick Off Magazine, Melissa Reddy, won the 2011 gsport Woman in Media award. This award recognises a woman who has made her mark in the male-dominated field of sports media. Reddy has risen through the ranks with astonishing pace, both as an on-air football analyst for SuperSport, and in her position as deputy editor of Kick Off Magazine, Africa’s biggest soccer site.
World leader in visual performance, Dr. Sherylle Calder, walked away with the 2011 gsport Woman of the Year award, which recognises a South African woman active in the sports arena. With her ground-breaking development in the field of visual performance skills, the internationally-recognised Dr. Calder has enabled individuals at home and around the world to dramatically improve their effectiveness in sport, business, academia and in life, generally.
FHM Sexiest Woman of the Year, Shashi Naidoo, was named the 2011 gsport Style Star of the Year. The Style Star of the Year award is presented to a woman whose style exudes confidence, passion and self belief. After years studying medicine, Naidoo broke onto the public stage with appearances in multiple television platforms, before she consolidated her status among the trend-setters at her talent management agency, Alushi.
Long time women’s sport sponsor, SPAR, won the inaugural gsport Sponsor of the Year award, which acknowledges outstanding commitment to women’s sport by Corporate South Africa.
Surfing South Africa won the inaugural Sports Federation of the Year award, which shows appreciation for the increased effort being made by sporting bodies to raise the profile of women’s sport.
Masalang Mshayisa won the gsport Volunteer of the Year award, for her concerted efforts to promote athletics among the youth. Mshayisa, a national coach with Athletics South Africa, is also Chairperson of Central Gauteng Women’s Athletics, she also runs a Non Governmental Organisation called Nurturing Orphans of AIDS for Humanity (NOAH), which encourages sports participation among the orphans its cares for.
gsport editor and founder, Kass Naidoo, said: “Congratulations to all the winners. gsport enjoys unearthing role models, and for the past six years, we have had the opportunity to celebrate some amazing winners at the gsport. Our aim is to raise the profile of women’s sport significantly to convince Corporate South Africa to back our female athletes. An event like this helps showcase the best of women’s sport in South Africa.
“gsport would like to thank its awards sponsors HRG Rennies Travel and Big Five Duty Free for making today possible,” said Naidoo.
gsport’s esteemed panel of judges included 2008 gsport Hall of Fame recipient, Hazel Gumede, Sports media veteran, Jane Bramley and Diamond Face Couture Owner, Uyanda Mbuli. They, along with a gsport representative, were tasked with choosing the four Leading Ladies of the Year.
Follow all the gsport Awards action on gsport.co.za, facebook.com/gsport4girls and twitter.com/gsport4girls.

The gsport… for Girls! Honours Roll:

2011 gsport Awards:
Dorothy Tsotsobe (2011 gsport Hall of Fame Inductee), Dr Sherylle Calder (2011 gsport Woman of the Year), Melissa Reddy (2011 gsport Woman in Media), Shashi Naidoo (2011 gsport Style Star), Pietie Coetzee (2011 gStar Award), Surfing South Africa (2011 Sports Federation of the Year), SPAR (2011 Sponsor of the Year), and Masalang Moshaisa (2011 gsport Volunteer of the Year).

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