WTA PLAYERS AND TEB BNP PARIBAS DONATE US$250,000 TO SUPPORT TURKEY’S EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS

ISTANBUL, TURKEY – Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Players and TEB BNP Paribas, the title sponsor of the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships, made a joint donation of US$250,000 to the Turkish Red Crescent to support the victims of the recent devastating earthquake in Turkey. Close to 600 people died and more than 2,300 were injured during the country’s most powerful earthquake in more than a decade. WTA stars participating in the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships donated a percentage of their Championships prize money which was matched by both the WTA and TEB BNP Paribas.

The Turkish Red Crescent is Turkey’s arm of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the world’s largest humanitarian network. Turkish Red Crescent took immediate action after the earthquake, mobilizing its staff and emergency supplies for thousands of victims.

“Through the four years that we’ve been preparing for the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships in Turkey, we’ve established a deep connection to this wonderful country and its people,” said Stacey Allaster, Chairman and CEO of the WTA. “WTA players and our partner TEB BNP Paribas wanted to show support for those affected by the earthquake in hopes that our collective donation can help some of the neediest at this time.”

TEB BNP Paribas is very pleased to join WTA players in helping raise funds for the earthquake victims in Turkey,” said Varol Civil, CEO of TEB BNP Paribas. “Turkey has been incredibly kind and welcoming to us and we want to assist in some way the victims of this terrible disaster. We hope that the funds we generated this week for the victims can ease at least a little bit of their pain. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the earthquake,” said Petra Kvitova.


NIKE JUNIOR TOUR SOUTH AFRICAN MASTERS 2011 CHAMPIONS

Stellenbosch, South Africa – The Nike Junior Tour South African Masters hosted at Kainos Tennis Academy, University of Stellenbosch, ended on a high note as finalists fought for top honours. The winners go on to represent South Africa at the Nike Junior Tour International Masters, Club Med Sand Piper Bay, Florida USA, from the 7th to the 14th of December 2011.

Winners picture from Left to right: Brandon Laubser, Gauteng East (under 14 boys); Christiaan Worst, Gauteng North (under 12 boys); Zani Barnard North West Province (under 12 girls); Nadine De Villiers, Gauteng Central (under 14 girls).
Picture Credit: Diane Pritchard/ Caylix Sport

Winners picture from Left to right: Brandon Laubser, Gauteng East (under 14 boys); Christiaan Worst, Gauteng North (under 12 boys); Jason Smit, Team Coach; Zani Barnard North West Province (under 12 girls); Nadine De Villiers, Gauteng Central (under 14 girls).
Picture Credit: Diane Pritchard/ Caylix Sport


NIKE JUNIOR TOUR SOUTH AFRICAN MASTERS

NIKE JUNIOR TOUR SOUTH AFRICAN MASTERS
KAINOS TENNIS ACADEMY, UNIVERSITY OF STELLENBOSCH
STELLENBOSCH
20 October – 23 October 2011

SEMI FINAL RESULTS
GIRLS UNDER 12
Lee Barnard (NW) bt Kirsty Orton (WP) 6-2 6-2
Zani Barnard (NW) bt Minette Van Vreden (BOL) 6-2 6-3

BOYS UNDER 12
Christiaan Worst (GN) bt Joshua Howard-Tripp (GE) 6-3 6-1
Richard Thongoana (GC) bt Lance Pierre Du Toit (BOL) 6-1 6-4

GIRLS UNDER 14
Nadine De Villiers (GC) bt Rouxanne Janse Van Rensburg (BOL) 7-6(2) 6-2
Tyra Timm (GC) bt Huibre-Mare Botes (FS) 4-6 7-5 6-2

BOYS UNDER 14
Francois Kellerman (WP) bt Michiel Van Schoor (BOL) 7-6(5) 6-4
Brandon Laubser (GE) bt Lloyd Harris (WP) 6-2 6-2

FINALS RESULTS

GIRLS UNDER 12
Zani Barnard (NW) bt Lee Barnard (NW) 6-2 6-2

Boys Under 12
Christiaan Worst (GN) bt Richard Thongoana (GC) 6-1 6-1

GIRLS UNDER 14
Nadine De Villiers (GC) bt Tyra Timm (GC) 6-3 6-0

BOYS UNDER 14
Brandon Laubser (GE) bt Francois Kellerman (WP) 6-4 6-3


MALAWI QUEENS REIGN SUPREME

Perth, Australia – After defeating the Malawi Queens at the World Netball Championships in July, the SPAR Proteas walked on court confident that they could defeat their African nemesis. However, it was the Malawians that were the better team today (Sunday), as the Proteas made some fatal errors, often losing the ball to their opponents, which proved to be costly.

SPAR Proteas Zukelwa Cwaba in action against the Malawi Queens during the curtain raiser match for the Australian Diamonds and New Zealand Silver Ferns at the Holden Series, on Sunday 23 October.
Pictures credit: Netball Australia / David Callow

South Africa was the first to score at the start of the match, but lost their lead early on, and never regained it. Despite it being a tight first quarter, Malawi was quick to overtake and was leading the Proteas 6/2 by the eleven minute mark. By the end of the first quarter Malawi lead South Africa by 15 goals to 8.

SPAR Proteas coach Elize Kotze made a number of changes to the team for the second quarter. Replacing the wing defence position of Thuli Qegu with Vice-Captain Zanele Mdodana, and changing the defence and attack to allow for Anja Opperman and Zukelwa Cwaba to have some court time, didn’t make the difference that the team so desperately needed. “We knew that Malawi was running away with us” said Mdodana after the match. “It seemed surreal, we knew we needed to pick it up, but just couldn’t get it right.” The Queens led at half time by 32/16.

The SPAR Proteas started to show a bit more vigor in the third quarter and managed to score 13 goals to Malawi’s 15, but it still wasn’t enough. The Malawian team was quicker, and more determined. “We need to take a serious look at player commitment” said Proteas coach Elize Kotze. “A positive aspect of this match, was that it enabled team management to see who would, and who wouldn’t make it as an international player. We are not going to carry players anymore.”

Towards the end of the match, South Africa lost momentum and motivation, and ended with a loss of 37/61 to the Malawi Queens. “We had a very young team on court today” said Kotze post-match, “The fact that three of our core players from World Cup were missing really showed.” Leigh-Ann Zackey, who has recently retired from netball, Claudia Basson and Maryka Holzthausen were not available, and the lack of maturity and expertise on court was evident.

“It will always be difficult for me to lose a game” said Kotze, “as there is always a lot at stake.” “We now know that we need to make some serious changes if we are going to get back into the top four countries in the world.”

The Proteas will be returning to South Africa on the morning of Wednesday 26 October. Their next international tournament will be the Fast Net, taking place in Liverpool from the 7th-9th November 2011.


ELECTIONS ARE NOT OUR PRIMARY FOCUS, SAYS MTHETHWA

Perth, Western Australia - Although the Netball South Africa (NSA) Executive Committee elections take place on Saturday, NSA President Mimi Mthethwa and Vice President Blanche de la Guerre are focusing their attention elsewhere.

Mthethwa and De la Guerre are in Perth to learn as much as they can from the very successful Western Australian Netball Union about growing netball as a sport, with a view to it becoming a professional sporting code along the lines of cricket, rugby and soccer. “Elections aren’t something we worry about,” said Mthethwa. “We need to concentrate on what is important and that is why we are in Perth this week.”

They have had meetings with various officials who have advised them on the way forward. “Being here really shows us the areas in which we are lacking,” said De la Guerre. “If we are going to be a successful netball nation, we need to have a fixed office with a fixed staff contingent, and backing from government.”

They will also meet the chief executive of Netball Australia, Kate Palmer, to discuss various issues, including the welfare of players, before flying home for the special NSA meeting ahead of the elections.
“Everything that we are doing here in Perth is testimony to our passion for netball” Mthethwa said. “I have never believed in campaigning for elections, and I’m not going to start now. If people cannot see what I have done and am doing for netball, then they mustn’t vote for me.”
Mthethwa and De la Guerre are are both being challenged by Nompumelo (Mpumi) Javu of the Eastern Cape and Kgapane Rrabotho of Gauteng Central. There are five candidates for the influential position of Director of Selection, currently held by Javu. The other candidates are Rrabotho, Sandra Khati, Christine du Preez and former national coach Louise du Plessis.
The two senior executives will miss the Test between the SPAR South African team and Malawi, which is to be played as a curtain-raiser before an encounter between world champions Australia and silver medalists New Zealand.


NIKE JUNIOR TOUR INTERNATIONAL SOUTH AFRICAN MASTERS DRAW ANNOUNCEMENT

Johannesburg, South Africa - The draw for the 2011 Nike Junior Tour South African Masters was announced in Johannesburg today. The tournament to be played at the Kainos Tennis Academy, University of Stellenbosch will be played from Thursday 20th of October through to Sunday 23rd of October.
Catering for the under 12 and under 14 players, the Nike Junior Tour Masters has six direct acceptances with four wild cards in each age group. The ten players in each age group are drawn into two groups of five players who play a round robin over three days in each respective group. The top two players in each group then progress to the semi-finals and finals.
The South African Tennis Association also announced that in the girls under 12 group Alexis Tensfeldt ranked 6th was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to an injury. Her place in the draw will be taken by Carlia Venter from the Free State.
The Draw is as follows:

GIRLS UNDER 12
MARIA SHARAPOVA (GROUP 1)
[1] Lee Barnard (NW)
[4] Mila Hartig (GN)
Carli venter (FS)
[8] Margo landmann (FS)
[10] Minette van Vreden (BOL) WC

LI NA (GROUP 2)
[2] Zani Barnard (NW)
[3] Ciney Bekker (SWD)
[5] Maxine Bateman (KZN)
[7] Kirsty Orton (WP) WC
[9] Zoe Kruger (GN) WC

BOYS UNDER 12
ROGER FEDERER (GROUP 1)
[1] Christiaan Worst (GN)
[4] Philip Henning (FS)
[6] Siphosothando Montsi (BOR)
[8] Matthew Johnson (WP) WC
[10] Lance-Pierre Du Toit (BOL) WC

JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO (GROUP 2)
[2] Janre Viljoen (EC)
[3] Lleyton Cronje (GN)
[5] Richard Thongoana (GC)
[7] Benjamin Liebenberg (SWD) WC
[9] Joshua Howard-Tripp (GE) WC

GIRLS UNDER 14
SERENA WILLIAMS (GROUP 1)
[1] Katherine Poluta (WP)
[4] Tayla Zurfluh (GE)
[6] Nadine De Villiers (GC)
[8] Tyra Timm (GC) WC
[10] Louise-Mare Botes (FS) WC

VICTORIA AZARENKA (GROUP 2)
[2] Huibre-Mare Botes (FS)
[3] M Jane van Rensburg (BOL)
[5] R Janse Rensburg (BOL)
[7] Philippa Liasides (KZN) WC
[9] Kelsey Joffe (GC) WC

BOYS UNDER 14
RAFAEL NADAL (GROUP 1)
[1] Brandon Laubser (GE)
[4] Jan-Louis Maritz (BOL)
[6] Francois Kellerman (WP)
[8] Calvin Jordaan (WP) WC
[10] Jandre Lessing (EC) WC

TOMAS BERDYCH (GROUP 2)
[2] Okkie Kellerman (WP)
[3] Jan Berry (FS)
[5] Lloyd Harris (WP)
[7] Marnich Hattingh (GN) WC
[9] Michiel Van Schoor (BOL) WC


TOP FIELD OF JUNIOR TENNIS PLAYERS ANNOUNCED FOR NIKE JUNIOR TOUR MASTERS

Johannesburg, South Africa - The South African Tennis Association today (Monday) named a top field of junior players to compete in the Nike Junior Tour Masters this week in Stellenbosch from the 20th to the 23rd of October. The tournament will be played at The Kainos Tennis Academy, University of Stellenbosch.
The Nike Junior Tour, the world’s most prestigious and biggest junior tennis initiative is played by over 64 000 players from 31 countries around the world. The Nike Junior Tour has been played in South Africa since 1998.
The winners of the Stellenbosch showdown will represent South Africa at the Nike Junior Tour International Masters to be played at Club Med, Sandpiper Bay in Florida, USA in December.
Catering for the under 12 and under 14 players, the Nike Junior Tour Masters has six direct acceptances with four wild cards in each age group. The ten players in each age group are drawn into two groups of five players who play a round robin over three days in each respective group. The top two players in each group then progress to the semi-finals and finals.
The players are as follows;
Under 14 Boys : Brandon Laubser (GE), Okkie Kellerman (WP), Jan Berry (FS), Jan-Louis Maritz (BOL), Lloyd Harris (WP), Francois Kellerman (WP); Wild Cards: Marnich Hattingh (GN), Calvin Jordaan (WP), Michiel Van Schoor (BOL), Jandré Lessing (EC).
Under 12 Boys : Christiaan Worst (GN), Janre Viljoen (EC), Lleyton Cronje (GN), Philip Henning (FS), Richard Thongoana (GC), Siphosothando Montsi (BOR); Wild Cards: Benjamin Liebenberg (SWD), Matthew Johnson (WP), Joshua Howard-Tripp (GE), Lance-Pierre Du Toit (BOL).
Under 14 Girls : Katherine Poluta (WP), Huibre-Mare Botes (FS), Marsha-Ann Jansen Van Rensburg (BOL), Tayla Zurfluh (GE), Rouxanne Janse Van Rensburg (BOL), Nadine De Villiers (GC); Wild Cards: Phillipa Liasides (KZN), Tyra Timm (GC), Kelsey Joffe (GC), Louise-Mare Botes (FS).
Under 12 Girls : Lee Barnard (NW), Zani Barnard (NW), Ciney Bekker (SWD), Mila Hartig (GN), Maxine Bateman (KZN), Alexis Tensfeldt (GC); Wild Cards: Kirsty Orton (WP), Margo Landmann (FS), Zoe Kruger (GN), Minette Van Vreden (BOL).
The draw for the tournament will be announced Tuesday 18 October 2011.


VAN BLERK RUNS AWAY WITH SPAR GRAND PRIX

Johannesburg, South Africa - For the second year in succession, Nedbank CGA athlete Irvette van Blerk has been the runaway winner of the R60 000 SPAR Grand Prix.

Irvette van Blerk (Nedbank CGA) crosses the line to win the SPAR Women’s Challenge which took place at Old Parks in Johannesburg on Sunday 09 October 2011, confirming her win of the SPAR Grand Prix.
Picture: Reg Caldecott

Van Blerk had a comfortable victory in the final SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge race in Johannesburg on Sunday to add to her victories in Durban and Pretoria. She finished second in Port Elizabeth and fourth in Cape Town.

Van Blerk collected a massive total of 126 points from the five races, 37 points clear of her nearest rival, Zintle Xiniwe of Nedbank WP, who finished with 89 points. Xiniwe receives prize money of R30 000.

Mr Price AGN’s Charne Bosman had plenty to smile about. Her third position on the final GP ladder is evidence that the Grand Prix is all about consistency and taking part in as many Challenge races as possible. Bosman’s best position in any of the races was fifth in Pretoria, but she finished in the top 10 in four of the races and 14th in Durban, and this was enough to accumulate 63 points – one more than Diana-Lebo Phalula of Gauteng Striders, who won in Port Elizabeth and finished third in Johannesburg on Sunday. That one point was worth R5 000, with Bosman pocketing R15 000 and Phalula R10 000.

Because one of South Africa’s leading veteran runners,Grace de Oliviera (Boxer) moved from veterans to masters in August, the veteran and master prizes were split into two sections: the Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban races in section one, and the Pretoria and Johannesburg races in section two. The winner of section one received R1800 and section two R1200.

The great Zola Budd topped the log in the section two veterans category, while De Oliviera finished on top of the masters category. Evergreen Sonja Laxton (RAC), who has won more titles than she can remember, was top grandmaster and Happiness Mkhize of Tuks was the top junior. They will both receive R3 000.

Even though she has not yet spent her winnings from last year, Van Blerk was overjoyed to have won the Grand Prix again. “It’s a great motivator,” she enthused. “It certainly makes you want to run as many of the races as possible so that you are in line for a nice cash pay out to put a smile on your face. Because there’s a lot at stake, the girls really give their all, and the SPAR races have become very important on the running calendar.”


NATIONAL JUNIOR TENNIS CHAMPS CROWNED IN BLOEMFONTEIN

Bloemfontein - The City of Roses, Bloemfontein is proving to be a happy hunting ground for one of the countries brightest tennis prospects, Lynn Kiro. Kiro originally from Cape Town, but, now training at the ITF Training centre in Pretoria defended her under 18 Key Health National Junior tennis title in the Free State capital on Monday. The informed Kiro who has just returned from duty in Mexico where she was part of the South African junior Fed Cup team, beat third seeded Chloe Heerden (Western Province), 6-0 6-2 in the final.

Lynn Kiro in action.

What makes Kiro special is that the tall, strong player is only 16 years old and for the past two years playing up an age group has been triumphant.

“I am very happy to have won today. I am working hard at being the best I can be and playing out of my age group is always a challenge, but, the win has helped me prove to myself that the hard work is paying off and my strategy is working” said Kiro following victory.

The Boys under 18 title was won by tournament favourite, Warren Khun of Johannesburg in a hard fought battle over second seed Christiaan van der Burgh of Boland 6-2 3-6 6-3.

In a minor upset in the boys under 16, third seeded Lloyd Harris of Western Province came from a set down to beat top seeded Ryan Laubser of Gauteng East. After losing the opening set 3-6, Harris found himself a break and 3-4 in the second. But, Harris fought back to win the second set 7-5 and the final set 6-3 to win his career second national singles title. Harris who won the national title when he was under 12 was an unlucky losing under 14 finalist last year. “Tennis is my life and wins like today make my love for the game even more sweet” said Harris. “I am working at being a professional and when you win a national title you realize that the effort and dedication from me, my family and coach pays off.”

In the under girls 16, giant killer Bianca Birkenstock of Durban crowned the week of her life when she beat Free State’s fifth seed Nelsie Vester 7-6(6) 6-2.

In the under 14 age group, Brandon Laubser the younger brother of Ryan who reached the under 16 final, was far too composed for Calvin Jordaan of Cape Town. Laubser beat Jordaan, the fifth seed 6-2 6-4 to win the title. The girls title was won by top seed Nadine De Villiers. In a one vs two final, De Villiers beat Kimberly Botha of North West 6-3 6-3.

In the under 12 age group, the boys title was won by Christiaan Worst and the girls title went to Margo Landman.


VAN BLERK TRIUMPHS AGAIN AT SPAR WOMEN’S CHALLENGE

Johannesburg, South Africa – Nedbank CGA’s Irvette van Blerk had plenty to celebrate on Sunday with her emphatic victory in the Spar Women’s 10km Challenge at Old Parktonians in Randburg.
Van Blerk also won the Durban and Pretoria legs of the race, after finishing second in Port Elizabeth and fourth in Cape Town, and her victory ensured that she was a clear winner of the R60 000 Spar Grand Prix.
Rutendo Nyahora of Nedbank AGN was second, followed by Gauteng Strider’s Lebogang Phalula.
Rene Kalmer, who kept pace with Van Blerk in the early stages, dropped out of the race because of an ITB injury. Kalmer has twice won the Grand Prix.
Van Blerk went into the lead from the start, and extended her lead as the race continued.
“I had a very good run, although it was a tough course,” said Van Blerk. “I decided to go hard – I knew that if I won the Grand Prix, but didn’t win the race, it would be an anti-climax. So I decided to go all out, and then if I didn’t win, I would know I have given it my best.”
“I thought that maybe the new course wasn’t as hilly as last year, but there was a big surprise waiting for me at 8kms.”
Van Blerk said she had not looked back during the race, although she was expected Kalmer, Nyahora or Phalula to catch up with her at some stage.
“So I just kept going hard, and they didn’t catch up,” she smiled.
Nyahora and Phalula ran together for much of the race, but Nyahora pulled away at the 7km mark.
“I really wanted to win this one, but I was determined to do as well as I could,” said Nyahora. “So although we had been running together, I decided I had to get away from Lebo.”
Van Blerk said she was overjoyed to win her second Grand Prix, but that her focus was now switching to the marathon.
“I want to qualify for the Olympic Games in London next year,” she said. “I think I’m the right age now, and I really enjoy half-marathons, so why shouldn’t I enjoy two back-to back half-marathons.”
She rejected suggestions that she should aim for the 10 000m at the Olympics.
“I’m a road runner,” she said. “I don’t like track – I find it very boring.”
There was a record entry of 10 534 runners, despite the Rugby World Cup quarter-final between South Africa and Australia being played at the same time. The Springbok loss did not dampen spirits on a glorious summer day and the Celebrity Relay, in which celebrities Poppy Ntshongwana, Vanessa Carreira, Romy Titus, Carol Manana and Nicole Flint, accompanied by members of the Spar national netball team took part, gave the race’s designated charity, Reach for Recovery, reason to celebrate by raising R40 000, in addition to the money Reach for Recovery receives from the proceeds of the race.


ALL SMILES ON RACE DAY

Pictures taken on race day of the SPAR Women’s Challenge at Old Parktonians Sports Club, on 9 October 2011.
Our lovely SA celebs holding the Torch of Hope before they set out on their relay. R40 000 was handed over to Reach for Recovery after the race.

In this picture; Nicole, Carol, Romy, Vanessa and Poppy.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott


VAN BLERK IN POLE POSITION FOR SPAR GRAND PRIX

Johannesburg, South Africa - The SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge at Old Parktonians in Randburg on Sunday morning is expected to feature a battle royal among some of South Africa’s top road runners.

Nedbank CGA teammates, Irvette van Blerk and Rene Kalmer, have dominated the SPAR Challenge in recent years, although Kalmer is focussing on qualifying for the Marathon at the Olympic Games in London next year. This year, Kalmer won the first Challenge race, in Cape Town, but missed the Port Elizabeth and Pretoria races because of international commitments. Stomach cramps forced her out of the Durban race.

Van Blerk, who finished fourth in Cape Town and second in Port Elizabeth, won both the Durban and Pretoria races, and will be defending her title in Johannesburg on Sunday. She is the favourite to win the race and to collect her second Grand Prix cheque.

Diana-Lebo Phalula, who won the Port Elizabeth Challenger, and her twin sister Lebogang, are also strong contenders. Poppy Mlambo, who has been out of action with an ITB injury, is running again and is always competitive. Other top runners are Christine Kalmer, Annerien van Schalkwyk, Zintle Xiniwe of Cape Town, and the Zimbabwean runner Rutendo Nyahora.

“The course is quite hilly, and that might suit Rene,” said Van Blerk. “She is good on the hills and she is running well at the moment, so I will have to do well to beat her. The Phalula twins are hard to beat, and Rutendo is very good.”

If she finishes in the top three, Van Blerk is assured of a handsome cheque for R60 000 for winning the SPAR Grand Prix. She has 96 points after four races, and has a lead of 23 points over her nearest rival Xiniwe. Xiniwe has a remote mathematical chance of overtaking Van Blerk on the Grand Prix leaderboard, but the likelihood is that Van Blerk will win the Grand Prix for the second year in a row.

Van Schalkwyk is in third position, with 55 points, followed by Charne Bosman and Catherine Skosana on 49 points each.

Kalmer, who has twice won the Grand Prix, is out of contention for the top prize, after missing three of this year’s races, but she will win some money if she finishes in the top 20 on the leaderboard. The Grand Prix is worth a massive R170 000, with the runner with the most points after all five races receiving R60 000. The runner-up receives R30 000, and the third place athlete R15 000. There are cash prizes for the top 20 runners on the leaderboard and certificates for all athletes who earn Grand Prix points.

“The Grand Prix is a great idea – it really adds something,” said Van Blerk. “The girls certainly bring their A-game when they know how much money is at stake. And most of the top runners now try to run all five of the SPAR races. “Thinking about the money certainly puts a smile on your face,” she laughed.

Nedbank runner Irvette van Blerk can expect an injection of cash on Sunday, if she finishes in the top three in the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge at Old Parktonians in Randburg. Van Blerk, with 96 points, has a comfortable lead on the SPAR Grand Prix leaderboard, well ahead of her nearest rival, Zintle Xiniwe of Cape Town, who has 73 points. There is a remote mathematical possibility that Xiniwe could overtake Van Blerk on the leaderboard, but to do so, Van Blerk would have to finish outside the top 20, and Xiniwe would need to win in a time faster than that set last year.


PROTEAS PACKED FOR PERTH

Johannesburg, South Africa - The selectors have chosen a strong SPAR National Netball Team to travel to Perth later this month for a one-off Test against Malawi on October 23.

While some members of the squad that finished fifth at the World Championships in Singapore in July were not available for selection there is plenty of experience in the squad. Anja Opperman and Karla Mostert are new to the squad, while Adele Niemand, who played in the 2007 World Championships, makes a welcome return. All members of the squad are part of the training squad selected after the SPAR National Championships in Cape Town in August.

Niemand, Mostert and Opperman replace Claudia Basson, Maryke Holtzhausen and Leigh-Ann Zackey. Basson and Holtzhausen were not available because of work and exam commitments, while Zackey has retired from international netball.

One of the strengths of the South African team is the presence of centre court player Erin Burger, who was named Player of the Tournament at the World Championships. “I’m very excited to have Adele back in the team, although I am very sad that Leigh-Ann has retired. Leigh-Ann has a wonderful understanding of international netball. But having Adele in the team means that we can keep Amanda (Mynhardt) as goalkeeper, where she is at her best.”

“This match is of extreme importance to the Proteas,” said coach Elize Kotze. “We need to build on what we achieved in Singapore. “What is also very exciting is that New Zealand have asked to play a training match against us. We need to keep playing the top sides if we are going to learn how to play at the highest level. In the World Championships, we won the first quarter against New Zealand. We need to build on that – hold them for two quarters, and then eventually we’ll be able to beat them again.” South Africa beat New Zealand in the semi-finals of the World Championships in 1995, when they finished runners-up after losing to Australia in the final.

Kotze said that former Australian coach Norma Plummer, regarded as one of the best in the world, had offered to spend some time with the South African team at the Australian Sports Institute. “That is a wonderful opportunity for us,” said Kotze. “I also look forward to learning from her, because I am very much a rookie in international netball.”

The Proteas will be taking part in a festival of netball and hockey to coincide with the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting taking place in the Western Australian city. There will be a hockey tournament involving Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, India and Malaysia, and two international netball matches. South Africa, ranked fifth in the world, will take on sixth-ranked Malawi as a curtain-raiser to the Test between world champions Australia and world number one New Zealand.

Matches between South Africa and Malawi are always hotly contested. Malawi was for some time South Africa’s nemesis, but the SPAR Proteas bounced back at the World Championships with a hard-fought 52-50 victory over their fellow Africans. The Proteas will be determined to continue that trend and justify their ranking as the number one team in Africa.

The match between Australia and New Zealand should also be a thriller. Australia and New Zealand were neck and neck throughout the World Championship final. Australia snatched victory in the last seconds of extra time, and the Silver Ferns, still smarting from that loss, are likely to go hard at the home side.

SPAR National Netball Team: Amanda Mynhardt (capt), Zanele Mdodana (vice-capt), Chrisna Bootha, Erin Burger, Zukelwa Cwaba, Vanes-Mari du Toit, Tsakane Mbewe, Karla Mostert, Bongiwe Msomi, Adele Niemand, Anja Opperman, Nokuthula Qegu.


TOP TENNIS FOR STELLENBOSCH

Johannesburg, South Africa - The crème of South Africa’s junior tennis will travel to Stellenbosch from the 20th to the 23rd of October 2011 for The Nike Junior Tour Masters. The tournament will be played at The Kainos Tennis Academy.

13 year old Rafael Nadal winning the under 14 boys event of the 2000 Nike Junior Tour International Masters played in Sun City South Africa
Picture by: Jan Hamman

The Nike Junior Tour, the world’s most prestigious and biggest junior tennis initiative is played by over 64 000 players from 31 countries around the world. The Nike Junior Tour has been played in South Africa since 1998.

Catering for the under 12 and under 14 players, the Nike Junior Tour in South Africa comprises of six tournaments played throughout the year in various centres around the country. Players ranked within the top 6 of Nike Junior Tour race at the end of the year automatically qualify for the Stellenbosch showdown, with four wild cards per age group nominated by The South African Tennis Association.

World number 2, Rafael Nadal, patron of the Nike Junior Tour and three times winner as a junior said that South Africa is an established tennis nation with a rich tennis history and he hoped that the Nike Junior Tour would complement this tradition and encourage all the junior players of South Africa to work hard and earn their spot on the professional circuit.
“I have very good memories of South Africa having won two of my three Nike Junior Tour events at Sun City and then being invited as a guest back to South Africa for the NJT International Masters in 2003” said Nadal. “I also was in your country last year to celebrate with my Spanish soccer team who won the FIFA World Cup. On all four occasions that I have been in South Africa, I enjoyed the good weather, beautiful scenery and the warm, friendly people. I even rode on an elephant!!!” continued Nadal.

The tournament is played in a round robin format with cross over semifinals. The eventual winners in the four age-groups will then represent South Africa at the Nike Junior Tour International Masters to be played in December at Club Med Sandpiper Bay in Florida, USA.

“The Nike Juniors Tour is an extension of Nike’s commitment to youth development in sport, as this tournament caters for the aspiring tennis players to show off their skills in a controlled, competitive environment. The tournament serves as a great and successful platform to fast track young tennis players into professional structures,” said Seruscka Naidoo, Communications Manager, Nike South Africa.

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