SOWETO TO HOST SA VS SLOVENIA DAVIS CUP TIE

Johannesburg, South Africa - Despite the recent loss of the Soweto Open, international tennis will continue at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre with the announcement that the first-ever Davis Cup tie between South Africa and Slovenia will be played at the Soweto venue.

The Euro/Africa Zone Group I encounter will take place from April 6 to 8. A victory here will put captain John-Laffnie de Jager and his team into the World Group play-offs for the fourth successive year.

This will be the second time South Africa have played a Davis Cup tie at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Stadium. The other occasion was in 2009 against Belarus. If that contest is anything to go by, the venue has proved a happy hunting ground for the team as they beat Belarus 5-0. In addition, SA players Izak van der Merwe won the Soweto Open while Rik de Voest has been a runner-up at the event.

The centre court at the Arthur Ashe Stadium has been good to Rik and Izak with Rik making the semis and finals of the Soweto Open and Izak making the finals and winning the title,” said De Jager. “We are happy to play at high altitude and hopefully the people of Soweto and the rest of Joburg and Gauteng will come and support us.”

The South Africa Tennis Association (SATA) has made it a lot easier for the public to attend the tie. “It is vital that tennis fans get behind the team and for that reason there will be no charge to come and watch the tie,” explained SATA CEO Ian Smith. “We will make it as easy as possible for people to get there and there will be safe parking available. Soweto is a popular tourist destination and coming to support the Davis Cup gives the public a chance of combining good tennis with a real special cultural and historic experience.”

“We have a team which has the capacity to win this tie and get us into the World Group. We sadly lost our last tie against Croatia but two of our key players – Kevin Anderson and Izak van der Merwe – were struggling with injuries and could not give of their best. However, now fit and well, I have complete faith that our boys can take us all the way.”

According to Davis Cup rules, two singles matches will be played on Friday April 6, the doubles rubber on Saturday April 7 and the reverse singles on Sunday April 8. All matches are played as the best of five sets until the tie has been decided.

Further details about the times, the team and the park-and-ride facilities will be announced at a later date.


WHEELCHAIR TENNIS PLAYERS FACE TOUGH CHALLENGE IN KENYA

Kenya - The road to qualifying for the 2012 BNP Paribas World Team Cup for the SA ladies team will begin in Kenya. Our ladies team, together with other wheelchair tennis athletes from around Africa will be heading to Nairobi to compete in the BNP Paribas World Team Cup Africa Regional Qualifier scheduled to take place from the 27 February to 03 March 2012.

The Wheelchair Tennis South African trio of Celia du Toit, Rose van der Meer, and Mabel Mankgele will be facing tough competition from the other African nations but the enterprising trio are more than up for the challenge. “Our goal is to win the Regional Qualifier and join our Men’s, Quad’s and Junior team to represent South Africa at the 2012 BNP Paribas World Team Cup in Korea”, said Coach Hennie de Klerk. “We know the other players will be just as determined as us so we are expecting a very tough tournament”, de Klerk added.

Celia du Toit is currently ranked 2nd in South Africa in the Woman’s Singles whilst her compatriots Rose van der Meer and Mabel Mankgele are ranked 3rd and 4th respectively.

Karen Losch, Manager at Wheelchair Tennis South Africa emphasised the importance of performing well at this event saying, “I am confident the players will rise to the challenge, and take their rightful position amongst the 16 nations competing in the Women’s division of the BNP Paribas World Team Cup in Korea in May. This will be a real testament to Wheelchair Tennis in South Africa as it will be the second year running South Africa will have a team competing in each of the four divisions. We wish Team SA Well, and look forward to them bringing back gold.”


SISTERS DOING IT FOR EACH OTHER

South Africa - Netball South Africa (NSA) and the SPAR South African netball team have sent their hockey counterparts a message of support and good luck for their remaining matches in the Olympic Games qualifying tournament in New Delhi, India.

NSA President Mimi Mthethwa congratulated the Investec women’s hockey team on their sterling performance so far in the competition.

South Africa were unbeaten in the tournament ahead of their match against India on Wednesday afternoon. At stake in the final on Saturday afternoon is a place in the Olympic Games in London later this year.

“The Olympics is the ultimate test for any sportsman, sportswoman or sporting team and although you still have some work to do in India to gain a place in London, the aim and
objective of qualifying for London is very possible and reachable,” said Mthethwa.

“Our Netball family wish you well in your last few days in India. We are extremely proud of you and your achievements to date. Your sponsors and the South African Hockey Association must be delighted at your efforts.”

“Keep doing yourselves and South Africa proud and be well assured that you have the full support of Netball South Africa, the SPAR Proteas and the entire South African Netball family whom we represent. We are behind you all the way,” said Mthethwa.


WHEELCHAIR TENNIS SOUTH AFRICA DUO JET OFF TO THE U.K

Johannesburg, South Africa - South Africa’s number two and number three ranked Wheelchair Tennis players in the Men’s Singles division, Evans Maripa and Marsh Marshall jetted off to the U.K to participate in two Wheelchair tournaments; the Northwest Challenge scheduled to take place from 24 February 2012 until 26 February 2012 and the Northern Counties Wheelchair Tournament taking place from the 29 February until 3 March 2012.

Both tournaments will take place in Great Britain in the cities of Preston and Sunderland, and provide the perfect opportunity for the South Africans to improve their rankings ahead of the Paralympics scheduled for September 2012.

“It’s going to be an incredibly tough two weeks for us, as players from all over the world are racing to gain enough points to secure a spot at the Paralympics. ”, said the dynamic duo. “The tournament provides us and many others with the opportunity to get one step closer to the heralded event so we need to do well”, they further added.”

“We expect a good performance from our players”, stated Karen Losch, Manager at Wheelchair Tennis South Africa. “The players have prepared well, and are aware of the significance of the events.” Losch added, “These players are being developed for the 2016 Paralympics, so qualifying for this year’s event would be phenomenal, and put them years ahead of their expected results. Go boys. We are confident you will rise to the challenge.”


SOUTH AFRICA FACE SLOVENIA IN HOME DAVIS CUP TIE

Johannesburg, South Africa - The South African Davis Cup team are just one tie away from a World Group Playoff match later this year and the country standing in their path is Slovenia.
Slovenia took an unbeatable 3-0 lead in their tie against Denmark this weekend to set up the Europe/Africa Zone Group I tie against South Africa from April 6 to 8. The tie will be played in South Africa at a venue to be announced later.

“I am delighted we are playing at home again,” said South African Tennis Association CEO Ian Smith. “Our players thrive in front of their home crowd and with the removal of the SA Open from the ATP World Tour calendar, this gives the public a chance to see our top players in action on home soil again.
“Depending at which venue we choose to play - we must consider best chances at high/ low altitude as well as budgetary constraints - it is also again an opportunity to expose top flight tennis to our young up and coming players including our aspiring development kids from the previously disadvantaged communities.”

South Africa had a first-round bye and a victory over Slovenia would put captain John-Laffnie de Jager and his team into another World Group playoff from September 14 to 16.
While Slovenia do not have a well-known player they do have three in the top 200 and as Denmark found out to their detriment, Grega Zemlja and Blaz Kavcic turned out to be a two-man demolition team. The pair are ranked at 111 and 112 respectively, although six months ago Kavcic was as high as 72. Their third player is Aljaz Bedene, ranked 168.

Slovenia have reached the Europe/Africa Zone Group I three times, in 1995, 2001 and 2011. Prior to 1993, Slovenian players competed for Yugoslavia.

“We expected Slovenia to be too strong for Denmark,” said De Jager. “They have a solid team with their Kavcic having been ranked as high as 72 in the world.
“It is great that we can play in South Africa again. It always gives us an edge and it is also good for the tennis fans in SA to see world class tennis in their backyard. I expect to have a full strength team to play in April.”

Currently South Africa’s No 1, Kevin Anderson, has recently dropped from 30 to 37 in the world but that is mainly because the points he gained by winning last year’s SA Open came off in the first week of February.
However, Rik de Voest is currently ranked at 125, almost at his career high of 110, achieved in 2006. He has qualified for this week’s event in Rotterdam and a good run there could see him climb even further.
Izak van der Merwe is at 138 and reached the semi final of the Dallas Challenger last week, also not too far behind his best of 113 which he achieved last year. Van der Merwe is in the main draw of the tournament in San Jose this week. He plays Tobias Kamke of Germany in the opening round and the winner will come up against third seed Milos Raonic of Canada.
This will be the first ever tie between South Africa and Slovenia.


PROTEAS NETBALL CAPTAIN TO GAIN EXPERIENCE IN NEW ZEALAND

South Africa - Netball South Africa (NSA) says it will not stand in the way of the captain of the SPAR National Netball team, Amanda Mynhardt, if she wishes to go to New Zealand to gain experience, as long as she follows the correct procedures.

Twenty-six-year-old Mynhardt confirmed on Tuesday that she planned to travel to New Zealand, a netball powerhouse, at the end of February. However, the defender said this did not mean she was turning her back on South Africa and the Proteas. “I just want to play more netball and gain experience, and then plough that back into netball in South Africa,” she said.

Mynhardt will be playing for a club suggested by former New Zealand coach Yvonne Willering, and will return to South Africa at the end of July, unless she gets a chance to play in a provincial league, in which case she will return in October. Mynhardt stressed that she would be available to play for South Africa during that time.

Although there are no major tournaments this year, NSA are planning a triangular series, and have also been invited to play a series against Jamaica later this year.

NSA President Mimi Mthethwa said NSA would not stop Mynhardt from travelling to New Zealand to gain experience, but said the correct procedures had to be followed, particularly if she still wished to play for South Africa. “No players are contracted to NSA, and they therefore have the right to decide on their own future,” she said. “However, there are specific terms of reference to be agreed upon by NSA and a player who wishes to continue to be part of NSA’s programme while playing overseas.”

Mthethwa said NSA had asked Mynhardt to provide them with the necessary documentation, including correspondence from Netball New Zealand and the club she will be playing for, before her departure, so that she could continue to be part of the NSA programme.

Netball New Zealand’s (NNZ) High Performance director said in an email to NSA that Mynhardt would be playing for an amateur club, and would not be under any contract in New Zealand. “Yvonne Willering has told us that during the World Championships in Singapore last year, she was approached by several South African players, including Amanda, seeking to gain experience in New Zealand.” “She advised Amanda that if she came to New Zealand, she would find her a club to play for, and if she was good enough, she could possibly representative netball. Yvonne said she was aware that Amanda’s first priority was to South African netball.”

In the past, several South African netballers have travelled to New Zealand to gain experience. Goal shooter Irene van Dyk, who was part of the South African team that won a silver medal at the World Championships in Birmingham in 1995, has become one of the most famous Silver Ferns of all time, but others, like former Proteas captain Liezel Wium, have returned to South Africa to pass on what they have learned in what is arguably the strongest netball nation in the world.


WHEELCHAIR TENNIS SOUTH AFRICA BEGINS ITS SEARCH FOR FUTURE YOUNG STARS

South Africa - The journey to find and develop future wheelchair Tennis stars will officially begin on 9 February 2012. Wheelchair Tennis SA (WTSA) will begin coordinating a series of “Rising Stars” nationwide camps throughout Southern Africa in an effort to unearth and cultivate new talents in the sport of wheelchair tennis.

The “Rising Stars” national and regional camps will provide training and development to both players and coaches of wheelchair tennis and assist both sets in realizing their full potential in playing and coaching respectively. The first of the National Rising Stars camps will be held from 9-12 February 2012 with the second being held at from 21-24 June 2012. Various regional camps will held being held throughout the year.

“The development of wheelchair tennis is imperative in ensuring the growth and success of the sport. At Wheelchair Tennis we don’t just focus on the current players who are playing both at national and international levels, but we focus our attention to the future talents we have throughout the country. The Rising Stars camps allow us as WTSA to ensure that our coaches are regularly trained and updated with new training techniques which will enhance their skill level; better coaches make for better players,” commented Siyabulela Nkachela WTSA National Programme Manager.


CHANI FINDS HER PRINCE IN THE MONTH OF LOVE

Paris - South African tennis darling, Chanelle Scheepers has officially announced that she is engaged! The current world number 44 confirmed from Paris this week, that she is engaged to Roger Anderson.

Chani Scheepers and her fiancée.

Picture by: Die Volksblad

I am happy to announce my engagement to my long-time friend and coach, Roger Anderson. We recently got engaged after the Australian Open, and plan on getting married in South Africa towards the end of 2012. I am thrilled to make this commitment with Roger, who has given me balance in my life.”

Prior to the Australian Open, Anderson travelled to Chani’s home town of Harrismith in the Free State to ask her parents, Piet and Nicci Scheepers, for their blessing. He then commissioned a friend in the jewelry business to make Chani a diamond ring which consists of a single solitaire diamond surrounded by diamond clusters. Anderson then presented the ring to Chani in Australia, following the Australian Open.

The couple are presently in Paris where Scheepers is preparing for the Open GDF Suez in Paris.


PROTEASSECRET WEAPON

South Africa - When the SPAR South African netball team play their next international match, they will be armed with a special secret weapon – Dr. Sherylle Calder, the world-renowned specialist in visual performance skills and their effect on improved sporting performance.

Dr. Sherylle Calder with SPAR Proteas and Gauteng North coach Elize Kotze (left) and Erin Burger (right), at the 2011 SPAR National Netball Championships in Belleville Cape Town.

Picture by: Reg Caldecott


SPAR has joined forces with Netball South Africa and Dr. Sherylle Calder to work with the Proteas as they prepare for this year’s international programme. Mike Prentice, Group Marketing Executive, says that SPAR is very pleased to have Dr. Calder on board; “The Proteas proved that they have what it takes to compete with the top teams in the world at the World Netball Championships in Singapore last year. Dr. Calder’s pedigree speaks for itself and we believe it can give the Proteas the extra edge that they need.”

Calder, a former Protea hockey player, has worked with numerous sports teams around the world, and is the only person to have won back to back Rugby World Cup medals, having worked with the victorious England team in 2003 and the Springboks in 2007.

It was while she was playing hockey at provincial and international level that Calder first realised the value of enhanced visual and perceptual skills to performance on the field. She developed a unique visual skills development programme called EyeGym to enhance the capacity of players to access performance-relevant information during play.

Former Springbok captain John Smit – the man at the helm when South Africa won the William Webb-Ellis Trophy in Paris in 2007 – had no doubts about the impact of Calder’s programme. He said that while Calder was working with the Springboks, his lineout throw-ins were 100 per cent accurate.

Other teams Calder has worked with include the South African, Pakistan and Australian cricket teams (she worked with the Australian team when they won their second consecutive World Cup in 2003), the South African women’s hockey team, various football and rugby teams around the world, and two leading South African golfers, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen.

Calder said she was excited at the prospect of working with the netball team. “The science of EyeGym will play a major role in enhancing the players’ ability and add an edge to their performance,” she said. “This will carry over into helping them to make quicker and more effective decisions under pressure, and this will fast-track the players’ performance to a new level.”

Proteas’ coach Elize Kotze welcomed the news, saying it was a move that would put the Proteas on a more professional footing. “Vision is a huge factor in the game, and it will be fantastic to work with one of the world’s best in this field,” she said.

“If we want to move into the top four in the world, instead of being content to remain number five, we need to progress and we need to be more specific about what we are trying to do. With the kind of training Dr. Calder will provide, we can move onto another level.”
“We have fantastic players, and with scientific help, I have no doubt that we can achieve our goal of challenging the top four teams in the world.”

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