CAR ALMOST WITHIN KALMER’S GRASP

Johannesburg, South Africa - Two-times SPAR Grand Prix winner Rene Kalmer (Nedbank CGA) took another giant stride at the weekend towards claiming this year’s Grand Prix prize of a Nissan Micra with a comfortable victory in the Durban SPAR Women’s 10-km Challenge on Sunday.

It was Kalmer’s third successive Challenge win this year, after her victories in the Cape Town and Nelson Mandela Bay legs.

Although she failed to improve on last year’s winning time, Kalmer now has 80 points – 26 ahead of her nearest rival, defending Grand Prix champion Irvette van Blerk, who has also won the Grand Prix twice. Van Blerk finished third in all three races to accumulate a total of 54 points. Zintle Xiniwe (Mr Price) is in third position, with 51 points, after coming fourth in Cape Town, second in Port Elizabeth, and sixth in Durban. Portia Ngwenya (Transnet) has 47 points and Christine Kalmer, (Nedbank CGA) has 43. Zimbabwean Rutendo Nyahora, who finished second in Cape Town and in Durban, does not qualify for the Grand Prix because she is not a South African citizen.

Despite her massive lead, Kalmer is not taking anything for granted. “Anything can happen between now and the end of the year,” she said. “But I aim to run the last two Challenge races, in Pretoria in August and in Johannesburg in October,” she said.

Before that, Kalmer and Van Blerk, as well as Tanith Maxwell, who came ninth in Durban, have a lot of their minds – the three will represent South Africa in the Women’s Marathon at the Olympic Games in London on August 5.

Kalmer and Van Blerk had differing views on the effect training for the Olympic Marathon had on their performance in the Challenge races. “I switched to marathons last year, and battled a bit in the shorter races, but now I have settled down,” said Kalmer. “I love the Challenge races, because they help me to focus. There always seems to be a SPAR race to prepare for, and they have been invaluable as part of my training.”

Van Blerk said she was still trying to get used to training for the Marathon, and felt this had affected her performance in shorter races. “I quite like the Marathon, but wouldn’t like to do too many,” she said. “Next year, I’ll be able to focus on 10km races again, and will do my best to win the Grand Prix again.”
Annie Bothma, with a win in Port Elizabeth and second place in Cape Town and Durban, leads the Grand Prix ladder in the junior category, with 13 points, with Thabisa Sirayi, who earned bonus points for winning the Durban race in record time, in second place on 10 points.

There is a close tussle in the veteran category, where just one point separates Boxer runners Ronel Thomas and Janene Carey, who have 24 and 23 points respectively. Multiple Comrades Marathon Gold Medallist Grace de Oliveira leads the master category, with 20 points after record-breaking victories in Port Elizabeth and Durban. Olga Howard, who won the Cape Town race, but did not compete in the other two, is in second place with 10 points.
Although she did not run in Durban, evergreen RAC runner Sonja Laxton, who has 20 points, is well ahead of her nearest rival Lien Botha, who won the Durban race.

Nedbank CGA (131 points), whose runners took the first four places in Durban on Sunday, have a massive lead of 34 points over Boxer (97), with Bidvest CGA a distance third with 66 points.

SPAR Grand Prix Standings after three races:
Open: 1. Rene Kalmer 80, 2. Irvette van Blerk 54, 3. Zintle Xiniwe 51, 4. Portia Ngwenya 47, 5. Christine Kalmer 43
Junior: 1. Annie Bothma 13, 2. Thabisa Sirayi 10; 3. Pamela Mtshemla 5
Veteran: 1. Ronel Thomas 24; 2. Janene Carey 23; 3. Sheryl de Lange, Grizelda Pietersen, Shani Silver 3
Master: 1. Grace de Oliveira 20; 2. Olga Howard 10; 3. Annetjie Botes 8
Grandmaster: 1. Sonja Laxton 20; 2. Lien Botha 10; 3. Veronica van Niekerk 9


SOUTH AFRICAN TENNIS ACE, KEVIN ANDERSON ELECTED TO ATP PLAYER COUNCIL

LONDON — The new ATP Player Council, selected by ATP player members, was announced at the pre-Wimbledon player meeting this past Saturday. The new ATP Player Council includes returning players Roger Federer, Jarkko Nieminen, Eric Butorac and Andre Sa (served 2002-2004), as well as a number of new faces, including South African Kevin Anderson, elected for a two-year term to represent the ATP player membership.

Members elected by their peers to serve on the ATP Player Council through June 2014 are:

1-50 Singles: Kevin Anderson, Roger Federer, Jarkko Nieminen, Gilles Simon
51-100 Singles: Robin Haase, Sergiy Stakhovsky
1-100 Doubles: Mahesh Bhupathi, Eric Butorac
At-Large: James Cerretani, Andre Sa
Alumni: Brian Gottfried
Coach: Claudio Pistolesi (also served 2010-12)

ATP Executive Chairman and President Brad Drewett said, “I’d like to congratulate the newly-elected ATP Player Council and thank those players who have concluded their terms. The ATP Player Council plays an incredibly important role in the governance of the ATP, with a seat at the table all year round, helping to make decisions that affect the operation of the ATP World Tour. The players who serve give a significant amount of their personal time, more than people may realise. The men’s game is driving the unprecedented popularity and commercial success of the sport today, and I believe the opportunities ahead of us are very exciting.”

The new ATP Player Council will have its first meeting in New York prior to the US Open, where the President and Vice President will be elected.

Federer, who begins his third term on the council, said, “It has been four years of good work with the Player Council in which we have made progress in some areas. There is more to do and I am happy to be back with the council group. It’s great to see some new players step up and I look forward to working with them to continue to grow our sport.”

First-time council member Simon said, “I have been on the Tour for a long time, and have learned a lot about tournaments and players. I have some ideas to share with the other players, and feel it is important for us to work together and make good decisions. Tennis is at the top and we want to continue to improve.”
Another first-time council member Kevin Anderson said, “I am honoured to have been chosen by my fellow professionals to serve on the Player Council. I see the election as an important responsibility and I will give of my best to serve the players interest and assist our game in areas which need to be addressed and to promote the game to new levels.”

Doubles representative Bhupathi said, “The boys have put some faith in me to represent them in the Player Council and I will do my best. It is an interesting time with the top three players at the helm of the sport. There are many issues that are being addressed and I’m happy to be able to contribute with some input.”

The ATP Player Council meets several times a year and makes recommendations to ATP Management and the ATP Board of Directors through the three Player Board representatives, whom the Council elects.

On Friday, Giorgio di Palermo was re-elected by the outgoing Player Council as Player Board representative from the European region. Di Palermo will serve another three-year term starting January 1, 2013. The ATP Board of Directors comprises three Player Representatives, three Tournament Representatives, and ATP Executive Chairman and President Brad Drewett.

Drewett said, “I also extend my congratulations to Giorgio di Palermo for his re-election as a Player Board representative. Giorgio has contributed much in his first three years and it’s great that he is returning.”


NEW PROGRAMME FOR WORLD UNIVERSITY NETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Johannesburg, South Africa - The programme schedule for the World University Netball Championships (WUNC) in Cape Town next month has been adjusted after the late entry of Zimbabwe. The Tournament is to be played at the Good Hope Centre from July 2 to July 7.

Financial constraints meant that only seven countries entered the inaugural university championships, but the International University Sports Federation has since approved Zimbabwe’s late entry. Initially, the tournament was to be played on a round robin basis, with all teams playing each other, but the schedule has since been adapted to a pool system, with inter-pool playoffs on Thursday July 5. The semifinals will be played on Friday and the final on Saturday.

The tournament will start with a match between South Africa and Ireland at noon on July 2, after a brief opening ceremony. The other teams in Pool A are the United States and Zimbabwe. The teams in Pool B are Jamaica, Namibia, Great Britain and Uganda.

The day before the start of the tournament, the participating teams will conduct coaching clinics at the University of Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, as part of the WUNC Legacy programme. The youngsters attending the clinics will each receive a t-shirt and a snack-pack, which will be handed out by the tournament mascot, Pukki.

Tournament Director Helene Botha is hoping that the people of Cape Town and the surrounding areas will turn out in numbers to support the South African team and to watch some exciting netball. “University netball is the heartbeat of the sport in most countries, and netball fans will see some of the world’s best players in action,” she said.

“The ticket prices are very reasonable – R20 for adults and R10 for children younger than 12, and we are hoping for a packed stadium.”

Three members of the SPAR national team that beat Jamaica 56-49 on Tuesday night – Bongiwe Msomi of the Durban University of Technology (DUT), Vanes-Mari du Toit of Pretoria University (Tuks), and Free State University (Kovsies) player Maryka Holtzhausen, will be part of the USSA team.


KALMER WINS HER THIRD SPAR CHALLENGE RACE OF THE YEAR

Durban, South Africa - Rene Kalmer (Nedbank CGA) continued her outstanding performance in this year’s SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge when she won the Durban race in 33.25 minutes on Sunday morning.

Rene Kalmer crosses the finish line of the Durban SPAR Women’s Challenge at Kingsmead Stadium, Durban on 24 June 2012.

The top three 10km runners of the SPAR Women’s Challenge run in Durban on 24 June 2012. From left: Rutendo Nyahora (2nd) Rene Kalmer (winner) and Irvette van Blerk (3rd).

SPAR Women’s Challenge Durban winner Rene Kalmer in action during the SPAR Women’s Challenge in Durban.
Pictures by Reg Caldecott


It was her third Challenge victory this year, and her third win in Durban since 2007. Rutendo Nyahora was second in 34.26, followed by the 2010 and 2011 SPAR Grand Prix winner, Irvette van Blerk, in 34.39. Kalmer’s sister Christine was hot on van Blerk’s heels, with a time of 34.48.

Kalmer looked comfortable throughout the race and was never under any pressure. She started pulling away at three kilometres, with the distance between her and the rest of the field growing with every kilometre covered.

“I found the route quite tough,” said Kalmer. “I had hoped to beat last year’s winning time of 32.50, but those last five kilometres were hard going. It was uphill all the way and I struggled a bit. “Last year, I had to pull out at about three kilometres with ITB problems, so I was very happy to come back with a positive attitude this year. I’m very happy with the win.”

Zimbabwean Nyahora said the first three kilometres had been too fast for her, and so she had been unable to challenge Kalmer. “I didn’t have a great race,” said Van Blerk. “It just wasn’t my day. I think my focus has changed – I’m training for the Olympic Marathon and that has affected my racing. Marathon training is very different and mentally it’s quite tough. Next year I can concentrate on the 10km races again.”

Van Blerk and Kalmer will both be running the Olympic Marathon on August 5. South Africa’s third Olympic Marathon runner, Tanith Maxwell, finished ninth in 35.42 minutes, to win the sub-veteran category.

Kalmer, who recently won a half marathon in Japan, said the SPAR races helped her with her Olympic Games preparations. “There is always a SPAR race to prepare for throughout the year, and that has helped me to focus.” She said she and the other marathon runners would go into a period of intense training for the next few weeks, before easing off for a week or so before the race.”


KALMER AND VAN BLERK FAVOURITES FOR DURBAN CHALLENGE

Johannesburg, South Africa - Although race favourites Rene Kalmer and Irvette van Blerk have their sights set firmly on the Olympic Marathon in London on August 5, both have much to gain from the SPAR Women’s 10 km Challenge in Durban on Sunday.

Rene Kalmer crosses the finish line to win the Nelson Mandela Bay leg of the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge run at Kings Beach on Saturday 05 May 2012.
Picture: Reg Caldecott

Irvette Van Blerk during the Cape Town leg of the SPAR Women’s Challenge run on 15 April 2012 at Greenpoint Stadium.
Picture: Reg Caldecott


With two victories under her belt, Kalmer has her fingertips on the Grand Prix. She completed the Cape Town and Port Elizabeth races in record times, and has a total of 60 points – well ahead of Van Blerk and Zintle Xiniwe, who have 36 points each. But with three races still to come, Kalmer will be aware that she needs to keep winning to make sure of claiming the Grand Prix prize of a new Nissan Micra.

Van Blerk came from behind last year, and won the last three races to secure her second Grand Prix in two years. With both runners in peak pre-Olympic condition, the race should be a neck-and-neck tussle between the two two-times Grand Prix winners. Xiniwe gave notice in Port Elizabeth of her determination to challenge for the top place, and Zimbabwean Rutendo Nyahora (who does not qualify for GP points) is also likely to give the top runners some stiff competition.

Other contenders for top honours include Annerien van Schalkwyk, Kalmer’s sister and training mate, Christine Kalmer and the Phalula twins, Diana-Lebo and Lebogang.

The Durban Challenge is the oldest of the five Challenge races, and more than 17 000 runners are expected to take part on Sunday. The top 20 runners all earn GP points, and there are also points available in the various age categories. Annie Bothma of Helderberg is in the lead in the junior section, Ronel Thomas has a two point lead in the veteran’s category, Olga Howard and Comrades gold medalist Grace de Oliveira are in joint first position in the Masters category, and the evergreen Sonja Laxton is the top Grandmaster.

While the GP winner will receive a new car at the end of the series, the runner-up will pocket a cheque of R30 000, and the runner finishing third will receive R15 000.


WESTERN CAPE SCHOOLS BENEFIT FROM WUNC LEGACY PROGRAMME

Johannesburg, South Africa - Scores of schoolgirls from schools in and around Cape Town will benefit from the World University Netball Championships (WUNC) Legacy programme next month when the competing teams conduct coaching clinics at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) on Sunday July 1.
Primary school players will attend the coaching clinics from 9am to 11am in the morning and the high schools from 11am to 1pm.

The participating schools were nominated by the Western Province Schools Netball Union as being particularly worthy of extra attention. Most of the schools are from deprived areas with few sports facilities. The WUNC mascot, Pukki, will distribute t-shirts and snack packs to all those attending the coaching clinics.

“The Legacy programme is a very important part of the WUNC,” said tournament director Helene Botha. “Players at that level are very focussed on high performance, and coaching players at grass roots level reminds them of why they love to play the game,” she said.
“They are reminded of their passion for netball, and the clinics give them the opportunity to give something back to the game.”

Botha said much of the Legacy programme would be devoted to skills training, with emphasis on defence and attack. She said meeting players who have reached a high level of performance would inspire the youngsters attending the clinics. “I think they will see the opportunities that working hard at the game can open up,” said Botha.

The organisers are encouraging as many schools and clubs in and around Cape Town to come to watch the tournament, and ticket prices have been kept low. Adults pay R20 and children younger than 12 pay R10.

The tournament will be played at the Good Hope Centre from 2 – 7 July 2012.


WTSA ATHLETES TO COMPETE AT THE ACSA LIMPOPO OPEN 25 – 29 JUNE 2012

Johannesburg, South Africa - The Airports Company South Africa Limpopo Open, which is sanctioned by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and forms part of the ITF World Wheelchair Tennis Tour, takes place from June 25 to June 29 in Polokwane.

The 2011 Winners in the Men’s, Women’s and Quad’s divisions will not be taking part this year, leaving the field wide open for the top young talented South African wheelchair tennis players. Players to watch out for are; in the men’s division South Africa’s no.2 player Sydwell Mathonsi who is no stranger to titles, nor Polokwane and will most likely take on SA’s no.1 Evans Maripa in the finals. These players, both from Limpopo, are evenly matched and both out for the title of SA’s top player. Nyasha Mharakurwa, who has joined the above two players in qualifying for the Paralympics is not to be dismissed. He too has many titles and victories over SA’s two top players, and now more than ever has something to prove.

South Africa’s Golden Girl, Kgothatso Montjane from Limpopo, currently ranked world no. 9, will be taking part in the BNP Paribas French Open; a Super Series event during this time so will not be in Polokwane to defend her title. With KG out of the draw, Rose van der Meer of Pretoria and the rising talent, an eighteen year old from Limpopo, Mabel Mankgele are pipped for the finals.

In the quad’s division, SA’s Star and world no. 7, Lucas Sithole from Kwa-zulu Natal, will be joining Kgothatso Montjane in France for the BNP French Open leaving the 2012 title open for SA’s no.2,3 and 4 players in the quad’s division. We expect a highly contested battle to see who will taste victory between David Mathebula (2), Steven Kekai (3) or newcomer Bongani Dlamini (4).

A total of 69 players will take part in the Airports Company South Africa Limpopo Open. The players will be mostly South African with a few players from Tanzania that will be taking part in the men’s division.

The top ranked South African players that will be competing are:
MEN’s Division: WOMEN’s Division:
Name and Surname SA Rank Name and Surname SA Rank
Evans Maripa 1 Rose van der Meer 3
Sydwell Mathonsi 2 Mabel Mankgele 4
Ishmael Tshipuke 5 Thandeka Dhladhla 7
Thando Hlatswayo 8

QUAD’s Division: JUNIOR’s Division:
Name and Surname SA Rank Name and Surname SA Rank
David Mathebula 2 Gift Lekhanyane 1
Steven Kekai 3 Mariska Venter 3
Bongani Dlamini 4 Sean de Hilster 4
Bonga Mbhele 5

Airports Company South Africa continues to support Wheelchair Tennis South Africa and are delighted to be hosting this event in Polokwane. The tournament gives a golden opportunity for us to showcase our local and upcoming talent. It is aptly placed around youth day, and should produce good performances from the up and coming youngsters.

Participation in local and international tournaments such as these is made possible by the generous sponsorships offered by Airports Company South Africa, the official sponsor of the sport.

Venue: Polokwane Tennis Club
Cnr Rissik & Compensatie Streets
Polokwane

Time: 09h00-16h00 daily


SPAR SOUTH AFRICA UPSET JAMAICA IN FINAL NETBALL TEST

Johannesburg, South Africa - For the first time in 28 years on Tuesday, South Africa beat Jamaica in an international netball test match. SPAR South Africa beat Jamaica 56-49 in the third and final test played in Kingston, Jamaica. Jamaica however won the test series 2-1.

Inspired by the late Whitney Houston hit, “The Greatest love of All”, the SPAR Proteas walked onto court on Sunday with a greater belief in themselves and gained immediate respect from not only their opponents but the crowd. It was obvious that the Proteas had regrouped since the last test on Sunday and looked a confident and collected team.

“I was really disappointed after the last test” admitted Protea Coach, Elize Kotze. “I was hard on the girls and told them that they had to believe in themselves and if they did they would believe in the team and play as a strong unit.” The inspiration seemed to work as the Proteas played a consistently aggressive attacking game throughout the four quarters allowing a limited attack by the Sunshine Girls.

It was a dream start for the fired up SPAR Proteas in the first quarter who turned two balls around within minutes of the start and within only 3 minutes of the game led 4-0. The Proteas fought hard and in a real physical first half the visitors had doubled their lead to 12-6 with 4 minutes remaining in the half. The brilliant combination of Amanda Mynhardt (Goal Defence) and Vanes-Mari du Toit (Goal Keeper) restricted the tall star Jamaican shooter Shanielle Fowler who was clearly frustrated by the South African’s tactics. At the end of the entertaining first quarter South Africa led 17-13.

The Proteas made a strong second half start and turned around four balls to take a 22-15 lead. Erin Burger at Centre played a brilliant part with Nokuthula Qequ (Wing Defence) in moving the ball swiftly from centre to circle and Goal Shooter, Chrisna Bootha was well on target in the circle.

But the Sunshine Girls are never to be written off. Their popular captain Nadine Bryan, playing in her 100th test made two crucial interceptions which seemed to throw the Proteas slightly off course. The Proteas lost the second quarter 13-14 diminishing their lead and by the half time whistle the Proteas led 30-27.

“We had to look hard at ourselves at the break” said Jamaican Captain, Nadine Bryan. “I told my girls that the last two quarters were going to be tough and they had better be ready for the battle. South Africa played the final two quarters like their lives depended on it and I must applaud them for their incredible fight …. They won battle but I am pleased we won the war.”

After the half time break, there was a very different Sunshine Girls team that took to court. The hometown favourites stepped up a gear and six minutes into the third quarter they had equalled the score for the first time in the game at 30-30. They turned the ball around, intercepted and rattled the South African’s and were soon five goals in the lead. A switch by Kotze replacing a struggling Vice Captain, Zanele Mdodana with Bongi Mthembu didn’t seem to give the Proteas any advantage. The Jamaicans ran away with the third quarter winning it 17 18 and lead overall 4438 going into the final quarter.

In the final quarter, the SPAR Proteas gave it their all. It was a brave performance and a much higher intensity amongst the South African players was evident on court compared to the previous two tests. The star of the Jamaican side, Fowler in a tussle for ball with Vanes-Mari du Toit injured her ankle and back and was replaced by new cap Vanessa Walker.

After five minutes into the quarter the Proteas levelled at 44-44 and then the visitors found new life. Brilliant combinations and great goal shooting saw the Proteas take a five point lead (50-45). A desperate Jamaican Coach, Oberon Pitterson-Nattie decided to bring back on Fowler and to a thunderous applause the giant shooter returned to court with her ankle heavily strapped. Fowler, despite injured, gave the home side hope and her athleticism helped restore some order to the battered Jamaican side.

However the Proteas sensed victory and kept their composure keeping on the attack with Maryka Holtzhausen (Goal Attack) netting two goals from the base of the circle with minutes to spare. The Proteas won the final quarter 18-5 and the test 56-49. The last minutes were loud and raucous and all credit to the players who managed despite the noise to maintain their composure.

“What a win, what a performance, I am so proud of my girls!” said Kotze. “This win could be the start of new and great things for the team and netball in South Africa.”

Elize Kotze, Proteas Coach made a change to her starting line up by switching Captain Amanda Mynhardt to Goal Defence and Vanes-Mari du Toit to Goal Keeper. “I thought hard about what would be best for the team. I think the changes made a difference. Fowler the star Goal Shooter was clearly troubled and I have said all along she is key to the team. My girls did well to take the gentle giant.”

Oberon Pitterson-Nattie, the Jamaican Coach gave full praise to South Africa. “The South African girls were organised and came at us hard, and really made a brilliant comeback in this test. I have said it before and I say it again, South Africa should be in the top three of world netball. They are tough and really talented. I was very proud of my girls winning the series against such a fantastic team.”

A glowing Protea Captain, Amanda Mynhardt said that the win meant the world to her and her team. “We really have been working so hard for this win and we needed it. It came at the right time and we will take a lot from the win going forward. Each one of us is proud tonight, proud for ourselves and proud for our country. We believed in ourselves individually and that spilt over to us believing in our team and the team’s effort. ”


PARALYMPIC BOUND LUCAS SITHOLE IN FINALS AT DAEGU OPEN

Daegu, Seoul, Korea - After the emotional win and lifting the trophy at the Korea Open on June the 2nd it was back to the courts for the South African wheelchair tennis champion. The on form Newcastle, Kwazulu Natal athlete is gaining all possible experience in preparing for his 1st Paralympics later this year. The Daegu Open, an ITF 1 tournament took place from the 5th to the 9th of June and was Lucas Sithole’s next focus.

South African Star Lucas Sithole moving up his career ranking to no.7 in the world during his victory at the Daegu Open

Picture credit: Reg Caldecott


In the quads division a confident Lucas Sithole defeated Young-Mok Yu from Korea 6-0, 6-0 in the quarter finals. It was almost déjàvu for Sithole when he defeated Stephane Erismann (FRA) 6-1, 6-0 in the semifinals to face Anders Hard (SWE) in the finals for the second week in a row. It was only 2 days earlier that Sithole had defeated Anders Hard (SWE) in the finals of the Korean Open, and now had the chance of duplicating that winning sensation against the top seed. It was a hotly contested final but Hard (SWE) avenged his loss of the previous week to beat the South African Star and take the title 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-1.

Achievements, trophies and awards are nothing new for the South African Star Lucas Sithole who has now moved up to a career high ranking of no.7 in the world.

Two of SA’s young top talents in the men’s division Evans Maripa and Sydwell Mathonsi also took part in the Daegu Open. Evans Maripa currently ranked no. 31 internationally played his first match against world no.32 Lahcen Majdi (FRA), winning 7-6, 6-2. This impressive win over Majdi, had Maripa facing Takashi Sanada (JPN) ranked 11 internationally, but unfortunately experience proved too much, with Sanada taking the match 6-2, 6-2. Sydwell Mathonsi, ranked no. 40 internationally mirrored his compatriots’ performance by winning his match against Gamini Dissanayake (SRI) 6-4, 6-4. Despite a good effort from Sydwell Mathonsi he then lost to world no. 26 David Dalmasso (FRA) 7-6(4), 6-4.

WTSA’s Director and Coach Holger Losch said: “We are so proud of Lucas and his achievements, and look forward to watching this inspirational athlete at the Paralympics.”

Participation in local and international tournaments is made possible by a generous sponsorship by Airports Company South Africa, the official sponsor of the sport.


JAMAICA DOWN SOUTH AFRICA IN NETBALL TEST SERIES

Johannesburg, South Africa - Despite a strong start, the SPAR Protea Netball team battled to keep their momentum and hold a fired up Jamaican team in the second test played on Sunday evening in Kingston, Jamaica.

SPAR Proteas Captain Amanda Mynhardt leaps in defence against the Jamaican Goal Shooter Shanielle Fowler during Sunday’s test match.

South Africa’s Goal Shooter Chrisna Bootha fights for the ball with Jamaica’s Goal Defence Malysha Kelly close behind.

SPAR Proteas Centre player Erin Burger in action during the second test on Sunday.
PICTURES BY: COLLIN REID


The Jamaican Sunshine Girls beat the Proteas 61-46 and in doing so secured a series win over the visitors after they had won Friday’s opening test 63-48. The third and final test will be played on Tuesday.

“For South Africa to be a top four team, we have to keep up the intensity, be disciplined and work harder at securing goals after interception” said a visibly disappointed South African coach, Elize Kotze. “I am not sure if my girls are fit enough? I just can’t pin point it right now but to be so on the ball for two quarters and then fade away indicates to me that we have a lot of work to do in all areas.”

The first quarter was a close encounter and went neck and neck right until the last seconds when Jamaica intercepted a pass from Protea Vice-Captain Zanele Mdodana and transferred the interception into a high pass to the tall Jamaican 6’5” star shooter, Shanielle Fowler who netted a goal to give the hometown team a 13-12 lead.

Jamaican coach, Oberon Pitterson-Nattie said she was impressed with the strong start by South Africa. “Jamaica started slow and South Africa were right on us. I told my girls to keep their composure and once they got going no one was going to stop them.”

Going into the second quarter a visibly troubled Jamaican side made two changes to their starting line-up and brought on Anna Kay Griffiths (Goal Attack) and Vangelee Williams (Goal Keeper). The new combination gave the Sunshine Girls the edge, and they managed within five minutes of the half to increase the one point lead by four points to 23-19. Jamaica were fast in their movement from the centre to circle and their speed and agility rattled the Proteas. Jamaica kept up the lead until half time winning the second quarter 15-12 taking the score to 28-24 at the whistle.

“My team made a shaky start, probably because South Africa surprised us with their brilliant start. At the half break we were forced to make some changes especially in defence and the strategy worked well” said Jamaican Captain, Nadine Brown.

South Africa coach, Elize Kotze opted to keep her same starting line-up going into the third quarter. Jamaica made one further change after half time.

The third quarter was a fiery and physical encounter plagued by pushes and falls. The strong and tall Jamaicans got the better of the smaller South African’s and three missed goals by Protea Shooter, Chrisna Bootha allowed Jamaica to increase their lead. Three brilliant interceptions by the home side added to the South African woes and the Jamaican’s won the third quarter 15 - 10, and took a ten point overall lead (43-34) going into the final quarter.

Jamaica dominated the final quarter with Nadine Bryan playing a key role in her wing attack position. Although South Africa showed clear signs of fight and improvement, the Jamaicans moved the ball to the circle far quicker and more swiftly than their opponents, allowing for more opportunity. Jamaica won the quarter 15-10.

Shanielle Fowler proved once again to be a key role player in the Jamaican team. The Goal Shooter had an impressive 99% average, which for any team is a major asset. “Fowler is the match winner for sure” said Kotze. “Jamaica are very lucky to have Fowler in the side. She is a very intimidating player; tall, big, strong and despite her size a brilliant athlete which seriously contributes to the overall success of the team.”

Despite the series being lost, Kotze said her team would go all out to salvage some pride in the final test on Tuesday. “We are South African’s and we fight hard. We will work hard at putting on our best ever performance on Tuesday and aim to win the final test and walk away with a win.”

QUOTES

AMANDA MYNHARDT: SPAR Protea Captain

“The Jamaicans played very well; I have to give it to them. They were the better team. We had a good first and second quarter and then our intensity dropped in the last two quarters and I think we just didn’t finish off at times.”

NADINE BRYAN: Jamaican Captain

“I feel fabulous having won this test and securing the series. South Africa came out strong and we had to make quite a few adjustments to our game. All credit to them it was a wonderful effort.”

OBERON OITTERSON-NATTIE: Jamaican Coach

“It was good game of netball and South Africa played well, especially in their defensive area really cramping our attacking team, but the good thing about the Jamaican team is that we were able to hold our composure and really come out of it somewhat, and that I am proud of. I thought our defensive team really did a better job in containing the South African attacking team. But there is a lot of work to be done and we are sure to look at that some more.”

ELIZE KOTZE: SPAR Protea Coach

“It’s important for us to be able to run for a whole hour like we did in the first two quarters. The fact that the team showed for two quarters wshat South Africa’s potential is and what they really can do, is exciting for me, and I am glad that we can work at that level against one of the world’s top teams.”

“Unfortunately a game is not 30 minutes and we have to work at the keeping the tempo lasting for 60 minutes at this international level”

“I am extremely proud of my defenders who did a real good job on court today in bringing that ball down, but we will have to work on the discipline of the attackers once they have the ball in hand.”

“Fowler is a major problem for us as she scored 57 of the 63 Jamaican goals scored. Everything is around Fowler, the Jamaican team is Fowler and Jamaica relies on her a lot, so obviously we have to match Fowler and keep the ball away from the advantage area.”


SUNSHINE GIRLS BEAT PROTEAS IN OPENING NETBALL TEST

Johannesburg, South Africa - It was never going to be easy for the SPAR Protea netball team as they took on hometown favourites Jamaica in the first of three tests on Friday evening in the Jamaican capital, Kingston.

SPAR Proteas Vice-Captain Zanele Mdodana in action against the Sunshine Girls during the first test against Jamaica on Friday 15 June 2012.

SPAR Proteas Goal Shooter Chrisna Bootha fights for the ball during the first test against the Sunshine Girls in Jamaica on 15 June 2012.
PICTURES BY: COLLIN REID


It was a tough, fast and very physical encounter between the Proteas and the Sunshine Girls with the home team winning 63-48.

“At least we halved the score from our last encounter against Jamaica at the World Championships last year where they beat us 64-37” said Protea coach, Elize Kotze. “That’s the positive and I always look for the positives after a loss. We had enough ball possession to secure this match. We did an extremely good job on defence. Both defenders Vanes-Mari du Toit and Amanda Mynhardt did well on goal keeper and our new cap Anneret Viljoen (goal defence), Erin Burger (centre) and Thuli Qegu (wing defence) played a solid role tonight” continued Kotze.

The packed stadium was loud and vocal and gave the Sunshine Girls incredible support throughout.

The high scoring first quarter saw a brilliant start by the Proteas as they moved the ball swiftly from centre to circle like seasoned pros and opened the scoring. But the strong start was cut short by Jamaica who intercepted brilliantly with Captain Nadine Bryan in particular creating plenty of opportunity for her team. The Jamaican shooters were on target and by the end of the first quarter the Sunshine Girls were leading 17-12

Going into the second quarter, Protea Coach Elize Kotze made one substitution replacing Captain, Amanda Mynhardt with new cap Anneret Viljoen. The Proteas played a solid second quarter but once again the Jamaican intercepting was on target and the Proteas gave away plenty of opportunities. However the Proteas held on to hold the Jamaican’s to a 14-14 draw quarter score.

In the third quarter, SPAR Protea captain Amanda Mynhardt, with a heavily strapped thigh, returned to court. Her strong leadership was evident as she led the Proteas to within 3 points of Jamaica. But once again the Sunshine Girls regrouped and “silly mistakes” by South Africa cost them, and the Jamaican team won the quarter 16-13.

In the final quarter, Kotze brought on fresh legs in Bongi Msomi and Precious Mthembu. However, edged on by the partisan crowd, the Jamaican outfit stepped up their game and scored five consecutive goals to give them a 13 point lead with eight minutes remaining. This put added pressure on the Proteas who struggled to minimise the deficit and lost the quarter 9-16.

“We need to work on our discipline when we have ball possession” said Kotze. “We made too many unforced errors and it’s very important to capitalise on ball in hand, an area we need to have more discipline on. We had more than enough turn over and ball possession to secure the game.”

Jamaican coach, Oberon PItterson-Nattie said she was delighted with her team’s performance. “I am very comfortable and I was happy with their performance. It wasn’t perfect but they had good spirit, at times they failed to do a lot of things especially moving the ball well and placing the ball in the circle.”

The second test will take place Sunday 17 June with the third and final test taking place Tuesday 19 June.

QUOTES:

South African Coach, Elize Kotze

“I think Jamaica are in the same position as South Africa when it comes to first line players on court and like us, have to carry a few youngsters. So it’s not exactly true to say they have a new team, there is some experience in their side”

“Shanielle Fowler their Goal Shooter is really a wonderful athlete and her physical presence is quite intimidating in the circle. But saying that, we had brave performances against her from Vanes-Mari du Toit and Amanda Mynhardt”

“We will have to work on the ball going into the circle area too quickly. Fowler shot 47 of the Jamaican goals so she is definitely a wonderful athlete and the key player we have to watch”

Jamaican Coach, Oberon Pitterson-Nattie

“I was impressed with my new caps especially my Goal Keeper who did well.”

“The Shooter (Chrisna Bootha) gave us a lot of problems and that is something we have to look at and make some adjustments.”

“South Africa were very aggressive on both defensive and offensive sides, that is something they have to be proud of.”

“My team will be looking to make adjustments especially taking better care of the ball.”

South African Captain, Amanda Mynhardt

“I feel we went out tonight and performed much better against Jamaica than we did last year at the World Champs. That’s a real positive for me.”

“This is three tests, we have only played one and we can improve with the rest and I am sure after tonight’s game, Elize and Lana will work on us improving. My team are ready to step it up going into Sunday”

“There were some real good things and some real stupid things from tonight and we need to look back at the positives but work hard on the negatives.”

“The Jamaican Goal Shooter Fowler is a real intimidating athlete. She is tall, jumps and moves well and we have to look for everything coming from her and make the interceptions accordingly.”

“The Jamaicans don’t stand back where some of our players draw back when the ball comes in. The Jamaicans got the better of some of our players, they got into our players’ minds and we should have played on fighting and not stepped back for them because the moment they get the overhead they will go for it.”

Jamaican Captain, Nadine Bryan

“I am relieved to have won the first test. It wasn’t as smooth as I hoped and we had to make some adjustments to make a strong finish. My girls will be on the practise court tomorrow to sort out the grey areas.”


A FEW NIGGLES WON’T STOP THE SPAR PROTEAS

Johannesburg, South Africa - The SPAR South African netball team emerged bruised and battered from their match against the Jamaican Under21 team in Kingston on Thursday night, but coach Elize Kotze says they are ready for their first Test against Jamaica on Friday night.

“We got a good taste of the physicality we are likely to encounter when we play the senior team,” Kotze told a telephonic conference.

South Africa beat Jamaica Under21 by 46 goals to 36. “I started with my frontline team, but I had to take the top players off after the first quarter, when it became very physical and quite dangerous. The Jamaicans targeted Erin Burger in particular, and I wanted to make sure that our top players were available for the Tests. “It also gave me an opportunity to give the younger players a game, because there is no guarantee that they will all be able to play in the Test matches.”

Kotze said there were some bruises and niggles after the match against the Under21 team, but there were no serious injuries. “The players are in superb condition,” she said. “The only problem is that Jamaica are in the middle of their league competition, so they are at their peak, while we have not played any competitive netball for some time.”

She dismissed suggestions that the Sunshine Girls would have a physical advantage over the Proteas. “Yes, they have some very tall players, but so do we,” she said. “Vanes-Mari du Toit is as tall as any of their players. There is not much difference between the average heights of the two teams.”

Kotze said South Africa and Jamaica were both in the process of re-building, with some players having retired after the World Cup in Singapore last year, and both had a blend of experienced and up and coming players.

She said she was not concerned that the match might become too physical. “We will have neutral international umpires, who will keep things under strict control,” said Kotze.

The second Test will be played on Sunday and the third and final Test on Tuesday.


WTSAOUR YOUTH, OUR PRIDE, OUR FUTURE

Johannesburg, South Africa - On the eve of National Youth day in South Africa it is with great pride and joy that we celebrate the sporting achievements of a number of our top youths; 21 year old Evans Maripa, 25 year old Lucas Sithole, Kgothatso Montjane and Sydwell Mathonsi both 26 years old. These young inspiring athletes have excelled in their short tennis careers and have shown that no disability holds them back.

Lucas Sithole the triple amputee from Newcastle Kwazulu Natal, now ranked 7th in the world in the quads division started playing tennis in 2006. Sithole played his 1st tournament in July 2006 where he reached the quarter finals at the Amsterdam Open. In 2010 Sithole was accepted in the Wheelchair Tennis SA (WTSA) residential programme after enrolling at UJ to study Sports Management. Prior to 2010 Sithole has had no coaching. To date Lucas Sithole has won a sterling 19 singles titles with the latest being the Korea Open on 2 June 2012, the ACSA Gauteng Open on 1 May 2012 and the Be Active Adelaide Open in Australia on 15 Jan 2012. To add to his titles and awards, Lucas was voted SA Sportsman of the year with a disability in 2010 and Winner of the Gauteng Sportsman of the year with a disability in the same year. Lucas Sithole is an instinctive tennis player who dreams and aspires to be in the top 3 in the world and represent SA at the Paralympic Games. At the end of August this year Lucas Sithole will be realizing one of his dreams when he will represent SA at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Kgothatso Montjane hails from Seshego Polokwane, ranked 9th internationally in the women’s division in wheelchair tennis. Montjane who was born with a congenital birth defect and had to have her left leg amputated below the knee. SA’s no.1 women started playing tennis when she was 20 years old and has a BSC degree in Recreation and Leisure from the University of Venda and is currently studying Retail Business Management at UJ. SA’s golden girl fondly referred to as “KG”, also joined the WTSA residential programme in 2010 and has won an impressive 29 singles titles, with the latest being the ACSA Gauteng Open on 1 May 2012. KG has also recently had an impressive win over world number two Aniek van Koot (NED) in the Japan Open quarter finals, beating van Koot 46 63 62. The strong and tenacious athlete was voted SA Sports women of the year with a disability in 2010 and was runner up in the Gauteng Sports women of the year with a disability in the same year. KG is definitely one to watch at the upcoming Paralympics in London later this year.

The talented 21 year old player Evans Maripa from Lonsdale, Limpopo is ranked 31 internationally in the men’s division and is the top SA men’s player. Evans Maripa who was also born with a congenital birth defect has had both legs amputated below the knee. Inspired by South Africa’s number one women’s player, Kgothatso Montjane, Evans took up wheelchair tennis in 2007 and after only two years at the game, he won Gold at the Asia Pacific Youth Para Games in Tokyo proving himself a worthy contender at a professional level. This amazing feat has ignited a new dream in the young star: to play professional wheelchair tennis whatever it takes. Maripa’s tremendous focus and powerful forehand has ensured impressive wins over Yoshinobu Fujimoto (JPN) ranked 22 in the world and Daniel Rodriques (BRA).

The jovial Sydwell Mathonsi, 26 years young from Xikundu village Limpopo is the no.2 SA men’s player and ranked 41 internationally. Mathonsi, like Maripa was born with a congenital birth defect forcing him to have both his legs amputated below the knee. “The proudest moment in my tennis career to date was qualifying and representing SA at the Beijing Paralympics in 2008. I love tennis and I like improving the lives of other disabled South Africans. I want the young disabled to know that tennis and hard work can bring success”. Sydwell was first introduced to wheelchair tennis during his first year at varsity. He instantly felt at home on the court and hasn’t looked back since. Sydwell says the physical and mental demands of the sport are what has fascinated him and drawn his interest.The agile tennis star has graduated from the University of Venda with a BSC degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies.

WTSA’s Director and Coach Holger Losch said: “We are proud of the athletes and celebrate their successes and losses with them. The future is bright for WTSA thanks to the commitment, dedication and hard work of the tennis players and our sponsor, Airports Company South Africa.”

Participation in local and international tournaments is made possible by a generous sponsorship from Airports Company South Africa, the official sponsor of the sport.


SPAR PROTEAS GAIN CONFIDENCE IN JAMAICA

Johannesburg, South Africa - The SPAR South African netball team boosted their confidence on the eve (Thursday) of their first test against Jamaica with a “satisfying and solid” win over the Jamaican Under21 side at the National Arena in the Jamaican capital, Kingston.

SPAR Proteas vice-captain in action against the U21 Jamaican side in their warm up match, on Thursday 14 June 2012.

Goal Shooter Chrisna Bootha fighting for the ball in the SPAR Proteas warm up match on Thursday 14 June 2012.
PICTURES/ COLLIN REID


In the only warm up match of their preparations, the Proteas beat the Jamaican side 46-36.

South Africa and Jamaica each won two quarters but Protea Coach, Elize Kotze said that she was satisfied, and with trying new combinations and switching players, that was expected.

“I saw what I wanted to see and am happy with my team. I am satisfied with the girls and they played an all-round solid game” said Kotze.

One concern to Kotze was that her team have not trained on the floor and in the stadium where the three tests will be played. The tests to be played on 15, 17 and 19 June are of major importance to South Africa as a series win over the higher ranked Islanders (4) will move South Africa up a spot on the world rankings to 5 ahead of the African rivals Malawi.

“Although I am satisfied with our preparation since arrival on Monday it would have been better to “feel” and “experience” the test venue. But we are not going to let that get us down. My girls are so positive and are in a great space and I want to keep it that way” said Kotze.

The timing of a major Boxing event in the same stadium (National Indoor Sports Centre) on Wednesday evening prevented the Proteas from training in the stadium. The sprung floor will only be laid by mid-afternoon Friday, only hours before the first test.

The SPAR Proteas coach made a few changes in Thursday’s warm up game and tried out a few new combinations. But Kotze said a priority was to give the front starting players time on court so that they were prepared for the opening test.

Kotze started the first quarter with her planned first test opening line up. The quarter started slow for South Africa and although they won 18-8, the girls “made too many mistakes” and gave away “too many free points.” Towards the end of the quarter, South Africa’s goal keeper Vanes-Marie Du Toit and centre Erin Burger spearheaded a string of good interceptions which enabled the Proteas to double the score (14-7) two minutes from time.

The second quarter saw Kotze bring on wing attack Bongi Msomi and goal defence Anneret Viljoen. The Proteas put on added pressure but ill-discipline within the South African side saw their lead drop and by half time, although the Proteas lost the quarter (8-10) the Proteas still led overall with 26-18.

In the third quarter, Kotze pulled off all her top players as she felt the Jamaican players were playing “far too aggressive” and she was concerned the top players would get injured ahead of Friday’s opening test. “I don’t mind my girls being bruised physically but can’t afford them to be bruised mentally” said Kotze.

The four new players brought new energy to the Proteas and seven quick goals were scored by South Africa within four minutes of the quarter. However the young Jamaican side kept up the pressure and held the Proteas from running away with the game. The quarter ended in South Africa’s favour (12-8), extending their lead to 38-26.

The final quarter saw the Proteas making an impressive start with the ball moving swiftly from centre to goal with star shooter Chrisna Botha scoring impressively. Botha was the only player to play all four quarters and ended the match with an impressive 92% average. However, the Jamaican team fought hard and won the quarter (8-10).

SCORE CARD
First Quarter: 18- 8 South Africa
Second Quarter: 8-10 Jamaica
Third Quarter: 12-8 South Africa
Fourth Quarter: 8-10 Jamaica
Final score 46 -36

QUOTES

ELIZE KOTZE, COACH

“There was no reason after the first quarter leading by 10 goals to expose our first line under the difficult circumstances. This was a training match and opportunity for us to get guarantee on our decision for our first line.”

“It was important that everyone got court time especially our younger players and tonight’s game allowed that. For three quarters we played five of seven young players to give them the exposure to the pressure of the Jamaican style and crowd.”

“The excellent average of our shooters Chrisna Bootha and Maryka Holtzhausen put the stamp of approval as them being definite first liners.”

“The players showed true character right through the physical onslaught of Jamaica.”

“It comforts me to know that our players can absorb this type of pressure in preparation of what’s to come.”

LANA KRIGE, ASSISTANT COACH

“It was a good entree to the main course. The crowd were lively, the game was aggressive and it was a good preparation for what is expected.”

“The girls showed signs of absolute brilliance and adapted well to what was thrown at them.”

AMANDA MYNHARDT, CAPTAIN

“We played a great solid first quarter and our new caps did themselves proud. It’s always great to pull off a win before going into the series.”

ZANELE MDODANA, VICE-CAPTAIN

“It was a great team performance under the circumstances. It’s great to see that we have 12 solid players making substitution easy.”


THE HEAT IS ON FOR THE SPAR PROTEAS IN JAMAICA

Johannesburg, South Africa - Captain Amanda Mynhardt’s world number 6 South Africa women’s netball team are anticipating Friday evening’s first test against Jamaica, the world number 4 ranked netball nation, with excitement and a dash of caution.

Training.1.jpg
SPAR Proteas training in Kingston, Jamaica ahead of their three test series against the islanders this week.

SPAR Protea South Africa netball team cool off at the stadium pool in Kingston, Jamaica after rigorous training session at the Leila Robinson courts on Wednesday 13 June 2012.
PICTURES/ COLLIN REID


“Not knowing what to expect from the young, new Jamaican “Sunshine Girls” is why there is so much anticipation amongst the SPAR Protea camp, “said Mynhardt after Wednesday’s practice session. “However we have settled nicely into Kingston, are enjoying the warmer weather and look forward to our warm up game tomorrow (Thursday) against the Jamaican under21 side.”

South Africa, who impressed at last year’s World Netball Championships in Singapore where they placed fifth, are keen to test their progress against the favoured hometown team as they start their preparation for next year’s Commonwealth Games.

“Playing Jamaica is a fantastic challenge and our girls and management staff are excited at the opportunity to see how we perform against a team - that in my opinion - is undoubtedly one of the best sides in the world,” said SPAR Proteas Coach Elize Kotze, .

According to the Jamaican Netball Coach Oberon Pittseron-Nattie, South Africa has surprised one and all with their speed skills and movement around the court, especially in centre court. Pittseron-Nattie holds high regard for Captain Amanda Mynhardt who she says is a “cheeky player.” The Sunshine Girls coach also believes that Erin Burger, the 2011 World Champs player of the tournament brings enormous experience to the side. Pittseron-Nattie also had full praise for the Protea shooters, Chrisna Bootha and Maryka Holtzhausen who she said were “solid and accurate.”
Zanele Mdodana remains a very versatile player that can be used on wing attack and wing defence and her partnership as Vice-captain with Captain Amanda Mynhardt seems to be working wonderfully well. The Proteas are showing more consistency and the intensity of the team has been impressive. With not many changes from last year’s successful World Championships team, the continuity of the core of the team has remained the same. Thuli Qegu from Ekurhuleni is proving to be one of the most exciting and versatile players in the country. Qegu has a tremendous work rate and instinct for the game and has proved herself as a first line opportunity. Then the glamour girl of the team, Vanes-Mari Du Toit’s height and elevation will help combat the tall and strong Jamaican shooters.

“The girls love the added pressure and stimulation of playing one of the world’s top teams,” said Kotze. “We know we are one of the best in the world and we feel time has come for us to challenge a top four spot on the world rankings. We are not yet where we want to be, but after the impressive performance in Singapore last year there is no doubt that we have the capabilities of cracking a top four spot.”
The South African team have three new caps in their touring side in Anneret Viljoen, Annemarie Frost, and Mampho Tsotetsi. “These are exciting new players to our side and bring a fresh new feel to the team. The new and old experienced players gel well and bring an exciting mix to our strategy” said Assistant Coach, Lana Krige. Krige a former Protea player was one of the most successful and capped players in our country. Based now in the Eastern Cape, Krige played in 82 international tests for South Africa over a period of 12 years.
Kotze said that having Krige as her right hand girl was fantastic. “The respect I have for Lana as a former player and now a coach is enormous. Lana has brought such a wealth of experience into our team and we are already seeing the benefits.”
“Through our sponsorship by SPAR, we have been able to tour Jamaica and continue to be a dominant force in international netball,” said Kotze. “We now need to play more and more competition and gain more and more confidence and experience.”

Fridays test will be the first of three against Jamaica. The test on Friday will be played at 19h30 in the Independence Park, Jamaica. The second test will be played on Sunday at 17h30 with the third and final test taking place at 19h30 on Tuesday.


SPAR PROTEAS ALL SMILES ON ARRIVAL

Johannesburg, South Africa - An upbeat SPAR Protea Netball Team jetted into Kingston, Jamaica late Monday evening ahead of their three test tour in the Caribbean Island.

An excited and jubilant SPAR Protea team on arrival at Norman Manley airport yesterday afternoon.
From left to right: (back row) Annemarie Frost, Amanda Mynhardt (Captain); Chrisna Bootha; Anneret Viljoen; Vanes-Mari du Toit; Zanele Mdodana (Vice Captain).
(Front row) Maryka Holtzhausen; Mampho Tsotetsi ; Nokuthula Qegu; Precious Mthembu; Erin Burger; Bongiwe Msomi

SPAR Proteas Captain Amanda Mynhardt, Coach Elize Kotze, President Jamaica Netball Association Marva Bernard, South African High Commissioner to Jamaica Mathu Joyini and Carlene Edwards of Supreme Ventures on arrival at Norman Manley airport.
PHOTOS/COLLIN REID


The team were met by South African High Commissioner to Jamaica Miss Mathu Joyini, President Jamaica Netball Association Marva Bernard and Carlene Edwards of Supreme Ventures (the sponsor of series) on arrival at Norman Manley airport.

“It’s been one very long flight from South Africa via London” said Vice-Captain, Zanele Mdodana. “We are very happy to be in Kingston and more so in the warmer weather.”

After the formalities at the Norman Manley International Airport were completed, the South African team were escorted to their official hotel and immediately taken for a short city jog and light training session at the Independent Park Indoor Sports Centre where the three tests will be played.

“It’s important to get the girls moving after a long 18 hour flight” said Coach, Elize Kotze. “A light jog in the city and training session will help the girls overcome the jet-lag, get them acclimatised to the hot and humid conditions and familiarise them with their new home for the next few days.” “The flight was long but very pleasant and the girls feel surprisingly fresh now that they have reached Jamaica.”

National Jamaican Coach, Oberon Pitterson-Nattie said that she was delighted to welcome the South African team to Jamaica. “My “Sunshine girls” are really excited to have the Proteas in our country. We have enormous respect for the South African outfit, who have a handful of fantastic players and know that the three tests will be electric, fast and very physical. They will be a treat for the Jamaican netball fans.”

“We have a young new team that need to prove themselves, but both our team and South Africa have shown much improvement in recent years so this upcoming series promises to be an interesting encounter” said Pitterson-Nattie.

The SPAR Proteas play Jamaica in three tests on the 15, 17 and 19 June.


SOUTH AFRICA PLAY IRELAND IN OPENING UNIVERSITIES MATCH

Johannesburg, South Africa - Host nation South Africa will play Ireland in the opening match of the World University Netball Championships (WUNC) in Cape Town, in accordance with the draw conducted on Tuesday.

Tia Marx FISU attaché for the WUNC and Helene Botha with NWU-Pukke University and WUNC Mascot Pukki at the official draw conducted at the High Performance Institute of NWU-Pukke, the facilitating university for the tournament.
Picture by: Mario van de Wall


The inaugural WUNC tournament is to be played at the Good Hope Centre from July 2 tohttp://withtank.com/admin/sites/www.thebldgroup.com/sections/latest-news/list/ July 7, under the auspices of the International University Sports Federation, the biggest multi-discipline sports federation after the International Olympic Committee.

The global economic crisis has had an impact on the tournament. Initially, 18 countries indicated that they would be sending teams, but because of financial constraints, only seven have confirmed their participation. Those who have dropped out include the two netball powerhouses, Australia and New Zealand.

Because of the reduced numbers, the tournament will be played on a round robin basis, instead of the pool system initially planned. The top four teams will then meet in the semifinals. “Although it is disappointing that we have reduced numbers, it is not the end of the world,” said FISU Netball chair Helene Botha. “It means that the participating teams will have more time on court, with each team playing a minimum of six matches,” she said.
“This is not just good news for the teams taking part, but also for the people of Cape Town, who will have a feast of netball that week.”

The seven teams taking part are South Africa, Great Britain, Ireland, Jamaica, Namibia, Uganda and the United States. Because it is the inaugural Universities tournament, there is no official ranking, but Jamaica, Great Britain and South Africa are expected to be the most competitive teams.

The opening match will be preceded by the final of the University Sport South Africa (USSA) championships, which will be played in the week leading up to the World Championships.
All seven teams will be in action on the opening day. The second match of the day is between Jamaica and Uganda, followed by the United States versus Great Britain. In the final match of the day, Ireland will be in action again, taking on Namibia.


SPAR PROTEAS SET OFF IN GOOD SPIRITS

Johannesburg, South Africa - An upbeat and excited SPAR Protea netball team took off from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg last night for their long haul flight via London to Kingston, Jamaica.

Team members from left to right: Amanda Mynhardt (Captain), Zanele Mdodana (Vice-captain), Elize Kotze (Coach), Erin Burger, Annemarie Frost, Bongiwe Msomi and Vanes-Mari du Toit during the SPAR Proteas national netball team departure to Jamaica from O.R. Tambo International Airport on June 10, 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Photo by Reg Caldecott

Goal shooter, Chrisna Bootha signs autographs for young fans Chloe Smith (left) and Ami Davidson during the SPAR Proteas national netball team departure to Jamaica from O.R. Tambo International Airport on June 10, 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Photo by Reg Caldecott

The world number six ranked team will be touring Jamaica over the next ten days and will be playing three tests against the “Sunshine Girls” on the 15, 17 and 19 June.

“We are ready and in a real good frame of mind to take on Jamaica” said Proteas coach Elize Kotze. “The girls have been working very hard for this tour, they know what is at stake and with some new caps and experienced players in our squad I believe that we have every chance of doing well and upsetting the favoured Jamaican team.”

Jamaica who is ranked four in the world has played South Africa twelve times since 1963 and South Africa has only won three tests against the islanders. “We respect the Jamaican team. They are tall, fast and play a unique aggressive type of netball that is difficult to counter. They also have the advantage of playing at home, and are a young side so will be going all out to prove in front of their fans what they are made of. This will make it tough but we are ready to take on the challenge” continued Kotze.

Amanda Mynhardt, Captain of the SPAR Proteas said that she was most impressed with how her team were looking in the pre departure training camp held in Pretoria. “I was inspired by each and every one of my players. They put so much into the training camp and showed signs of real greatness. I believe strongly in the players we have and I know we can do some serious damage in Kingston. I was particularly inspired by the positive way we ended our training camp – a good sign for a Captain.”

The SPAR Proteas will arrive in Kingston, Jamaica late on Monday evening and will play a warm up game against the Jamaican under21 side on Thursday 14 June.


TOP SOUTH AFRICAN TENNIS JUNIORS JET OFF TO ALGERIA

Johannesburg, South Africa - A top line up of South African junior tennis players jetted off to Algeria on Sunday evening to represent the country in the World Junior Championship Qualifying 14 and under and the Junior Fed Cup Qualification event.
Joining South Africa and the host nation Algeria in the week long events are Egypt, Ghana, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Morocco, Burundi, Kenya, Mauritius, Tunisia and Madagascar.
The tournaments will be played in Algiers, Algeria, from 11-17 June.
The teams are as follows:
Fed Cup Team: Ilze Hattingh (Gauteng North), Theresa van Zyl (Northern Cape) and Janet Koch (Western Province); Captain Terrey Schweitzer
14 & Under World Junior Championships Boys: Calvin Jordaan (Western Province), Jandré Lessing (Eastern Province) and Hubert Badenhorst (Free State); Captain Jason Smit
14 & Under World Junior Championships Girls: Nadine de Villiers (Gauteng Central), Zani Barnard (North West Province) and Lee Barnard (North West Province); Captain Jason Stoltenkamp


WORLD UNIVERITY NETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS ON TRACK FOR THE MOTHER CITY

Cape Town, South Africa - The worldwide economic crisis has had its effect on the inaugural World University Netball Championships (WUNC) to be held at the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town from July 2 to 7.
Initially, 18 countries indicated that they would send teams to the tournament, which is being held under the auspices of the International University Sports Federation (FISU), the biggest multi-code sports organisation after the International Olympic Committee.
However, because of financial constraints, only seven have confirmed that they will be taking part. Those who have dropped out include the two netball powerhouses, Australia and New Zealand.
The seven teams taking part are hosts South Africa, Great Britain, Ireland, Jamaica, Namibia, the United States and Uganda.
Tournament Director Helene Botha said (On Thursday) the tournament would now be played on a round robin basis, with the top four teams qualifying for the semi-finals.
“It is disappointing, but it is not a train smash,” said Botha.
“It means that each team will play a minimum of six matches, with one bye, so they will all be getting a lot of time on court. Each team will have a bye.
South Africa, Great Britain, Ireland and Jamaica are the teams expected to go through to the semi-finals.
The draw for the tournament will be conducted on Tuesday.
Botha said all the teams would conduct coaching clinics in and around Cape Town as part of FISU’s outreach programme.
“We are hoping that the people of Cape Town will turn out in their droves to watch the netball and support the South African Universities team, which includes four members of the Spar national team which leaves on Sunday for a three-Test series against Jamaica,” said Botha.


JAMAICA COACH EXPECTS COMPETITIVE SERIES AGAINST SOUTH AFRICA

Jamaican netball coach Oberon Pittseron-Nattie expects a hard and competitive series against South Africa in Kingston later this month.
The Proteas, ranked sixth in the world, leave for Kingston on Sunday for a three-Test series against the fourth-ranked Sunshine Girls.
“We have great respect for South Africa,” Pitterson-Nattie said on a telephone conference call on Wednesday.
“They are very fast around the court, and we expect every match to be tough.”
The coach said Jamaica were in a re-building stage, with a number of senior players having retired after the world championships in Singapore last year.
“We only have four members of the World Championship team left, but they will play a very important role as we start preparing for the next major tournament, the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year.
“We have a very young team, but they are full of energy, and like South Africa, they are hungry for a win.”
Pitterson-Nattie said the Jamaican team were working on strategies to deal with some of the more experienced South African players.
“You have fantastic centre court players, and your captain Amanda Mynhardt is a very aggressive and strong player, and a wonderful leader,” she said. “You also have very accurate shooters.
“We will aim to get the ball from centre to the goal circle as quickly as possible, to give our very tall goalshooter an opportunity to get the ball into the net.”
South Africa and Jamaica have played against each other 12 times since 1963, with Jamaica recording nine wins to South Africa’s three.
The coach said she was confident that Jamaica could break into the top three in the world. They have a series against England in September, and Pitterson-Nattie said if they could get past third-ranked England, they would feel more confident about challenging the world’s top netball countries, Australia and New Zealand.


SA’S LUCAS SITHOLE WINS KOREA OPEN

Seoul, South Korea - Wheelchair tennis champion Lucas Sithole from Newcastle, Kwazulu Natal added another trophy to his young tennis career collection by winning the Korea Open; an ITF 1 Series tournament. Lucas ranked 10 in the world earned valuable ranking points and boosted his confidence ahead of his 1st Paralympics in London 2012 later this year.

South African top Wheelchair Tennis player, Lucas Sithole on his way to clinch the Korean Open Quads singles title.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott


After a successful BNP Paribas 2012 World Team Cup that finished on the 27th of May it was a short rest for SA tennis ace Lucas Sithole. The Korean Open started at the Olympic Park Tennis Centre in Seoul on Tuesday 29 May. It was a mentally strong Sithole who faced Stephane Erismann from France in his first match of the tournament. A focused Lucas comfortably beat the 34 year old Frenchman 6-1, 6-0. This easy victory paired Lucas up against the top seed, Jamie Burdekin of Great Britain in the semi-finals. Earlier in 2012 Sithole lost to Burdekin in the final round at the Melbourne Open.
“Although I lost to Jamie earlier this year I have beaten him twice in 2011 and knew I had to be focused and stick to my game plan if I was going to win the match.” Sithole played with sheer brilliance to defeat and upset top seed Jamie Burdekin (GBR) 6-2, 6-2. It was clear that Lucas Sithole was in top form. The 3rd seed South African played his fourth NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour Quad singles final of 2012 facing 2nd seed Anders Hard from Sweden ranked 8th internationally. It was the 3rd encounter between Lucas Sithole (RSA) and Anders Hard (SWE). Sithole has a 3-0 win loss record against Hard, with the last victory being at the Florida Open in April 2012 where Lucas won 6-7(3), 6-1, 6-2. An unstoppable Lucas Sithole defeated Anders Hard once more 6-4, 6-3 to lift the Korean Open Quads single title.

WTSA’s Director and Coach Holger Losch said: “Lucas always plays to win. We are proud of his determination, courage and performance. He has been working hard, and it is so good to see he is reaping the rewards. ”
Participation in local and international tournaments is made possible by a generous sponsorship by Airports Company South Africa, the official sponsor of the sport.


PROTEAS UPBEAT AHEAD OF JAMAICA TOUR

Pretoria, South Africa - The Spar national netball head off to Jamaica on Sunday brimful of confidence after a successful training camp in Pretoria.
“We put the players under a lot of pressure during the camp, and they responded very positively,” said head coach Elize Kotze.

Photo Caption: From left to right Netball South Africa Vice President Blanche De La Guerre, Spar Netball Proteas Vice Captain Zanele Mdodana and Spar Netball Proteas team Captain Amanda Mynhardt at the Post training camp press conference in Pretoria ahead of next week‘s tour to Jamaica.

Photo Caption: Spar Proteas Netball Captain Amanda Mynhardt addressing the media at a post training camp press conference in Pretoria on Monday. Team coach Elize Kotze looks on

Photo Caption: The SPAR Proteas Netball team at a press conference in Pretoria after a successful training camp held over the weekend. The team leaves for a short tour of Jamaica on Sunday (10June 2012). From L – R behind: Lana Krige (Assistant coach), Erin Burger, Zanele Mdodana (Vice-captain), Chrisna Bootha, Amanda Mynhardt (Captain), Vanes-Mari du Toit, Aneret Viljoen and Elize Kotze (Coach). Front: Precious Mthembu, Mampho Tsotetsi, Annemarie Frost, Bongiwe Msomi and Thuli Qegu .


The Proteas, ranked fifth in the world, will play a three-test series against fourth-ranked Jamaica, with a warm-up match against the Jamaican Under-21 side.
“I think we have come a long way since we played Jamaica at the World Championships in Singapore last year,” said Kotze.
“We made a lot of soft unforced errors, and we have been working hard at eliminating those. The players are focusing on what we do right, and we have overcome the fear of failure. We have watched footage of that match over and over and we know what we did wrong.”
Kotze said it was important for South Africa to keep playing against the top netballing countries.
“If we want to improve our ranking, we have to play the better sides, and we learn more from playing them than constantly playing against teams that are weaker than us. Jamaica is also an amateur netball country, unlike Australia and New Zealand, and I believe this is the time for us to take that step up.”
She said she was very happy with the 12 players selected for the tour.
“Having Vanes-Mari du Toit as goalkeeper, working with Amanda Mynhardt as goal defence, means we have the players who can physically challenge those very tall Jamaican players,” she said.
“I’m also very happy with our centre court players. With players like Erin (Burger), Bongi (Bongiwe Msomo) and Mampho (Tsotetsi), we have so many options, and we are able to have a Plan B or even a Plan C.
“There is no guarantee that all 12 members of the squad will get court time – the team will be selected according to the circumstances. Some of our players have years of experience, which gives them an edge. Players have to earn their court time,” said Kotze.
A number of players have toured Jamaica before, either as part of the Under 21 team or with the senior team in 2008, and captain Mynhardt said this would help them to deal with a very different playing environment.
“The crowds are very passionate, and it can get very noisy. We will just have focus on what we are doing, and listen to each other.”
“I love playing in Jamaica. It’s very exciting,” said Vice-captain Zanele Mdodana. “There are drums and music and a lot of shouting. It can be intimidating, but we need to feed off that energy and let it work for us.”

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