VAUGHN HUNTS DOWN HIS SECOND TITLE

Pretoria, South Africa – What a month it’s been for rising South African junior tennis star Vaughn Hunter. The Johannesburg South, Glenvista resident won back to back international titles in Pretoria on Friday when he captured the singles title of the Gauteng North ITF. Last week Hunter won the Wanderers ITF in Illovo, Johannesburg.

Top seeded South African Lynn Kiro winning the girls singles title of the Gauteng North ITF being played at the Groenkloof Tennis Stadium in Pretoria today

South African queen and king, Vaughn Hunter and Lynn Kiro enjoying their victory in the Gauteng North ITF being played at the Groenkloof Tennis Stadium in Pretoria

Vaughn Hunter, the 6th seeded South African in action against top seed Matthew Rossouw winning his second title at the Gauteng North ITF being played today (Friday) at the Groenkloof Tennis Stadium in Pretoria

Pictures by BLD Communications


Hunter upset top seeded fellow South African, Matthew Rossouw 7-5 6-1 in today’s final. Seventeen year old Hunter made an impressive comeback from 3-5 and set point down in the opening set to win the title. “I always knew that Matthew was going to be a tough one to beat. He is a great competitor and when I fought back and saved the set point in the first set, I had that added confidence which helped” said Hunter. “I just decided to slow the game down, play steady and percentage tennis to minimize my mistakes which worked.”

It was Hunters third international career title. Last year Hunter won his maiden international title at the Wanders ITF.

In the girls singles, top seeded Lyn Kiro of Cape Town had little trouble beating friend and second seed Theresa Van Zyl 6-4 6-1. In a disappointing final that took 86 minutes, Kiro broke serve at 3-3 in the first set and never looked back. “It was tight until that all important seventh game when I broke serve. After that I took control and was really pleased with my performance. I feel really happy right now” said Kiro following victory.

Like Hunter, the win today at the Groenkloof Stadium was Kiro’s third international title. Kiro’s two previous titles were won in Burundi and Rwanda last year where ironically she beat Van Zyl in both finals.


VAUGHN ON THE HUNT FOR A SECOND TITLE

Pretoria, South Africa – There is a guaranteed all South African set of finals at the Gauteng North ITF junior international tennis tournament which ends at the Groenkloof Stadium in Pretoria tomorrow (Friday).

Theresa Van Zyl of South Africa seeded 2 on her way to beating Namibian 3rd Seed Lesedi Jacobs 6-4 6-2 in the girls semi-finals to reach the Friday’s finals of the Gauteng North ITF tournament being played at the Groenkloof Tennis Stadium in Pretoria today (Thursday).

South African top seed Lynn Kiro focuses on the ball as he beats fellow country lady Janet Koch 6-4 6-0 in the girls’s semi-finals of the Gauteng North ITF being played at the Groenkloof Tennis Stadium in Pretoria.

South African top seed Lynn Kiro focuses on the ball as he beats fellow country lady Janet Koch 6-4 6-0 in the girls’s semi-finals of the Gauteng North ITF being played at the Groenkloof Tennis Stadium in Pretoria.

Top seeded South African Matthew Rossouw in action against Phillip De Bruyn 6-0 6-2 in the semifinals of the Gauteng North ITF being played at the Groenkloof Tennis Stadium in Pretoria

Pictures by BLD Communications


Vaughn Hunter, the sixth seed from Glenvista, South of Johannesburg, winner of last week’s Wanderers ITF is through to his second final in as many weeks. Hunter upset second seed Tuki Jacobs of Namibia 7-6 6-1 in his semi-final and will meet top seeded Matthew Rossouw in Friday’s final. Rossouw of Pretoria needed just 65 minutes to beat giant killer, Phillip De Bruyn also from Pretoria 6-0 6-2. On Tuesday, De Bruyn upset eighth seeded Joshua Luck of Cape Town in a marathon three setter that took just over four hours. De Bruyn then shocked third seed Guy Iradukunda of Burundi in the quarter finals on Wednesday. In the match against Rossouw, De Bruyn was visibly exhausted and his toes were strapped from blisters gained in his long encounter vs Luck.

“This has been a magical run for me” said Hunter after his win. “Let’s hope the magic continues in the final but Matthew is a great player, is tournament favourite and is playing in his home backyard so it’s going to be really tough but I am up for the challenge.”

Rossouw was delighted winning through to the final. After clinching match point, the tall and lanky top seed clinched his fist and let out a “roar” of approval. Rossouw said that he was happy to have a better run than last week where he was a surprise losing semi-finalist. “Last week wasn’t great. I was wild carded into the tournament and expected to win but went out early and so I knew I had to make up for it this week. Vaughn is playing great tennis and is oozing with confidence. I’ve played Vaughn twice before and he beat me on both occasions so it’s not going to be an easy final.”

Ironically the last time the two met was in the semi-final of the Wanderers ITF last week which Hunter won 7-6 6-3.

In the girls singles, top seeded Lynn Kiro will meet her friend and training partner Theresa Van Zyl, seeded two for the title. Kiro won through to the final with an easy 6-4 6-0 win over fourth seed Janet Koch of Cape Town. Van Zyl downed last week’s winner, Lesedi Jacobs of Namibia the third seed, 6-4 6-2 in her semi-final.

The finals will be played tomorrow (Friday) from 09h00 at the Groenkloof Stadium in Pretoria,


SOUTH AFRICA WILL BE REPRESENTED IN THE TENNIS AT THE OLYMPICS

Johannesburg, South Africa – Despite South Africa having no tennis players in action at the Wimbledon Courts during London 2012, the country will be well represented on court but by top officials rather than players.

Tennis South Africa (TSA) announced today that three of its officials, namely Iain Smith, Pieter Hoeksma and Mxolisi Matyolo had been selected by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to do duty during this year’s Olympics and Paralympics.

Iain Smith from Centurion, Pretoria is Africa’s highest qualified official and has been with Tennis South Africa as Officiating Manager since 1995. Smith will be the Review Official responsible for overseeing the important Hawkeye (third umpire) at the Olympics and will be an Assistant Referee at the Paralympics. Smith is one of only 52 officials worldwide who has a gold badge in officiating and has as a result done duty at all the Grand Slams and was Referee of the ATP SA Open for the three years it was held at Montecasino.

Pieter Hoeksma also from Pretoria will be a line umpire at the Olympics and Katlegong resident, Mxolisi Matyolo will be working on the lines at the Paralympics.

Hoeksma has a wealth of experience under his belt having officiated at Wimbledon, The Australian Open, Commonwealth Games and last years All African Games. Matyolo made his international debut outside the country in 2009 as an official when he was invited by the ATP to do lines at the ATP World Finals. Like Hoeksma, Matyolo has also officiated at the Commonwealth and All African Games.

“This is a great honour for our country” said Smith. “The ITF and world recognise the quality of our officiating which is a result of good training and sound and solid structures. TSA have a professionally structured officiating programme involving over 316 officials which is producing great results.”


NETBALL FESTIVAL IN JOHANNESBURG

Johannesburg, South Africa - There is growing interest in netball following South Africa’s clean sweep over Northern Ireland earlier this month, and the first victory over Jamaica in 45 years during a test series in July. Netball fans will have much to look forward to at the annual SPAR National Championships in Johannesburg next month.

Defending Champions Gauteng North after their win at the 2011 SPAR National Netball Championships held in Cape Town.

Gauteng North and Free State Motheo battle it out in the final of the 2011 SPAR National Netball Championships held in Belville, Cape Town.
Pictures by: Reg Caldecott

More than 80 teams from all parts of the country have registered for the tournament, which will be played at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) from August 6 to 11. The tournament, which is always played around National Women’s Day, will be divided into A, B and C-sections, and there will also be a men’s competition.

Defending champions Gauteng North will be attempting to continue their dominance with a third successive win. They can expect strong competition from last year’s defeated finalists, Free State Motheo, as well as from Ekurhuleni and Nelson Mandela Bay.

With plenty of international netball coming up, including the inaugural Diamond Challenge, featuring South Africa, Botswana, Malawi and Tanzania, and the Quad Nations series against Australia, New Zealand and England later in the year, top players will be putting their best foot forward to ensure they catch the eye of the selectors.

But as Netball South Africa President Mimi Mthethwa pointed out, the SPAR National Championships is not just about the elite teams, but also about the teams playing in the lower divisions. “Every player at the tournament will be doing her best for her team,” said Mthethwa. “Netball is a very competitive sport, and we expect a high standard of play in all divisions. Every team will be trying to do better than they did last year. “It is also a time to make new friends and renew old friendships,” she said.

Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula, who instigated the Diamond Challenge, has shown considerable interest in netball, and has called for the introduction of a professional netball league, to put South Africa on a par with countries like Australia and New Zealand, which have had professional competitions for a number of years. “Support from Minister Mbalula has raised netball’s profile, and we are expecting great things in the future,” said Mthethwa.

SPAR Group Marketing Executive Mike Prentice said the grocery giant was very proud to be associated with the national championships. “Netball is our flagship sponsorship, and we have been associated with the sport for many years,” he said.
“As the biggest grocery chain in South Africa, it is only fitting that we should partner the country’s premier women’s sport. I hope all the players have a successful and happy week.”


SOUTH AFRICAN UMPIRES FOR TOP-LEVEL MATCHES

Johannesburg, South Africa - South African netball umpires are beginning to make their mark internationally, with two appointed to officiate at top-level international competitions in the next few months.

Theresa Prince of Nelson Mandela Bay has been appointed one of the umpires for the Test series between the world’s top netball countries, world champions Australia and runners-up New Zealand, in September. “I am honoured that I can add value to world and South African netball through this invitation” said a humble Theresa Prince after the announcement was made. Annie Kloppers of Stellenbosch will officiate in the Quad Series involving Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa in October and November.

Prince and Kloppers both officiated at the Netball World Championships in Singapore last year. “The invitation to Theresa and Annie to officiate at such high-profile matches shows that the world is beginning to recognise the potential of South African umpires,” said Netball South Africa (NSA) Director of Umpires, Dr Hannette Brewer.

“We need more exposure for our umpires so we can be on the same level as Australia and New Zealand. We are very proud of our international umpires, who have both umpired in international finals – Annie at the last Under21 World Cup and Theresa in the Fast Net final last year,” said Brewer.


PLENTY OF LUCK FOR HUNTER AS HE DEFENDS HIS TITLE

Johannesburg, South Africa – South Africa’s Vaughn Hunter successfully defended his ITF Wanderers international junior title in Johannesburg on Friday. The Glenvista based junior, seeded five, beat Cape Town’s Joshua Luck seeded eight 7-5 6-1 in the final.

Vaughn Hunter, the 5th seeded South African in action defeating top seeded Joshua Luck (RSA) in the boys’ finals (Friday) at the Wanderers ITF being played at the Wanderers Tennis Club in Johannesburg.

Namibian Lesedi Jacobs in action winning her maiden title against Elizabeth Kapari of Ghana at the Wanderers ITF being played at the Wanderers Tennis Club in Johannesburg.
Pictures by Howard Espley-Jones


The girls’ title went to Namibia’s Lesedi Jacobs. Second seeded Jacobs beat six seed, Elizabeth Kapari of Ghana 7-6 6-2.
Hunter started well breaking serve in the second game but was promptly broken back in the fourth game by Luck. Luck then broke serve in the seventh game to lead 4-3 but another break of serve by Hunter in the eighth game saw the score level at 4-4. The set went with serve until the tie breaker which Hunter easily won 6-1. In the second set, Hunter was in full control losing only one game in winning it 6-1.
“I am really happy about my win” said a delighted Hunter following his victory. “We were both feeling the pressure of being in a final in the first set and I am glad my game picked up the second set. I played great aggressive tennis in the second set and did enough to win. I feel very comfortable about my game and confident for the second tournament starting in Pretoria next week.”
In the girl’s singles, the opening set went with serve until the notorious seventh game where Kapari broke serve. Jacobs then broke back and the set went into the tie breaker which Jacobs won 6-2. “In the tie breaker I focused point by point and told myself to really concentrate which helped” said Jacobs. Jacobs, using a more aggressive and solid game then broke early in the second set to lead 2-0. There was no looking back for the Namibian as she captured the second set 6-2 giving Jacobs her maiden title.
“This is my first international win for me and I am so happy” said Jacobs. “Two weeks ago I reached the final in Egypt which I lost and so this makes up for that loss and gives me added confidence for next week. “
The boys doubles title went to second seeded Guy Iradukunda of Burundi and Andriatokiana Ratsimandresy of Madagascar. The girl’s title went to fourth seeded South Africans Janet Koch and Amy Olivier.
Next Monday sees the start of the second tournament of the series, the Gauteng North ITF which will be played at the Groenkloof Stadium in Pretoria.


JOSHUA NEEDS NO LUCK IN REACHING FINAL

Johannesburg, South Africa – There will be an all-South African boy’s singles final tomorrow (Friday) at the Wanderers ITF international Junior tennis championships in Johannesburg. Fifth seeded Vaughn Hunter of Pretoria will play Cape Town’s Joshua Luck the eight seed in the final. Hunter caused a major upset today (Thursday) when he came from 3-5 down in the opening set against top seeded fellow South African Matthew Rossouw in his semi-final to beat the tournament favourite 7-6 6-3. In the bottom half of the draw, Luck beat giant killer, Michiel Van Schoor of Boland 6-2 6-3 in his semi-final. Van Schoor, a wild card into his first international event upset second seed Tuki Jacobs of Nambia in the opening round.

South Africa’s 8th seed Joshua Luck focuses on the ball as he beats fellow country man Michael Van Schoor 6-4 6-2 in the boy’s semi-finals of the Wanderers ITF being played at the Wanderers Tennis Club in Johannesburg.

Vaughn Hunter, the 5th seeded South African in action defeating top seeded Matthew Rossouw (RSA) 7-6(3) 6-3 in the boys’ semi-finals (Thursday) en route to the finals (Friday) at the Wanderers ITF being played at the Wanderers Tennis Club in Johannesburg.

Elizabeth Kapari of Ghana seeded 6 on her way to beating South African qualifier Lee Barnard 6-4 6-4 in the girls semi-finals to reach the Friday’s finals of the Wanderers ITF tournament being played at the Wanderers Tennis Club in Johannesburg today (Thursday).

Second seed Lesedi Jacobs of Namibia in action against compatriot Carita Moolman in the semifinals of the Wanderers ITF being played at the Wanderers Tennis Club in Illovo, Johannesburg
Pictures by Howard Espley-Jones


In the girls singles, sixth seeded Elizabeth Kapari of Ghana won through to the final beating qualifier Lee Barnard of South Africa 6-4 6-4. Barnard is only 13 years old, the youngest player in the tournament. Reaching the semi-finals after qualifying is a clear indication that Barnard has the potential for future greatness. Kapari will meet Namibian, Lesedi Jacobs the second seed who overcame a second set scare to beat another South African 6-1 7-5.
The finals will be played at 09h30 at the Wanderers Tennis Club in Illovo


KOTZE COACH UNTIL END OF THE YEAR

Johannesburg, South Africa - Netball South Africa (NSA) President Mimi Mthethwa confirmed on Monday that NSA had written to the coach of the SPAR National Netball team, Elize Kotze, asking her to stay on as head coach until the end of the year. “We would love to give her a contract until after the World Championships in 2015. We are in no doubt about her value to the team, but she understands that at this stage, we are not in a position to offer contracts to anyone,” said Mthethwa.

SPAR National Netball team coach Elize Kotze
Picture by: Reg Caldecott


“We discussed the situation with her during the SPAR Challenge series against Northern Ireland in Cape Town last week, and she has agreed to stay on until the end of the year. The team has shown a definite improvement since she took over last year, and we have a very important series against the top three teams – Australia, New Zealand and England – in October and November.”

Mthethwa said NSA was talking to Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula about the need to make netball more professional by offering contracts to coaches and players. Mbalula said last week that netball, the biggest women’s sport in South Africa, needed more support.

“Elize understands that we have a long-term plan, and we hope very much that she will be a part of that,” said Mthethwa. “Part of her job will be to work with other national coaches, such as the Under 23, Under21, Under 19 and Fast Net coaches, so that they are all on the same page, as well as to reach out to the regions and work with regional coaches so that players and coaches are more exposed to top-level netball. She has agreed to work with us and help us plan the road ahead, and we very much hope that we will be able to keep her in this position until after the World Championships in 2015. In the meantime, we are very pleased that she has agreed to stay on until the end of the year.”


SOUTH AFRICA CLINCH NETBALL SERIES

Cape Town, South Africa - South Africa outclassed Northern Ireland in the second SPAR Netball Challenge Test Series at the Good Hope Centre on Tuesday to clinch the series.

SPAR Proteas Vice-Captain and Wing Attack Zanele Mdodana in action during the 2nd SPAR Netball Challenge test match between South Africa and Northern Ireland at the Good Hope Centre on July 10, 2012 in Cape Town, South Africa.

Player of the match Precious Mthembu during the 2nd test of the SPAR Netball Challenge on 10 July 2012.

South Africa’s goal defence Karla Mostert reaches for the ball from Ireland’s goal attack Oonagh McCullough, during the 2nd test of the SPAR Netball Challenge.
Pictures by: Reg Caldecott


The Proteas thrashed the visitors 66-42, after leading 35-19 at halftime. The hosts dominated in all areas, but were particularly successful in defence, with Amanda Mynhardt and Aneret Viljoen keeping the Northern Irish shooters in check.

At no stage did the visitors look like posing a threat, and South Africa succeeded in turning over the ball on a regular basis. Coach Elize Kotze made the most of the versatility of her players, starting the match with centre court player Erin Burger at goal attack and Bongiwe Msomi at centre. She made several changes at halftime, replacing Burger and Chrisna Bootha with Maryka Holtzhausen and Claudia Basson, and returning Burger to centre. Basson and Holtzhausen kept the goals coming, but at the other end of the court, Northern Ireland began scoring more goals after Viljoen was replaced at goal defence by Karla Mostert. They were only four goals behind at one point during the third quarter, and three behind in the final 15 minutes.

Precious Mthembu, making her way back after a long absence through injury, played a pivotal role at wing defence, earning herself the player of the match award. It was the first time since her return that she played for the entire match. “It’s awesome to be back,” said the former SPAR Proteas vice-captain. “It’s wonderful to be back with the team, who have made me feel very welcome. I believe that if you are given the bib, you have to work hard to honour it.”

Kotze was very pleased with the outcome of the match. “I was happy once again to be able to play all the members of the squad, and I was extremely happy to have Precious on for the full hour,” she said. Kotze said she had decided to open with Burger at goal attack because she believed in setting players new challenges. “Erin has completely mastered the centre court,” she said. “She can shoot well, and once she has confidence in her shooting abilities, I think she will be world class in that area as well.” (Burger was named Player of the Tournament at the World Netball Championships in Singapore last year.)

Northern Ireland coach Jill McIntosh said she was disappointed that her team had not been able to reduce the margin of victory, after losing by 24 goals on Monday as well. “But the players are learning all the time, and that will definitely be our goal for tomorrow,” she said. Earlier in the evening, South Africa Under21 beat England Under 21 by 56 goals to 31.
The third and final Test will be played at 6pm on Wednesday 11th July 2012.


NETBALL DIAMOND CHALLENGE LAUNCH

Johannesburg, South Africa - The Minister of Sport and Recreation SA, Honourable Fikile Mbalula, officially launched the Netball Diamond Challenge at a breakfast function held at the Sandton Convention Centre today (Thursday).

From L-R: Mr Gert Oosthuizen (Deputy Minister of Sport and Recreation), Zanele Mdodana (Vice Captain), Mr Fikile Mbalula (Minister of Sport and Recreation), Amanda Mynhardt (Captain), Mimi Mthethwa (President of Netball South Africa) and Blanche De La Guerre (Vice President of Netball South Africa) at the launch of the Netball Diamond Challenge at the Sandton Convention Centre today.


From L-R behind: The Spar Proteas Netball Team Manager Claudine Claassen, Nosiphiwo Goda, Mr Gert Oosthuizen (Deputy Minister of Sport and Recreation), Zanele Mdodana (Vice Captain), Chrisna Bootha, Mr Fikile Mbalula (Minister of Sport and Recreation), Aneret Viljoen, Mimi Mthethwa (President Of Netball South Africa), Amanda Mynhardt (Captain). Front: Bongiwe Msomi, Thuli Qegu, Erin Burger, Precious Mthembu at the Sandton Convention Centre for the Netball Diamond Challenge launch.
Pictures by: Reg Caldecott


The Netball Diamond Challenge will see South Africa, Malawi, Botswana and Tanzania competing in a round robin tournament in Johannesburg and Cape Town from 11 August – 19 August 2012.
The objective of the tournament is to celebrate the role of women in sport and in particular elevate the profile of Netball in South Africa as we celebrate women’s month.

This isn’t going to be just any normal netball event – it will offer spectators the added entertainment of live music and other surprises.
“We are very excited about the Netball Diamond Challenge, and our plan is to grow it into the premier netball event on the African continent. Netball remains one of the largest sporting codes in the country and it deserves to have a professional league and roar to a stature of the likes of soccer, rugby and cricket” said Minister Mbalula.

Concludes Mimi Mthethwa, Netball South Africa President; “The plan is for the Netball Diamond Challenge to become an annual event hosted by South Africa, with teams invited from various countries. The event forms part of Netball South Africa’s Vision for the Spar Proteas that ensures we strive towards consistently being amongst the top three teams in the world, develop heroes amongst our youth and further grow the game at all levels and areas.”
Tickets will be available from Computicket shortly.


GAUTENG TO HOST INTERNATIONAL JUNIOR TENNIS TOURNAMENTS

Gauteng, South Africa - A feast of junior tennis will be served in Gauteng when Joburg and Pretoria host two International Tennis Federation Junior tennis tournaments.

The first of the back to back tournaments will start on Monday 16 July with the finals scheduled for Friday 20 July and will be played at The Wanderers Tennis Club in Illovo, Johannesburg. The second will be played from 23-27 July at the Groenkloof Tennis Stadium in Pretoria. Both tournaments form part of the International Tennis Federation’s Junior Circuit, with the Joburg event being a Grade 4 ranking tournament and the Pretoria event and Grade 5 ranking event.

Junior tennis players from 21 countries are in South Africa to participate in these two tournaments.

“A lot of preparation has gone into making both tournaments a great success and experience for especially our international players” said CEO of Tennis South Africa, Ian Smith. “It is pleasing to see so many local and international players coming to compete. This shows that the internationals are happy with our facilities and are most likely to return in the future.”

There are players from Namibia, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, India, Madagascar, Switzerland, Mauritius, Germany, Botswana, Italy, Cameroon, Egypt, Bulgaria, Ukraine, France, Slovakia, Pakistan, Turkey, Great Britain, Democratic Republic of Congo and Israel competing in both events.


NORTHERN IRELAND GO DOWN FIGHTING IN CLOSE MATCH

Cape Town, South Africa - Northern Ireland made the South African team fight every step of the way to win the third and final match in the SPAR Challenge series in Cape Town by 58 goals to 52 on Wednesday.
South Africa won the series three-nil, but the team from Northern Ireland can go back home with their heads held high, after outscoring South Africa in the second and final quarters.

Player of the Series, Bongiwe Msomi from South Africa in action during the third test of the SPAR Challenge played at the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town.

SPAR Protea Maryka Holtzhausen defends against Northern Ireland’s Frances Campbell, in the third and final test of the SPAR Challenge played on Wednesday 11 July.

The triumphant South African team with their trophy after winning the SPAR Challenge three-nil against Northern Ireland, played at the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town.
Pictures by: Reg Caldecott


Proteas coach Elize Kotze started the match without some of her front-line players, with captain Amanda Mynhardt, Erin Burger and Aneret Viljoen all warming the bench. For the first 10 minutes, the teams traded goal for goal before Northern Ireland briefly took the lead. South Africa came back at them and won the first quarter 16-13.

Mynhardt replaced Karla Mostert at goal defence in the second quarter and brought on some stability, although the visitors outscored South Africa by 14 goals to 12 in the second stanza. The Northern Ireland goal shooter Noleen Lennon, who was named player of the match, and goal attack Oonagh McCullough were both outstanding and as the goals piled up, the hosts appeared to panic, making a number of unforced errors.

With South Africa leading 28-27 at halftime, Kotze brought in her big guns, like Erin Burger and Aneret Viljoen. Burger replaced Bongiwe Msomi who had played excellently, winning her the title of player of the series. Their presence was felt immediately, as South Africa won the quarter by 20 goals to 12. That difference was enough to ensure South Africa’s victory, although Northern Ireland won the final quarter 13-10.

“We can’t make excuses. Maybe we were over-confident,” said Kotze. “Also, I tried new combinations today. This is the first opportunity I have had to try something like that, and I realise how valuable our more experienced players are. “I’m really not worried,” she said. “We won the series 3-0 and the fact that Northern Ireland came back tonight was fantastic. The challenge was good. They re-strategised and played a whole new game, which meant I also had to change my strategy.”

“This series showed me who could cope with pressure. We have a much bigger challenge towards the end of the year, when we play the top three teams, Australia, New Zealand and England, in the Quad series. If you can’t make it at this level, then we have to look very seriously at our choices.”

Northern Ireland coach Jill McIntosh, who said after Tuesday’s defeat that she wanted to narrow the winning margin, said she was delighted by the team’s performance. “I think the team really believed in themselves and their ability,” she said. “They cut down on their unforced errors, which was one of our big targets. We also managed to force South Africa into making errors. “The more this team gets out and plays international netball, the better they will be.”


SOUTH AFRICA CLINCH NETBALL SERIES

Cape Town, South Africa - South Africa outclassed Northern Ireland in the second SPAR Netball Challenge Test Series at the Good Hope Centre on Tuesday to clinch the series.

SPAR Proteas Vice-Captain and Wing Attack Zanele Mdodana in action during the 2nd SPAR Netball Challenge test match between South Africa and Northern Ireland at the Good Hope Centre on July 10, 2012 in Cape Town, South Africa.

Player of the match Precious Mthembu during the 2nd test of the SPAR Netball Challenge on 10 July 2012.

South Africa’s goal defence Karla Mostert reaches for the ball from Ireland’s goal attack Oonagh McCullough, during the 2nd test of the SPAR Netball Challenge.
Pictures by: Reg Caldecott


The Proteas thrashed the visitors 66-42, after leading 35-19 at halftime. The hosts dominated in all areas, but were particularly successful in defence, with Amanda Mynhardt and Aneret Viljoen keeping the Northern Irish shooters in check.

At no stage did the visitors look like posing a threat, and South Africa succeeded in turning over the ball on a regular basis. Coach Elize Kotze made the most of the versatility of her players, starting the match with centre court player Erin Burger at goal attack and Bongiwe Msomi at centre. She made several changes at halftime, replacing Burger and Chrisna Bootha with Maryka Holtzhausen and Claudia Basson, and returning Burger to centre. Basson and Holtzhausen kept the goals coming, but at the other end of the court, Northern Ireland began scoring more goals after Viljoen was replaced at goal defence by Karla Mostert. They were only four goals behind at one point during the third quarter, and three behind in the final 15 minutes.

Precious Mthembu, making her way back after a long absence through injury, played a pivotal role at wing defence, earning herself the player of the match award. It was the first time since her return that she played for the entire match. “It’s awesome to be back,” said the former SPAR Proteas vice-captain. “It’s wonderful to be back with the team, who have made me feel very welcome. I believe that if you are given the bib, you have to work hard to honour it.”

Kotze was very pleased with the outcome of the match. “I was happy once again to be able to play all the members of the squad, and I was extremely happy to have Precious on for the full hour,” she said. Kotze said she had decided to open with Burger at goal attack because she believed in setting players new challenges. “Erin has completely mastered the centre court,” she said. “She can shoot well, and once she has confidence in her shooting abilities, I think she will be world class in that area as well.” (Burger was named Player of the Tournament at the World Netball Championships in Singapore last year.)

Northern Ireland coach Jill McIntosh said she was disappointed that her team had not been able to reduce the margin of victory, after losing by 24 goals on Monday as well. “But the players are learning all the time, and that will definitely be our goal for tomorrow,” she said. Earlier in the evening, South Africa Under21 beat England Under 21 by 56 goals to 31.
The third and final Test will be played at 6pm on Wednesday 11th July 2012.


COACHES EXPECT TOUGH CONTEST IN NETBALL CHALLENGE SERIES

Cape Town, South Africa - The coaches of South Africa and Northern Ireland are both expecting a very tough contest in the three-Test SPAR Netball Challenge series starting at the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town on Monday.

From L-R: Amanda Mynhardt (Captain), Zanele Mdodana (Vice-captain) Elize Kotze, coach of the SPAR Proteas, and Jill McIntosh, coach of the Northern Ireland team during the South Africa and Northern Ireland netball team press conference at Garden Court, Nelson Mandela Boulevard on July 08, 2012 in Cape Town, South Africa
Photo by Reg Caldecott

Hannah Irvine, vice-captain of Northern Ireland and Zanele Mdodana, vice- captain of the SPAR Proteas ahead of the SPAR Netball Challenge
Photo by Reg Caldecott


“We have a lot of respect for our opponents,” South African coach Elize Kotze said at a news conference on Sunday. “We have worked hard, and we will be approaching this series with a lot of confidence, but we are definitely not over-confident. We played Northern Ireland at the World Championships in Singapore last year, and they gave us a very hard time. We have looked back at that game, and we have learned a lot from that experience.”

Former Australian coach Jill McIntosh, who took over as Northern Ireland coach earlier this year, said she expected three very tough matches. “South Africa are in the top six in the world, whereas Northern Ireland are currently ranked 12th. Northern Ireland will benefit from exposure to class opposition, and the more they play the top teams, the better they will become, said McIntosh.

“I believe Northern Ireland could be a sleeping giant. Northern Ireland is a very good national team that rarely plays Tests. “They tend to play only in the World Championships and the European Championships, and they need more international competition,” said McIntosh. “There is wonderful talent, but not enough international experience.” She said it was also important for netball that the teams ranked seventh to 12th in the world challenged the top six teams.

Proteas captain Amanda Mynhardt said South Africa had been boosted by their victory over Jamaica in the third Test in the Caribbean last month, but would not be resting on their laurels. “We want to become more consistent, and we know what a fight Northern Ireland put up last time we played them,” she said. “We are already preparing for the Commonwealth Games in 2014, and we also have a huge series against the top three countries – Australia, New Zealand and England – later this year. The Challenge Series is very important to us.”

The SPAR Netball Challenge series follows hot on the heels of the World University Netball Championships (WUNC), where South Africa finished second, losing to Great Britain in the final on Saturday.

South Africa and Northern Ireland both have players who featured in the tournament, but the coaches are not concerned that their players might be over-tired after a hectic week of netball. “Our players are very well conditioned,” said Kotze. “Four Proteas played at the university championships, and they were all front-line players, but we have a depth of talent in the team, and if necessary we can do without them for the first match. But I believe they will all be ready and eager to play.”

The first Test starts at the Good Hope Centre at 19h20 on Monday 9th July.
The second Test will be played on Tuesday 10th at 19h00, and the final test on Wednesday 11th at 18h00.


SA GO DOWN FIGHTING IN UNIVERSITY NETBALL FINAL

Cape Town, South Africa - There was disappointment for South Africa when they went down 53-49 against Great Britain in the final of the inaugural World University Netball Championships in Cape Town on Saturday.

“I’m really proud of the players. They tried their hearts out and they never gave up,” said SA coach Dorette Badenhorst.“They’re a great team of players and they stood together as a team, even though they had never played together before.“I think they were excellent - to come second in the world at university level, we can be really proud.” Fighting it out to the bitter end, the scores were level at 46all at the end of regular play, forcing the match into extra time.

It was a closely contested affair from the start with South Africa scoring the opening goal. Britain’s Steffi Burt, with tentacle-like arms, was faultless in her shooting and able to snatch and draw the ball into her comfort zone from anywhere in the circle. A costly miss by the home side allowed the English to take the lead, which they increased to four goals at one point. With just over two minutes to go in the first quarter, South Africa drew level, but the opening period ended with the hosts trailing by two goals at 12-10.

South Africa made a couple of switches in the second quarter and the tactic worked well as the hosts matched the visitors goal-for-goal, closing out the first half two points down at 24-22. After levelling the scores again at 25-25, South Africa went into the lead for the first time in the match, a few minutes into the third sector.

Proteas centre Bongi Msomi was tenacious in her play while Vanes-Mari du Toit and Karla Mostert were superb in defence. After the third quarter ended one goal to South Africa’s advantage, at 35-34, the momentum was finally in their favour and they should have closed out the game in the last period of play. However, they failed to capitalise on their possession and the lead fluctuated from one side to the other. An intercept by Du Toit put South Africa in front by two goals, and they stretched their margin to three, but the experienced British side pulled it back and their goal in the dying seconds of regular time ensured a further seven minutes each way.
Both sides made uncharacteristic errors and, as the tension mounted, South African opportunities were missed.

The hosts lost focus and went behind 50-47 in the low-scoring first period of extra time. They fared no better in the second half as they gave the ball away in their own circle, and England’s goal keeper, Kadeen Corbin, kept her cool to prevent the South Africans from scoring. “We didn’t use all our opportunities but you always learn from a game like this,” Badenhorst said. “Most of them have never played on an international stage before, so if we could have more games at this level, it would be excellent for the players.”

Jamaica came third beating Ireland 41-30 for the bronze medal.- Jenny Bernstein, Sapa


SA TO MEET GREAT BRITAIN IN NETBALL FINAL

Cape Town, South Africa - South Africa will face Great Britain in final of the inaugural World University Netball Championship at the Good Hope Centre, in Cape Town, on Saturday afternoon.

Great Britain’s Goal Defence Jodie Gibson is too quick for Ireland’s Goal Attack Caroline O’Hanlon in their semi-final match on Friday 6 July 2012.
Picture credit: Barry Lamprecht / Image SA


Great Britain overcame Ireland 52-37 in their semi-final after South Africa had beaten Jamaica 41-39 earlier on Friday. “We’re very excited and really happy that we’ve made it into the final,” Great Britain’s captain Natalie Haythornthwaite said. “Today, we weren’t happy with some of the basics that we kept getting wrong. “So, for tomorrow’s (Saturday) game to go well, we’ll have to do the basics right and keep control. “It’s going to be a tough game against South Africa.”

In the end, it was a comfortable victory for the English in their derby semi-final but it had started at a frenetic pace. The Irish put Great Britain under pressure early and, it was only towards the end of the first quarter, that Britain edged ahead, leading 14-10 after 15 minutes. Great Britain beefed up their defence, with national under-21 goalkeeper Kadeen Corbin defending her post. “The other keeper [Rachel Mulloy] did nothing wrong but it was just a better combination against a different style of play,” Haythornthwaite said. “We knew it would be a tough match and both teams took time to settle and work out how to adapt to each other.

In the end, it was just composure and control. “We knew the Irish team were never going to give up so, all credit to them, they came out really strong and they put up a great performance. “Thankfully, we got the edge and managed to pull away.” Ireland caught up to 20-19, midway through the second half but, while they defended well, they made errors in the middle and missed a couple of goals, letting the English increase their lead to 27-22 at half-time.

Irish heads dropped in the third quarter and their mistakes proved costly as Great Britain took a 40-30 lead going into the final quarter. The Irish lasses fought hard to keep the gap to a minimum but Ireland’s captain Oonagh McCullough was disappointed with her team’s overall performance in the match. “We were making the turnovers, but we just weren’t converting them,” McCullough said. “There wasn’t the consistency in the match that we needed. “Our defence did a superb job but we were making mistakes in the circle. “We weren’t putting the ball in the net and there were too many errant passes.”

Ireland face Jamaica in the bronze medal match on Saturday and McCullough said the girls were determined not to leave empty-handed. “We showed yesterday that we can come out and fight against the more physical teams when we beat Uganda (45-43) and we can give as good as we get. “Unfortunately, today didn’t go to plan but we want to get in the medals, so we will fight hard for the bronze. “We’ll go home now and recuperate and then get up for the fight against Jamaica tomorrow.” – Sapa, Jenny Bernstein


SA BATTLE THEIR WAY INTO NETBALL FINAL

Cape Town, South Africa - South Africa kept their composure to narrowly defeat Jamaica by two goals in their World University Netball Championships semi-final in Cape Town on Friday.

The closely contested game finished 41-39 in front of a raucous crowd, which got louder and more animated as the clock ticked down. Jamaica came out hard at the start, while nerves got the better of the South Africans, who trailed 12-7 at the end of the first quarter. “I don’t know why but we started off slowly,” said SA University and Proteas goalkeeper Vanes-Mari du Toit. “I won’t say we underestimated them, but they [Jamaica] definitely came out with a bang.”

The home team received a pep talk at the break and came back fighting in the next quarter. With four minutes to go, SA levelled the scores at 17-17 and took the lead for the first time at 19-18. The momentum stayed with them long enough for South Africa to take a 22-18 lead going into the half-time break. The hosts fought gallantly against a physical Jamaican side, and held their ground to take a slim four-goal advantage, at 30-26, into the last quarter.

The Jamaicans never surrendered and the last five minutes was an extremely tense affair with only two goals separating the teams. Then, with the scores at 39-38 in South Africa’s favour, and one minute remaining, Du Toit made a crucial interception as the hosts clinched victory. “One of my teammates told me this morning that if you keep on working hard, and you never give up, you will get your just reward,” said Du Toit. “We worked hard the whole game and when the crunch time came, we took it. “Never say die, never quit.”

Du Toit said the noisy supporters lifted the team as they seldom turned out in front of a partisan crowd in their favour, with most of their international matches played overseas. “The crowd was awesome. I think I intercepted [the ball] just to hear the crowd again,” she joked. “Every time [goal attack] Maryka [Holtzhausen] put in one of those far balls, I caught a glimpse of the crowd. “They were jumping out of their seats with their hands in the air. It was amazing to be part of that. “People should start realising that netball can be a very exciting game and I hope they will come out and support us next week in our home series against Northern Ireland.”

A dispirited Jamaican captain, Trishell Williams, said nerves were the possible cause of their downfall at the end. “I’m not quite sure where it went wrong for us but we went all out and did our best,” Williams said. “I think our legs just got tired but we still fought our hardest and I’m very proud of the team. “Both teams played really well and perhaps we just got a bit anxious towards the end.” - Jenny Bernstein, Sapa


SA SAIL PAST NAMIBIA INTO UNIVERSITY NETBALL SEMI-FINALS

Cape Town, South Africa - South Africa defeated Namibia 67-26 in the first of the quarterfinal matches at the World University Netball Championship in Cape Town on Thursday.

Namibia started well and looked like they would pose more of a challenge to the South African team, who had breezed past Zimbabwe and the United States in their last two games.
Matching each other goal for goal early on, at 3-3 the home side stepped up a gear and left their opponents in their wake, closing out the first quarter at 17-3.

The SA students proved too strong for Namibia and continued to increase their tally to 35-9 at the half-time break. Both sides fought hard in the final two quarters, but South Africa suffered a setback when their centre, Bongi Msomi, hobbled off the court in the third quarter. With their reserve centre also injured, it was up to Marie Geel to step into the pivotal role, which she did admirably. “Bongi’s injury is not serious, she just took a hard knock to her thigh, but she’s fine to play in the next game,” coach Dorette Badenhorst said afterwards.

“Namibia are always a strong team and we knew we would have a challenge on our hands. “In the end, it wasn’t as challenging as I thought it would be but we still needed to push the players and I thought we played brilliantly. “I managed to give all the girls a chance, but I still feel if something isn’t going well on court, we still struggle to adapt quickly enough. “We struggled in the circle and I thought we needed to adapt a little bit better, but I thought it was a great game.”

Namibian coach Manuel Tjivera was happy with the way his players faced their formidable opposition and described the match as “a cracker”. “I am quite pleased with today’s game and it all went according to plan,” Tjivera said. “We are using this tournament to finalise our preparations for the Cucsa [Confederation of University and College Sports Associations] Games so it worked out well. ”I tried out more defensive combinations to evaluate the strength of the girls and we managed to penetrate South Africa’s defence. “At times they had to force some balls so it really worked well for us.”

Jamaica thrashed Zimbabwe 87-15 and earned themselves a semi-final against South Africa on Friday. Badenhorst admitted the South Africans were not used to the Jamaican’s style of play. “Jamaica is a very physical team and we will really work hard to go full out from the beginning against them,” Badenhorst said. “We will go back today, analyse all their games and be prepared on court. “It will be a test of character as we’re not used to such a physical competition, so it is going to be a challenge to me as a coach as well.”

Ireland came from behind to beat Uganda 45-43 and they meet Great Britain in the other semi-final on Friday.
Great Britain, along with South Africa, remained unbeaten in the tournament after they finished 82-14 in the last quarterfinal of the day.- Jenny Bernstein, Sapa


SA SAIL INTO UNIVERSITY NETBALL SEMI-FINALS

Cape Town, South Africa - South Africa defeated Namibia 67-26 in the first of the quarterfinal matches at the World University Netball Championship in Cape Town on Thursday. Namibia started well and looked like they would pose more of a challenge to the South African team, who had breezed past Zimbabwe and the United States in their last two games.

Matching each other goal for goal early on, at 3-3 the home side stepped up a gear and left their opponents in their wake, closing out the first quarter at 17-3. The SA students proved too strong for Namibia and continued to increase their tally to 35-9 at the half-time break.

Both sides fought hard in the final two quarters, but South Africa suffered a setback when their centre, Bongi Msomi, hobbled off the court in the third quarter. With their reserve centre also injured, it was up to Marie Geel to step into the pivotal role, which she did admirably.“Bongi’s injury is not serious, she just took a hard knock to her thigh, but she’s fine to play in the next game,” coach Dorette Badenhorst said afterwards. “Namibia are always a strong team and we knew we would have a challenge on our hands. “In the end, it wasn’t as challenging as I thought it would be but we still needed to push the players and I thought we played brilliantly. “I managed to give all the girls a chance, but I still feel if something isn’t going well on court, we still struggle to adapt quickly enough. “We struggled in the circle and I thought we needed to adapt a little bit better, but I thought it was a great game.”

Namibian coach Manuel Tjivera was happy with the way his players faced their formidable opposition and described the match as “a cracker”. “I am quite pleased with today’s game and it all went according to plan,” Tjivera said. “We are using this tournament to finalise our preparations for the Cucsa [Confederation of University and College Sports Associations] Games so it worked out well. ”I tried out more defensive combinations to evaluate the strength of the girls and we managed to penetrate South Africa’s defence. “At times they had to force some balls so it really worked well for us.”

South Africa meet Jamaica in the semi-finals on Friday and Badenhorst admitted they were not used to the Jamaican side’s style of play. “Jamaica is a very physical team and we will really work hard to go full out from the beginning against them,” Badenhorst said. “We will go back today, analyse all their games and be prepared on court. “It will be a test of character as we’re not used to such a physical competition, so it is going to be a challenge to me as a coach as well.” — Jenny Bernstein, Sapa


SA COMPLETES CLEAN SWEEP IN GROUP STAGES OF UNIVERSITY CHAMPS

Cape Town, South Africa - South Africa went undefeated in the group stages of the World University Netball Championships in Cape Town after beating the USA 93-14 on Wednesday.

USA’s Wing Attack Sherica Minott in action against strong opponents South Africa on day three of the WUNC.
Picture credit: Barry Lamprecht / Image SA

South Africa’s Goal Shooter Anja Opperman aims for goal during their match against the USA at the WUNC today, at the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town


It was not quite the drubbing they had hoped for, as South Africa lost focus towards the end of the match. Having kept a clean sheet in the first quarter, taking a 29-0 lead, the hosts conceded just one goal in the second quarter, and went into the half-time break 52-1 ahead.

Another century seemed on the cards but, as the home side experimented with different combinations, the Americans threw caution to the wind and came back to score four goals in the third and nine in the final quarter of the match.

Passing was sloppy and goals took longer to come by for the South Africans — in stark contrast to the first half of the game, where it took literally a couple of seconds between each of their goals.

Coach Dorette Badenhorst said the girls lost focus after centre Danique du Toit was assisted off the court with an ankle injury. “It’s not always easy to keep your focus in a game like this,” Badenhorst said, referring to the huge gap between the two teams. “We can learn a lot from today’s game because the girls lost concentration after the injury.”We need to realise that if there is an injury, we must play as a team and keep our focus on the game.”

She said Du Toit, the back-up centre, would almost certainly be out for the rest of the tournament.
South Africa’s captain Maryka Holtzhausen felt it was more a question of finding the right combinations than keeping themselves focused. “I don’t think we took our foot off the pedal,” Hotzhausen said. “We just changed our combinations and it didn’t work as well as it did at the start of the match “But I didn’t think it went that badly in the last two quarters.”

USA’s South African-born coach, Ilze Gideons and captain Shallyn Reeves, formerly of New Zealand, were more upbeat after the match. Despite losing all their group games, Gideons said they were pleased with their performances so far. “We had set ourselves a target of five goals per quarter so, when that didn’t work, we just told the girls to keep fighting but the score doesn’t matter anymore,” Gideons said. “We told them to just keep going, play hard and enjoy themselves.”We’ve only been playing together for four months as a team so we didn’t want to overload them with pressure.”

South Africa face Namibia in their quarterfinal game on Thursday and Badenhorst said the team were ready. “We played really good netball over the last three days and worked to play our own game,” Badenhorst said. “We are building up nicely to the quarterfinals and have done all our preparations.
“It won’t be an easy game against Namibia, as they’re a good team, but the girls are ready and psyched up for a good match.” - Sapa, Jenny Bernstein.


NETBALL ON THE WAY UP IN THE USA

Cape Town, South Africa - Netball is the biggest women’s sport – and the second biggest sport overall – in South Africa, with hundreds of thousands of girls and women exposed to the sport every year.

President of Netball America Sonya Ottoway with students from the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, last week in Cape Town.

The Netball America team with students from the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, last week in Cape Town.


There is fierce competition for places in national representative teams and South Africa is ranked fifth in the world.

The situation in the United States is very different. Netball America (NA) President Sonya Ottoway says NA struggled to put together a team, and had to travel far and wide to find eligible players to play in the inaugural World University Netball Championships (WUNC) in Cape Town.

“Netball has only been played in the United States for about 35 years, and was largely confined to expat communities from the Commonwealth,” she said. “Previous representative teams have been largely made up of Jamaicans, Australians and New Zealanders. We’re very proud that this team is totally American. Some of the players started playing netball only three months ago, but they have all got athletics backgrounds – some of them are former basketball players, and others played volleyball.”

While the Americans are unlikely to take home any medals, they have been involved in numerous community and charity programmes in the build-up to the WUNC, including supporting youth programmes in a village in Swaziland by supplying clothes and equipment.

Team USA has some strong links with South Africa as well. They started their South African tour with a visit to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, with the aim of helping to inspire the students to believe that anything is possible. They also spoke to pupils, teachers and local community leaders about the value of sport and physical activity to academic success and lifelong achievement, as well as how sport can boost confidence and develop leadership skills.

The theme song for Team USA Netball is ‘River of Life’ which is a duet between Johannesburg resident Lebo Kgasapane and American Idol finalist Michael Johns. Lebo was a 21-year-old rape victim who died of AIDS at the young age of 22. Her dying wish was to sing on a CD the world would hear. “Michael wrote a song, incorporated her voice and recorded this as a gift to her parents,” said Ottoway. “Michael is very supportive of our trip to South Africa and has given us this song to use as it is quite appropriate when he sings ‘We will always stand together’.”
Ottoway – herself a former Australian – believes this will be the last time the United States will struggle to make up a national team. “We are making progress in getting netball established as a sport,” she said. “We have recently concluded a contract with Miami Dade County education authority in Florida to start netball programmes in the 350 elementary and high schools in the county. We will also be launching netball programmes in more than 400 community sports centres run by the New York City Housing Authority.”

She said netball was also involved in President Obama’s Active Lifestyle Awards (Pala) programme. “Pala is trying to get girls and young women more involved in physical activity, and they are impressed by the cost-effectiveness of netball. Many girls find basketball very rough, and are likely to prefer netball,” she said.

She said that NA played matches as curtain-raisers to professional basketball matches as a means of promoting the game. “We put together two teams of top players for a match at Madison Square Gardens, and that was how we attracted the attention of the New York Housing Authority, who were blown away by the game. I see netball growing and growing in the future.”


ONE WAY TRAFFIC FOR SA OVER ZIM IN WORLD NETBALL UNIVERSITY CHAMPS

Cape Town, South Africa - South Africa inflicted a humiliating 110-12 defeat over Zimbabwe in their Group A match at the World University Netball Championship in Cape Town on Tuesday.

The Zimbabweans lacked the wherewithal to cope with the superior skills and height of the South Africans. The hosts maintained possession for most of the match and coach Dorette Badenhorst blamed the 12 goals conceded on a “lack of concentration.” She said it was difficult to set goals for a match which is so one-sided, but it was still necessary to do so. “It’s always hard to play a team like that who had no structure,” Badenhorst said. “When the score is so big, you can pass the ball from anywhere to your goal shooter. “But as soon as you play against a stronger team, you can’t do it. “We can’t afford a lapse in concentration because the quarterfinal will be against a stronger side, so we need to maintain our focus.”

Late entrants into the competition, the Zimbabweans were in disarray after their coach was turned back at the border. They played without a game plan and, at the breaks, the substitutes were reluctant to come off the bench. Their captain and goal keeper, Prudence Goreraza, said the team were feeling a little bit down but they would pick themselves up again for their match against Ireland on Wednesday.”It was very tough against South Africa because they are all very tall and we are a short team. “We’re hoping to do better against Ireland because they are also one of the shorter teams. “We still believe we can win our games and go into each game with a
positive attitude.”

Zimbabwe’s head of delegation, Elijah Tapatapa, said they were still hoping a coach would fly into Cape Town late on Tuesday but the team were managing without well enough in the meantime. “We did all our preparations at home so we just have to try different plans here and my job is to keep psyching the girls and keep up their morale.”

On the rare occasion the Zimbabweans had ball-in-hand, they threw wildly into the goal area, giving shooter Caroline Musomwa little opportunity to score. Credit to the South Africans as they did not let up on the pressure and their defence was excellent. “We had a tough game yesterday against Ireland so today we tried to correct our mistakes and stick to our game plan,” said Protea and university centre Bongiwe Msomi. “Yesterday was our first game together, so we were still trying to figure out our strengths but today we were able to try different alternatives and they worked well.”

SA meet the US in their last pool game on Wednesday and Msomi said they were expecting “more of the same” after their northern neighbours beat the US by one goal on Monday. – Sapa, Jenny Bernstein


SOUTH AFRICA TAKE ON NORTHERN IRELAND

Cape Town, South Africa - The SPAR South African netball team, who returned recently from a tour of Jamaica, will be in action again next week, when they take on Northern Ireland in a three-Test series in Cape Town.
South Africa last played Northern Ireland at the World Netball Championships in Singapore last year, where South Africa won a tense encounter by 46 goals to 41.Northern Ireland are ranked 12th in the world – well below South Africa’s fifth place ranking – but the Proteas will not be resting on their laurels, after having to fight hard to beat the Irish team in Singapore.

SPAR Protea Goal Shooter Claudia Basson in action against Northern Ireland at last year’s World Netball Championships in Singapore.
Picture by: Duif du Toit; Gallo Images


Coach Elize Kotze is delighted to have another international series so soon after the series in Jamaica, where South Africa won the last match, beating the fourth-ranked Sunshine Girls for the first time in 45 years. “We need to play as much top-class netball as we can,” said Kotze. “The more international experience we can get, the better. We have the Commonwealth Games coming up in 2014 and the next World Championships in 2015, and we have to keep testing ourselves as we prepare for these major events.”

“I’m feeling very good after beating Jamaica,” said captain Amanda Mynhardt “That has given us a big boost in confidence. We’re not saying we’re the best or anything, but we do believe we can build on that victory.
“We certainly won’t be taking Northern Ireland lightly,” she said. “They gave us quite a fright in Singapore. They are ranked below us and we should have beaten them easily, but they fought like tigers, and put us under a lot of pressure. But we will go hard at them from the beginning and will try to keep them in check.”

Fans will have a feast of top-class netball, with the South African Under-21 side playing a three-match series against Great Britain Under 21, immediately before the main matches, which will be played at the Good Hope Centre on Monday 9th, Tuesday 10th and Wednesday 11th July. The main matches will start at 19h00 on Monday and Tuesday, and 18h00 on Wednesday. Tickets cost R25 for adults and R15 for scholars, and will be available at the door.
The team selected to play is as follows:
Amanda Mynhardt (Captain); Zanele Mdodana (Vice-Captain); Erin Burger, Nokuthula Qegu; Chrisna Botha, Bongiwe Msomi; Precious Mthembu; Maryka Hotlzhausen; Aneret Viljoen; Vanes-Mari du Toit; Adele Niemand; Nosiphiwo Goda; Claudia Basson; Karla Mostert.


SA UNIVERSITY SIDE OFF TO WINNING START

Cape Town, South Africa - South Africa’s university netball side beat Ireland 57-47 in the opening match of the inaugural World University Netball Championship at the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town on Monday.

South Africa’s Bongiwe Msomi in action against Ireland’s Fionvala Toner during the first match of the World University Netball Championships on 2 July 2012.

South Africa’s Zanele Vimbela fights for the ball against Ireland’s Marie Toner during the first match of the WUNC on 2 July 2012.
Pictures by: Jaco Marais / Foto24


Led by goal attack Maryka Holtzhausen, the hosts took an early lead and were 4-0 up before the Irish women found their rhythm. Ireland then matched their opponents goal-for-goal, but the early lead held South Africa in good stead, as they ended the first quarter 16-12.

A couple of costly turnovers proved to be the undoing of the Irish in the second quarter, allowing the hosts to increase their lead to 34-26 at half-time.

Both teams juggled their players at the start of the third quarter and Protea Vanes-Mari du Toit, lacking game time after her recent recovery from a knee injury, was forced to make way for Zanele Vimbela as goal keeper. Vimbela proved up to the task and the South Africans extended their lead, going into the last quarter with a nine goal lead at 46-37.

The final quarter proved a scrappy affair for both sides, turning over ball, but not capitalising on their opponents’ mistakes. Coach Dorette Badenhorst said the South Africans struggled in defence and nerves got the better of her team. “It’s always nice to start with a win and it’s broken the ice and calmed a few nerves,” she said. “Now we need to build up a bit more confidence and play our own game. We didn’t stick to our game plan, which was disappointing, and we reacted to their style of play. We need to go back to the drawing board and look at the mistakes we made.”

Badenhorst said most members of her team had not played competitive netball this year, apart from the three Proteas in the side, and it was difficult to build confidence in the team. “With every game we play, we will become a closer team and play more as a unit,” she said. “There are a lot of things we can take out of this game and use them to prepare for the next game.” Having got their hardest group match under their belts, Badenhorst said they would not be taking their two other group games lightly. “As a coach, no game is an easy game and we will respect our opponents — Zimbabwe and the US,” she said. “We want the players to get more game time together but, at the same time, I will be working on the right combinations. “Yes, I will play everyone, but I will stay with my different partnerships and build confidence in those combinations.”

Irish captain Oonagh McCullough, who switched between the goal shooter and goal attack positions, had an outstanding game but was disappointed overall with her team’s loss. “I’m happy with the fight the girls gave, but it was not quite good enough today,” she said. “We’re still fighting off the jet lag and the better team definitely won on the day. “We’re disappointed we didn’t get the win because I think we could take them, but we’ll build on that and take the positives and hopefully win our next game.”

South Africa’s next game is against Zimbabwe, at 10am on Tuesday.- Sapa, Jenny Bernstein


TOP SA JUNIOR TENNIS PLAYERS DO BATTLE IN JOBURG

Johannesburg, South Africa – Tennis fever has hit the City of Gold as over 600 tennis players from across the country have arrived in Johannesburg to participate in the Slazenger Junior Classic which takes place from 3 – 8 July.

The annual tournament is the Gauteng Central Tennis Association’s premier junior event and has a super 7 status and is part of the Key Health series, making it one of the most prestigious junior tennis events in the country. One of the strongest line-ups of players has confirmed their entry for the 2012 event.

Boys and girls in the under 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18 age categories, will compete in the gold and platinum draws at different tennis clubs throughout the City of Joburg as well as at Gauteng Central Tennis Association’s headquarters, the famous Ellis Park Tennis Stadium.

Bruce Gray, President of Gauteng Central Tennis Association says his Association is ready to deliver a great event. “We are excited at hosting another edition of the Slazenger Junior Classic. The tournament has proved to be a success in the past and together with our sponsors, Slazenger, we are looking to make this our flagship tournament of the year.”

Super-Brands Marketing Director, Steve Gallienne said that his company’s brand, Slazenger is happy to be part of the tournament. “We are delighted to be associated with an event boasting the cream of South Africa’s junior tennis players. As one of the world’s leading brands, we continue to commit ourselves to the development of tennis in our country especially at grassroots level”, he said.

Gallienne also said that the timing of the tournament was appropriate as it was being played during the second week of Wimbledon. “Tennis is the hot talking point right now with Wimbledon on the go in London. Slazenger are the only sponsor of Wimbledon and so let’s say that in Joburg we will be having our “Mini Wimbledon” on the go during the greatest tennis show on earth.”

The girls under 12 platinum matches will take place at Weltevreden Park Tennis Club with the boys draw in the same age group being played at ST Stithians College. The under 14 platinum and gold matches will be played in Marks Park Tennis Club (Boys) and Randburg Tennis Club (Girls) respectively. Ellis Park Tennis Grounds will host the boys and Old Edwardians Tennis Club will host the girls under 16 age groups. Both the boys and girls matches in the Under 18 age category will be played at the Gauteng East Tennis Club and ST Davids Marist (Inanda) respectively.


STIFF COMPETITION AT INAUGURAL WORLD UNIVERSITY NETBALL CHAMPS

Cape Town, South Africa - There will be stiff competition for hosts South Africa at the inaugural World University Netball Championship which gets underway in Cape Town on Monday.
The South African student side, drawn from all the provinces, is captained by Free State star Maryka Holtzhausen, fresh off her recent tour of Jamaica with the senior national team.

“We’re definitely more than a competitive side, we’re one of the best sides at this tournament,” Holtzhausen said on Sunday. “We’ll give everybody a run for their money. “Playing Ireland in our opening game is tough and we’re expecting a competitive game. “We’re going to have to play our best to beat them, but we’re up for the challenge.” Holtzhausen was the pick of the South African players by Jamaican coach Oberon Pitterson-Nattie, after the Sunshine Girls beat the Proteas 2-1 in their three-match Test series in Kingston last month.

Coach Dorette Badenhorst, who mentors the North West university side, felt the biggest challenge for the SA students would be to find some cohesion as they had not played as a unit before.
“We’ve got a lot of players here who are close to making the national side and university sport is one of the biggest sources for national selection,” Badenhorst said. “It’s a challenge for them as a unit but it’s a great opportunity for players to compete at such a high level. “The tournament rules - with the age restriction - allows the younger players a chance in the international spotlight and I hope there are going to be lots more tournaments like this over the next few years.”

Northern Ireland won the silver medal at the European Championships in May, but at university level the team comprises players from both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. “We rate this tournament as massively important because it’s a great stepping stone into the national team from the Irish universities,” said the Irish coach, Elaine McLaughlin. “We don’t really know what to expect because it’s a new tournament so we’re taking each game as it comes. “We know the most about Great Britain and they’re a very formidable side as all the Great Britain players have played for England at some level before.”

The South Africans expect their greatest challenge to come from Jamaica, who have brought six players from their senior national team to Cape Town. The two teams are only likely to meet in the final of the six-day tournament, should they both win their groups and progress through to the last stage. Late entrants into the competition, Zimbabwe, and the inexperienced US side are the other two teams in Group A with South Africa and Ireland. Uganda, the dark horses of the competition, Jamaica, Great Britain and Namibia are in Group B. – Sapa, Jenny Bernstein

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