FEAST OF NETBALL IN TSHWANE

Johannesburg, South Africa - Scores of netball players will descend on the Korfbalpark in Gezina, on Saturday for the annual Tshwane Club Development Challenge.

Netball is the most popular women’s sport in South Africa, but many young women stop playing after they leave school. The Development Challenge is partly aimed at ensuring that they remain involved in the sport. It offers clubs the opportunity to test their strength against other clubs and to attract new players. Senior and Under-19 teams from 24 clubs in the seven regions of Tshwane will take part.

“It’s a fun day,” said tournament director Claudine Claassen. “The players will receive t-shirts and goody-bags, and they will also have the opportunity to meet members of the SPAR national netball squad, who represent the cream of netball in South Africa,” she said. “We hope people will turn out in their numbers to watch the netball and support their local club.”

The clubs have also been encouraged to bring along young umpires, who stand a chance of travelling to Jamaica to take part in a young umpires training programme in later this year.
Jamaica is the only country that has a formal young umpires training programme, and has agreed to involve young South Africans in the programme, which is open to girls and boys inside and outside of Gauteng, between the ages of 15 and 20.

Netball South Africa (NSA) has given their full support of the programme, and will be involved in the nomination of the group chosen to travel to Jamaica. “If we are to grow our sport and increase our international ranking, we need outstanding officials as well as players,” said Claassen. “We will use the Development Challenge as an opportunity to identify some talented young umpires.”

Registration for the tournament opens at 7h30am, and the prize-giving ceremony will be just before 4pm.


SEEDS AND WILD CARDS FOR NWU-PUKKE/RVTA JUNIOR ITF I IN POTCHEFSTROOM ANNOUNCED

Johannesburg, South Africa – The seeds and wild cards were announced by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and Tennis South Africa (TSA) for next week’s NWU-PUKKE/RVTA Junior ITF 1 to be played at the NWU PUK/ Riaan Venter Tennis Academy on the NWU campus in Potchefstroom.

The first of the back to back tournaments, the NWU PUKKE/RVTA Junior ITF 1 will start on Monday 25 February with the finals scheduled for Saturday 1 March. The second, the NWU PUKKE/RVTA Junior ITF 2 will be played from 4-8 March 2013. Both tournaments form part of the International Tennis Federation’s Junior Circuit, with both tournaments having a Grade 2 status.
Boy’s seeds are as follows:
1 Skander Mansouri (Tun)
2 Simon Soendergaard (Den)
3 Cem Ilkel (Tur)
4 Mehdi Abid (Tun)
5 Matthew Rossouw (RSA)
6 Andreas Moltke-Leth (Den)
7 Andrey Rublev (Rus)
8 Anders Arenfeldt Holm (Den)
9 Viktor Durasovic (Nor)
10 Michael Geerts (Bel)
Girl’s seeds are as follows:
1 Ilze Hattingh (RSA)
2 Madrie Le Roux (RSA)
3 Sandra Samir (Egy)
4 Lynn Kiro (RSA)
5 Johnnise Renaud (Usa)
6 Lesedi Sheya Jacobs (Nam)
7 Janet Koch (RSA)
8 Hana Mortagy (Egy)
9 Margot Yerolymos (Fra)
10 Magali Kempen (Bel)
Boy’s wild cards were announced as follows:
1 Lloyd Harris (RSA)
2 Yaseen Ibrahim (RSA)
3 Francois Kellerman (RSA)
4 Ryane Roselt (RSA)
Girl’s wild cards were announced as follows:
1 Lee Barnard (RSA)
2 Sarah Sarjoo (RSA)
3 Nicole Dzenga (Zim)
4 Vanja Klaric (Srb)

Live Scoring will be available by Altech on www.tennissa.co.za


SOUTH AFRICA TO HOST SUPER SERIES AND GRADE 1 WHEELCHAIR TENNIS TOURNAMENTS

Johannesburg, South Africa – Wheelchair tennis has taken off globally and South Africa is firmly planted on the international map of the sport.
In April Wheelchair Tennis South Africa will play host to two of the most important tournaments on the wheelchair tennis calendar – the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open and the Airports Company South Africa SA Open.
The ACSA Gauteng Open is one of the 13 Grade 1 events played internationally during the year and will be staged in Benoni from April 3 to 7.

That tournament, important as it is in its own right, can be viewed as a warm-up for the main event – the Airports Company South African SA Open, which is a Super Series event, one of only six that takes place globally during the year. The ACSA SA Open will be played at Ellis Park from April 9 to 13. This will be the first time a Super Series tournament will be staged on the African continent. The other five are played in Australia, Japan, France, Britain and the USA.

The Britain Open is the only other Super Series event where a Grade 1 tournament is hosted either before or after the event . The others do not even have a Grade 2 or Grade 3 tournament as a warm-up event, so the fact that South Africa will be hosting two significant tournaments in quick succession should make it most attractive for top-ranked international players to participate.

“Wheelchair Tennis SA are delighted that our ACSA SA Open has been upgraded to a Super Series event. This gives our players a golden opportunity to take on the world best in their own backyard, and believe our players are now reaching the maturity and rankings where they could even compete for the titles in at least 2 of the divisions” said Karen Losch, General Manager of Wheelchair Tennis South Africa.

Both events will have men’s and ladies draws, quads and junior events (singles and doubles). The men’s singles will comprise of a 32 draw and men’s doubles a 16 draw. The women’s singles will be a 24 draw and doubles a 12 draw. The junior and quad singles will be 16 draws and doubles an eight draw.

The entries may only close on March 6 for both events but a host of leading players have already confirmed their participation for both tournaments. Maikel Scheffers from The Netherlands is the No 3 singles player in the world and is ranked No 9 in doubles. He reached the quarterfinals of this year’s Australian Open and the semi-finals of the doubles with Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina. Scheffers will play in the men’s draw.

American David Wagner is the No 1 quad singles player in the world and is ranked No 2 in doubles. The 38-year-old won the quad section of the Australian Open.
Marjolein Buis, also from The Netherlands, will take her place in the women’s draw. The 25-year-old is ranked World No 5 in singles and reached the semis of the Australian Open and the final of the doubles with Lucy Shuker of Great Britain.

Solomon Makgale, Spokesperson for Airports Company South Africa said “We are proud to present two world class Wheelchair Tennis events that will not only showcase and assist to develop our exceptional talent, but will bring the world best players to our country.” Makgale added, “We look forward to hosting one of the premier events on the tour, and providing players with a memorable experience, and hunger to return.


SPAR GRAND PRIX GOES FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH

Johannesburg, South Africa - There is great news for the top runners in the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge series – the prize money for this year’s Grand Prix has been increased to a whopping R139 000 and the winner will once again take home a car.

Rene Kalmer won her dream prize in 2012 after clinching the SPAR Grand Prix title.
Picture by Reg Caldecott


The SPAR Grand Prix has become a major element on South Africa’s road-running calendar, with South Africa’s best runners battling it out for top honours in the five Challenge races, which are held in Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Bay, Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg.

Since its inception, Olympians Rene Kalmer and Irvette van Zyl (formerly Van Blerk) have dominated the Grand Prix, with Poppy Mlambo the only other runner to win the ultimate prize.
Runners earn Grand Prix points according to their positions in the five Challenge races. The top 20 runners in each race earn Grand Prix points, with the winner receiving 20 and the 20th-placed runner one point. An age category runner also earns points by finishing in top five in her age group, with the overall age group winners taking home R3500.

Runners can also earn bonus points by finishing the race in a faster time than the winning time in the particular race in the previous year. All runners who beat the 2012 overall winning time in the relevant age category of the corresponding race in 2013 will score five time incentive points.

More prizes will be presented in the open category this year, with the top 15 on the final points table receiving cash prizes – up from the first 10 last year. The winner will receive a Nissan Micra car, and the runner-up R30 000. The third-placed athlete receives R17 500 – up from the previous R15 000, and the age category winners will receive an additional R500 taking their prize money to R3 500.

SPAR Group Marketing Executive Mike Prentice says the group is thrilled with the growing interest in the Grand Prix. “SPAR sees the Challenge races, and the Grand Prix in particular, as one of our most important sponsorships,” he said. “We take pride in rewarding our country’s top athletes for their efforts on the road through our Grand Prix Series. And while the SPAR Challenge races are about the everyday woman, without the participation of our country’s elite athletes, the series would not have the prestige and credibility it has achieved.”

The runners are just as enthusiastic. “The Grand Prix is a great incentive on those mornings when you don’t want to get up,” said Van Zyl. “The thought of the prize money – or better still, the car – helps you get out on the road.” For Kalmer, who clinched her third Grand Prix title in 2013, winning the car last year was a dream come true. “I’ve always wanted to win a car,” she said. “That is such a special prize. And yes, I’ll be going all out to win a new one this year as well.”


WHEELCHAIR TENNIS STAR ESTHER VERGEER ANNOUNCES HER RETIREMENT

Esther Vergeer has today announced her retirement from wheelchair tennis bringing an end to the most illustrious career the sport has ever seen.

Pictures Credit: Reg Caldecott


Vergeer was recently in South Africa as spokesperson for the Johan Cruyff Foundation and visited Elandsdoorn and Johannesburg where she participated in tennis clinics sponsored by the foundation. In 2011 Vergeer was part of the victorious Dutch women team which beat second seeded Germany 2-0 to win their 24th World Team Cup title in Pretoria.
The 31-year-old Dutch star, who celebrated ten years without a defeat on the international wheelchair tennis circuit on 30 January, has been the face of her sport for more than a decade.
ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said “Esther Vergeer is a tremendous ambassador not only for tennis but also for disability sports. She is an inspiration to many. Wheelchair tennis owes her a huge debt of gratitude for her professionalism and her quality as a player. Everyone at the ITF wishes her well with her Foundation and we know that anything she chooses to do in the future will be a success. While we will certainly miss her, we will have one more chance to honour her as our ITF World Champion, for a record 13th time, at the ITF World Champions Dinner in Paris.”
Vergeer started to play wheelchair tennis at the age of 12 after surgery on her spinal cord went wrong. Her dominance of wheelchair tennis started when she became world No. 1 for the first time in 1999. She has been named ITF Wheelchair World Champion for the last 13 years, winning 169 titles and ends her career on a winning streak of 470 matches, with her last defeat coming against Australian Daniela di Toro in Sydney on 30 January 2003.
In the last 10 years Vergeer has won a total of 120 successive tournaments, beating 73 different opponents, winning 95 matches 60 60 and dropping just 18 sets of tennis. In that time she faced only one match point – against fellow countrywoman Korie Homan in the women’s gold medal match at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.
In Grand Slam play, Vergeer won every singles event she entered, racking up 21 singles titles and 23 doubles titles at the majors. She won eight Paralympic medals during her career, seven of which were gold to cement her place in the history books as a true sporting legend. She was part of the Netherlands’ team that won the World Team Cup on 12 occasions, in 1998, 2000-2009 and 2011.
Vergeer recently took part in a Johan Cruyff Foundation trip to South Africa to mark the 10th anniversary of the Cruyff Foundation’s involvement in the Wheelchair Tennis Development Fund. The week-long trip included visits to ongoing projects in Elaansdorn and Johannesburg. South Africa was one of the first countries to be supported by the Development Fund.
Esther Vergeer’s career in numbers:

Total win/loss: 700-25
Total singles titles: 148
Total doubles titles: 136
Grand Slam singles titles: 21
Grand Slam doubles titles: 23
Paralympic Medals: 8
Gold: Singles Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012,
Gold: Doubles Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 (with Maaike Smit), London 2012 (with Marjolein Buis)
Silver: Doubles Beijing 2008 (with Jiske Griffioen)
NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters Singles titles: 14
World Team Cup titles: 12
Weeks at No. 1: 668 (first reached 6 April 1999, consecutive from 2 October 2000 – 21 January 2013)
Winning streak: 470 matches from 6 February 2003 – 8 September 2012 (last date played)
ITF World Champion: 13 years 2000-2012


POTCHEFSTROOM TO HOST INTERNATIONAL JUNIOR TENNIS TOURNAMENTS

Johannesburg, South Africa – The feast of junior tennis continues to be served in North West with the NWU-PUKKE hosting two International Tennis Federation Junior tennis tournaments at the NWU PUK/ Riaan Venter Tennis Academy on the NWU campus in Potchefstroom.

The first of the back to back tournaments, the NWU PUKKE/RVTA Junior ITF 1 will start on Monday 25 February with the finals scheduled for Saturday 1 March. The second, the NWU PUKKE/RVTA Junior ITF 2 will be played from 4-8 March 2013. Both tournaments form part of the International Tennis Federation’s Junior Circuit, with both tournaments having a Grade 2 status.

Junior tennis players from 25 countries will be jetting into 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.”

“For NWU PUK and RVTA it is as always an honor to host the two ITF junior events for the 4th consecutive year. Tennis is our passion, the level of competition and the special atmosphere that it creates at these events is the cap on a lot of hard work. Thank you to TSA in believing in and supporting us” said Manager NWU Woman’s Sport, Heléne Botha.

There are players from Japan, Tunisia, Denmark, Turkey, Tunisia, Russia, USA, Norway, Australia, Belgium, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Egypt, China, Germany, Serbia, Great Britain, Czech Republic, India, Namibia, France, Mexico, Switzerland and South Africa competing in both events.


SOUTH AFRICA UNDER 21 TRIUMPHANT IN SINGAPORE

Johannesburg, South Africa - The South African Under-21 netball squad made a clean sweep of all their matches in their short tour of Singapore.

The SA U21 squad sent to Singapore during their pre-departure camp on 26 January 2013.
L-r. (Behind): Deancke Rohde, Zandré Kruger, Nobubele Phuza, Simphiwe Sithebe, Fortunate Bagula, Melanie von Gunten, Danellé Willemse and Mari-Lena Joubert.
Front: Izette Lubbe, Bhongolethu Ngubeni, Nothando Mhlongo, Nontuthuko Khomo, Juline Rossouw, Shadine van der Merwe and Rochelle Lawson.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott


The Under-21s played the Singapore Under-21, Malaysia Schools and the Singapore Open team during their brief visit.

Squad coach Dorette Badenhorst is very happy with the outcome of the matches, with South Africa showing complete dominance on the court. “We have a great group of players with a lot of potential,” said Badenhorst. “This ensures some exciting combinations, and I expect a good performance at the World Cup.”

She said the players had learned a good deal during the tour. “It was a learning experience both on and off the court,” she said. “For some of the players, it was their first time out of South Africa, and they now know something of the challenges that playing away from their country can bring. The players supported one another and this helped them deal effectively with difficult circumstances, such as the extreme heat and humidity. “They also adapted quickly to playing on the international stage. Once again, the support for one another was very important, especially for those who had won their first caps.”

The tour of Singapore formed part of the squads’ preparations for the Under-21 World Youth Championships in Glasgow in August, and Badenhorst believed it was important that the momentum gained in Singapore should be maintained.

“We (the management team) need to see the players at least once a month,” she said.
“We need more game time together, and the key to our preparations will be managing the players and their coaches.”

RESULTS FROM THE SA U21 TOUR TO SINGAPORE
SA U21 bt Singapore U21 65-26
SA U21 bt Singapore U21 70-29
SA U21 bt Singapore U21 62-31
SA U21 bt Malaysia Sport School 50-35
SA U21 bt Singapore Opens 57-33
SA U21 bt Singapore Opens 54-20


TOP JUNIOR INTERNATIONAL TENNIS RETURNS TO POPTCHEFSTROOM

Johannesburg, South Africa – Tennis South Africa confirmed today (Wednesday) that the NWU-PUKKE in Potchefstroom would host the ITF/CAT African Closed Junior 18 & & Under Championships this month.
The tournament, sanctioned by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and Confederation of African Tennis (CAT) will be played from 18-23 February 2013.

A top entry of the best of African junior tennis players representing over 20 countries will do battle in the North West town in boys and girls singles and doubles competitions. The tournament is closed to players resident in Africa. The singles draws will be 64 players and doubles draws 32 teams.

Ian Smith, Tennis South Africa chief executive said that it was an honour to host the tournament. “The ITF and CAT recognise our potential to host terrific events and our facilities rate world class. The NWU-PUKKE club and town of Potchefstroom continue to be one of the preferred tennis hosts and we are quite sure Helene Botha and Riaan Venter will once again host a winning event. “The interaction with the young and upcoming tennis players of the world creates such a great atmosphere, each year bringing top class junior tennis to our shores. The Potchefstroom campus of NWU is privilege to host and welcome these players to our courts.”

There is no entry fee and the tournament will be played at the NWU-PUKKE Tennis courts, Fanie du Toit Sports Grounds, Meyer Street, Potchefstroom.

There will be live scoring from the tournament by Altech on www.tennissaco.za

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