Johannesburg, South Africa - Netball South Africa (NSA) wound up its outreach programme in Soweto on Tuesday with the last of its road shows aimed at improving coaching standards around South Africa.

“The Player Support Roadshows are NSA’s initiative to close the gaps that have been identified whenever national squad players come for trials for national team selections”, said Mimi Mthethwa, President NSA. She continued to explain that they have identified the need to close the gaps in the coaching styles of different coaches in the country, whilst they do appreciate the good work done by coaches at grass-root level, since these coaches make it possible for players to be identified and put into different squads.

For NSA to level the ground and ensure that each squad player has equal opportunity to be selected, there is the need to ensure that coaches in the regions have the basic understanding of what national coaches expect of players at the level of international participation. Exposing young players at an early stage to this type of coaching will allow for a positive combination of South African style of play and modern skills and techniques. Mthethwa concluded by stating that they also anticipate improvement on player-performance throughout the country and getting more coaches of quality standards.

Nearly 200 coaches attended the coaching clinic on Tuesday, which was conducted by the head coach of the SPAR national netball team, Elize Kotze. “We had a fantastic response. We also want to make sure that coaches in the outlying areas understand what we are trying to achieve, so that we all work the same way”, said Kotze.

Kotze went through the basics with the coaches, and they were each given a DVD outlining what was expected of them. “They have training manuals, but the DVD will make things clearer for them,” said Kotze. “We had demonstrations by some of the SPAR Proteas and players from Central Gauteng. It is important for them to see some of our top players in action, so they can see the standard they need to aspire to. Some coaches have no idea of the pace at which the game is played at the top level,” said Kotze.

Kotze said the original aim of the road shows had been to reach 1 000 coaches. “More than 600 coaches attended the road shows, and some of the regions have asked if we can come back so that coaches who couldn’t go to the first road show can also have the experience. So I’m pretty sure that we’ll reach our target.”

NSA’s aim is to conduct these road shows in all provinces. Mpumalanga, the Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal are the three provinces that still have to be visited, after requesting postponement for different internal reasons. “I think they have seen how successful they have been in other areas, and they are now really keen for their coaches to be involved,” Kotze said.

Last week, NSA conducted road shows in Rustenburg and Bloemfontein. Kotze also visited Botswana and worked with local coaches there.


Pretoria, South Africa – The SPAR Baby Proteas marched to an easy win in the final test of the U21 test series, played at the LC De Villiers Sports Centre in Pretoria on Monday evening, when they beat Zimbabwe 53-27.

The SPAR Baby Proteas after their test series win against Zimbabwe and Botswana, played at the LC De Villiers Sports Centre in Pretoria.

Player of the match Rochelle Lawson in action during South Africa’s test against Zimbabwe on Monday night.
Pictures by Reg Caldecott

The SPAR South African team set the pace of the match when they scored the first goal within a minute of the start whistle, and followed by an intercept, monopolising on the basic errors that were being made by their Zimbabwean opponents. South African goal defence Rochelle Lawson had a great game, and was responsible for the majority of those intercepts. She was later announced best defence player, as well as player of the tournament.

Capitalising on their lead that continued into the second quarter, the SPAR Baby Proteas were not afraid to make ambitious moves, even if they didn’t always go their way. Mari-Lena Joubert on goal attack was taking some bold shots at goal, and at half time the girls in green and gold were leading 30-11.

Coach Dorette Badenhorst made a number of changes in the third quarter, which didn’t bode well for the South African team. Zimbabwe played this to their advantage and outscored the South Africans by 9 goals, to their 8. However, this was turned back around in the last quarter with the re-introduction of some key players. “We are struggling at this stage with our second line up” said coach Dorette Badenhorst, “so it is important for us to go back and work with those players.” There is still a lot of hard work for us ahead of the World Youth Championships in August, but we have got the talent, now we just need to work with that talent.”


Pretoria, South Africa - The SPAR Baby Proteas got the Under 21 Tri-Nations netball tournament against Botswana and Zimbabwe off to the perfect start with a 60-26 win over Botswana in the opening match at the Rembrandt Hall at the Tuks Sports Centre on Saturday afternoon.

Deancke Rhode of the SPAR Baby Proteas in action against Botswana in the 1st test of the NSA u21 Tri-Nations Tournament being played at the University of Pretoria.

Deancke Rhode of the SPAR Baby Proteas in action against Botswana in the 1st test of the NSA u21 Tri-Nations Tournament being played at the University of Pretoria.

“We can take a lot out of this afternoon’s match,” said coach Dorette Badenhorst. “It certainly wasn’t a perfect performance, and we’ve got a lot of work to do, but at least we know what we need to work towards.”

South Africa started off at a terrific pace, scoring their first goal within the first 30 seconds. The Baby Proteas were dominant throughout the first half hour, leading 19-5 after the first quarter and 32-10 at halftime.

After the break, Badenhorst made a number of changes, and South Africa appeared to lose concentration. Botswana gained momentum, and were outscored by just one goal, with South Africa succeeding 11 times and Botswana 10. The Baby Proteas were guilty of some wild passes and they made some basic errors.

However, they stormed back again in the final quarter, outscoring the visitors by 17 goals to six. Goalshooter Deancke Rohde had an outstanding game, succeeding with more than 90 per cent of her attempts at goal, but her two goal attacks, Mari-Lena Joubert and Danielle Willemse were less accurate, with Joubert achieving a 60 per cent accuracy rate and Willemse 50 per cent.

However, the star of the show was the captain, Simphiwe Sithebe, who first played wing defence before moving to centre. “She’s our most experienced player,” said Badenhorst.
“She went to the last junior world championships as a very young player, and the world championships in Glasgow will be her second. “Simphiwe has a very important role to play, and I was very pleased with the way she controlled the game this afternoon.”

On Sunday, Botswana will play Zimbabwe at 3pm, and South Africa will take on Zimbabwe in the final match at 6.30 pm on Monday.

The Tri-nations tournament is part of the SPAR Baby Proteas’ preparations for the world championships. They will have a practice match against their senior counterparts on Sunday.


Pretoria, South Africa - The ‘SPAR Baby Proteas’ have a big weekend ahead of them, when they take on the Malawi and Botswana Under-21 netball teams in a Tri-nations series in Pretoria.

The series will be part of the SPAR South African Under-21 team’s preparations for the world under-21 championships in Glasgow in August. “I’m very pleased we are getting an opportunity to play Malawi, because they have one of the strongest Under-21 teams in Africa,” said SPAR Under-21 coach Dorette Badenhorst. “It will be very good preparation for the world championships because we are going to have to play very well to beat them. The last time we played them, at the Cosana Games, they were number one in Africa,” she said. Botswana also have a strong team and competition among the three leading netball nations in Africa is expected to be fierce.

The Tri-Nations series will be played at the Rembrandt Hall at the LC de Villiers Sports Centre in Pretoria on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. South Africa will open the series when they take on Botswana at 3pm on Saturday. Malawi and Botswana will meet at 3pm on Sunday and South Africa will play Malawi in the final match, at 6.30pm on Monday. All three matches will be televised on Supersport.

Netball fans will also have an opportunity to see the SPAR Proteas in action on Saturday, when the senior team play a Gauteng Invitation team as a curtain-raiser to the main match.

Badenhorst said the Under-21 team was in good condition and there were no injury problems. “We are very happy that we will be getting some game time,” she said. “If we hadn’t had this opportunity, we would only have the Diamond Challenge, where we will be playing as an invitation team, before the world championships. “You can practice as much as you like, and hold as many training camps as possible, but what is really important is time on the court, when the players really learn to play as a team.”

Malawi and Botswana are not taking part in the world championships. Namibia, who have been drawn in the same group as South Africa, are the only other African team taking part in the world championships.


Johannesburg, South Africa. – CHANEL Simmonds ensured the South African flag was still fluttering proudly at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre on Friday when she secured her spot in the finals of the Soweto Open, before clinching the doubles title with partner Magda Linette hours later.

Chanel Simmonds(RSA)01.jpg - Chanel Simmonds (RSA) wins her match against Nadiya Kichenok(UKR) and goes through to the final during day 5 of the Soweto Tennis Open from the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre on May 10, 2013 in Soweto, South Africa.

Doubles_0638.jpg – Magda Linette (POL) right & Chanel Simmonds(RSA) left win there match against Samantha Murray(GBR) & Jade Windley (GBR) during the doubles Final on day 5 of the Soweto Tennis Open from the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre on May 10, 2013 in Soweto, South Africa.

Timea Babos01.jpg – Timea Babos(HUN) wins her match against Teodora Mircic (SRB) and goes through to the final during day 5 of the Soweto Tennis Open from the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre on May 10, 2013 in Soweto, South Africa.
Pictures Credit: Christiaan Kotze

The fifth-seed will now face the No 1 seed Timea Babos on Saturday after weathering the storm against Nadiya Kichenok of the Ukraine, advancing in straight sets 6-2, 6-2.

Both players struggled in the testing windy conditions but it was the 20-year-old from Kempton Park who was able to adapt best, despite a few nervy moments including the third game when Kichenok managed to get the break back in a game that lasted nearly 15 minutes.

She held serve but Simmonds bounced back to wrap the first set up, winning the next four games.

“Nadiya hits the ball really hard and flat so I was struggling with that. I think we were both struggling with rhythm because of the wind. She would hit a flat ball and then every now and then she’d hit it up which made it hard,” said Simmonds.

“It was very close even though the score says 6-2, 6-2, some of those games went on for so long and there were some tough points.”

With her victory, Simmonds reached yet another milestone after becoming the first local player to make it into the last-four on Thursday as well as reaching the final of a $50 000 tournament for the first time.

Hungary’s Babos meanwhile celebrated her 20th birthday in style, easing past Teodora Mircic of Serbia 6-2, 6-3

The world No 114 took control from the outset, racing to a 3-0 lead before clinching the opener in just 27 minutes, with the Serb clearly struggling in the wind.

“I really enjoyed playing today. I think I put too much pressure on myself in the earlier matches but today it was my birthday and I went out and just had fun,” said Babos, who hopes her huge serve will show up against the South African.

“If my serve works, then obviously I’m more confident and I feel everything can work from the baseline so it is a huge advantage if it goes in because I have an 80% chance of winning the point,” she said.

“Tomorrow it will be a huge factor because Chanel plays really solid and doesn’t miss too many balls so I need to get my big first serve in so that I can take control straight away.”

Whatever the outcome today, Simmonds will have to quickly switch her focus to the clay where she will give qualifying another shot after coming agonizingly close at the Australian Open in January, losing in the final round.

“My goal is to get into the main draw of the Grand Slams, so at the moment my ranking is sitting at about 180 and I have to be at more or less 110 to get in so hopefully by the end of the year, I’ll be there,” said Simmonds, who will be gunning for a clean sweep after teaming up with Linette to beat the British pair of Samantha Murray and Jade Windley 6-1, 6-3.

“The Australian Open proved to me that I have the game to go through qualifying and possibly win a few rounds in the Slams with the French and Wimbledon up next.”

Finals will be broadcast live on SABC 3 tomorrow (Saturday) from 10:30am – 14:00pm



Semi-final Results


1-Timea Babos (Hun) bt Teodora Mircic (Srb) 6-2 6-3

5-Chanel Simmonds (RSA) bt 4-Nadiya Kichenok (Ukr) 6-2 6-2

Final Results


1-Magda Linette (Pol)/Chanel Simmonds (RSA) bt Samantha Murray/Jade Windley (GBR) 6-1 6-3


Johannesburg, South Africa. – South Africa’s number two player, Chanel Simmonds, seeded five here in Soweto, delighted the home fans when she won through to the quarter finals of the Soweto Open today (Wednesday).

Simmonds faced fellow South African Natasha Fourouclas in round two and beat her friend and practice partner 6-3 6-2. Simmonds will now meet second seed Julia Glushko of Israel in tomorrow’s (Thursday’s) last eight. Glushko was never challenged in her victory over American Nicole Melichar, winning 6-3 6-3.

“It wasn’t easy out there today” said Simmonds. “I know Natasha well and respect her a lot. She is a counter puncher so the match despite the score line was tough.”

Simmonds looked more comfortable with her serve and admitted that she had been working hard on improving her serve. “I’ve been working on my serve. It is my weakest shot but today I was serving well and I am pleased that the hard work has paid off.”

Looking ahead at Thursday’s quarter final, Simmonds said that on paper she should lose to second seeded Glushko but she was in Soweto to win the title. “I’m here to win the title on Saturday but at the same time I am taking each match one at a time.”

Glushko and Simmonds have played each other before, with Simmonds winning that match in three sets.

“I know Chanel well. I lost to her the last time we played so it’s going to be interesting out there tomorrow” said Glushko. Glushko had to qualify for the tournament after failing to enter on deadline date.

Top seed, Timea Babos of Hungary needed three sets to beat Pemra Ozgen of Turkey 6-2 4-6 6-1. The top seed went straight onto the practise court after the win for over an hour to work on her game.

“I have a few things in my game to work on if I am to have any chance of winning the tournament. I am still struggling to play at altitude and play against the lower ranked players which is putting pressure on myself.”

Babos now plays Brit Samantha Murray in Thursday’s quarter finals. Murray stopped South African Madrie Le Roux 6-0 6-1 in a commanding performance on Centre Court.

There were two upsets recorded today at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Complex. Sixth seed Jovana Jaksic of Serbia was sent packing her bags by fellow Serb Teodora Mircic. Mircic came from set down to win 2-6 6-1 6-2. On Thursday Mircic faces third seeded Tadeja Majeric of Slovakia for a place in the semi-finals. Majeric needed just over an hour to down Poland’s Justyna Jegiolka 6-1 6-3.

The second upset came when unseeded Jade Windley of Great Britain shocked eight seeded Magda Linette of Poland 0-6 6-4 6-4.

“I was 6-0 2-0 down in about twenty minutes. I knew I had to relax, play a lot of balls and hang in there. When I got my first game and was on the board I regained confidence and never looked back” said a delighted Windley.

Windley now faces fourth seeded Nadiya Kichenok of Ukraine. Twenty year old Kichenok has only lost six games going into the quarter finals. Today (Wednesday) Kichenok stunned Zuzana Zlochova of Slovakia 6-1 6-3.



Second Round Results


7-Samantha Murray (GBR) bt Madrie Le Roux (RSA) 6-0 6-1

3-Tadeja Majeric (Slo) bt Justyna Jegiolka (Pol) 6-1 6-3

Teodora Mircic (Srb) bt 6-Jovana Jaksic (Srb) 2-6 6-1 6-2

1-Timea Babos (Hun) bt Pemra Ozgen (Tur) 6-2 4-6 6-1

4-Nadiya Kichenok (Ukr) bt Zuzana Zlochova (Svk) 6-1 6-3

5-Chanel Simmonds (RSA) bt Natasha Fourouclas (RSA) 6-3 6-2

2-Julia Glushko (Isr) bt Nicole Melichar (USA) 6-3 6-3

Jade Windley (GBR) bt 8-Magda Linette (Pol) 0-6 6-4 6-4

Quarter Final Results


1-Magda Linette (Pol)/Chanel Simmonds (RSA) bt Tadeja Majeric (Slo)/Keren Shlomo (Isr) 6-1 6-2

Samantha Murray/Jade Windley (GBR) bt 2-Basak Eraydin (Tur)/Julia Glushko (Isr) 6-4 4-6 10-5 MTB

Laura Pigossi (Bra)/Zuzana Zlochova (Svk) bt Claudia Coppola (Ita)/Marli Van Heerden (RSA) 6-3 6-3

3-Teodora Mircic (Srb)/Pemra Ozgen (Tur) bt Lynn Kiro (RSA)/Nathalia Rossi (Bra) 6-2 6-2


Johannesburg, South Africa - Mapaseka Makhanya has her eyes on the prize – after two races in the five race SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge series, she has a seven-point lead on the Grand Prix ladder.

Diana-Lebo Phalula, Mapaseka Makhanya and Rutendo Nyahora on route during the PE leg of the SPAR Women’s Challenge, run on Saturday 4th May.
Picture by: Mark West

The 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, Port Elizabeth, Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg. The winner this year will receive a Nissan Micra car and the runner-up will take home R30 000.

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.

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.
But things are looking very different this year, with road-running newcomer Makhanya determined to maintain top position.

“I’m very excited to be on top of the ladder. I really want that Nissan Micra,” she laughed, after finishing third in the Port Elizabeth race on Saturday. The race was won by Rutendo Nyahora, who also won the Cape Town leg in March. However, as a Zimbabwean, Nyahora does not qualify for the Grand Prix, which is open only to South African citizens. “I’m just enjoying doing well in the race, and I am aiming to win all five,” said Nyahora.

Kalmer’s sister, Christine, who finished fifth in Port Elizabeth, and Irvette van Zyl, who came seventh, are in joint second position on the ladder, with 30 points. Zintle Xiniwe is in fourth place, with 27 points. Diana-Lebo Phalula, who came second in Port Elizabeth, but did not compete in Cape Town, is in eighth place, with 19 points.

Last year’s Grand Prix winner, Rene Kalmer, had to withdraw from the Port Elizabeth race because of a calf injury sustained during the Boston Marathon in April. She is currently in joint 10th position, with Nedbank CGA teammate, Cornelia Joubert, with 17 points. Kalmer has not given up on the Grand Prix, though. “There are still three races left and I will be back and I am determined to defend my title,” she said.

Annie Bothma is in the lead in the junior category, and Janene Carey leads the veterans group. Multiple Comrades marathon gold medalist Grace de Oliveira is the leading master, and the evergreen Sonja Laxton, who has run 77 Challenge races, tops the grandmasters category.

Neddbank CGA, with 120 points, have a massive lead in the club competition. They are followed by Boxer with 87 points, and Transnet with 72.

The third race in the SPAR Women’s Challenge series takes place in Durban on June 23.


Johannesburg, South Africa. – Monday proved to be a good day for the South African interest at the Soweto Open for Women being played at the Arthur Ashe Complex in Jabavu, Soweto.

Chanel Simmonds, Madrie Le Roux and Natasha Fourouclas all won through to the second round. Unfortunately two other South African wild card’s Ilze Hattingh and Zanmarie Pienaar failed to make it through the opening day.

In a tough draw, Simmonds drew Hattingh for her opener and although there was much anticipation around the match, the fifth seed dominated and won 6-0 6-2 in a quick 49 minutes. Anticipation in the sense that Simmonds is the current South African number 2 behind Chani Scheepers and Hattingh is the country’s best junior and current African Junior Champion.

But the experience of Simmonds was clear and showed through her dominance over Hattingh. “Ilze has done well as a junior. I really didn’t know what to expect. I prepared physically and mentally well for the match. I knew although I had not lost a game after 8 games played, Ilze was going to lift it at some stage, so I had to make her play” said Simmonds.

Fourouclas was probably behind Simmonds the most impressive on the opening day. The Witbank 19 year old has been injured for over the year with a hip and hand fracture. Today was the first match Fourouclas played after injury and although she lost the opening set against German Kim-Alice Grajdek, Fourouclas dominated in the second and third sets winning eventually 6-7 (11) 6-2 6-0. Fourouclas squandered 5 set points in the first set. “That was one tight first set and although Kim-Alice won it, I knew I couldn’t give up” said Fourouclas. The tie breaker lasted one hour and fifteen minutes and Fourouclas said that as the match continued she “made less mistakes, got more aggressive”.

Madrie le Roux opened procedures on centre court and after a sluggish and tentative start put out Fadzai Mawisire of Zimbabwe 7-5 6-1. Le Roux now2 meets seventh seed Samantha Murray of Great Britain in the second round. Murray in her first round against compatriot Emily Webley-Smith won the opening set 6-1 when Webley-Smith through in the towel due to a reoccurring foot injury.

Wild-card entry Zanmarie Pienaar of South Africa battled to find any rhythm in her match against Teodora Mircic of Serbia, the Serb winning comfortably 6-0 6-2.

Other first round winners included Pamra Ozgen of Turkey and second seed Israeli Julia Glushko.

Glushko missed the entry deadline which resulted in her having to qualify over the weekend. Glushko sailed through two qualifying matches losing only four games and her high world ranking of 161, she was seeded two in the main draw. Today (Monday) Glushko had a second set scare before beating Melis Sezer of Turkey 6-2 6-7 (1) 6-2.

The remaining first round matches will be played tomorrow (Tuesday) from 10h00. Entry is free and directions to the Arthur Ashe Complex are available on the website

First Round Results
Madrie Le Roux (RSA) bt Fadza Mawisire (Zim) 7-5 6-1
Pemra Ozgen (Tur) bt Margarita Lazareva (Rus) 6-3 6-1
Teodora Mirmic (Srb) bt Zanmarie Pienaar (RSA) 6-0 6-2
Samantha Murray (GBR) bt Emily Webley-Smith (BGR) 6-1 (Webley-Smith retired foot injury)
Natasha Fourouclas (RSA) bt Kim-Alice Grajdek (Ger) 6-7 (11) 6-2 6-0
2-Julia Glushko (Isr) bt Melis Sezer (Tur) 6-2 6-7 (1) 6-2
3-Teodora Mircic (Serb)/Pemra Ozgen (Tur) bt Nicole Dzenga (Zim)/Vanja Klaric (Srb) 6-0 6-0
Claudia Coppola (Ita)/Marli Van Heerden (RSA) bt Shannon Cox/Caitlin Herb (GBR) 6-3 7-6


Johannesburg, South Africa. – Vasek Pospisil was always confident going into Saturday’s final of the Soweto Men’s Open. However, the third seeded Canadian didn’t know that his opponent would retire injured giving him the game, set, match and trophy.

Vasek Pospisil of Canada with the tournament trophy after beating Michal Przysiezny (POL) in the final during day 6 of the Soweto Tennis Open played at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre in Jabavu, Soweto.

Vasek Pospisil of Canada with the tournament trophy after beating Michal Przysiezny (POL) in the final during day 6 of the Soweto Tennis Open played at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre in Jabavu, Soweto.
Pictures Credit: Reg Caldecott

Vasek Pospisil of Canada in action against Michal Przysiezny (POL) in the final during day 6 of the Soweto Tennis Open played at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre in Jabavu, Soweto.

Vasek Pospisil of Canada in action against Michal Przysiezny (POL) in the final during day 6 of the Soweto Tennis Open played at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre in Jabavu, Soweto.

Pospisil beat fourth seeded Michal Przysiezny of Poland 6-7 (7) 6-0 4-1 when Przysiezny was forced to retire with a back injury.

“I really didn’t know that Michal was injured but realised at the start of the second set he was not moving as well as he had. I just kept my mind and focus and played the best I could to stay ahead. It’s not a great way to win a title but I’ll take it anyway” said Pospisil.

Przysiezny said that late Friday he felt his back stiffen up. “I think it may have been the way I slept. I did not have a good night and woke up with a stiff back but thought a rub down and warm up would sort it out. After warming up this morning ahead of the final I felt fine but after the tight first set it gave in on me and I just could not continue.”

The opening set went with serve until the tie breaker and after just over an hour on court, Przysiezny finally found the break in the breaker to win it 9-7 and give him the opening set. In the first game of the second set, Pospisil broke serve and won eight games on the trot to win the second set 6-0 and lead 2-0 in the final set. Przysiezny finally managed to hold serve to trail the Canadian 1-2 in the decider and that was to be the last game the Pole won.

The title was the biggest won by Pospisil since turning professional in 2007. Together with his winning trophy he earned R135 000.00 and a valuable 110 world ranking points which will help him catapult his ranking close to the top 100 and secure him a spot in the Wimbledon main draw next month.

Tennis South Africa had special Rhino trophies commissioned for the winners and runners up in the singles and doubles as a contribution to the awareness of the rampant Rhino poaching in South Africa.

The Women’s Soweto Open will start on Monday next week with the final scheduled for Saturday 11 May. This weekend sees the qualifying rounds being played for the Women’s event.

The draw for the women’s singles will be concluded tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Complex.

Singles - Finals
3-Vasek Pospisil (CAN) bt 4-Michal Przysiezny (POL) 6-7(7) 6-0 4-1 Retired


Johannesburg, South Africa - Ian Smith, CEO of Tennis South Africa released a statement on behalf of the National Tennis Body on the passing away yesterday of the ATP Executive Chairman and President, Brad Drewett.

“Tennis South Africa on behalf of all the people of South Africa send their deepest sympathy to Jo Drewett and her children Jack, Ally, Joe and Tom as well at the whole ATP family on the passing away of Brad Drewett yesterday after a long illness bravely borne.
Brad was a good friend of South Africa, loved visiting our country and played an important role in bringing ATP tennis back to South Africa in the new South Africa. Brad will be sorely missed.
On a personal note, I got to know Brad many years ago, and during and after the negotiations for the ATP SA Open, was a firm friend of TSA and one of our biggest supporters

Brad was a respected leader, friend and colleague. He contributed as a player and leading administrator to the growth and popularity of the game worldwide and his efforts will certainly have an everlasting impact on the game.

Our prayers and thoughts go out to the global tennis family at this time.

Rest in peace Brad.”

Smith, who is also Tournament Director of the Soweto Open said that a minute of silence would be held after the coin toss of the final of the 2013 Soweto Open at the Arthur Ashe Complex in honour and remembrance of Brad Drewett.


Port Elizabeth, South Africa - Rutendo Nyahora (Nedbank CGA) notched up her second consecutive SPAR Women’s Challenge victory when she stormed home in 33.09 minutes in the Port Elizabeth race on Sunday.Nyahora also won the race in Cape Town in March.

The top three runners of the Port Elizabeth leg of the SPAR Women’s Challenge at Pollok Beach on Saturday.
(l-r) Rutendo Nyahora, Mapaseka Makhanya, Diana-Lebo Phalula.

Rutendo Nyahora crosses the finish line at the SPAR Women’s Challenge in Port Elizabeth.
Pictures by Mark West

Diana-Lebo Phalula (Maxed Elite) finished second in 33.39 and Mapaseka Makhanya (Transnet) finished third in 34.06.

The top three runners went into the lead from the start, in cold, blustery conditions, running in a close pack. Nyahora moved ahead at the five km mark, and Makhanya dropped back. “At the start, I was happy to stick with the others, but I decided at five kms that I must make my move and go ahead,” said Nyahora. “I was aiming for 32 minutes, but the wind was strong so that made running quite hard,” she said. “Lebo set a good pace and really helped me to win.”

Nyahora said she would take a short break, and then start training for the Durban SPAR Challenge race. “I want to win all the SPAR races this year,” she said. “I know that as a Zimbabwean I can’t qualify for the Grand Prix, but I am still determined to make this my year.”

Phalula, who won the Port Elizabeth Challenge in 2011, said she had just gone out to do her best. “I’m not in 100 per cent condition at the moment, but I’m happy with my race. I just decided to go out there and do my best. Now it’s back to the drawing board, and I will be ready for the Durban Challenge in June. But before that, I’ll be running in the South African 10km Championships in Durban on May 19.”

Makhanya, whose third place put her on top of the Grand Prix ladder, after her second place in Cape Town, said she had battled in the race because of the conditions. “I got very cold, and just couldn’t get warm,” she said. Makhanya, who has done most of her running on the track, said she was new to road running, but was enjoying the experience. “I’ve got the speed from the track, but I need to put in the mileage on the road,” she said. “I’m moving upwards from 800 metres to 1500 and 5000 metres, and the road running will be very helpful. Eventually, I plan to move over to marathons – I plan to run my first marathon in 2016.”

Irvette van Zyl, twice winner of the SPAR Grand Prix, said she had had a bad race, finishing in seventh place. “I think I still had the London Marathon in my legs, and I have been struggling for some time with numbness in my left leg. I had to stop at four kms to stretch it, and you can’t afford to do that in a 10km race,” she said.
Evergreen Sonja Laxton, who was running her 77th Challenge race, won the Grandmaster category, and Grace de Oliveira, multiple Comrades Marathon gold medalist, was the first Master home.

Thirteen thousand 149 runners took part in the running of the 20th Port Elizabeth SPAR Women’s Challenge.


Second seed Rajeev “Rammed” out of Soweto Open

Johannesburg, South Africa. – Sadly for local fans, the two remaining South African’s in the quarter finals of the Soweto Open are packing their bags. Rik De Voest and Dean O’Brien were both eliminated on Thursday from the R1.5 million event resulting in no South African being represented at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Complex in the semi-finals tomorrow (Friday).

Dean O’Brien of South Africa in action against Lukas Lacko (SVK) in the quarterfinals during day 4 of the Soweto Tennis Open being played at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre in Jabavu, Soweto.

Lukas Lacko the top seed of Slovakia in action against Dean O’Brien (RSA) in the quarterfinals during day 4 of the Soweto Tennis Open being played at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre in Jabavu, Soweto.

Mate Pavic of Croatia in action against Rajeev Ram in the quarterfinals during day 4 of the Soweto Tennis Open being played at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre in Jabavu, Soweto.
Pictures Credit: Reg Caldecott

Vasek Pospisil of Canada in action against Rik de Voest (RSA) in the quarterfinals during day 4 of the Soweto Tennis Open being played at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre in Jabavu, Soweto.

De Voest, seeded seven lost to third seeded Canadian, Vasek Pospisil of Canada 3-6 6-0 4-6 whilst top seeded Lukas Lacko of Slovakia ended wild card O’Brien’s impressive run, beating the 22 year old 6-3 6-3.

De Voest said that although he felt he played a good match, Pospisil a player he beat only a few weeks back in his native Canada, was the better player on the day. “I am striking the ball well and feeling real good about my game. I felt I played a good match but Pospisil just had the edge and took advantage of playing the bigger points and important points well” said De Voest. De Voest admitted that the swing in the match came in the second game of the third set when De Voest had break point opportunities on the strong Pospisil serve, but the Canadian blasted three consecutive aces and saved serve. “That was really a turning point. It was my golden opportunity but three aces took away the chance and the wind out of my sales.”

O’Brien had full praise for Lacko saying it was the first time he had played a top 100 player. “It was tough out there but I played well and have had a great tournament. Lukas is a superb player with a big game. Playing him you can see he was a top 50 player and I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets back into the top 50 again soon. I gave it my all and am proud of myself and got so much out of the match and tournament as a whole” said O’Brien.

Lacko now meets fourth seeded Michal Przysienzny of Poland in Friday’s semi-final. Przysienzny broke a few hearts in Soweto today when he ousted popular fifth seeded Dustin Brown of Germany 6-3 7-6 (1). Brown, the 2010 champion here in Soweto seemed frustrated on court and at one stage in the match was given a point penalty by chair umpire. “I lost my mind a little. I am sad I went out. I just love playing in South Africa, have good memories of this beautiful country and Soweto and for sure, I will be back.”

Pospisil will play giant killer Mate Pavic of Croatia in the other semi-final. Pavic, unseeded, shocked second seeded American Rajeev Ram 7-6 (4) 7-5 in the opening match of the day.

“I am very disappointed. I was up a break in the opening set and it should never have gone to the breaker. I felt terrible with my serve today and I couldn’t find my rhythm but Pavic is a young hungry player and likes the altitude so credit to him for pulling off the win” said Ram.

The singles semi-finals start at 10h00 at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Stadium in Jabavu and will be broadcast live on SABC 3 from 10h00 to 17h00. Following the two singles semi-finals, the doubles final between third seeded Mate Pavic (Croatia)/Goran Tosic (Montenegro) and unseeded, Prakesh Amritraj (India) / Rajeev Ram (USA).

Entry is free and directions to the Arthur Ashe Tennis Complex can be found on

Quarterfinal Results
1-Lukas Lacko (Svk) bt Michal Dean O’Brien (RSA) 6-3 6-3
4-Michal Przysiezny (Pol) bt 5-Dustin Brown (Ger) 6-3 7-6 (1)
3-Vasek Pospisil (Can) bt Rick De Voest (RSA) 6-3 0-6 6-4
Mate Pavic (Cro) bt 2-Rajeev Ram (USA) 7-6 (4) 7-5
Prakash Amritraj (Ind)/Rajeev Ram (USA) bt 3-Mate Pavic (Cro)/Goran Tosic (Mne) 6-3 2-6 10-5
Michal Przysiezny (Pol)/Denis Zivkovic (USA) bt Purav Raja/Divij Sharan (Ind) 6-4 6-4


Johannesburg, South Africa - With most of South Africa’s top runners competing in the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge at Pollok Beach in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, the race for Grand Prix points is wide open.

Mapaseka Makhanya crosses the finish line at the Cape Town leg of the SPAR Grand Prix.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott

The Grand Prix leader after the first race in Cape Town in March is Transnet’s Mapaseka Makhanya, who came second to Rutendo Nyahora of Nedbank AGN. However, Nyahora is from Zimbabwe, and does not qualify for the Grand Prix, in which the top runners collect points from the five Challenge races held around the country. After one race, Makhanya has 19 points, and third placed Zintle Xiniwe (Maxed Elite WP) has 13.

However, Makhanya and Xiniwe will be aware that they have strong competition for Grand Prix points from Nedbank CG teammates Rene Kalmer and Irvette van Zyl, who have 17 and 16 points respectively.

Kalmer, who has won the Grand Prix three times, recently returned to competitive running after a long lay-off because of an Achilles tendon injury sustained during the Olympic Marathon in London last year. Although she finished fourth in the Cape Town race, she showed signs that she was well on her way to her dominant best. She issued a warning to her rivals after the Cape Town race, saying she expected to be back at her best for the Port Elizabeth race, and that she was determined to win the Grand Prix again.

Van Zyl, who has won the Grand Prix twice, is also in good form. She was 10th woman home in the London Marathon and can be expected to give a good account of herself in Port Elizabeth on Saturday. “I was very pleased with my performance in the London Marathon, although I found the last eight kilometres very tough,” said Van Zyl. “I’ve had some trouble with numbness in my leg, and in the last few kilometres I was struggling with a sore knee and a blister. But I had a personal best and I enjoyed the Marathon much more than I did last year.”

Van Zyl said she expected a fierce struggle for top place, and a fast time in Port Elizabeth. “The other girls are going to give us a hard time. Patterns have changed in the SPAR races – it’s no longer a case of just going into the lead and staying there. There is very strong competition and Mapaseka, for example, is in very good shape. “I think people are even more excited about the SPAR races, after seeing Rene win a car last year. Now everyone wants to get their hands on those car keys.”

At the end of the five-race series, the runner with most points will win a Nissan Micra. The second-placed athlete receives R30 000.

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