Johannesburg, South Africa – Tennis history was made in Soweto this past Saturday morning (26 October) when the finals of the first ever Soweto Schools Tennis League were completed at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Complex in Jabavu.

Soweto3.JPG: : junior tennis players between the ages of 8 and 12 years enjoyed the finals of the inaugural Soweto Schools Tennis League played at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Complex in Jabavu, Soweto this weekend. Learners from six Soweto Primary schools (Rutegang Primary, Molaetsa Primary, Makola Primary, Igugu Primary, Tshebedisanong Primary and Mohloding Primary) took part in the finals. Pictured are all the finalists with coaches and organisers Robert Zondo (left) Oupa Nthuping (right) and Thabo Mathlaela (seated middle).
Photo by: Tennis South Africa

After six long weeks of the mini tennis league, the league reached its final stages on Saturday where the best of the best was decided.

Supported by the Department of Sport and Recreation, Tennis South Africa (TSA) launched the Soweto Schools Tennis League in September. Every Wednesday and Friday since launch date, junior players between the ages of 8 and 12 years participated in the league. The participating schools were Rutegang Primary, Molaetsa Primary, Makola Primary, Igugu Primary, Tshebedisanong Primary and Mohloding Primary. These six schools played each other on a round robin basis with the last round robin being played on Saturday.

Tshebedisanong Primary School from Central Western Jabavu emerged as the inaugural champions beating off a strong challenge from second placed Mohloding Primary A and third placed Mohloding Primary B teams.

Principal of the winning school, Joseph More accepted the winning trophy from President of Tennis South Africa Bongani Zondi on behalf of the jubilant Tshebedisong team.

“We are delighted to have won the trophy. Tennis is such a beautiful game and over the years we have encouraged our pupils to take up the game. With the Arthur Ashe Tennis Complex a stone’s throw away from our school, we hope that our pupils will join us at the facility to develop and promote the game within the school and Soweto” said More.
This is the first league of its kind in South Africa. TSA adopted the International Tennis Federation (ITF) model of coaching, and the theory of it being that teaching tennis should be progressed according to the age and physical growth of a child. It is a concept that coaches and schools have not fully bought into in South Africa. The league was played with red, orange and green balls showcasing that tennis can be played by all young ages and abilities.
Tennis South Africa President, Bongani Zondi confirmed that it was his organisation’s intention to have many more schools participating in next year’s Soweto League.


Port Elizabeth – 27 October 2013) SOUTH AFRICA will have to compete with a whole new ball game tomorrow when they face a confident and experienced Zimbabwe bolstered by their come-from-behind win over Zambia in the opening match of the Diamond Challenge international netball series in Port Elizabeth.

Lucy Here Of Zambia fights for the ball during the Diamond Challenge match between Zimbabwe and Zambia at Vodacom NMMU Indoor Stadium on October 27, 2013 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. (Photo by Michael Sheehan)

Besta Mamyura of Zimbabwe shoots for goal during the Diamond Challenge match between Zimbabwe and Zambia at Vodacom NMMU Indoor Stadium on October 27, 2013 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. (Photo by Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images)

Editorial supplied by Trevor Neethling / Newton PR and Communications

What started as a slow and steady affair turned into a pulsating second half as Zimbabwe clawed their way back in Quarter 4 to come from behind with a sterling performance to clinch a 39—35 win. They outscored Zambia 12 goals to six in the final 15 minutes to beat the team positioned five places higher than them on the international rankings at 20. Zimbabwe Goal Attack Mwangeyi Lazaro capped off sterling offensive performance to clinch the Vital Player of the Match award.

The Diamond Challenge, however, is not a ranking event and South Africa will feature an Invitational team consisting of only four members of the SPAR Proteas squad that beat a rampant England 39—37 in the Nelson Mandela Bay Tri-Nations on Friday.

In the match today Zimbabwe showed that they were here to prove a point as they dominated the opening exchanges scoring five unanswered goals before Zambia netted their first goal. As the quarter unfolded the Zambians started to find some rhythm and managed to go into the break just two points adrift at 9 — 7.

Zimbabwe continued that dominance in Quarter 2, racing ahead with three unanswered goals before Zambia found their first net. The trend continued and by half-time Zimbabwe had a comfortable 21—15 with Zambia having it all to do. But Zambia had other plans, changing their Wing Attack, Centre and Goal Defence and came back storming in the second part of the Quarter 3 to lead 29—27 going into the final quarter. Zimbabwe though were the more composed outfit towards the end ending off a series of sleek interchanges to take it by 4 points and set up an interesting game against South Africa.

South Africa’s Invitational tam will have to get used to the slower, more patient build-up of their northern neighbours especially as the pace of their recent opposition England and Trinidad and Tobago has been much faster and physical. Coach Elize Kotze has roped in a number of players from the U/21 team which placed fifth at the World Youth Netball Championships in Glascow in August for the series which ends on Wednesday. Included in the team is hotshot Eastern Province Goal Shooters Dumisani Chauke, and Colleen Ferreira.

Kotze believes the series will provide ideal preparation for her team in facing African opposition as well as much-needed game time.

“We have a lovely bunch of young players here in this series and this tournament is just the opportunity they need to make it into the SPAR Proteas team. It also provides the depth we need at international level,” she said. “The players are motivated and raring to go and prove themselves as worthy candidates for the SPAR Proteas.”


Stellenbosch, South Africa - The sixth-seeded South African Trent Botha, and the eight-seeded Serbian Vanja Klaric, made the form book like a comic strip as they emerged triumphant in the Under-18 singles finals in the SAS Junior ITF 11 tournament at the University of Stellenbosch courts in Coetzenburg, on Friday.
Botha showed remarkable composure as he ground out a 7-5 6-3 championship win over his top-seeded Cape Town rival Lloyd Harris in the Boys final.
Klaric and her USA-based Greek opponent Rachel Papavasilopoulos, a qualifier, had moved down several seeded players earlier in the week and Friday’s Girls final became the battle of the giant-killers. Klaric said after her 6-1 6-7 (5) 6-3 win that she had traded heavily on her mental strength on the day.
The 17-year-old Botha, a learner at Reddam House Constantia, seemed to be on top of his game throughout the contest and his only lapse was a first-set setback in the ninth game when he allowed his opponent to break serve and take the lead (5-4) in the match for the first and only time.
The opening eight games went with serve although both battled initially when service games were twice taken to deuce.
From the 10th game onwards, Botha’s confidence grew in leaps and bounds and he started striking the ball sweetly and consistently down both sides of the court.
In just under an hour, Botha wrapped up the set after securing back-to-back service breaks in the 9th and 11th games.
The second-set games were contested far more decisively except in the 4th where Botha was stretched to the limits to hold serve. Three deuces later he remained on course, and then he delivered the coup de grâce by downing Harris in the 5th and 9th games to sign off a 7-5 6-3 win.
For Botha, his finals success was a family affair. He is coached by his father Dean, who runs the Dean Botha School of Tennis in Claremont, Cape Town.
Botha also disclosed after the match that he was given valuable advice by his brother Jarryd, who attends the University of Alabama, USA. The 21-year-old Jarryd is also well-known in SA tennis circles, since he’s played on the domestic circuit during his teen years. Jarryd is also a coach at Alabama.
“I Skyped Jarryd before the match and told him about what I thought I should do but Jarryd gave me great advice instead,” said Botha. “I had managed to take some of the momentum from the semifinal into the match and I knew I just had to be consistent in the way I played. Going into the second set my confidence was high and I found myself playing a lot easier. Overall, I have to say that I took my chances well.
“I’ll have to put the racquets away from a while now because I have exams coming up.”
Klaric was full of praise for Papavasilopoulos who she said at times had surprised her with powerful ground strokes.
“I went into the match with a game plan but it looked like Rachel had sussed me out early in the match and then I decided just to try my best,” said Klaric. “It wasn’t easy playing her because at times she hit me off the court but I was mentally strong enough to work past those stages of the match.
“I just wanted to play solidly and just kept telling myself that I must win the game. In some way I started playing against myself because it helped me to stay strong mentally. I won because I won the mental battle.”
Klaric started off well in the opening set as she broke Papavasilopoulos consecutively in her opening serve games to run up a 4-0 lead.
Papavasilopoulos then served a gentle reminder that she still had loads of fight left when she broke back in the fifth. However, Klaric regained the initiative to close the set 6-1.
The second set made for a fiercely-contested passage of play in which both dropped service thrice by the time the scoreline read 6-6. Klaric’s returns in the ensuing tie-break were not proving as effective and Papavasilopoulos set up a third set with a 7-5 tie-break win.
The third set yielded several strange twists, as breaks of serve were the order of the day in the opening seven games. Papavasilopoulos dropped thrice, and Klaric obliged with two, which left the Serbian 5-2 up.
There were no more reverses in the next two games, as each came good on serve to end the final set at 6-3.
Moments after their singles triumphs, both Botha and Klaric returned to the Coetzenburg courts in search of a personal ‘double’ when the doubles finals got under way.
Botha and his partner Kris Van Wyk, the Boys top seeds, and the only South Africans to reach the doubles finals on Friday, came good against the unseeded Great Britain pair of Peter Molly and Sam Rice with a 6-1 6-2 win.
Girls second seeds, Klaric and Rikeetha Pereira of India, were up against losing singles finalist Papavasilopoulos who was paired with Brit Holly Thompson.
It turned out to be a real dog-fight after each won a set 6-2 but Papavasilopoulos and Thompson prevailed 10-7 in the tie-break to lift the title with a 2-6 6-2 10-7 triumph.


Port Elizabeth, South Africa – In an incredible spectacle of international netball, the SPAR Proteas cracked third ranked England in the final match of the tri-nations being played in Port Elizabeth. In an almost goal for goal game, the SPAR Proteas fought their way into the lead, to end the game 39-37.

The SPAR Proteas winning team
Back (l-r): Cobus Breytenbach (physio); Lindie Lombard; Karla Mostert; Aneret Viljoen; Maryka Holtzhausen (captain); Chrisna Bootha; Melissa Myburgh; Adele Viljoen; Elize Kotze (coach).
Front (l-r): Nceba Hene (Biokineticist); Simnikiwe Mdaka; Bongiwe Msomi (vice-captain); Precious Mthembu; Zanele Mdodana

SPAR Protea Simnikiwe Mdaka leaps for the ball against England’s Sara Bayman.

Adele Niemand, player of the match, against England’s Pamela Cookey.
Pictures by: Richard Huggard

Going into tonight’s game to give it all they had, the SPAR Proteas came out fighting. With the loud and encouraging support of the South African crowd, the determined team in green and gold did their country proud.

Both teams started strong, with solid combinations in defence and attack. England’s starting line-up included the feisty Serena Guthrie on centre, supported by the ruthless Stacey Francis on goal defence. However, as much as the South African side wasn’t rattled and held their ground, they were let down by some loose passes, and a lack of confidence under the posts, and trailed 8-10 to England at the end of the first quarter.

Simnikiwe Mdaka replaced Lindie Lombard on wing attack in the second quarter to bring in some more speed, and Elize made no further changes to her team for the rest of the game. On the other hand, as the game progressed and the intensity increased; England coach Ana Mayes made several. Mdaka made a visible difference to the SPAR Proteas drive into their goal circle, and the defence combination of Karla Mostert and Adele Niemand was unbreakable. Niemand had a phenomenal game, and was later named ‘Vital’ Player of the Match. After a number of intercepts, South Africa managed to narrow the gap to end half time only one goal behind at 19-18.

It was the second half of the game that showed the true fight of the South African team. Despite allowing England to get ahead by a four goal lead within the first two minutes, the SPAR Proteas showed resilience and control. The England side made a few unforced errors and the South African side managed to capitalise on them to push themselves into the lead for the first time in the game. The whistle blew with South Africa ahead by 31 goals to England’s 30.

It was in the fourth quarter that the England side looked rattled for the first time in the series. The SPAR Proteas ran ahead with a four goal lead as Kadeen Corbin missed a few shots, forcing Mayes to replace her with Rachel Dunn. Some back and forth play and the goal difference squeezed tighter, then finally the clock stopped and the SPAR Proteas had defeated netball powerhouse 39-37, to win the series.

“I am a very proud coach tonight” said SPAR Proteas coach Elize Kotze after the game. “We worked as a unit for the first time tonight and these players have showed that they are ready to step up to the next level.” “It was a true test of character, and they have proved themselves as role models for young girls in the country.”

The Tri-Nations will be followed by the Diamond Challenge, also taking place at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Indoor Sport Centre in Port Elizabeth. The first match will be played on Sunday 27th October 2011.


Stellenbosch, South Africa - Serbian Vanja, Serbia, and Rachel Papavasilopoulos, Greece, have ensured that South Africa will enjoy only half the spoils on offer at the SAS Junior ITF 11 tournament when it ends with Friday’s finals at the University of Stellenbosch courts in Coetzenburg.

Unseeded Rachel Papavasilopoulos (pictured) of the USA upset fifth seed Marli Van Heerden of South Africa 6-4 6-4 in the semi-finals of the SAS Junior ITF 2 on Thursday. Papavasilopoulos will face eighth seed Vanja Klaric of Serbia in the finals of the international junior tennis tournament being played at the University of Stellenbosch on Friday.

Sixth seed Trent Botha (pictured) of South Africa beat unseeded Jack McFarlane of Great Britain 6-7 (5) 6-3 6-1 in the semi-finals of the SAS ITF 2 on Thursday, a junior international tournament being played at the University of Stellenbosch. Botha will play against top seed and fellow South african Lloyd Harris in the -finals on Friday.
Pictures by: EJ Langer i-finals on Friday.

On Thursday, Vanja and Papavasilopoulos, won through to the Girls Under-18 after disposing of their South African opponents.
The 14-year-old Papavasilopoulos, the USA qualifier, saw off fifth seeded Marli van Heerden 6-4 6-4. In the previous rounds she defeated the seventh seeded Katie Poluta and fourth seeded Huibre-Mare Botes. After four main-draw matches, Papavasilopoulos one of the youngest players in the main draw, has yet to drop a set.
Papavasilopoulos is based in Boca Raton, Florida, and arrived in Stellenbosch just over three weeks ago to play in the SAS Junior ITF 1 tournament. She has had a long period of inactivity because of a wrist (left hand) injury and last played two months ago. In last week’s event her ‘rustiness’ showed but this week she qualified and went all the way to reach the final.
Papavasilopoulos has a South African mother and been impressed with the way the Stellenbosch events had played out.
“I’ve been to ITF events (in the USA) before but none of them have been as well run as was the case in Stellenbosch,” said Papavasilopoulos. “I would say these are probably the best run junior tournaments in the world.”
The Papavasilopoulos-Van Heerden contest started off on a rather hectic note as the first five games produced two service breaks for each of the players. Papavasilopoulos leveled in the sixth and finished strongly to take the set 6-4.
As the second set wore on, Papavasilopoulos managed to impose herself on the game as Van Heerden seemingly grew tired towards the end.
“In the first set I double-faulted a few time mainly because I was nervous,” said Papavasilopoulos. “I realised she (Van Heerden) would be tough to beat and I figured it out that I just had to be consistent.
“I feeling stronger after winning the first set and I could see she was a bit down in spirit towards the end. IT also looked as if she was tired.”
The eighth-seeded Vanja, who was born in neighbouring Botswana to Serbian nationals, defeated Holly Thompson of Great Britain 6-3 7-5.
The Boys Under-18 final will be an all-South African affair between top seed Lloyd Harris and Trent Botha, the sixth seed.
Harris made light work of fifth-seeded JD Malan winning 6-2 6-1, but Botha was taken to an extra set before he signed off with a 6-7 (5) 6-3 6-1 win against unseeded Jack Macfarlane of Great Britain.
Botha, the son former SA pro player Dean Botha, a serve and volley specialist, had himself to blame for the extra set because he spurned three set points in the opening set.
“Once I lost the opening set I decided to be more positive and I started to scramble much more,” said Botha. “Mentally I was getting stronger and I just wanted to turn the game around.
“I reckon the pressure got to him in the final set and I just stayed focused.”
The two Capetonians Harris and Botha have played each other several times in the past and their showdown will evoke great local interest.
One keen spectator at Thursday’s play was Professor Julian Smith, the Stellenbosch University vice-rector and head of sport. He was pleased to the university’s facilities was being put to use.
“As an university, we like to play a role in the development and promotion of sport by offering our facilities,” said Smith. “We have attained world ranking as an academic institution and it’s fitting that we are hosting an international event on our courts.
“We have a world-class facility and we have world-class personnel at hand. It’s wonderful that players here can compete in ideal surroundings and become part of the global picture here at this international event.
“We are able to offer all the supporting services necessary for the event and it good see so many foreigners competing here. We will be looking to increase the profile of tennis whenever the opportunity affords itself.”
The play on Friday’s finals day gets under way at 8.30am at Coetzenburg Tennis Courts.



Moscow, Russia – Dean O’Brien will open for South Africa tomorrow (Friday) in the Euro/Africa Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Relegation Play-off Tie vs Russia to be staged at the Olympic Stadium in the Russian capital from 25-27 October 2013.
At the draw concluded today (Thursday), Karen Khachanov the nominated Russian number two was drawn first from the hat. Khachanov will open the Tie against South African number one nominated player, Dean O’Brien.
O’Brien who was named for his first Davis Cup call up last month against Slovenia (South Africa lost the Tie 4-1) did not make the final four named by South African Captain, John Laffnie De Jager. But this weekend, O’Brien will be a key part of the South African line up and will get South Africa’s weekend campaign under way against Russia. O’Brien from Sandton, Johannesburg but based in Atlanta, USA turned professional at the start of this year and is presently ranked 563. O’Brien (aged 23) faces a tough opener against top Russian junior, Khachanov (aged 17) ranked 513 as the Russian comes into the Tie fresh from a quarterfinal berth at last week’s Kremlien Cup played at the same venue as this weekend’s Tie. This will be the first time that the two have met.
De Jager named rookie Japie De Klerk as his second singles player. De Klerk, from Ashton in the Boland is presently playing US College tennis at the University of Tulsa. De Klerk will be up next on Friday in the second rubber against Russian number 1 nominated player, Alex Bogomolov ranked 80 in the world.
“I am very excited to be playing for South Africa” said De Klerk. “I am truly honoured to play for my country, I feel confident about my game, and am ready to give of my best.”
De Klerk reached the semifinals of the prestigious NCAA Championships last semester and his aggressive baseline game has impressed De Jager.
De Jager said after a week’s training he felt De Klerk was the best option as the No 2. “I’ve came to the decision because De Klerk has been playing well in recent months, and then at training this week he was really impressive. That’s why I selected De Klerk and I have confidence that he’ll do the business and give us our best shot. He has nothing to lose and the Russians know very little of Japie which could play to our advantage.”
As expected, Raven Klaasen has been consigned to doubles duty and will partner Tucker Vorster.
“I see this as an opportunity to nail down the tie in the doubles match on Saturday,” said Klaasen. “The doubles rubber on Saturday is always important and Tucker and I this week have been combining well so we are confident we can give South Africa that important point”
South African Captain Johan-Laffnie De Jager said he was happy with the draw. “It is good for us that Dean is playing first. The team has prepared well and now we have to go and execute. It is always a great privilege to represent our country.”
The playing programme (Start times SA time):
Friday (25 October 2013) singles (start 13h00): Dean O’Brien (RSA) vs. Karen Khachanov (RUS) followed by Japie De Klerk (RSA) vs. Alex Bogomolov (RUS)
Saturday (26 October 2013) doubles (start 12h00): Raven Klaasen (RSA) and Tucker Vorster (RSA) vs. Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS) and Konstantin Kravchuk (RUS)
Sunday (27 October 2013) reverse singles (11h00): Dean O’Brien (RSA) vs. Alex Bogomolov (RUS) followed by Japie De Klerk (RSA) vs. Karen Khachanov (RUS)
South Africa: Dean O’Brien, Raven Klaasen; Tucker Vorster and Japie De Klerk. Captain: John-Laffnie de Jager.
Russia: Alex Bogomolov Jr, Karen Kachanov, Andrey Kuznetsov and Konstantin Kravchuk. Captain: Shamil Tarpischev


Port Elizabeth, South Africa – In a great display of international netball, the SPAR Proteas went head to head against netball powerhouse England on Wednesday night. Despite putting in a strong effort, and leading in the early stages of the game, the English side proved too strong for the South Africans, and ended the game with 49 goals to 39.

SPAR Protea Adele Niemand reaches for the ball against England’s Rachel Dunn.

England’s ferocious Serena Guthrie runs away with the ball, against South Africa’s Precious Mthembu and Bongi Msomi. Serena was praised for her performance by coach Ana Mayes after the match.
Pictures by: Iky Plakonouris

Cementing the combinations seen in last night’s match, the SPAR Proteas took to the court as a confident unit. The first 15minutes of the game were fast, fiery and intense. The South African attack, which has been worked on by Dr Elsje Jordaan looked smooth and controlled as the ball was driven up to goal shooter Chrisna Bootha. At one stage the SPAR Proteas led the game, and it was evident that they were more confident in the goal circle as their play was riskier, and it worked for them. England cranked up the power towards the end of the 15minutes and ended the first quarter with a 13-12 lead.

It was the second quarter that let the SPAR Proteas down, as the match got a bit scrappy from both sides. Both teams made a few unforced errors and the South African shooters missed a number of shots at goal, which gave the England side the gap to run away with the lead. The South African defence combination of Adele Niemand, Karla Mostert and Precious Mthembu was as strong as ever, but the attack lacked accuracy in driving the ball into the goal circle and completing the shot. England led at half time 25-18.

England were first to score off their centre in the third quarter and used their lead to run ahead. Eboni Beckford-Chambers had a brilliant game, and put a lot of pressure on the South African attack. Later in that quarter the SPAR Proteas came back fighting and despite being 10 goals down, managed to claw their way back to a three-goal difference.

Only being three goals down in the start of the final quarter should have given the South African side the opportunity they needed, but the England side was just too strong. Ana Mayes made a number of changes to her team, which included moving Jade Clarke from wing defence to centre. Jade contributed to England’s strong attack, and was awarded player of the match.

“I am obviously disappointed” said SPAR Proteas coach Elize Kotze after the game. “No one likes losing, and we came back so strong in the third quarter. We had more than enough ball turnovers by our defenders to keep us in a competitive game.” “But we are improving each time, and are not down and out. Tomorrow we will take time to recoup and refocus.”

England coach Ana Mayes said that she was happy with the win; “I am pleased with the win, but it was a competitive game. South Africa is very good at being open in play which put pressure on our shoulders.” President of Netball South Africa, Mimi Mthethwa said that she was impressed by the SPAR Proteas performance; “we are visibly improving. This is a low score compared to previous matches, so I am happy that we improve step by step.”

England will take on Trinidad and Tobago on Thursday at 17h30. The match will be broadcast live on SuperSport channel 229.


Stellenbosch, South Africa - Marli van Heerden, a learner from Outeniqua High school in George, produced one of her finest career performances when she trounced the second seeded Rikeetha Pereira of India 6-3 6-0 in their quarterfinal clash at the SAS Junior ITF 11 tournament in Coetzenburg, Stellenbosch, on Wednesday.

First seed Lloyd Harris (pictured) of South Africa beat unseeded Piers Foley of Great Britain 6-7 (5) 6-2 6-2 in the quarter-finals of the SAS Junior ITF 2 on Wednesday. Harris will face fifth seed and fellow South African Jd Malan in the semi-finals of the international junior tennis tournament being played at the University of Stellenbosch on Thursday.

Fifth seed Marli Van Heerden (pictured) of South Africa upset second seed Rikeetha Pereira of India 6-3 6-0 in the quarter-finals of the SAS ITF 2, a junior international tournament being played at the University of Stellenbosch. Van Heerden will play against unseeded Rachel Papavasilopoulos of the USA in the semi-finals on Thursday.
Pictures by: EJ Langer

After a shaky start, the fifth-seeded Van Heerden decided that attack was the best form of defence and her aggressive approach in the later first-set games floored her Indian opponent.

Van Heerden ran up a 5-0 lead in the first and then strangely dropped back-to-back two service games, allowing the Indian visitor to get a sniff at 5-3.

I realised at that stage that I needed to adjust and I decided that I’ll play aggressively,” said Van Heerdern. “I started banging in the first serves and it took her by surprise. Attacking at every opportunity seemed the way to go and that’s the frame of mind I went into the second set.

I think the pressure was just too much for her and she double-faulted a few times in the second set. I was returned very well by that time so her serve suffered.”

Van Heerden has been campaigning at mostly high altitude venues in recent months and she arrived at the Stellenbosch event a few days earlier to adjust her game. “It’s always a good idea to get some practise in a few days before the start of an event when you move from high to coastal altitude. There’s always the danger of over-hitting at the coast, and it was worth coming down a few days earlier.”

On the adjacent court, South African top seed Janet Koch ended up on the also-rans scrapheap after she was shocked by Serbian Vanja Klaric, the eighth seed. Klaric, who was born to Serbian parents in Botswana, won 5-7 6-3 6-3 to reach Thursday’s semifinal round.

The Boys top seed Lloyd Harris was given a fright initially but staged a fierce fightback to dispose of Great Britain’s Piers Foley 6-7 (5) 6-2 6-2.

Harris, who is based at the Anthony Harris Tennis Academy in Sea Point, retained his composure after he surrendered the first set, in which each player dropped serve thrice. “We were both returning incredibly well, so service games were under great pressure,” said Harris. “The games were very tight and I battled to get into the game.”

The 16-year-old Harris who has campaigned in Mexico, Egypt, Tunisia and Namibia this year enjoyed a new surge of energy after he most the first-set tiebreak 7-5.

I felt lots of energy when the second set got under way and that helped me to play aggressively,” said Harris. “I started moving into attack mode, and my returns were improving all the time. After I won the second set, I knew I had to keep up the aggression and he was just making too many unforced errors as he tried to slow me down.”


Port Elizabeth, South Africa – The netball tri-nations taking place at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Indoor Sport Centre in Port Elizabeth started off with a rough and tumble match between the SPAR Proteas and Trinidad and Tobago.

Lindie Lombard, Player of the Match, takes a shot at goal during the first test match of the Tri-Nations in Port Elizabeth.

Hometown hero, Zanele Mdodana in action against Trindad and Tobago in the Tri-Nations.
Images by: Michael Sheehan

Off to a very slow start, the SPAR Proteas struggled to get into a rhythm, which could be contributed to the heavily physical style of play from the Caribbean team. However, they were able to find some good spaces between the Trinidad and Tobago team, who preferred to play a more static and direct game. South Africa’s defence were on top form, as the combination of Karla Mostert and Adele Niemand created a number of increased opportunities due to some great intercepts. The SPAR Proteas led at the end of the first quarter by 11 goals to 7.

Play in the second quarter started to pick up some speed, but the rhythm was lost again as Chrisna Bootha had to leave the court due to injury from contact by her opponent goal keeper Alicia Liverpool. South Africa then scored a few consecutive goals to widen the goal difference, before Melissa Myburgh, Bootha’s substitute, was thrown to the ground and had to be taken off by stretcher, forcing coach Elize Kotze to try out her last resort shooting combinations. The young Lindie Lombard took up role as shooter, whilst Bongiwe Msomi moved to wing attack and Simnikiwe Mdaka came back on as centre. The half time whistle blew with the SPAR Proteas leading 25-15.

With big boots to fill, Lindie Lombard stepped up to the plate, holding her own in the goal circle, which ultimately scored her the prize of ‘player of the match’. “Lindie maintained her ground, with her feet firmly in the circle” said Kotze after the match. Relying on the support of goal attack Maryka Holtzhausen who had some brilliant long shots; the attack combinations started to gain confidence, passing balls smoothly down the line. The second half of the game gained intensity as the clock ticked and the Trinidad and Tobago team picked up the pace, making a number of errors. By the end of the final whistle the SPAR Proteas had outscored Trinidad and Tobago by 47 goals to 30.

“Losing both our shooters so early in the game threw us off” said Elize Kotze after the match, “and I am a bit worried about our intensity, but we have seen which combinations will work for us to start with tomorrow and that has been very helpful.”

The SPAR Proteas will take on England in Wednesday’s game, at 17h30. The match will be broadcast live on SuperSport Channel 229.


Stellenbosch, South Africa - The fifth seeded JD Malan dug deep to reach the Boys Under-18 singles quarterfinals after defeating Chevaan Davids 7-5 4-6 6-4 in their second round clash at the SAS Junior ITF 11 tournament in Coetzenburg, Stellenbosch, on Tuesday.

Fifth seed Jd Malan (pictured) of South Africa, at the SAS Junior ITF 2 on Tuesday. Malan beat fellow South African unseeded Chevaan Davids 7-5 4-6 6-4 to move into the quarter-finals of the SAS ITF 2, an international junior tennis tournament being played at the University of Stellenbosch.

Second seed Rikeetha Pereira (pictured) of India beat unseeded Juliane Schuckmann of Namibia 6-0 6-1 in round two of the SAS ITF 2, a junior international tournament being played at the University of Stellenbosch. Pereira will play against fifth seed Marli Van Heerden of South Africa in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.
Picture by: EJ Lang

The 15-year-old Malan started off like an express train against his 18-year-old fellow Capetonian and ran up a 5-1 in no time. He didn’t quite manage to keep up the pressure and a steady stream of unforced errors crept into his game and Davids managed to equal scores at 5-all.
Malan, who as a member of the Kainos Tennis Academy at Coetzenburg, did enough to close out the set at 7-5 but then lost his way in the next and went down 6-4.
By this time Malan started doubting his ability to clinch the match but he summoned loads of determination to fight to the end.
“I just said to myself that I must do my best and I think that’s what worked for me in the end,” said Malan.
As the third set wore on, both players battled to contain nerves which affected their rhythm and they exchanges breaks of serves ever so often. After seven games, Malan trailed 3-4 but his perilous position only served to sting him into survival mode.
“I was full of fight at this stage and thought I must use my go-to shots; the forehand crosscourt and my backhand-down-the-line,” said Malan. “From the eighth game (in the third set) I never looked back and just piled on the pressure, even though conditions became a bit tougher when the wind came up.”
Malan said afterwards that his ‘condition’ more than his opponent was the problem. “I have been playing for months at attitude in Joburg, Pretoria and Potchefstroom, and it has not been easy playing at the coast again,” said Malan.
“I wasn’t also happy with my footwork and it something that I’ll chat about with my coach Pietie Norval, and hopefully he devise a programme to improve my movement.”
Katie Poluta, the Girls Under-18 seventh seed, worked hard for her 7-5 7-6 (4) second-round win over fellow South African Bianca Birkenstock.
For Poluta, a tough, gritty 16-year-old who is based at the Atlantic Tennis Academy in Table View, it was sweet revenge because she lost to Birkenstock when they first met in East London some 18 months ago.
Poluta started off poorly, dropping serve in her opening but she remained unbowed and fought back bravely to take the set 7-5.
She stormed ahead 5-3 in the second set but then dropped serve and Birkenstock, who hails from KZN, was able to level at 5-5.
In subsequent games, both held serve and in the resultant tie-break Poluta proved the stronger of the two, and she was on her way to Wednesday’s quarterfinal round.
The Coetzenburg Tennis Complex is also home to the Kainos Tennis Academy, and they presently they have had about 18 players in the qualifying and main draw. Ruan Botha, Kainos’ head coach, said their Coetzenburg base was used by 350 children throughout the week.
“Our players’ ages range from 5 to 18 and we offer specialised services in all areas of the game,” said Botha. “We’ve enjoyed phenomenal success in terms of the results our players have achieved and as a result we’ve opened Kainos branches all over the country. Presently we are in Welgemoed, Strand, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Windhoek (Namibia).
“We’ve also taken several players to events abroad, under the supervision of coaches, this year.”
Presently, there are a few Namibians based at Kainos in Stellenbosch.


Johannesburg, South Africa - This Saturday morning (26 October) will see a historic occasion take place at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Complex in Jabavu, Soweto.

After six long weeks of the first ever schools mini tennis league being played in Soweto, the league will reach its final stages on Saturday when the best of the best will be decided.

Supported by the Department of Sport and Recreation, Tennis South Africa (TSA) launched the Soweto School League last month. Every Wednesday and Friday since launch date, junior players between the ages of 8 and 12 yrs. have been participating in the league. The participating schools are Rutegang Primary, Molaetsa Primary, Makola Primary, Igugu Primary, Thebedisanong Primary and Mohloding Primary. These six schools have being playing each other on a round robin basis with the last round robin being played tomorrow (Wednesday) and the final on Saturday.
This is the first league of its kind in South Africa. TSA adopted the International Tennis Federation(ITF) model of coaching and the theory of it being that teaching tennis should be progressed according to the age and physical growth of a child. It is a concept that coaches and schools have not fully bought into in South Africa. Therefore, according to TSA CEO, Ian Smith, “it is important that the league was played in red, orange and green balls. It showcases that tennis can be played by all young ages and abilities.”
Smith added that the success of the league would also serve as an example to schools across the country how tennis can be incorporated into schools which was critical to the development of the game in South Africa. “Playing with the red ball doesn’t even require a tennis court and using the red ball tennis can be played on any flat surface.” He added that TSA’s intention is to have many more schools participating in next year’s Soweto League.
President of Tennis South Africa, Bongani Zondi will attend the finals and present the winners with their awards following play.


Eighth-seeded Vanja Klaric survived a first-set scare to defeat Minette van Vreden 6-7(1) 6-0 6-1 in their Girls Under-18 opening round singles match at the SAS Junior ITF 11 tournament in Stellenbosch on Monday.
Klaric, a Serbian national who has been based at the Riaan Venter Tennis Academy at the North-West University of Potchefstroom for just over nine months, relied heavily on solid ground strokes to regain the initiative after the Bolander Van Vreden threatened to take the game away from her by winning the opening set
Van Vreden’s all-court game forced Klaric to settle for a basic game in which the intention was merely to keep the ball in play. The two know each other’s game well since they met in the quarterfinals last week when Klaric scored a 6-1 6-1 runaway win.
“With Minette you can’t score easily because she’s equally good on both sides of the court,” said Klaric. “I realised after losing the first set that the best plan was to simply get the ball back to her, and wait for her to make errors.
“My ground strokes and serve started working well from the second set onwards, and then I knew it was all a matter on consistency if I had to recover from the first-set loss.
“When she served I made up my mind to simply get my returns in and that’s the way I managed to stay in the game in the last two sets.
“Minette’s not an easy opponent and if you don’t get on top of your game quick enough she doesn’t give you a chance to fight back.”
On the neighbouring court, Maxine Bateman of KwaZulu-Natal caused the upset of the day by defeating third seeded Zimbabwean Nicole Dzenga 6-4 7-5 in a fiercely-fought contest.
Bateman’s victory meant she went one step better than last week when she was a first-round loser courtesy of Turkey’s Mina Karamercan. For Dzenga, the defeat was a continuation of a slump that saw her fail to progress beyond last week’s first round.
Western Province talent JD Malan had a better Monday this time after his Boys Under-18 singles first-round exit last week when he was seeded fifth.
This time he disposed of fellow South African Casper Heinrich 6-0 6-4 to turn his form around.
He wasn’t too comfortable when the wind was a factor in the second set although his serve and solid backhand worked well enough for a straight-sets win.
“In the first set I managed an error-free game and my returns were spot-on so he (Casper) didn’t have a chance to get into the game,” said Malan. “The wind came up in the second set but my forehand started working really well together with my serve and backhand. I was also happy with my play at net because my volleys were just as good.”
Meanwhile, Le Roux Conradie continues to make strides as a tournament director of note.
He was appointed by Tennis South Africa to fill the post as Tournament Director and he continues to earn accolades from players and parents at the tournaments, which entered its second week on Monday.
Conradie feels that sound preparation was crucial to running a trouble-free event.
“One has to accept that the success of an event starts essentially with sound preparation so that you ensure that you have all the bases covered,” said Conradie. “Of course, there are times when matters such as discipline issues from players and parents arise and one can never foresee when that will crop up.
“But the important thing is that you have structures in place to deal with what arises.
“I have been greatly encouraged by the feedback from the foreigners in particular and that has given me the encouragement to do even better as time goes on.
“I’m glad that I’m able to serve Tennis South Africa as its tournament director here and it is important to realise how valuable my role is in helping to promote South Africa’s standing as an international tournament host.
“I’ve had the benefit of tapping into the how-know of former international players such as Pietie Norval, Jeff Coetzee and Mark Petchy. Their input has been so valuable and they offer so much sound advice.
“I have reached a stage where I’m really keen to work more events and hopefully our efforts won’t go unnoticed and we’ll get to run more international events.
“At Stellenbosch we certainly have the building blocks in place for more and bigger events. However, the intention will also be the same: ensure a smooth-running event, without hiccups.”


Port Elizabeth, South Africa – Looking ahead to the first match of the Tri-Nations being played at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Indoor Sport Centre in Port Elizabeth this week, the SPAR Proteas have said that they are ready for the challenge.

The SPAR Proteas team ready to take on the challenge at the Tri-Nations.
Back (l-r): Simnikiwe Mdaka, Maryka Holtzhausen (Captain), Karla Mostert, Melissa Myburgh, Chrisna Bootha, Aneret Viljoen, Zanele Mdodana.
Front (l-r): Lindie Lombard, Bongiwe Msomi (Vice-Captain), Adele Niemand, Precious Mthembu
Picture by: Michael Shehaan / Netball South Africa

Learning from the experience recently gained against England in the three test series in September, the SPAR Proteas are looking forward to putting their training to the test against Trinidad and Tobago, and especially England this week.

“The players are excited and focused” said Coach Elize Kotze on Monday. “We learnt valuable lessons playing against England a few weeks ago and we have patched up our mistakes. The players are looking forward to taking to the court with the support of playing on home ground.”

Focusing on the task at hand, the SPAR Proteas are concentrating on their first match and will look at each game individually, as their two opponents have two very different styles of play. Coach Kotze says that it is important that the Proteas adapt to each style before taking to court. “The Caribbean approach is a very free type of netball. They like to play a more direct game with aerial balls and are also very physical. They play a hard game, and you never quite know what to expect.”

The South African national netball team has had a few good practise sessions, and Captain Maryka Holtzhausen said that her team were ready to tackle the week head on. “We’ve had some great training sessions. Our defence is looking strong, and having Dr Elsje Jordaan here to assist in coaching us on attack has brought a fresh new pair of eyes to our game.”

The SPAR Proteas will open the Tri-Nations with the first match against Trinidad and Tobago at 17h30 on Tuesday. All matches will be broadcast live on SuperSport Select SA, Channel 229.


Moscow, Russia - Tucker Vorster and Japie De Klerk are on cloud nine. Both players received the dream call from South African Davis Cup Captain, John-Laffnie De Jager requesting their availability for the forthcoming Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Tie vs. Russia.

Tucker Vorster

Japie De Klerk

Vorster and De Klerk jetted into the Russian Capital on Sunday with the rest of the South African Davis Cup squad and shortly after arrival were hard at work in the Olympic Tennis Stadium preparing for this coming weekend’s tie.

The Tie, to be played in Moscow from 25-27 October is one of the most important challenges team South Africa have faced in years. South Africa will have to beat Russia to remain in Euro/Africa Group 1. The loser will slip into Group 2 and once down in that Group the road back to Group 1 is a long and tough one.

De Jager is without his top six choices due to unavailability, injuries and personal reasons. Raven Klaasen, the country’s top world ranked doubles player is available and rising star Dean O’Brien who was chosen for the Slovenian Tie two months ago but didn’t make the final line-up for that Tie also confirmed his availability for the Tie against Russia.

De Jager then made a call to select Tucker Vorster and Japie De Klerk and both players jumped at the opportunity.

Vorster, from Pretoria, is currently in Great Britain playing the Futures Circuit. Tucker said it was an honour and a privilege to be representing his country. “From a young age it has been a dream and a goal to play Davis Cup so I am very thankful and fortunate for this amazing opportunity and incredibly excited to experience my first Tie against world class players.”

Tucker aged 25 years represented South Africa for the first time at the age of 14. “I played in the junior world championships in France as well as the African Junior Championships in Tunisia” said Tucker who also won the South African Junior Nationals in the boys under 18 age group.

After his junior years, Vorster played four years of US college tennis at The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss), where he also received a degree in Psychology. Since College, Tucker turned professional and has had steady success on the Futures Tour and is planning on playing the ATP Challenger Tour as of next year.

De Klerk, like Vorster was one of South Africa’s most successful junior players. As an under 12 and 14 player, De Klerk won the Nike Junior Tour South African Masters and represented South Africa at the International Masters in France and Spain respectively.
De Klerk from Ashton went to school in Stellenbosch, and is presently at the University of Tulsa in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA and reached the semi-finals of the recent NCAA Championships. At only 21 years of age, De Klerk is ranked impressively at number 12 on the US College rankings. “I am extremely excited and honoured to have been picked to play Davis Cup for my country. I did not think that it was going to happen so soon in my career so when I got that call from John-Laffnie it sure came as a big surprise for me” said De Klerk.

De Jager said he was confident of his choice of Vorster and De Klerk to the side. “Tucker has been knocking on the Davis Cup door for some time. He has impressed on the Futures Circuit and can play solid singles and doubles which is important for our team. Japie is playing great tennis and proved his worth by reaching the last four of the tough NCAA Champs. By exposing both Tucker and Japie to Davis Cup so early in their career is good for both of them individually and helps me build a solid young team for the future.”

Meanwhile the Russian Tennis Federation have changed the venue of the Tie from the originally chosen Tennis Palace of Army Central Sport Club to the Olympic Stadium which according to the Russians is a “far better facility” and “was not available initially but only on Wednesday did become available”. South Africa have approved the late change of venue. The surface remains hard indoor court.

Venue: Olympic Stadium, Moscow, RUS (hard – indoor)
Alex Bogomolov Jr
Andrey Kuznetsov
Karen Khachanov
Konstantin Kravchuk
Captain: Shamil Tarpischev

South Africa
Dean O’Brien
Tucker Vorster
Jacob (Japie) De Klerk
Raven Klaasen
Captain: John-Laffnie de Jager


Stellenbosch, South Africa - South Africa’s juniors will have a second bite of the cherry when the SAS Junior ITF 11 tournament gets under way at the Maties Tennis Club, in Coetzenburg, Stellenbosch, on Monday.
Several local tennis players struck it rich in terms of ITF world-ranking points when they reached the later rounds at last week’s event at the same venue.
In the Boys section there were six South Africans in the last eight, and the unseeded Kris Van Wyk went on to win his maiden ITF singles title.
In the Girls section four South Africans finished in the last eight and top seed Janet Koch did her seeding proud by bagging the singles title, a career second ITF crown after her conquest in Mauritius last year.
Former ATP world doubles star Jeff Coetzee said the tournaments were valuable in terms of promoting the careers of local players, and he was pleased that South Africans had picked up the major share of world-ranking points on offer.
“Apart from the fact that international competition is decidedly prohibitive in terms of costs, juniors are pursuing school careers and it becomes a tough act to balance it with tennis,” said Coetzee. “Apart from the difficulty of reaching international events, their time is also badly curtailed so that they are not able to work at their game as much as they should, be it on the court or in the gymnasium.
“For that reason local tournaments are a real blessing for our juniors.
“Here at Stellenbosch we have also reached a point where we can offer a world-class tournament in many aspects.
“We have seen a dramatic increase in the number of overseas competitors this year and the trend will continue next year.
“I would like to see higher graded tournaments offered here so that our juniors can be further alerted to how strong the game really is at international level.”
Many of South Africa’s juniors will be trading racquets for school books after this event as end-of-year examinations will start in earnest next month.
“In many ways, what happens in Stellenbosch over the next few days, could define the sort of year for our juniors,” said Coetzee. “It’s one final chance to snap up points, and those who succeed could find doors opening for them in the months ahead.
“Those who do well could land opportunities to play abroad on a regular basis, and it’s also an opportunity to catch the eye of talent scouts who always on the look-out for up-and-coming talents. Besides, there are also a few squads which have places up for grabs, and that’s one of the easier ways to crack it in the international arena.”
Both the singles and doubles first round competition will get under way on Monday and the weather forecast will that the day will be rain-free, although breezy conditions will prevail.


Stellenbosch, South Africa - South Africa’s capacity to host international sporting events proficiently and with aplomb has been greatly enhanced by the staging of the ITF junior international tournament over the past week in picturesque Boland town of Stellenbosch.
The tournament hosts, Boland Tennis Association, first staged two ITF junior events last year, when they made impressive debuts in the international arena. As a result, players from as many as 24 countries returned to compete in the two events this year.
Boland tennis president Dr Danie Morkel said the tournament mainstays, the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport (SAS) and Caylix Sport Management, have demonstrated their ability to promote tournaments at the highest level. As a result, Boland are going to apply to move these two junior events a notch or two tiers up in the ITF tournament grading. Boland are equally enthusiastic to land a slot or two in ITF’s calendar to stage senior events next year.
SAS and Caylix have gone about the business with proficiency in all aspects of the event, and it has made for a very pleasant experience for players and officials alike,” said Morkel. “The tournament officials cut their teeth at this level last year and this year they have shown they are now ready to move on to higher things.
“When the tournaments’ status will be upgraded, far more international players will be competing here, and the fields will be far bigger. We just need to prepare ourselves by finding bigger sponsorships.
“I can see that SAS and Caylix will be equally capable of handling senior events and that will be our next target.
“South Africa players stand to gain the most when we stage these events because the cost of travelling elsewhere in the world is extremely prohibitive. When SA players play locally there is a chance to score ranking points which is so crucial to players’ standing on their world circuits.
“The partnership of the Maties Tennis Club, who have the Coetzenburg courts to offer, and SAS provides players with world-class amenities to perform at their best and at one of the most scenic venues around.
“The SAS facility is world-class. They offer skilled staff, accommodation, athlete restaurant, state-of-the-art gymnasium, physiotherapy and rehabilitation practice, an indoor field, outdoor fields and swimming pool. You will battle to match this package anywhere in the world where junior events are staged.”
Rob Benadie, CEO of Stellenbosch Academy of Sport, said the Under-18 age-group tournaments were critical to the development of tennis in South Africa. “Our role is to ensure that the tournaments are a professional and exciting experience for the players and officials,” said Benadie.
Caylix official Le Roux Conradie is the Tournament Director. He said the next tournament, the SAS Junior ITF 11, will start on Monday, 19 October, with the first-round proper competition. The qualifying round for this event gets under way two days earlier.
He said that apart from the SA entries, the event has attracted international players from Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Ghana, Great Britain, India, Ireland, Lesotho, Mauritius, Namibia, Netherlands, Serbia, Turkey, USA and Zimbabwe as well.


Stellenbosch, South Africa - The world-famous Coetzenberg venue became a happy hunting ground for the South African tennis duo Kris Van Wyk and Janet Koch who saw off their British opponents to capture the SAS Junior ITF 1 singles titles at Stellenbosch on Friday.
The 17-year-olds, both of whom hail from Durbanville, adapted well to the challenging conditions which was by and large determined by a spoiling wind blowing across the Coetzenberg hardcourts.
Van Wyk summoned large measures of steely resolve after an uneasy start to his match against Brit Sam Rice, who he defeated 2-6 6-2 6-2 in a 90-minute contest.
Nerves got the better of the South African at the outset and he was unable to strike up a rhythm and his game suffered as consequence as he only held serve twice in four service games.
“I was so nervous and just couldn’t play my own game at the start of the first set,” said Van Wyk. “I tried to settle down but remained far too tense and before I knew the set was gone.
“Then I started exercising whenever I had a chance and that helped me to reset my mind and body. I managed to regain my focus and that relieved me of the jitters. My serve started working from that point onwards, and that gave me a lot of self-belief.
“By the time the third set started I was adjusting far better to the conditions.”
Van Wyk’s efforts to recover from his first-set lapse were helped by Rice’s indifferent form at the start of the second set in which he was broken thrice. Coupled to that Van Wyk fired on a few aces, two of which he unleashed in the final game of the second set to force a deciding set in fine style.
There was more of the same in the form of four aces in the next set as Van Wyk showed true championship form when he grabbed a 5-1 lead after only six games.
The triumph gave Van Wyk his first ITF title and the feat eclipsed his previous best which was a losing finalist in Windhoek two months ago.
This year Van Wyk has campaigned in Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mauritius but Van Wyk, who is a grade 10 learner at Curro Durbanville Private School, will continue playing the domestic circuit for the rest of the year.
No sooner was Van Wyk off the court when Koch was next up in the presentation area to receive the girls’ winner trophy following her straight-sets 6-4 6-2 over Britain’s Louise Ronaldson.
Koch, who also attends Curro Durbanville, started out as nervously as Van Wyk and double-faulted twice in the opening game.
She hung in determinedly and managed to break back in mid-set.
Ronaldson undid the damage in the next game when she claimed Koch’s service game to draw level at 4-4.
However, Koch’s game started picking up somewhat and she wrapped up the remaining games to sign off the set at 6-4.
With the opening set under her belt, Koch oozed confidence as she belted to aces at the start of the second but then dropped serve in her next service game, and Ronaldson inched ahead 2-1.
But that turned out to the last advance Ronaldson made on the score sheet because Koch unleashed a great fight back saw win the next five games on the trot to bag her second career ITF title. Her maiden conquest was in Mauritius last year.
More glory was in store for Koch who teamed up with Ronaldson to win the doubles title.
They defeated the SA pairing of Nadine de Villiers and Katie Poluta 1-6 6-3 10-5.
“We (Louise and I) were both tired after the singles final and Louise was a bit down after losing so we struggled to get going when the doubles final started,” said Koch. “We both managed to stay composed and got our game going and then we managed to force the tie-break by winning the second set.
“From that point onwards it was just a matter of building on our second-set performance.”
For the next few weeks, Koch will be swapping racquets for school books as she will be sitting for examinations until late November.
The boys doubles final was an all-South African affair in which Lloyd Harris and Joshua Warren defeated Chevaan Davids and Yaseen Ibrahim 2-6 6-3 10-6.


By Herman R Gibbs
Britain’s Sam Rice and Louise Ronaldson made a championship charge for the SAS Junior ITF 1 tournament titles on offer at Coetzenburg, Stellenbosch, on Thursday.
In windy conditions, the third-seeded Rice saw off South Africa’s Lloyd Harris, the top seed, in straight sets with a 7-6 (4) 6-3 triumph after their two-hour long battle. Harris may have been literally hamstrung as he needed one medical time-out to attend to the strapping on his left upper leg during the match.
But he battled gamely on although his challenge was not as strong as the second set wore on to the extent that he dropped his last two service games in the seventh and ninth.
Rice who was the same event last year, has been one of the most improved players at this year’s event, and will come up against second-seeded South African Kris van Wyk, who defeated fellow South African, the seventh seeded Calvin Jordaan, 6-2 6-3. Last year, Rice lost in first round qualifying.
Ronaldson has dramatically turned her fortunes around, and has recorded her best achievement yet at an international event by reaching Friday’s final.
Last year Ronaldson, who is a learner at the Kingston Grammar School in South West London, was bundled out in the first round at Stellenbosch by Janet Koch, who was the top seed at the time.
Following her 7-6 (6) 7-5 semifinal win over Serbia’s eight-seeded Vanja Klaric on Thursday, Ronaldson will meet top seed Koch in Friday’s final. Incidentally, Ronaldson and Koch are also doubles partners, and have reached the doubles final as the third seeded paring.
The Ronaldson-Klaric match-up produced one of the longest matches this week, after each of the sets lasted well over an hour.
Both players battled to come to terms with the conditions which seemed particularly tricky for those playing into the wind.
Ronaldson, 17, was thrilled at reaching her first-ever ITF final. To date her best feat was reaching the quarters in Oslo, Norway, two months ago.
“It’s been a really good tournament for me and I’m pleased I came back this year,” said Ronaldson. “Last year’s tournament was well organised and I decided that I’ll come back this year.
“Janet took me out in last year’s first round, and this time we’ll meet in the final. It is a bit strange meeting here in the championship round because we also play doubles together.
“The match against Vanja was unusually long because both of us made very little mistakes. That made for a tough match, and we both had to work hard for points. I guess I just worked a bit harder in this match.
“In the (first-set) tie-break I managed to run a big 5-1 lead and then I never looked back. In the second set, we both battled to hold serve because the wind had picked up quite a bit. In the end I had one service break more than her, and that made the difference in the end.”
Pieter Hoeksma, tournament referee, said the event was run better than ever, and it’s likely that the ITF will agree to an upgrade next year.
“The officials at Stellenbosch do a great job in running a superbly run tournament,” said Hoeksma. “Last year was a ‘first’ seems and it is clear that the officials have really learnt a great deal from that experience.
“On the evidence of how well the tournament is run it is likely that the ITF may agree up upgrade the event from a Grade 5 to a Grade 4 competition next year. If that happens, the quality of the field will improve a great deal because there will far greater interest from foreign players.
“Already the Stellenbosch organisers have made a massive impression with the visiting contingents. The coach of the British group said that next year their tour contingent will be 16 instead of eight irrespective of the grading.
“The accommodation facilities are superb and visiting countries have been highly impressed with what’s on offer.”


By Herman R Gibbs
Stellenbosch, South Africa - Top seeds Lloyd Harris and Janet Koch kept the South African flying at the SAS Junior ITF 1 tournament at the University of Stellenbosch, on Wednesday.
This International Tennis Federation (ITF) event went into its third day with a spoiling wind proving to be testing for the visiting players in particular.

second seed Kris Van Wyk of South Africa beat eighth seeded Rhys Milne also of South Africa 6-2 6-3 in the quarter-finals of the SAS ITF junior international tournament being played at the University of Stellenbosch on Wednesday.
Picture credit: EJ Langer

Harris led the local charge in the Boys section with a hard-fought 6-4 7-6 (5) win over fellow countryman and sixth seed Trent Botha in a quarterfinal match-up.
At the outset, Botha dropped serve and was never able to recover from this lapse during the remainder of the opening set, while Harris held out behind a dependable serve which produced five aces before he signed off a 6-4 winner.
In the next set, Harris held a vice-like grip on the match to run out a 5-2 lead at one stage after breaking serve in the third and seventh games.
But the twin setbacks stung Botha into survival mode and he stormed back into contention when Harris dropped serve in back-to-back service games, starting in the eighth. With that feat Botha turned the set on its head as he sneaked ahead 6-5 and when Harris held serve in the 12th, the tie-break followed.
Harris managed to avoid a dreaded third set in the trying conditions with a 7-5 tie-break win to run out a 6-4 7-6 (5) victor to reach the semi-finals where he will play third seed Sam Rice of Great Britain.
In the other all South African boys semi-final affair, second seed Kris Van Wyk will play seventh seed Calvin Jordaan.

Girls top seed Janet Koch secured a semifinal berth with 7-5 6-4 straight-sets win over seventh seeded Katie Poluta in an all-South African quarterfinal tie.
Koch overcame an early setback when she dropped her first service game mainly because she struggled to adapt to the windy conditions. She did, however, atone for that shortcoming when she broke back in the 9th and 11th games with steady tennis which allowed her to sign off strongly for a 7-5 first-set win in 48 minutes.
The second set was far more evenly contested as both Cape Town-based players upped their games and seemed to be coping far better with the spoiling conditions. The set produced five service breaks, three of which Koch claimed after a fiercely contested 70-minute battle.
“I was serving far too short and a double fault did not help my first service game,” said Koch afterwards. “She (Poluta) is a tough opponent and I battled to cope when she started hitting the angles.
“Both of us managed to improve our games in the second set because by that time we had become used to the wind. We were playing much better and that resulted in the points taking so much longer to decide.
“But I was happy that I played well and I’m pleased with my game going into the quarters (on Thursday).”
In another quarterfinal clash, visiting Turkish player Mina Karamercan overcame a mental block to run out an eventual 6-1 4-6 6-3 winner over South Africa’s Nicole Petchey.
By her own admission, Karamercan’s game is built around a solid service game and after securing an easy 6-1 first set win she lost concentration in the next which she surrendered 6-4. To her credit she managed to regain focus in the deciding set to march on to the semis.
“I found the going easy in the first set and was somewhat surprised because I could see she was a good player, and one that had tournament experience,” said Karamercan. “I thought it would be easy again in the next set but then my serve started breaking down and I was in big trouble, against an opponent who was playing really well. She seemed to know what to do and how to win the set.
“In the final set I started pushing myself really hard and I think in the end my will to win was greater than hers. My serve also started working well in the third and once I broke her in her first service game I just concentrated to close out the set and the game.” Karamercan will now face top seed Janet Kock in the last four.
In the other semi-final, unseeded Louise Ronaldson of Great Britain will meet eighth seed Vanja Klaric of Serbia. Ronaldson beat unseeded Nadine De Villiers of South Africa 7-5 6-2 in her quarterfinal clash whilst Klaric needed under an hour to dispose of unseeded South African, Minette Van Vreden 6-1 6-1.


Johannesburg, South Africa - Three times winner of the SPAR Grand Prix and 2013 runner-up Rene Kalmer has praised the Grand Prix for what it has done for the development of road running by South African women.

Rene Kalmer crossing the finish line at the Joburg leg of the SPAR Women’s Challenge, on Sunday 13 October.

Mapaseka Makhanya in action during the Durban leg of the SPAR Women’s Challenge series.
Pictures by: Reg Caldecott

Kalmer said the introduction of the Grand Prix had done much to promote road running and to incentivise runners. “Before the Grand Prix, you just did your best to try to win the race, and you weren’t too concerned about times,” she said. “But now that you get bonus points for beating your previous time, it means that finishing times have gone down significantly. You can’t afford to relax any more, in case someone overtakes you.”

She said it was also important that the Grand Prix was open only to South Africans. Three of this year’s races were won by foreigners – the Cape Town and Port Elizabeth races by Zimbabwean Rutendo Nyahora, and the Johannesburg race by Ethiopian Gezashigh Hunduma Gemeda. “Reserving the Grand Prix for South Africans shows loyalty to the local runners,” she said. “Although it is always good to run against world class athletes, it is also important to support South African runners. And in turn, the local runners are loyal to the Challenge series, which has done so much for development,” said Kalmer.

Transnet’s Mapaseka Makhanya did enough in the Johannesburg SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge race on Sunday to clinch top spot on the Grand Prix ladder, which means she will drive away with a brand new personalised Nissan Micra. “I’m so happy that I’ve won a car,” said Makhanya. “I have a car already, but it’s getting quite old and things keep going wrong, so I am thrilled to have a brand new car. I’ve loved taking part in the SPAR Challenge series, and I’ll definitely be back again next year.”

Makhanya finished the five race series with a total of 105 points. She won the Durban and Pretoria legs, and finished second in Cape Town, third in Port Elizabeth and 13th in Johannesburg. After a stunning season, during which she has won major races on the track and the road, as well as winning her maiden marathon, Makhanya was not too disappointed about finishing outside the top ten in the last Challenge race, saying she had simply run out of steam.

Rene Kalmer finished second, with 92 points, followed by her sister Christine, who came third, with 77 points. Rene will receive R30 000 and Christine R17 500.

Their Nedbank Gauteng Central teammate Irvette van Zyl, who was unable to run in Johannesburg because of a knee injury, came fourth, with 68 points. The two-times Grand Prix winner will receive R15 000.
Annie Bothma of Helderberg Harriers won the Junior Grand Prix, with 20 points. Boxer KZN’s Janene Carey won the Veterans category, with 26 points, teammate Grace de Oliviera the Grandmasters category with 48 points, and the evergreen Sonja Laxon the Grandmasters, with 30 points. They will each receive R3 500.

With five of the top 10 on the Grand Prix ladder wearing the Nedbank Central Gauteng colours, the club easily won the club competition, with 343 points – nearly double those of their nearest rivals, Boxer KZN, who had 177. Transnet were third, with 138 points.



It was a good day for South African and British players on day two of the SAS ITF junior tennis international on Tuesday.

Janet Koch of South Africa, top seed at the SAS Junior ITF was in dominating form on Tuesday when she beat fellow South African Danielle Du Plooy 6-0 6-0 to move into the quarter finals of the international junior tennis tournament being played at the University of Stellenbosch.

Top seed Lloyd Harris of South Africa came from set down to beat Jack Macfarlane of Great Britain 1-6 6-4 6-4 in round two of the SAS ITF junior international tournament being played at the University of Stellenbosch.
Pictures by: EJ Langer

The second round play at the Maties Tennis Club at the University of Stellenbosch also saw four players not lose a game and winning through to the quarter finals.
Top boys seed Lloyd Harris of Durbanville, Cape Town came from a set down to beat unseeded Jack Macfarlane of Great Britain 1-6 6-4 6-4. Second seed Kris Van Wyk also from Cape Town was a comfortable 6-2 6-0 winner over fellow Capetonian Chevaan Davids, a wild-card into the tournament.
Harris will now play sixth seeded Trent Botha whilst Van Wyk will come up against eighth seed Rhys Milne. South African Trent Botha lost no games in his whitewash win over fellow countrymen Freddie Van Der Merwe and Rhys Milne fought hard to beat Academy teammate Timothy Dollman 6-3 2-6 6-3.
Third seeded Sam Rice of Great Britain was a 6-3 6-3 winner over unseeded Philip Franken of South Africa whilst Rice’s touring teammate Peter Molloy struggled in the opening set but soon found his rhythm and beat reigning National Champion Jan-Louis Maritz 7-6 (5) 6-2. Molloy and Rice now play each other for a place in Thursday’s semi-finals.
Filling the last quarter final spot will be seventh seed Calvin Jordaan of South Africa and unseeded Brit Jack Burkill.
In the girls singles, top seed Janet Koch needed only 56 minutes to trump unseeded Danielle Du Plooy 6-0 6-0 in an all South African second round clash. “I played real good out there today. I made a lot of balls and was consistent throughout” said Koch after victory. On Wednesday Koch will play seventh seed Katie Poluta in the quarter finals. Poluta was a straight set winner of unseeded Holly Thompson of Great Britain.
Another double bagel winner was Serbian Vanja Klaric, seeded eight over unseeded Namibian, Juliane Schuckmann.
Minette Van Vreden of South Africa upset fourth seed Huibre-Mari Botes (South Africa) 6-3 3-6 6-2 and will now play Klaric in the last eight.
The major upset of the day belonged to Louise Ronaldson of Great Britain. Ronaldson was ruthless on court and needed less than an hour to shock second seed Rikeetha Pereira of India 6-3 6-0. Ronaldson will now play another “giant killer”, Nadine De Villiers of Johannesburg in what promises to be a “mouth-watering” encounter. De Villiers disposed of the fourth seed Louise-Mare Botes on Monday and today beat American Alana Smith 6-0 6-2.
Nicole Petchey of Cape Town continued her good run into the quarter finals when she came from a set down to beat Barbara Huyskes of Netherlands 4-6 6-4 6-1. Petchey will now meet Mina Karamercan of Turkey who upset South African fifth seed Marli Van Heerden 6-2 6-2.


Moscow, Russia - Russia named their team today to play South Africa in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Europe/Africa Zone Group 1 second round play-offs taking place on 25-27 October.
Only one of Russia’s five top 100 world ranked players, Alex Bogomolov Jr (ranked 76) has been named in their team.
The other team members are Andrey Kuznetsov (142), Konstantin Kravchuk (163) and Karen Khachanov (808). The Russian team will be captained by Shamil Tarpischev.
Notable absentees from the Russian line-up are Mikhail Youzhny (21); Dmitry Tursunov (39); Nikolay Davydenko (48) and Evgeny Donskoy (84).
Both teams will do battle at the Tennis Palace of Army Central Sport Club in Moscow and hard indoor court.
The South African team named last week is Raven Klaasen (44 doubles); Dean O’Brien (557 singles, 527 doubles); Tucker Vorster (617 singles, 540 doubles), Japie De Klerk (1477 singles) and is captained by John Laffnie De Jager.

Tennis South Africa confirmed that they were close to securing live television coverage of the Tie. Ian Smith, CEO of Tennis South Africa said he was in discussions with the Russian authorities, ITF and SuperSport to get the Tie covered on television. “It’s very important for the players as well as the development and promotion of the game that we get the Tie shown on TV in South Africa. I am quietly confident that we will do so and an announcement will be made in this regard shortly” said Smith.
Venue: Tennis Palace of Army Central Sport Club, Moscow, RUS (hard – indoor)

Alex Bogomolov Jr
Andrey Kuznetsov
Karen Khachanov
Konstantin Kravchuk
Captain: Shamil Tarpischev
South Africa

Dean O’Brien
Tucker Vorster
Jacob de Klerk
Raven Klaasen
Captain: John-Laffnie de Jager


Port Elizabeth, South Africa - Two of South Africa’s most experienced players return to the SPAR national netball team for the Tri-nations series against England and Trinidad and Tobago in Port Elizabeth next week.

Chrisna Bootha in action against Malawi in the 2012 Diamond Challenge, played at the Heartfelt Arena in Pretoria.

Zanele Mdodana jumps for the ball in the 2012 SPAR Challenge against Northern Ireland.
Pictures by: Reg Caldecott

Goal shooter Chrisna Bootha, and centre court player Zanele Mdodana were included in the squad announced by Netball South Africa (NSA) after missing the recent tour of England because of injury.

England won the three-Test series 3-0, but head coach Elize Kotze said she believed her team was closing the gap and the addition of the two experienced players would bring the SPAR Proteas within reach of the world number three team. “Chrisna offers us more variety in the goal circle, which is a luxury we didn’t have in England,” she said. “She had a fantastic training camp last weekend, and you could see she was back to her best. She offers us the option of switching between the very tall, but more static Melissa Myburgh, and Chrisna’s more mobile style of play.

Kotze said the return of Mdodana was also very significant. “She has such a presence, both on and off the field, and she makes a big difference to the team. She is playing very confidently.”

Aneret Viljoen has also returned to the team. “It is good to have Aneret back, especially as Vanes-Mari du Toit is injured. She combines very well with Adele Niemand in defence.”

Dr Eljse Jordaan has been brought onto the management team to assist Kotze in coaching on specialist attack. “It is a great asset to have Elsje as a part of the management team” said President of Netball South Africa, Mimi Mthethwa, “we are sure that she will make a positive contribution to our attacking style of play.”

Kotze said it was a luxury having played England less than three weeks before the start of the Tri-nations, which will be played at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth from October 22-25. “The players realised during that tour that the England players were just ordinary human beings, and although we lost all three matches, we have brought the goal difference down from 30 or 40 to 11 and 12 in two matches, and 18 in the other. The players are beginning to realise just what they are capable of and they will not be over-awed.”

The Tri-nations tournament will be followed by the Diamond Challenge against Zambia and Zimbabwe, which will also be played in Port Elizabeth from October 27-30. A different team will be selected for that, as many of the Proteas are students who are involved in university examinations.

SPAR national netball team for Tri-Nations tournament: Shooters – Chrisna Bootha, Melissa Myburgh, Maryka Holtzhausen, Lindie Lombard; Centre court – Simnikiwe Mdaka, Bongiwe Msomi, Zanele Mdodana, Precious Mthembu; Defenders – Karla Mostert, Aneret Viljoen, Nontle Gwavu, Adele Niemand.


Wanderers, Johannesburg - Ethiopian Gezashigh Hunduma Gemeda, running in the Nedbank colours, romped to victory in the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge at the Wanderers Club in Johannesburg on Sunday in a time of 33.49 minutes.

Ethiopian Gezashigh Hunduma Gemeda on route during the SPAR Women’s Challenge in Joburg on Sunday 13 October.

The top three (l-r): Rutendo Nyahora (placed third), Gezashigh Hunduma Gemeda (winner) and Rene Kalmer (placed second).
Pictures by: Reg Caldecott

South African half marathon champion Rene Kalmer (Nedbank) was second in 34.31, followed by Rutendo Nyahora, also Nedbank, in 35 minutes. Lebo-Diana Phalula (Maxed Elite) was fourth, in 35.37 minutes.

Running on the new route through some of Johannesburg’s leafy northern suburbs, Nyahora took the early lead, but the Ethiopian, who arrived in South Africa on Saturday, surged to the front after three kilometres, and retained her lead for the rest of the race.“It was a lovely race – I liked the route and I enjoyed the atmosphere,” said Gemeda.

Kalmer said she had an awesome race. “It feels good to be running injury free again, and I was feeling very good. I didn’t know what to expect from Gezashigh, because I haven’t run against her before, but I tried my very best and I am pleased with the way I ran,” she said. “I feel I am back in the swing of things, and I am looking forward to next year.” “It is slightly bittersweet to lose to a foreigner running in my own club colours, but it is always good to test yourself against world class runners,” said Kalmer.

Nyahora, who won the first two races in the 2013 Challenge Series, said she was happy to be back in the top three in the race. “I finished fourth in Pretoria, so it was nice to feel I was back again. Third place was a victory for me.”

The leader on the SPAR Grand Prix ladder, Mapaseka Makhanya, who won the Durban and Pretoria legs of the series, finished outside the top 10, but she had built up such a substantial lead that she will still receive the keys to the Nissan Micra presented to the overall Grand Prix winner. Irvette van Zyl, who was the only runner who could overtake her, was unable to run on Sunday because of a knee injury.

Nearly 11 thousand women took part in the 10km Challenge and the 5km Fun Run, which meant the designated charity, Reach for Recovery, which is a support group for breast cancer patients, received a substantial cheque. Race organisers received positive feedback on the new route “there was one section after Killarney where we ran through a grove of trees, it was so beautiful. A great route”


Johannesburg, South Africa - South African Davis Cup Captain, John Laffnie De Jager has had some sleepless nights of late. De Jager has had to name his Davis Cup side for the upcoming Tie against Russia and with six of his first choice players not available, the South African Captain has had to be smart in deciding who will wear the green and gold in this all-important Tie.

The tie will be played in Russia from Friday 25 October to Sunday 27 October at the Tennis Palace of Army Central Sport Club in Moscow. The surface will be indoor hard court.
Russia and South Africa are meeting for the third time and there is arguably more at stake in this encounter than either of the previous two World Group match-ups.
Both teams are fighting for their survival in Zone Group I, with the loser of this tie guaranteed to play in Europe/Africa Zone Group II in 2014.
De Jager said the tie against Russia was a “must win situation” as South Africa need to stay in Group 1 of Davis Cup. “Playing away from home is always tough and without our top six players the task is even tougher. My team is a very young and inexperienced team but it is an opportunity for the guys to play at a higher level and prove to us that they are able to compete at that level.”
South Africa’s top ranked player Kevin Anderson as well as Fritz Wolmarans have made themselves unavailable for the Tie. Davis Cup stalwart Rik De Voest is also not able to play the tie due to the birth of his first child over that period. Izak Van Der Merwe, Jean Anderson and Ruan Roelofse are all injured and Nikala Scholtz can’t make the trip to Moscow due to College commitments in the USA.

De Jager named his team as Raven Klaasen, Dean O’Brien, Tucker Vorster and Japie De Klerk.

Klaasen is enjoying his best season on the ATP World Tour as a doubles player and has won no less than 6 ATP titles this year. “Raven has played some of his best tennis the last 3 weeks with 2 ATP Tour doubles titles and was a finalist last week in the Mons Challenger” said De Jager.

O’Brien was chosen for the Squad to play Slovenia in the relegation tie last month (which Slovenia won 4-1) but did not make the final four nominated players. Regardless, O’Brien who as a wild-card reached the quarter finals of the Soweto Open in April has impressed De Jager. “I was very impressed with Dean during the Slovenia tie and the guy is a hard worker, good team player and has an impressive game.”
Tucker Vorster and Japie De Klerk will be making their Davis Cup debuts. Tucker is presently playing on the international Futures circuit whilst De Klerk is playing US College tennis for Tulsa. “Tucker has been knocking at the Davis Cup door for a while and has a big game. Japie is still a youngster at College but made the semi-finals of the NCAA Championships this year which in itself is impressive” said De Jager.
In the two previous ties between Russia and South Africa, the home side has won so the Eastern Europeans will hope that trend continues when the sides face off in Moscow.
Russia have five players ranked in the world’s top 100 namely Mikhail Youzhny (21); Dmitry Tursunov (40); Nikolay Davydenko (46); Alex Bogomolov Jr.(70) and Evgeny Donskoy (90)

The home side has yet to name their team.

(Current world rankings)
Raven Klaasen (45 doubles); Dean O’Brien (569 singles, 563 doubles); Tucker Vorster (616 singles, 540 doubles), Japie De Klerk (1474 singles)


Johannesburg, South Africa - There can be little doubt that Sonja Laxton is one of the best runners ever produced in South Africa. She was the first athlete to achieve Springbok colours in all three disciplines of athletics – track, road and cross-country – and has won 70 national titles during her
career. She has set 28 senior SA records and many age records.

She will reach another major milestone on Sunday when she competes in her 80th SPAR Grand Prix Series race in Johannesburg. Sonja said in an interview recently that she is excited about the new venue and course for the Johannesburg race. “I do most of my training in this area, and I think all the runners will enjoy the new 10 km route,” she said. “It is not as challenging as the previous route. There are a few longish uphill drags, but generally it is quite a gentle route, and I think the layman runner will appreciate it. You run past some beautiful gardens as well as the Killarney golf course and there are lots of trees. The jacarandas may be out by then, which makes it all even prettier.”

Sonja has run in 73% of all SPAR races and, as far as is known, has won her age category in all of them (she ran her first one in 1992, when she was already 44). She has scored one first place, two seconds and four thirds (in overall placings).

SPAR has proved a major and consistent sponsor of women’s road running for more than twenty years and has regularly introduced new innovations – first the Super Squad concept in 1998 and then the Grand Prix in 2008. SPAR pioneered the designer T-shirt concept (for the past decade every woman who has run in the SPAR races has received a T-shirt and there has been a new colour/design annually), huge goody bags, lucky draw prizes (each race offers one person free groceries for a year) and recently at least two of the races have offered a lucky draw car.

It is believed that over the years there have been more than a million entrants in total and that between 300 000 and 400 000 different women have run the races. Sonja also particularly enjoys the SPAR races. “Women’s races are a lot of fun. The winner has the satisfaction of being the first across the finishing line, instead of coming after a bunch of men, and there is always a very good vibe at the SPAR races,” she said.

“They really are something to look forward to. I plan my year’s training around the SPAR races. I think SPAR has done a lot to get women involved in running. Women who might have been a bit wary of running in a mixed race feel more comfortable about running in a women-only race.”

Over the years SPAR has contributed hundreds of thousands of Rands to the coffers of Central Gauteng Athletics (CGA) and it therefore seems inconceivable that the provincial body would not protect the SPAR race date. But that is exactly what happened this year!

Incredibly, CGA has allowed the Nike We Run Jozi 10 km to take place the night before the SPAR race – taking away, by some estimates, at least 4 000 entries from the SPAR event. The Nike race offers huge give-aways, among these (for Discovery Vitality members) 3000 Vitality points.

One can only marvel at the absurdity of this decision and shake your head at the thought of the damage this has done to one of the sport’s most valuable sponsors. One observer descibed it as “yet another huge failing of our national and provincial athletics bodies”.


Stellenbosch, South Africa - The International tennis Federation (ITF) confirmed Thursday from London the seeds for the upcoming SAS Junior ITF 1 to be played in Stellenbosch next week.

The international junior tournament will be played from 12-18 October at the at the Maties Tennis Club at the Coetzenburg Sport Grounds at the University of Stellenbosch.

The seeds are as follows;


1-Lloyd Harris (RSA)
2-Kris Van Wyk (RSA)
3-Sam Rice (GBR)
4-Jd Malan (RSA)
5-Trent Botha (RSA)
6-Calvin Jordaan (RSA)
7-Rhys Milne (RSA)
8-Maxime De Clippel (RSA)


1-Janet Koch (RSA)
2-Nicole Dzenga (Zim)
3-Rikeetha Pereira (Ind)
4-Marli Van Heerden (RSA)
5-Vanja Klaric (Srb)
6-Lindsay Trscott (RSA)
7-Louise Ronaldson (GBR)
8-Nadine De Villiers (RSA

Meanwhile Tennis South Africa confirmed the main draw wild cards for the tournament. Tennis South Africa nominate two wild cards per gender and sponsors Stellenbosch Academy of Sport (SAS) and hosts Boland Tennis Association jointly nominate the other two wild cards per gender.

The wild cards, all from South Africa are;

Jan-Louis Maritz
Chevaan Davids
Ruben Alberts
Jean-Pierre du Toit
Katie Poluta
Rozanne Janse van Rensburg
Huibre-Mare Botes
Louise-Mare Botes


Johannesburg, South Africa - The final race in the 2013 SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge series appears likely to be the most hotly contested this year.

Hot Contenders! – Irvette van Zyl, Mapaseka Makhanya and Rene Kalmer will all be competing in Sunday’s Joburg leg of the SPAR Women’s Challenge.
Image taken at the Pretoria race in August.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott

Two Ethiopian runners, Yeshimebet Tadesse Bifa and Alemtsehay Hailu Kakissa, running for the Nedbank Green Dream Team, will add some excitement to the race. Bifa has a best time of 31 minutes for 10kms, and is going to be hard to beat. Another international competitor is Zimbabwean Rutendo Nyahora, who won the City2City 10km last month. Nyahora also won the Cape Town and Port Elizabeth legs of the Challenge series.

Some of South Africa’s top local runners will also be battling it out for top honours. Rene Kalmer, who has won more Challenge races than any other athlete, appears to be back to top form, after winning the South African 21km title in East London two weeks ago. Irvette van Zyl is fresh from victory in the Petro SA half marathon in Mossel Bay at the end of September, and she appears to have got over the injury problems that have been troubling her.

While Nedbank runners are likely to dominate the top 10 places on Sunday, Transnet’s Mapaseka Makhanya has been in sublime form in recent weeks. She won the Durban and Pretoria Challenge races and has her eyes set firmly on victory on Sunday. With a lead of 29 points over her nearest rival, Van Zyl, Makhanya is virtually assured of winning the Challenge Grand Prix title and picking up the keys to a brand new Nissan Micra.

The bubbly single mother says she’s very excited about her achievements on the road, although her first love is running on the track. “I really started running on the road just to get some distance into my legs as I move into the longer races. But I’ve enjoyed the experience, and I love the SPAR races. There is a fantastic vibe and it is a completely different experience from running on the track.

“I’m also very excited about the thought of winning a motor car. That is an awesome thought. I know there is a remote chance that Irvette can overtake me, but I’m going to be going all out to win the Joburg race, just to make sure that car comes to me!”


• Remgro’s Stellenbosch Academy of Sport to host back to back junior tennis events
• Stellenbosch Academy of Sport partner with Stellenbosch University and Boland Tennis to bring international tennis to Stellenbosch

Stellenbosch, South Africa – After last year’s success of the inaugural hosting of two international junior tennis tournaments by Stellenbosch Academy of Sport (SAS), SAS announced that they would be hosting the same series again this year.

SAS (Stellenbosch Academy of Sport) is the flagship high performance centre of the Western Cape, and will be partnering with Stellenbosch University and Boland Tennis in the hosting of both tournaments.

The tournaments to be called the SAS Junior ITF 1 and SAS Junior ITF 2 will be played from 12-18 October and 19-25 October 2013 respectively at the Maties Tennis Club at the Coetzenburg Sport Grounds at the University of Stellenbosch.

Both tournaments form part of the International Tennis Federation’s Junior Circuit with junior tennis players from 25 countries participating. Players will earn all-important world ranking junior points from both events.

Rob Benadie, CEO of Stellenbosch Academy of Sport said SAS were proud to be the title sponsor of the junior ITF tournaments for the second consecutive year. “SAS renewed their sponsorship because we believe that quality tournaments for the under 18 age group of players are critical to the development of tennis in South Africa.” Benadie continued by saying he was confident that SAS would contribute to making the tournaments a “professional and exciting experience for all the players.”

Boland Tennis Association President Dr Danie Morkel said “Boland Tennis Association is a proud supporter of the two ITF junior tournaments in Stellenbosch next week. These two tournaments are essential in giving much needed exposure of the regions’ top junior tennis players. The partnership of Maties Tennis Club and Stellenbosch Academy of Sport provides players with world class amenities to perform at their best and at one of the most scenic venues around. We therefore would like to welcome all visiting players and wish the organisers, players and coaches all the best for the tournament”.

Although the entries have been dominated by South African players, the tournaments have attracted an impressive international field with players participating from Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Ghana, Great Britain, India, Ireland, Lesotho, Mauritius, Namibia, Netherlands, Serbia, Turkey, USA and Zimbabwe.

There will be a boys and girls singles and doubles main draw event, with a singles qualifying tournament being played on the first two days of both tournaments.

The Stellenbosch Academy of Sport facility, a Remgro initiative, opened in January 2012 and aims to provide a world class training and preparation environment for sports people. Features of the facility includes skilled staff, accommodation, athlete restaurant, state-of-the-art gymnasium, a physiotherapy and rehabilitation practice, an indoor field, outdoor fields and swimming pool.

The International Tennis Federation gave the SAS facility the thumbs up and acknowledged that the facility was the perfect environment to host tournaments of this stature.

It was also announced that Caylix Sport Management would manage and promote the tournament with Le Roux Conradie of Caylix, the Tournament Director.


Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa - Tennis development in Kwa-Zulu Natal received a major boost when the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund granted KZN Tennis a R1 million grant.
The funding is to be applied to a much needed junior high performance programme in the Province, for talent identification and for four “Play and Stay” Development Hubs throughout Kwa-Zulu Natal.

Two existing successful Development Hubs in Chatsworth and Phoenix/Tongaat will be transferred to KZN Tennis management and two new Hubs will be set up in the Kokstad area in East Griqualand and the Richmond/Eston area in the Midlands. The four Hubs will make up the development project which now be funded from the National Lottery grant.

Already the Chatsworth Hub has over 450 children as part of their “Play and Stay” programme which is the grass root International Tennis Federation start out programme for the game. Children from all the hub based areas will be invited to participate in tennis activities at the four hubs which will have equipment provided to them from within the grant funding. The hubs will be an important feeder for the intermediate and high performance programmes of KZN Tennis.

Kwa-Zulu Natal over the years has produced top class junior players who have gone onto the world tennis stage and excelled. These include Kevin Curren, Johan Kriek, Ross Fairbanks, Greer Stevens, Gary Muller, Ellis Ferreira, Bev Mould, Kevin Ullyett, Robbie Koenig, Wesley Moodie and Natalie Grandin. This national breeding ground of champions now will, with the National Lottery grant, be able to continue identifying talented juniors and aims to produce champions of the future through a specially set-up high performance programme catering for the top boy and girl juniors in the Province. The High Performance Programme, which is aligned to the Department of Sport’s and SASCOC’s Long Term Athlete Development Programme, will be designed and managed by the professional coaches of KZN.

Gavin Crookes, President of KZN Tennis, expressed his excitement with the granting of these funds for tennis in the Province. “The funding comes as a welcome boost for both development and the high performance tennis in KZN.” Crooks further expressed his gratitude to the National Lotteries Board for enabling the Provincial Federation to develop tennis in rural areas of the Province.


Potchefstroom, South Africa - The dreams of four junior tennis players became reality on Sunday when they were crowned Nike Junior Tour South African Masters champions in Potchefstroom.

The year-end top eight tournament for boys and girls under 12 and 14 came to a successful end at the Riaan Venter tennis Academy at NWU-PUKKE after three days on intense tennis in extreme heat.

The boys under 14 title was won by top seed Richard Thongoana of Gauteng Central who disposed of Lance-Pierre Du Toit of Boland 6-2 6-4. Thongoana, the reigning national boys champion has had a fantastic year on court winning no less than 7 titles but sees his victory on Sunday as the best of them all. “I have worked so hard for this title. It’s the most prestigious tournament to win and now that I am champion of South Africa I hope to impress at the International Masters and do my country proud” said Thongoana.

Zani Barnard won the battle of the twins in the girls under 14 when she beat her sister Lee 6-2 6-2 in the final. This was the third time the twins had played each other in a Nike Junior Tour final with each having won a final going into today’s match. Zani was solid from the start and overpowered Lee with big shots from the baseline that were struck with pin point accuracy and proved effective on the high altitude. In 2011 Zani won the title and represented South Africa at the International Masters in the USA. “I played really well … in fact I played incredibly well and served big, lots aces and hit a bunch of winners. Today was just my day out there” said Zani Barnard. “I am excited to go to my second International Masters. It’s a great tournament, the best in the world. Last time I got to round three and lost to the eventual winner. This year I hope to do better” said Zani Barnard.

Tiny but determined Joubert Klopper of Bloemfontein captured the boys under 12 title losing only three games in beating second seed William Wilson 6-0 6-3. Klopper, the top seed needed just over an hour to lift the title. The Grey College student air punched after hitting a forehand cross court winner on match point and gave a roar of excitement when the umpire called the match. “I was so happy to win. William is a good friend and tough competitor. We both have beaten each other often. I have beaten William though the last three times we played. But today I was far too steady for William and rallied the ball well and he made too many mistakes” said Klopper.

In the girls under 12, Linge Steenkamp of Free State had to dig deep to win the title. Twelve year old Steenkamp came from behind to upset top seed and hometown favourite Lara van Der Merwe. Steenkamp trailed Van Der Merwe 2-6 2-4 and it seemed all over. But a determined Steenkamp regrouped and changed tactics. She went out more aggressive and won four games on the trot to spilt sets 2-6 6-4. Steenkamp then held her nerve and serve in the final set finding the crucial break in the ninth game to win the set and match 2-6 6-4 6-4.
Credit must be given to Van Der Merwe though. At only ten years of age, Van Der Merwe is the reigning 12 and under National Champion and won double titles back to back in Bloemfontein in the last two weeks. Van Der Merwe has a promising future.


• Top tennis action in semi-finals of Nike Junior Tour SA Masters

Rafael Nadal will regain the world number 1 tennis ranking come Monday. As a junior, Nadal won three of four Nike Junior Tour International titles (1999, 2000, 2001)contested and remains an inspiration to junior players around the world.

In Potchefstroom this weekend at the North West University Campus, the cream of South Africa’s junior tennis players are aspiring to repeat what Nadal achieved as a junior.

The countries top eight players in the under 14 and 12 age groups have been battling out for title honours at the Nike Junior Tour South African Masters since Friday. The winners tomorrow (Sunday) will travel to the USA in December and represent the country in the International Masters to be played from 6-13 December. South Africa is one of 33 countries worldwide invited due to their junior talent to be part of the global tour.

In scorching North West heat which at times hit 37C, the semi-final showdowns produced spectacular tennis.

In the boys under 14, the fine run of second seed Rossouw Norval of Boland, son of former world number 1 doubles player and silver Olympic medallist, Pietie Norval finally came to an end when he lost 6-7 (3) 6-7 (6) to close friend and practise partner Lance Pierre Du Toit also from Boland. Norval fought hard in the Saturday morning final round robin match for over two hours to beat Jordan Sauer of Gauteng North 6-4 1-6 7-5 and despite spending over 5 hours on court and bowing out in the semi-finals, Norval remained upbeat and positive. “What a day I have had. It seems I have been on court forever. I played great tennis to get to the last four and all credit to Lance-Pierre for reaching the final” said Norval.

Du Toit will play top seed Richard Thongoana of Gauteng Central in the final. Thongoana beat Jordan Sauer 7-6 (4) 6-4 in his semi-final.

The girls under 14 final will once again be contested by the Barnard twins of Pretoria, Zani and Lee.

Top seed Zani Barnard beat Minette Van Vreden of Western Province 6-7 (4) 6-4 6-4 whilst Lee Barnard took out fellow Gauteng North player Mila Hartig 7-5 6-3.

This will be the fourth Nike Junior Tour final that the Zani Barnard will contest. In 2011 Zani won the title. Lee Barnard is in her second Nike Junior Tour final having won the title last year.
This is the third Nike Junior Tour final the twins will contest against each other with each having won a title.

The boys under 12 final will be contested by Joubert Klopper of Free State and William Wilson of Gauteng North . Top seed Klopper beat Rudolf Lubbe of Northern Cape 6-3 6-2 whilst second seed Wilson beat Wikus Robbertse (Gauteng Central) 3-6 6-4 6-0.

In the Girls under 12, National champion Lara Van Der Merwe earned her place in the final with a hard fought 1 hour 50 minute 5-7 6-2 6-2 win over Carmen Fichardt of Bloemfontein. Fichardt, niece of former South African tennis ace Amanda Coetzer would have made her aunt proud with her effort on court this week.
Van Der Merwe, play Linge Steenkamp of Free State in the final Sunday.
Steenkamp ended the impressive run of tournament wild card Makayla Loubser of Cape Town, winning 7-6 (5) 7-6 (2).
Van Der Merwe, who is only 10 yrs of age will be going for the third title on the trot on Sunday. Last week Lara captured the Dunlop Key Health Challenge and the week earlier the National Championships both played in Bloemfontein.

The finals will be played from 09h30 on Sunday at the Riaan Venter Tennis Academy in NWU-PUKKE, Potchefstroom.


Potchefstroom, South Africa - Tennis South Africa announced the seeds for this week’s Nike Junior Tour South African Masters to be played at the Riaan Venter Tennis Academy at NWU-PUKKE in Potchefstroom.

The under 12 and 14 boys and girls singles event involves the cream of South African junior tennis and the winners will represent South Africa at the Nike Junior Tour International Masters to be played at Club Med Sandpiper Bay in Florida, USA in December.

Eight players make up each of the four age groups and each age group will be divided into two groups. A round robin will be played in each group with the top two point scorers in each group qualifying for the cross over semi-finals to be played Saturday afternoon.

Four reigning national champions will be playing in the tournament. They are Richard Thongoana (GC), Philip Henning (FS), Lara Van Der Merwe (NWP) and Lee Barnard (GN).

The tournament will be played from Friday 4 to Sunday 6 October with the finals scheduled for the Sunday morning at 09h00. Play starts each day at 09h00 and entry is free to the public.

The seeds are as follows;

Boys under 12 : 1-Joubert Klopper (FS), 2-William Wilson (GN), 3-Rudolf Lubbe (NC), 4-Wikus Robbertse (GC)
Boys under 14 : 1-Richard Thongoana (GC), 2-Rossouw Norval (Bol), 3-Bertus Kruger (GC), 4-Philip Henning (FS)
Girls under 12 : 1-Lara Van Der Merwe (NWP), 2-Helena Van Eeden (GC) , 3-Carmen Fichardt (FS), 4-Linge Steenkamp (FS)
Girls under 14 : 1-Zani Barnard (GN), 2-Lee Barnard (GN), 3-Minette Van Vreden (Bol), 4-Mila Hartig (GN)

The draw is as follows;

Boys under 12
Roger Federer Group
2-William Wilson (GN), 3-Rudolf Lubbe (NC), WC-Khololwam Montsi (GN), WC-Dylan Smith (Bord)
Grigor Dimitrov Group
1-Joubert Klopper (FS), 4-Wikus Robbertse (GC), Hendrik Cronje (Bor), WC-Ethan Lubbe (NWP)
Boys under 14
Rafael Nadal Group
2-Rossouw Norval (Bol), 3-Bertus Kruger (GC), Jordan Sauer (GN), WC-Heinrich Willemse (EP)
Juan Martin Del Potro Group
1-Richard Thongoana (GC), 4-Philip Henning (FS), Lance-Pierre Du Toit (Bol), WC-Benjamin Liebenberg (KZN)

Girls under 12
Maria Sharapova Group
1-Lara Van Der Merwe (NWP), 4-Linge Steenkamp (FS), Delien Kleinhans (FS), WC-Liezel Muller (NWP)
Serena Williams Group
2-Helena Van Eeden (GC), 3-Carmen Fichardt (FS), Carli Van Onselen (EP), WC-Makayla Loubser (WP)
Girls under 14
Li Na Group
1-Zani Barnard (GN), 4-Mila Hartig (GN), Maxine Bateman (KZN), WC-Danielle Luttig (WP)
Victoria Azarenka Group
2-Lee Barnard (GN), 3-Minette Van Vreden (Bol), Corin De Waal (Bol), WC-Jeanne Klopper (FS)

Live scoring for each match brought to you by Altech at http://www.tennisscores.de/rsaapplet/livescorer.html


Johannesburg, South Africa - There is great news for fans of the Afro-pop group Denim – the hugely popular group will once again be performing at the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge at the Wanderers Club on Sunday October 13.

Picture by: Quartier Entertainment

Denim, who are widely regarded as one of South Africa’s top live acts, provided the entertainment at the 2011 Challenge, and were such a hit that the organisers decided to invite them back to wow the crowds with their songs, including their massive hit “Crazy Love”.

The Denim lads are constantly on the move, touring South Africa, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Dubai, and they draw the crowds wherever they go. They have received numerous accolades, and have performed for blue chip companies including Microsoft, Edcon, Standard Bank, Nedbank, Sun International and SA Breweries.

Their music encompasses a wide range from cutting edge pop/dance music, a bit of hip hop and R & B, and some old school remixes – and you will experience many of these numbers if you take part in the SPAR Challenge.

Denim is a group that offers something for everyone, and that is what race day will be like as well. There is a kiddies corner, where runners can leave their children safe in the knowledge that the youngsters are being cared for by qualified child minders. There is plenty of entertainment for the small fry, with clowns, jumping castles, face painting and games.

For those who think they might be a little peckish after their run/walk, there will be plenty of food stalls selling a variety of foods and drinks.

There are plenty of reasons to stay on at the ground after completing the race – there are some awesome prizes, including a Lucky Draw for a brand new Nissan Micra. But you have to be there to claim a prize, so don’t rush off as soon as you’ve crossed the finishing line – relax, chill and have fun.

Remember, walkers are welcome, and if you don’t want to do 10kms, you can always enter the 5km Fun Run. Entry forms are available from all SPAR, KwikSPAR and SuperSPAR stores, or online at www.SPAR.co.za Entries close on October 4.


Potchefstroom, South Africa - A select group of South Africa’s top junior tennis players will take to the courts from Friday to try and book their places at this year’s Nike Junior Tour (NJT) International Masters. This year the international event will take place at Club Med Sandpiper on the Florida coast in the USA from December 7 to 13 and will comprise players from 33 countries.

The NJT South African Masters will be played at the Riaan Venter Tennis Academy, NWU-PUKKE in Potchefstroom, from Friday to Sunday. Only eight boys and girls in each of the under-12 and under-14 age groups qualify for this year’s event and the four winners will earn the right to represent South Africa in the USA in December.

The tournament will be played on a round robin format. Each of the age groups will have two groups of four players and the round robin will be played within each group (Friday and Saturday morning) with the top two point scorers in each of the groups qualifying for the cross over semi-finals (Saturday afternoon). The finals will be played at 09h00 on Sunday.

“We at the Tennis South Africa (TSA) have always regarded the Nike Junior Tour as an excellent breeding ground for young talent,’’ said CEO Ian Smith. “It also affords our top youngsters the opportunity to travel overseas and experience playing against some of the best juniors in the world.’’

Many players started their careers by playing the Nike Junior Tour, the most famous of these being current world number one, Rafael Nadal. Nadal played the NJT International Masters four times and won it in 1998, 1999 and 2000, which was at Sun City. The only time he was defeated was his first event 1997, when he was just 11 years-old and lost in the semifinals.

In addition to Nadal, a number of players who began their careers on the Nike Junior Tour have emerged as top players on the professional tour. Tomas Berdych played at the International Masters in Barcelona while Argentinian Juan Martin Del Potro was the under-12 runner-up at Sun City in 2000. South African Kevin Anderson was in the first group of SA players to qualify for the international masters and he played at Stuttgart in 1998 and Barcelona in 1999.

Under-14: Richard Thongoana (GC), Rossouw Norval (Bol), Bertus Kruger (GC), Philip Henning (FS), Lance-Pierre Du Toit (Bol), Jordan Sauer (GN), WC- Heinrich Willemse (EP), WC-Benjamin Liebenberg (KZN)
Under-12: Joubert Klopper (FS), William Wilson (GN), Rudolf Lubbe (NC), Charl Morgan (GC), Wikus Robbertse (GC), Justin Cronje (Bord), WC-Kholowam Montsi (GN), WC-Ethan Lubbe (NWP)

Under-14: Zani Barnard (GN), Lee Barnard (GN), Minette Van Vreden Bol), Mila Hartig (GN), Maxine Bateman (KZN), Corin De Waal (Bol), WC-Jeanne Klopper (FS), WC-Danielle Luttig (WP)
Under-12: Lara Van Der Merwe (NWP), Helena Van Eeden (GC), Linge Steenkamp (FS), Carmen Fichardt (FS), Delien Kleinhans (FS), Carli Van Onselen (EP), WC-Makayla Loubser (WP), WC-Liezel Muller (NWP)

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