Johannesburg, South Africa - With two races to go in the SPAR Grand Prix Series, Diana-Lebo Phalula still appears to have the title in her grasp, with a commanding 27 point lead over her nearest rival.

Diana-Lebo Phalula despite finishing fourth in the Durban SPAR Women’s challenge on Sunday, still remains top on the SPAR Grand Prix leader board. There are two SPAR women’s challenge races left for 2014 which counts towards the SPAR Grand Prix standings. The next race takes place this Saturday in Pretoria with last race taking place on Sunday, 12 October in Illovo.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott

Phalula finished fourth in the Durban SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge on Sunday, but her dominant performance in the first two races of the year, in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, where she achieved maximum Grand Prix points by winning both in record times, mean that she has collected a total of 77 points.
Phalula’s twin sister, Lebogang, won the Durban race after she and Diana-Lebo had led for most of the way. With about two kilometres to go, Diana-Lebo, who had a hamstring strain, told her sister to go without her and Lebogang raced away to win her first Challenge title since 2008. She broke down in tears as she crossed the line, sobbing that she had won the race for her sister.
While Diana-Lebo Phalula appears to have at least one hand on the key to the Nissan Micra that will be presented to the Grand Prix winner, the race for second place is hotting up. Three times Grand Prix winner, Rene Kalmer, who came third in Durban, is currently in second place, with 50 points, just one point ahead of last year’s Grand Prix winner, Mapaseka Makhanya, who finished sixth in Durban.
Lebogang Phalula’s win on Sunday has moved her from sixth to fourth position on the log, with 39 points, nine ahead of Nolene Conrad and Christine Kalmer, who have 30 points each.
Saturday’s Challenge race in Pretoria appears likely to be as much of a thriller as the Durban race. The top runners will all be in action, and with just one race after that, they will be going all out to accumulate as many points as possible. Irvette van Zyl, two-times Grand Prix winner, had a disappointing run in Durban, finishing in fifth place after a scintillating run in Stellenbosch earlier in August, where she won the Totalsports women’s 10km in 32.20 minutes. She has won the Pretoria race on several occasions, and she has let it be known that she intends to win this one. The Phalula twins are also both determined to win, and Rene Kalmer can never be ruled out, while last year’s winner, Makhanya, has a point to prove.
In the club competition, Boxer are well in the lead with 165 points, followed by Maxed Elite, with 78. Nedbank and Transnet are in joint third position, with 77 points each.


Durban, South Africa - Transnet runner Lebogang Phalula registered her first SPAR Women’s 10km victory since 2008 when she beat a very strong field to win the 25th Durban Challenge in 33.06 minutes on Sunday.

Lebogang Phalula jumps with tears of joy as she crosses the finish line first at the SPAR Women’s Challenge race in Durban on Sunday, 24 August 2014.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott

Rutendo Nyahora (Nedbank) was second in 33.41, followed closely by Rene Kalmer (Modern Athlete) in 33.49.
The race started at a very fast pace, with Irvette van Zyl, who recently ran the third fastest time by a South African woman, taking the early lead. She was in a pack that included Phalula, her twin sister, Diana-Lebo, and the defending champion, Mapaseka Makhanya.
They ran in a group for the first three kilometres, when the Phalula sisters broke away. By five kilometres, they were well ahead of the pack, with Lebogang taking the lead over Diana-Lebo, who is the front-runner in the SPAR Grand Prix series.
“I could see my sister was struggling. She has a bit of a hamstring injury and eventually she told me to go and win the race for her,” said Lebogang, who broke down in tears after crossing the finish line.
“I needed to win this race to prove myself,” she said.
“I’ve had problems after I tested positive for a banned stimulant in Pretoria, but I’m now running clean and proud.”
Nyahora and Kalmer started slower than the leading pack, but gradually began to reel them in. Van Zyl dropped back, as did Makhanya.
“I had a good race,” said Nyahora.
“Rene (Kalmer) and I ran together from about three kilometres. She was pushing me, and I felt stronger as the race went on. The others started too fast for me, but Rene and I worked well together. We caught Irvette (Van Zyl) first, then Mapaseka (Makhanya) and then we passed Lebo.
“I passed Rene with about 800 metres to go.”
Kalmer said she was very happy with her podium finish.
“It was a very strong field, and I knew it was going to be a very fast start. I just stuck to my own game plan, and it worked.
“I knew there would be a lot of pressure on Irvette because of her very fast time two weeks ago, and the Phalula sisters were also under pressure. But there was no pressure on me.”
Diana-Lebo finished fourth, Van Zyl fifth and Makhanya sixth.
The top runners will all be in action again in a week’s time, when they run the Pretoria leg of the SPAR Challenge series, which will be run at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Saturday afternoon.
More than 14 000 women took part in the 10km Challenge and the 5km Fun Run.


Johannesburg, South Africa – After a break of nearly four months, the SPAR Women’s Grand Prix gets under way again over the next two weekends, with the Durban and Pretoria Challenge races in quick succession, and the race to the Grand Prix title is hotting up with the return to form of two times Grand Prix winner, Irvette van Zyl.
The Durban race will be run from Kingsmead on Sunday August 24 and the Pretoria Challenge takes place on Saturday August 30 at Supersport Park in Centurion.
Maxed Elite runner Diana-Lebo Phalula has a headstart after winning the Cape Town and Port Elizabeth races. With bonus points for beating the previous years’ time in both races, she now has a massive 60 points on the leaderboard – 26 ahead of her nearest rival, Mapaseka Makhanya.
Boxer’s Makhanya, who was last year’s Grand Prix winner, finished fifth in Cape Town and third in Port Elizabeth and has a total of 34 points. She is just two points ahead of three times Grand Prix winner, Rene Kalmer of Modern Athlete. Kalmer finished eighth in Cape Town and second in Port Elizabeth. Two points behind her, with 30 points, is Nolene Conrad (Boxer), who finished third in Cape Town and ninth in Port Elizabeth.
While Phalula may feel she has one hand on the key to the Nissan Micra which will be presented to the overall Grand Prix winner, she may be casting a nervous eye over her shoulder at Van Zyl, who has come storming back into contention after struggling with injuries for nearly two years.
Nedbank’s Van Zyl gave notice on August 9 that she was once again a force to be reckoned with when she won the Totalsports Women’s race in 32.20 minutes – the third fastest 10km by a South African woman. Van Zyl’s time equaled that set up by 17-year old Zola Budd in Bloemfontein in 1983.
Van Zyl recently changed coaches and says the training programme devised by Lindsey Parry has brought her back to where she was before she was injured.
“For the first time in 15 months, I’m running pain free. Lindsey had me swimming and cycling during my rehab period, and this kept me fit. Now I’m faster than I was before my injury.
“I am feeling very good, and I am over the moon about my time in Stellenbosch. It came as a bit of a surprise – I’ve been preparing for the Cape Town Marathon in September and didn’t think I had the speed for a time like that.”
Phalula won the Port Elizabeth Challenge in 32.27, so there could be a great tussle for line honours in Durban between Phalula and Van Zyl, while Makhanya and Kalmer can be expected to give them a good run for their money in both races.
“I think it’s going to be a very fast race,” said Van Zyl.
“Lebo, Mapaseka, Rene and I will all be giving it our all.”


Nanjing, China - Seventeen year old Lloyd Harris of Cape Town, Western Province ended his Youth Olympic Games campaign in Nanjing, China on Tuesday.
Harris was beaten in round two of the singles by seventh seed Kamil Majchrzak of Poland, 2-6 0-6.

In the doubles first round, Harris teamed up with Guy Iradukunda of Burundi. Harris and Iradukunda lost to the Polish combination of Kamil Majchrzak and Jan Zielinski on Monday in round one.

Harris will now travel to New York where he will join the ITF Junior Touring team and play in the Junior US Open followed by the U18 Canadian World Ranking Event in Montreal.


Nanjing, China – The second Youth Olympic Games, being held from 16 to 28 August, have welcomed around 3,800 athletes from the 204 National Olympic Committees to Nanjing, China. Young athletes, aged between 14 and 18 years of age are competing in 28 different sports.

Lloyd: Lloyd Harris

Picture by: BLD Communications

South Africa has only one representative in the tennis event and this is 17 year old Lloyd Harris of Cape Town, Western Province.

Unseeded Harris opened his Youth Olympic campaign in style when he beat unseeded Alex Rybakov of the USA 7-6 (10) 6-4 in the first round on Sunday.

“ I felt good out there representing my country” said Harris after his victory. “What an experience this has been from the spectacular opening ceremony to going out on court representing your country. It’s a proud moment and now that I have the first round under my belt I hope to continue with the good run” said Harris.

Harris will now face the seventh seed, Nicolas Alvarez of Peru in round two tomorrow (Tuesday).

In the doubles, Harris is paired with Guy Iradukunda Burundi. They will be playing Kamil Majchrzak and Jan Zielinski both of Poland in round one.


Cape Town, South Africa – Gauteng North won the SPAR National Netball Championship for the fourth time in five years with a clinical 63-37 victory over Dr Kenneth Kaunda (North West South) in the final at the Bellville Velodrome on Saturday.

The winning Gauteng North team (Behind: Riana Bezuidenhout (Manager), Faith Tumelo Mantjiu, Jeanie Steyn, Erin Burger, Melissa Myburgh, Shadine van der Merwe, Nthabiseng Mothutsi, Vanes-Mari du Toit, Jenny van Dyk (Coach). Front: Lenize Potgieter, Amanda Maynardt (Captain), Tshina Mdau, Mampho Tsotetsi and Lindie Lombaard), after beating Dr Kenneth Kaunda in the final during day 6 of the SPAR National Netball Championships at Bellville Velodrome on August 16, 2014 in Cape Town.

Picture by: Reg Caldecott

Dr. Kenneth Kaunda were undefeated during the round robin phase of the tournament, but Dorette Badenhorst’s young team were no match for Jenny van Dyk’s experienced Gauteng North team, which boasts six former and current Proteas. The combination of goalkeeper Vanes-Mari du Toit and goal attack Amanda Mynhardt proved too much for the North West goalshooter, Chante Steyn, who had been virtually impregnable during the tournament.
“Gauteng North are very experienced and they are particularly strong on the flying defence,” said Badenhorst.
“We had the wrong game plan for them and their experience was what counted. You don’t beat a team like Gauteng North twice in one week.”
Van Dyk said she was very proud of her players.
“They put in a solid performance today and what pleased me was the way the senior players supported the youngsters, like Lenize Potgieter and Tshina Mdau, and enabled them to play as we wanted them to,” said Van Dyk.
“Lenize is a world class shooter, whose shooting average was over 90% but she is only 19. When she was under pressure, Lindie Lombard stepped up to take the pressure off her.”
Although Dr. Kenneth Kaunda took the early lead, Gauteng North soon showed their dominance and led for the rest of the match. At halftime, they led 27-19, and they were 41-26 ahead after the third quarter. The Pretoria side stepped up another gear in the final quarter, outscoring the Potchefstroom side by 22 goals to 11.
Boland finished third on the table, followed by last year’s champions, Mangaung Metro (Free State).
Boland B won the B section, beating Gauteng North B 44-38. Western Province were third, followed by Gert Sibande, from Mpumalanga.
The C-section was won by Uthungulu, from Richards Bay, who beat KwaZulu Natal rivals Ethekwini. The Uthungulu players shrieked and danced with joy when they won their final, as if to prove that the SPAR National Championships are not just about the elite players.
Lenize Potgieter was named player of the tournament and most accurate shooter, Zandre Kruger of Kenneth Kaunda won the best defender award, and Faith Mantjiu of Gauteng North was named best centre court player.
A 31-member national training squad was named after the tournament, as Netball South Africa gears up for the world championships in Sydney, Australia, in 2015.
SPAR National squad: Mari-Lena Joubert, Juline Rossouw, Sashe-Lee Petersen (Boland), Nosi Goda (Buffalo City), Elsje du Plessis, Bhongeletu Nqubeni, Lensa Motau, Zandre Kruger, Kifiloe Tsotetsi, Nadia Uys, Chante Steyn (Dr Kenneth Kaunda), Lenize Potgieter, Melissa Myburgh, Lindie Lombard, Faith Mantjiu, Erin Burger, Shadine van der Merwe, Amanda Mynhardt, Vanes-Mari du Toit, Tshina Mdau (Gauteng North), Lauren-Lee Christians, Karla Mostert, Adele Niemand, Maryke Holtzhausen, (Mangaung Metro), Zanele Vimbela, Zanele Mdodana (Nelson Mandela Bay), Bongiwe Msomi, Precious Mthembu (Umgungundlovu), Rochelle Lawson, Phumza Maweni (Western Province), Thuli Qegu (Ekurhuleni).


Cape Town, South Africa – SPAR National Netball coach Elize Kotze was delighted with the standard of play at the national championships, which ended in Cape Town on Saturday, with Gauteng North beating Dr Kenneth Kaunda (North West South) 63-37 in the final.
“It has been a fantastic tournament and I was very pleased to see the performance of senior players and also to see how many young players are coming through,” Kotze said.

SPAR Proteas Coach Elize Kotze addresses the media during finals day of the SPAR National Netball Championships played at the Velodrome Bellville in Cape Town on Saturday, 16 August 2014.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott

She said there were 11 months left before the world championships in Sydney next year, and the squad announced after the tournament gave her plenty to work with as she prepared for the next major challenge.
“Several former Proteas, like Amanda Mynhardt, Vanes-Mari du Toit and Lindie Lombard, who didn’t go to the Commonwealth Games for various reasons, showed that they are still hungry for play for the Proteas, and I am delighted that they are back in the squad.
“Amanda and Vanes-Mari worked brilliantly together in the final to control Chante Steyn, who is a solid presence in the circle, and I can see them doing that against a team like Jamaica, who play a very physical form of netball.”
Kotze said she wanted to take the 12 best players in South Africa to the World Cup, and there was plenty of depth in all positions, so she had room to mix and match.
“When we go to Sydney, I need to know that the players on the bench are as strong as the seven players on the court,” she said.
She had special praise for some of the younger players, such as Kifiloe Tsotetsi, the goalkeeper from Kenneth Kaunda, 19-year-old Lenize Potgieter, the Gauteng North goalshooter, and the two young Gauteng North centre court players, Faith Mantjiu and Tshina Mdau.
“They are all very exciting players, and they are definitely stars of the future,” said Kotze.
The 31-member squad announced after the tournament will attend several training camps over the next few months, before being reduced to a squad of 15 next year.
“They will all be given training programmes, and the players who work the hardest will be the ones who will make the cut,” she said.

SPAR National squad: Mari-Lena Joubert, Juline Rossouw, Sashe-Lee Petersen (Boland), Nosi Goda (Buffalo City), Elsje du Plessis, Bhongeletu Ngubeni, Lensa Motau, Zandre Kruger, Kifiloe Tsotetsi, Nadia Uys, Chante Steyn (Dr Kenneth Kaunda), Lenize Potgieter, Melissa Myburgh, Lindie Lombard, Faith Mantjiu, Erin Burger, Shadine van der Merwe, Amanda Mynhardt, Vanes-Mari du Toit, Tshina Mdau (Gauteng North), Lauren-Lee Christians, Karla Mostert, Adele Niemand, Maryke Holtzhausen, (Mangaung Metro), Zanele Vimbela, Zanele Mdodana (Nelson Mandela Bay), Bongiwe Msomi, Precious Mthembu (Umgungundlovu), Rochelle Lawson, Phumza Maweni (Western Province), Thuli Qegu (Ekurhuleni).


Cape Town, South Africa – Dr Kenneth Kaunda (North West South) and Gauteng North breezed into the final of the SPAR National Netball Championships with comfortable wins in their last two round robin matches on Friday.

Mandy Hermanus of Dr Kenneth Kaunda on the attack with Rochelle Lawson of Western Province defending during day 5 of the Spar National Netball Championships at Bellville Velodrome on August 15, 2014 in Cape Town.

Picture by: Reg Caldecott

Dorette Badenhorst’s youthful Kenneth Kaunda team sailed through the tournament to reach their first final since 2007, when they were runners-up. On Friday, they beat defending champions Mangaung Metro (Free State) 61-38 and Western Province 39-27.
Gauteng North, who finished second last year, beat Buffalo City 57-32 and Frances Baard (Griqualand West) 75-27. Their march to the final was temporarily halted by the North West team on Wednesday, but they shrugged off the loss and won all their other games. Coach Jenny van Dyk used the opportunity against the weaker teams to try out different combinations, including playing goalkeeper Vanes-Mari Du Toit as goal-shooter.
“We want to be prepared for anything, but when it comes down to it, I want my defenders to defend and my strikers to strike,” said Van Dyk.
In 2013 Gauteng North were unbeaten until the final, when they went down to Mangaung Metro and Van Dyk said they would use the experience of last year to prepare for Saturday’s final.
“We know what it feels like to lose a final and we don’t want to feel that way again. We also have a score to settle with Dr Kenneth Kaunda. But it’s a new game tomorrow, and it will be different.”
She said it was important in a final to do the basics perfectly.
“The more you stick to the basics, the better you play,” she said.
“We had an opportunity to put things right after losing to Dr Kenneth Kaunda, and we have a lot of experience in playing and winning finals. It’s going to be a fantastic final.”
Gauteng North won in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
“It’s great to be in a final,” said Badenhorst, whose team finished in third place for the last three years.
“I’m very proud of the way the girls have played this week, and I am very happy that we haven’t lost a match so far. But tomorrow is a new game, and you can’t rely on anything that happened this week.
“I believe the team that wants it most and uses its opportunities best will win tomorrow.”
In other matches on Friday, Western Province beat Gauteng West 51-38, Nelson Mandela Bay beat Frances Baard 53-43, Boland beat Umgungundlovu 66-39 and Nelson Mandela Bay 49-29, Buffalo City beat Gauteng West 50-39 and Mangaung defeated Umgungundlovu 60-38.
Boland finished in third position, with Mangaung, who were without their three Proteas players, fourth.


Cape Town, South Africa – Gauteng North picked themselves up after their shock defeat to Dr Kenneth Kaunda (North West South) with two decisive victories on the fourth day of the SPAR National Netball Championships at the Bellville Velodrome on Thursday.

Tshina Mdau of Gauteng North in action against Umgungundlovu during day 4 of the Spar National Netball Championships at Bellville Velodrome on August 14, 2014 in Cape Town.

Zante Campher of Dr Kenneth Kaunda in action against Frances Baard during day 4 of the Spar National Netball Championships at Bellville Velodrome on August 14, 2014 in Cape Town.
Pictures by: Reg Caldecott

They thumped Umgungundlovu 75-26 in the morning, and then handed defending champions Mangaung Metro (Free State) their second defeat, beating them 74-44, to continue their march to the final on Saturday. Barring major upsets, the final is likely to be between Gauteng North and Kenneth Kaunda.
“We didn’t want to feel like we did after losing yesterday,” said captain Amanda Mynhardt.
“We talked long and hard about where we went wrong, and we knew that we had to bring extra energy to the court today.”
“We’ve got our campaign back on track again,” said coach Jenny van Dyk.
“I told the players that playing in the final is not a right but a privilege that has to be earned. I was happy with the way they played today, but we still have two games to go and we can’t lose focus now.”
“It looks as if we will play Kenneth Kaunda in the final, and that would suit us, because we have a score to settle.”
Gauteng North were dominant throughout the match, with speed, accuracy, slick passes and good understanding among the players. The Free State shooters were generally accurate, but were not given enough ball in the circle. At halftime, Gauteng North led 32-20, and stretched their lead still further in the third quarter. In the final quarter, Van Dyk made a number of changes and the Free State players fought back hard, losing the quarter by just three goals. But it was too little, too late and the champions now face the probability of not reaching the final.
“We’re very disappointed, but bad decision-making cost us the game,” said Mangaung Metro captain Lauren-Lee Christians.
“We don’t have much chance of making the final, so now we have to set new goals and focus on finishing third.”
Mangaung won their other match, beating Buffalo City 61-36.
Kenneth Kaunda retained their unbeaten record, beating Frances Baard (Griqualand West) 63-28 and Buffalo City 53-25. They play Mangaung Metro and Western Province in their final games, and on current form should have no difficulty disposing of them.
Nelson Mandela Bay notched up two wins, beating Western Province 38-30 and Umgungundlovu 42-39, while Gauteng West got their first win with a narrow 59-57 victory over Frances Baard. In a provincial derby, Boland beat neighbours Western Cape 33-28. Earlier, they defeated Gauteng West by 67 goals to 21.


Cape Town, South Africa – The youngsters from Dr Kenneth Kaunda (North West South) brought star-studded Gauteng North up short on Wednesday when they beat the tournament favourites 56-45 at the SPAR National Championships at the Bellville Velodrome.
The North West side is now the only unbeaten team in the A division.

Ruzel Vorster of Dr Kenneth Kaunda in action against Gauteng West during day 3 of the SPAR National Netball Championships at Bellville Velodrome on August 13, 2014 in Cape Town.
dkk34a.jpg - Lentsa Motau of Dr Kenneth Kaunda (Right) and Bibalwa Sizani of Gauteng West compete for the ball during day 3 of the Spar National Netball Championships at Bellville Velodrome on August 13, 2014 in Cape Town.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott

Dr Kenneth Kaunda took the lead from the start and never relinquished it. Chante Steyn had an outstanding game as goal-shooter, and was the rock around which the team built its success, while at the other end, Kifiloe “Fifi” Tsotetsi gave her Protea teammates, Melissa Myburgh and Lenize Potgieter a hard time. At halftime, Dr Kenneth Kaunda were 27-22 ahead, but in the third quarter, they stretched the lead to as much as 11 goals. Gauteng North, boasting six current and former Proteas in their line-up, fought hard to come back, reducing the deficit to four goals at one stage, but the young players kept their composure, and in the final quarter they raced ahead of the more experienced team.
“It was all about the team and the team effort,” said Kenneth Kaunda coach Dorette Badenhorst.
“Our shooting was excellent and we were able to control possession. We knew Gauteng North were an excellent team, but we put them under pressure and we capitalised on their errors.
“Having Chante under the posts gave our goal attack, Elsunet du Plessis, the confidence to shoot knowing that Chante was there for the rebound.
“My team are there for each other, and to make each other look good on court,” said Badenhorst.
Gauteng North coach Jenny van Dyk was philosophical about the defeat.
“It was a good wake-up call for us,” she said.
“Rather lose now than in the final.”
“They wanted it more and we lacked energy and intensity. If we had played the way we played this morning, when we played Boland, we would have beaten them.”
In their earlier match, Gauteng North beat Boland, who on Tuesday upset defending champions Mangaung Metro (Free State) 62-39, while Kenneth Kaunda beat Gauteng West 72-28.
Mangaung beat Western Province 47-38, and Nelson Mandela Bay 51-38, but looked far from the all-conquering side they were a year ago. Nelson Mandela Bay also lost to their neighbours, Buffalo City, who beat them 38-36. They have yet to win a match. Umgungundlovu beat Frances Baard (Griqualand West) 51-59, and Gauteng West, also winless so far, 50-43. In the last two matches of the day, Boland beat Frances Baard 57-43, while Western Province beat Buffalo City 34-28.


Cape Town, South Africa – Netball South Africa (NSA) confirmed on Tuesday that the player who was seriously injured in a minibus taxi accident on Sunday is paralysed.
NSA chief executive Blanche de la Guerre said the player, whose family have asked that she not be named, had sustained a neck fracture and the specialist treating her said she would have very limited use of her arms only.
The specialist said the first priority would be to stabilize her neck.
Two other players are still in hospital in Worcester, but the rest have been discharged from hospital. The two who are still in hospital are expected to leave hospital by the end of the week. The Boland netball association is providing them with accommodation and counselling.
The team from Sedibeng in the Vaal Triangle was travelling to the SPAR National Netball Championships in Cape Town when the driver of their taxi lost control of the vehicle, which rolled down an embankment between De Doorns and Worcester.
The player who was paralyzed in the accident was transferred to the Tygerberg Hospital because of the severity of her injuries, and there are plans to move her to the spinal rehabilitation unit at Groote Schuur as soon as possible. She will later be taken back to her family in Johannesburg.
De la Guerre said NSA was doing everything it could to assist all the players, including bringing two members of the seriously injured player’s family to Cape Town. They would also arrange to fly the other players back to Johannesburg.
“We have spoken to lawyers, and will advise their netball association on the way ahead, including working with the Taxi Association and the Road Accident Fund,” she said.
“We have had a meeting with a representative of the Taxi Association, who have also offered their support.”
The Western Cape MEC and her Gauteng counterpart are both providing support and advice.


Cape Town, South Africa – Gauteng North recorded the biggest victory of the 2014 SPAR National Championships at the Bellville Velodrome on Tuesday, when they beat Gauteng West by a massive 89-16.

Melissa Myburgh of Gauteng North in action against Gauteng West during day 2 of the Spar National Netball Championships at Bellville Velodrome on August 12, 2014 in Cape Town.

Picture by: Reg Caldecott

Earlier in the day, Gauteng North showed they were the team to watch this year when they beat Nelson Mandela Bay 71-31.
During the match against Gauteng West, coach Jenny van Dyk had fun mixing and matching her players in different combinations. With an insurmountable lead, she experimented, playing goal defence Amanda Strydom at centre and Erin Burger at goal attack, until Burger sustained an ankle injury and was replaced by fellow Protea Melissa Myburgh.
“It is important to mix things up from time to time,” said Van Dyk.
“The players need to be able to think on their feet and make decisions.”
On the other hand, defending champions Mangaung Metro had a bad day at the office. They had to come from behind to beat Gauteng West 65-44, after trailing 26-27 at halftime, and then lost 37-42 to Boland in their later match.
“We made some silly mistakes and lost too many balls,” admitted Mangaung captain Lauren-Lee Christians.
“But we have many more games to play and one loss doesn’t mean the end.”
Boland captain Leanie Kleynhans-Cornelissen said their victory was the result of hard work.
“We have been building our squad for a number of years, and we are now reaping the benefits. We knew we would have to work hard and that the team that worked hardest would win,” she said.
Earlier in the day, Boland beat Buffalo City 54-41.
Dr Kenneth Kaunda (North West South) also had a good day, beating Umgungundlovu 56-35 in the morning and then beating Nelson Mandela Bay 43-28.
In their earlier match, they kept the pressure up throughout, increasing their lead in every quarter. In the third quarter, they turned the screws, outscoring Umgungundlovu by 18 goals to six and 14 goals to nine in the final quarter.
Against the Eastern Cape team, Boland got an early lead, and were 21-13 ahead at halftime. Once again, it was in the third quarter that they forged ahead, with 16 goals to five. However, Nelson Mandela Bay came back strongly in the last 15 minutes, scoring 10 goals to Boland’s six.
Coach Dorette Badenhorst said while she was happy with the results, she knew that there was still a lot of work to do.
“We have a very young team, and they need to learn to work as a team, take responsibility on court, and trust one another. They need to keep the ball in hand more consistently and avoid sloppy passes. They also sometimes make bad decisions, and we need to work on that.”
In the other match on Tuesday, Western Province beat Frances Baard (Griqualand West) 53-27.


Cape Town, South Africa – SPAR Proteas coach Elize Kotze remains upbeat about South Africa’s prospects at the world championships in Singapore next year, despite the disappointment of finishing sixth at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Speaking on the opening day of the SPAR National Championships in Cape Town on Monday, Kotze said her goal had been to reach the semifinals of the Commonwealth Games.

SPAR Proteas coach Elize Kotze address the media at the SPAR National Netball Championships held at the Velodrome Bellville in Cape Town on Monday, 11 August 2014.
Picture credit: Reg Caldecott

“We were playing the best netball teams in the world, and we believed we could challenge for a medal,” she said.
“I still believe we can do it at the world championships next year. We have beaten England and Jamaica in the past, and I am very positive we can do it again.
“We will have to plan very carefully between now and the world championships and make sure that we have the right players, the right mental attitude and the physicality to compete with the top teams.”
Kotze said the team had learned a great deal from the experience and would have a better idea of how to tackle the top teams in Sydney.
“We will select a squad of 25 players to prepare for Sydney, and this will be reduced to 15 early next year. Ideally, I would like them to be compensated for the loss of income so that I can work with them fulltime for two months before the world championships so we develop new tactics and work out how to counter the top teams.
“We also need to play against at least two of the top four countries before we go to Sydney, to hone our skills. If we are to compete against professionals, we need to become professional as well.”
Five members of the team that went to Glasgow have been forced to miss the SPAR National Championships because they have no more leave. Kotze said she would ask Netball South Africa compromise on its ruling that players should take part in the SPAR National Championships to be eligible for national selection.
“Those five players are among our very best, and we need them to be part of the squad,” she said.
The five players are Maryke Holtzhausen, Adele Niemand, Karla Mostert, Zanele Mdodana and Chrisna van Zyl.
Kotze said the selectors would be on the lookout for rising stars.
“There is always room for new talent in the team,” she said.


The players were travelling to Cape Town for the Spar national netball championships when the driver of their minibus taxi lost control of the vehicle, which rolled down an embankment.
Six players and management staff are still in hospital in Worcester, and five have been discharged after being treated for cuts and bruises.
Netball South Africa (NSA) President Mimi Mthethwa said the player who was transferred to Tygerberg had sustained a very serious neck injury.
“She said she couldn’t feel anything, but she was very positive when we visited her this morning,” said Mthethwa.
“The doctor treating her said the first priority was to stabilize her neck. A decision will be taken later on whether to operate,” she said.
The player’s family has requested that she not be named at this stage.
Mthethwa said NSA would remain in close contact with the players and would do everything possible to provide support for them. There are plans to bring the seriously injured player’s family to Cape Town to be with her.


Cape Town, South Africa – The 2013 finalists, Mangaung and Gauteng North, both got their 2014 campaigns off to a good start at the SPAR National Netball championships at the Bellville Velodrome on Monday with decisive victories in their opening matches.

Opening the 2014 SPAR National netball Championships are from L-R; Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Professor Norma-French Mbombo and Mimi Mthethwa, President of Netball South Africa.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott

Defending champions Mangaung (formerly Free State) beat Frances Baard (formerly Griqualand West) 61-32, despite being without their three Proteas, Maryke Holtzhausen, Karla Mostert and Adele Niemand. Coach Burta de Kock said the absence of the three top players would give younger players a chance to shine and enable the team to develop its strength.
Gauteng North are without only one Protea, veteran goal-shooter Chrisna van Zyl, and they romped home 48-31 against hosts Western Province. The Gauteng North side, which includes a number of current and former Proteas, has a wealth of top players, giving coach Jenny van Dyk the enviable task of having to decide who to leave out rather than who to play.
“We have a good balance of experience and younger, very energetic players,” said Van Dyk.
“The senior players know there are up-and-coming players breathing down their necks, so there’s healthy competition, but I’m also pleased to see the way the seniors are communicating and helping the younger players, who really love learning from them.”
Gauteng North dominated the game from start to finish. They were four goals ahead after the first quarter, and stretched their lead to seven goals at half-time. By the end of the third quarter, they were 11 goals ahead and in the final quarter, they outscored the hosts by 14 goals to eight.
“Our goal is to be consistent throughout the tournament. Last year, we played very well until the final, and then we fell apart in the second half. We realized then that we needed mental strength, so we have been working on that, and we are determined it won’t happen again,” said Van Dyk.
In other matches played on Monday, Frances Baard and Buffalo City (Border) drew 48-all, Nelson Mandela Bay beat Gauteng West 41-21, Dr Kenneth Kaunda (North West South) beat Boland 54-44 and Umgungundlovu thrashed Buffalo City 74-20.
The 2014 championships was opened in fine style by the Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Professor Norma-French Mbombo. Minister Mbombo welcomed the 929 players and officials from 41 regions to Cape Town and said that the tournament was the largest women’s interprovincial played in the country by any sporting code and was specifically significant as it was played in Women’s Month.


Johannesburg, South Africa – South Africa’s netball community will celebrate national women’s month at the next week, when players from around the country arrive for the annual SPAR National Netball Championships in Cape Town.
“We normally hold the championships in the same week as National Women’s Day on August 9, but because the national team only came back from the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow early this week, we decided to delay the start of the Championships for a few days this year,” explained Netball South Africa (NSA) President Mimi Mthethwa.
“As the country’s biggest women’s sport, we think it is important for us to recognize the role played by the women who marched on the Union Buildings in 1956,” said Mthethwa.
“The national championships are an ideal opportunity for women to get together and share their love of their sport and to exchange ideas and experiences,” she said.
“Women’s sports have come a long way in the past 20 years, and support for women’s sports is growing all the time. Young girls can now dream of being given the recognition and support granted to men’s sports and of the possibility of making a career out of their sport.
“We believe sport – and netball in particular – plays a crucial role in helping South African women of all ages to stand tall.”
The SPAR National Netball Championships, which will be played at the Bellville Velodrome, start on Monday, with the final being played on Saturday August 16.


• Namibian tennis star wins double title in Pretoria

Pretoria, South Africa - South Africa dominated the Gauteng North ITF Junior International tennis event which ended at the Groenkloof Tennis Stadium in Pretoria on Friday.

Namibia however won the girls singles crown spoiling a possible clean sweep of titles by the host nation.

The boys singles was won by second seed Francois Kellerman of Durbanville in the Western Province who upset top seed Brandon Laubser of Gauteng East 6-4 1-6 6-2. It took the seventeen year old 2 hrs. 14 minutes to lift the title and capture his second international singles title. “I won my first international title earlier this year in Namibia beating the top seed so went into today’s final with added confidence” said Kellerman.

Kellerman was smart on court, using his serve and forehand to full advantage and not swaying from his attacking game plan. “Last week at the Wanderers ITF I went out in round two and knew I had to step up a gear this week. The courts of Groenkloof played faster and the Dunlop balls played better which suited my game” said Kellerman.

After winning the first set 6-4, Kellerman broke in the first game of the second set but then Laubser came back strong and broke the fragile Kellerman serve three times in a row to level sets. In the final set, leading 2-1 Kellerman had three break points against him but dug deep to hold serve then break to win the set and match. “When I faced those break points in the fourth game of the final set I knew if I didn’t hold, things could go the way of Brandon. Brandon is a great player and good competitor and can come back strong in any given situation” said Kellerman.

In the girls singles, top seed Lesedi Jacobs of Namibia came out tops. In a battle royal which took 3 hours 43 minutes in the warm winter Highveld sun, Jacobs beat second seeded Katie Poluta of Cape Town 6-7 (6) 6-2 7-6 (2).

It was Jacobs fifth international title and a “bonus” win according to the tournament favourite who said the week was “ tough” and she was happy to “have pulled through with the title”.

In the opening set Lesedi lead 5-4 but lost serve and then squandered a set point in the tie breaker. After a long 79 minutes Lesedi lost the opening set. In the second set, Lesedi lifted her game and looked more focused. “I started to think tactically and focused point by point. I just needed to slow down and play more smartly” said Lesedi.
The final set was a real fight and went into the tie breaker. Lesedi played a solid breaker, was more aggressive and it paid off. “Katie and I were both tired. I knew that I had to put it all into that final set breaker. I played aggressively but didn’t overplay the points and capitalized on Katie struggling with her serve.”

The boys doubles was won by top seeds Calvin Jordaan and Kris Van Wyk who beat second seeds twin brothers Francois Kellerman and Okkie Kellerman, 7-5 6-7 (6) 10-2 in the all South African final.
Jacobs won the double when she teamed up with Georgina Kaindoah of Tanzania.

Jacobs and Kaindoah, seeded three beat South Africans Katie Poluta and Nadine De Villiers the top seeds, 6-4 5-7 10-7.

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