Friday, 22 May 2015, Ramat Hasharon, Israel. – It was a good day in the office for South Africa’s wheelchair tennis legends Kgothatso ‘KG’ Montjane and Evans Maripa at the Israel Open on Thursday, the ITF 2 series event staged at Ramat Hasharon, Israel.

Kg Montjane

Evans Maripa

The country’s no.1 men’s player Maripa brought his Israel Open challenge to a triumphant end when he joined forces with Marc McCarroll of the Great Britain to win the men’s doubles title. Top seeds Maripa and McCarroll clinched their first title together after a thrilling 4-6 6-4 10-7 victory over second seeds Martin Legner (AUT) and Ricky Molier (NED) to claim the title.
The 24 year old crashed out of the men’s singles draw when he was eliminated by unseeded Dutchman Rick Molier in the semi-final round. Molier took the match 7-5 6-2 to down Maripa and setup a final clash against top seed Stefan Olsson.
The country’s top ace KG Montjane and doubles partner Katharina Kruger of Germany; seeded 2 in the tournament secured the women doubles title against Netherlands’ Marjolein Buis and Michaela Spaanstra on Thursday. The pair lost the first set, but rallied to beat the Dutch top seeds 2-6 6-2 10-6 to attest the title.
In the womens singles event Montjane reached the semi-final round where she bowed out to top seed Marjolein Buis of the Netherlands. The world no.6 clinched the match 6-2 5-7 6-4 and will meet second seed Katharina Kruger of Germany in the final.
Wheelchair Tennis South Africa director Holger Losch says, “Evans Maripa and KG Montjane have made leaps and bounds over the years in the game and we are proud of their achievements in Israel. We hope that they will continue their winning streak next week in Turkey” said Losch.
Both Montjane and Maripa move on to Turkey for the prestigious 2015 BNP Paribus World Team Cup to be staged at Club Ali Bey Manavgat, Antalya from 25-31 May. They will join the three South African teams which comprises of Leon Els, Marshall Marsh (men), Mariska Venter, Thando Hlatshwayo (women) and Lucas Sithole, Bongani Dlamini, Danny Mohlamonyane (quads).


Johannesburg, South Africa - Davis Cup ties are as much about ambiance as they are about competition and both the players and the fans will be treated to top-class tennis in a superb environment when South Africa takes on Ireland in the Euro/Africa Zone Group 2 Play-Off Davis Cup tie from 17 to 19 July 2015.

The Irene Country Club match court during the Davis Cup Tie vs Monaco.

Picture credit: BLD Communications

Irene Country Club which has hosted two Davis Cup Ties last year; South Africa vs Lithuania and South Africa vs Monaco has been confirmed once again as the venue for the all-important July tie.

South Africa beat Monaco 3-2 last year January in the first tie ever played in Irene just outside the national Capital. But then three months later at the same venue South Africa lost narrowly to Lithuania 2-3.

“Irene Country Club have proved last year to be fantastic hosts at their superb venue. Tennis South Africa (TSA) received huge kudos from both visiting teams and our local players as well as the spectators on the choice of venue and it made complete sense to play this Tie at this outstanding venue,” exclaimed Gavin Crookes, President and acting CEO of TSA.
“The Davis Cup is one of the most prestigious events on the tennis calendar and is vital for the growth of the sport in South Africa. To be able to hold this event in a superb facility of this nature only adds to its stature.”

South Africa and Ireland have played each other twice before (1927 and 1931) with the honors going South Africa’s way on both occasions. However, both previous ties have been staged in Dublin and on grass this will be the first time the two nations will meet on South African shores. The home side will have to beat the Irish visitors to remain in Euro/Africa Group 2.

Whatever happens on the court, the Irish are sure to relish the hospitality they will receive at Irene Country Club. Situated in the south of Tshwane just outside Pretoria, the club is perfectly located in Gauteng for spectators from Johannesburg and Pretoria as well as those travelling in from Ekurhuleni and Mogale City.

The Irene Country Club is unique and privileged to have one of the most beautiful and tranquil settings in Pretoria. The club has 6 courts (3 under lights) and outstanding facilities which offers, Tennis, Golf, Squash, Cricket, Bowls, restaurants and conference facilities which make up the perfect ingredients for a top class Davis Cup venue.

Irene Country Club Tennis Chairman, Craig Herbst, comments: “We are delighted once again to be working with TSA in hosting the South Africa vs. Ireland Davis Cup Tie at Irene Country Club in July.
“The club prides itself on outstanding sporting and entertainment facilities and for the Davis Cup tie, our guests and tennis fans will be blown away by our venue and hospitality. We will make sure the tie is one to remember and becomes a must visit stop on the SA tennis calendar. We invite the public to participate in this year’s Davis Cup and to come and proudly support our national team with pride.”

South Africa and Ireland are expected to name their sides for the tie only 10 days before the tie in accordance to the Davis Cup rules.

The tie will be played on a medium to fast paced hard court with seats for 500 spectators.

Program for the tie:
Friday: 9h15 Opening Ceremony. The first singles rubber will start at 9h30 with the second rubber following immediately thereafter.
Saturday: 12h00 Doubles rubber.
Sunday: 9h30 First reverse singles rubber, followed by final singles rubber.
All the matches are played as the best of five sets until a result has been achieved.


Johannesburg, South Africa - The SPAR Protea Netball team arrived back in Johannesburg on Wednesday, fresh from securing second place in the European Netball championships in Northern Ireland.

The SPAR Protea pictured at OR Tambo International Airport on their arrival Wednesday from Belfast, Northern Ireland where they finished second behind England in the European National Netball Championships.

Picture credit: BLD Communications

It was a successful tournament for South Africa, who lost only to England, but beat Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and Trinidad and Tobago.

Coach Benny Saayman was happy with the outcome, but said there was still work to be done ahead of the Netball World Cup in Sydney in August.

“We were disappointing against England, but then we just kept getting better,” said Saayman.
“The last match, against Trinidad and Tobago, was recognised as the match of the tournament. We had to fight hard, and Trinidad led for most of the match, but we came back in the final quarter and won the match 46-42. I was very proud of the girls, and of the way they fought their way back into the match.”

Saayman said at the start of the tournament, the players took some time to adjust to playing together again.
“They have all been involved in the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League (NPL), so they have been playing intensively with other combinations. But after the first day, they started playing as a team again, and were able to rely on one another.”
She said the players were still making too many basic errors.

“Particularly against England, where we lost too many passes and the feeds into the circle were poor,” said Saayman.
“We need to have more training camps before the World Cup, because it is essential that the players get to the point where they know exactly where everyone else is. We have to get rid of these basic errors.”

She said the players and the coaching staff had both learned a good deal from the tournament.
“We can come back and put what we learned into practice. The players will go back to the NPL, and then we have the Diamond Challenge, where we can look at some other players. I am very pleased with the way our World Cup preparations are going,” said Saayman.


Johannesburg, South Africa – Tennis South Africa on Tuesday named their boys and girls 14 and 16 and under age groups teams to participate in the upcoming African Junior Teams Tennis Championships.

The teams will battle it out over five days in Cairo, Egypt from 9 to 13 June 2015 against the hosts Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Nigeria.

South Africa qualified for the Cairo showdown at the Africa Junior Championships held in Tunis, Tunisia in March 2015.

The teams will be competing for a spot in the World Junior Finals for the under 14 girls and boys, whereas the boys and girls under 16 will be competing for a spot in the Junior Davis Cup finals and Junior Fed Cup finals respectively.

The team selected are as follows:

Girls Under 14
1. Lara van der Merwe (NWP)
2. Carmen Fichardt (FS)
3. Delien Kleinhans (FS)
Miss Roxanne Clarke (Coach)

Boys Under 14
1. Joubert Klopper (FS)
2. Charl Morgan (GC)
3. Kholo Montsi (GN)
Mr Denton Meintjies (Coach)

Girls Under 16
1. Zani Barnard (GN)
2. Lee Barnard (GN)
3. Mila Hartig (GN)
Mrs Teresa Schweitzer (Coach)

Boys Under 16
1. Richard Thogoana (GC)
2. Joshua Howard-Tripp (GE)
3. Bertus Kruger (GC)
Mr Allan Karam (Coach)


Belfast, Northern Ireland - South Africa end second in European Netball Championships

Going into their final game of the European Netball Championships on Sunday the SPAR Proteas knew they would have to pull out all the stops.

South Africa’s opponents on the last day of the four day Championships being played in in Belfast, Northern Ireland were the aggressive Trinidad and Tobago a side ranked only three spots behind the sixth ranked Proteas at number nine on the world rankings.

The “Calypso Girls” as the Caribbean islanders are fondly referred to as are renowned to play hard and physical netball and the Proteas were aware that the challenge was on.

But going into Sunday’s game, the Proteas were confident having easily beaten Wales 72-42 late Saturday evening.

Maryka Holtzhausen, the SPAR Protea Captain said “after a great performance against Wales my team were confident that keeping the consistency through 60 minutes Saturday against Trinidad & Tobago and sticking to our game plan would be the key focus.” Holtzhausen added that South Africa expected a tough physical battle from “The Calypso Girls” but were definitely up for the challenge.

And what a challenge it was. After the Proteas lost the first (8-10) and second quarters, they went, after half time, into the third quarter 6 goals behind their opponents (18-24).

South Africa clawed back to a three goal deficit trailing 32-35 going into the final quarter.

With quick turnovers, South Africa came back on an absolute surge. The Proteas showed good defense and kept focus on the win with goal keeper, Maweni Pumza putting on a star performance and shooter Lenize Potgieter, calm, collected and on target. Captain Maryka Holtzhausen also impressed with centre Erin Burger complimenting every Protea effort.

The Proteas came from behind to take a 4 goal lead (42-38) with only six minutes left of play. South Africa in the final minutes made the crucial goals at the right time to beat Trinidad and Tobago 46-42.

Coach Bennie Saayman admitted that South Africa for the first three quarters could not find rhythm. “ Unforced errors and missed shots kept Trinidad and Tobago in the lead. Real character and supportive play brought about the much needed breakthrough in the fourth quarter.”

“South Africa showed their will to win when their kept Trinidad and Tobago under constant pressure by employing outstanding defending tactics. They forced Trinidad and Tobago to commit errors, took the turn overs and with fast and disciplined attack scored. The team showed character by fighting for this win” continued Saayman.

So South Africa ended second in the Championships behind favourites England. With the championships being a world ranking tournament it was an important finish for the SPAR Proteas and good preparation for the Netball World Cup to be staged in Sydney in August.

Captain Maryka Holtzhausen said she was extremely proud of the girls and what they accomplished in Northern Ireland. “ That was a great match against Trinidad and Tobago. The islanders came out very physical and we started a bit slow, but great character from the girls to keep on working and pull it through even though we were behind. There was great impact from players coming off the bench.”

Holtzhausen thanked South Africa for all the support which her team appreciated. “We now know what we need to work on harder in the lead up to the World Cup in Sydney later this year”.


Belfast, Northern Ireland - The SPAR Proteas put together an improved performance on Friday evening at the European Netball Championships when they beat hosts Northern Ireland 47-37 in the last scheduled game on day two in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Despite an energetic start to the game by South Africa, the SPAR Proteas looked an improved outfit from Thursday where they struggled to beat Scotland and lost convincingly to tournament favorites England.
Constructive attacking play and solid defense lead to a 14-11 lead by South Africa at first quarter. Unnecessary bad feeds and wrong options by South Africa in the second quarter gave Northern Ireland the opportunity to catch up to a one goal lead at half time. Constructive changes put the Proteas again on a winning path for the third and fourth quarters which were won by South Africa.

Protea Coach, Bennie Saayman said “intelligent thinking of experienced players made the difference. South Africa deserved to win by 10 goals”.

“Although we went out determined I felt we made a slow start to the game, but an improved performance by the whole squad. There was some great play from young players taking the court in a starting line and great composure from experienced players” said Protea Captain, Maryka Holtzhausen after victory.

Holtzhausen admitted her team still needed to get their error rate down especially in the defensive end but she said she was all in all proud of the girls for an improved performance.

On Saturday evening the SPAR Proteas come up against Wales. The Welsh are well known for physical play could post a danger to the South African’s.

“ We are definitely expecting a more physical game from Wales. We looking to keep on improving as a squad, focusing on our game plan and implementing it for a longer periods” said Holtzhausen.

Saayman said that with enough energy and commitment her team can beat Wales. “My team proved against Northern Ireland they can ensure constructive and attractive play so the plan is to better that against Wales on Saturday”.


Friday, 15 May 2015, Lizuka, Japan. – South African wheelchair tennis champ Lucas Sithole and doubles partner Dylan Alcott (AUS) seeded 2 caused a major upset on Friday as they toppled America’s defending champions and top seeds, David Wagner and Greg Hasterok 7-5 6-2 in the final round of the 2015 Japan Open, the third Super Series event on the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour 2015.This is the first time that Sithole and Alcott managed to defeat Wagner in a doubles final at any international event and it is the second Super Series doubles title for both Alcott and Sithole for the 2015 season.

Lucas Sithole
Lucas Sithole

Picture credits: Reg Caldecott

In the Quads Singles event Alcott ended the title defence of South Africa’s world No. 4 Lucas Sithole as the Australian second seed continued his first visit to the Japan Open with a 6-2 6-2 victory in the semi-final round on Thursday. Despite having played each other yesterday, the duo joined forces to face the top seeds and emerged victorious.
Sithole thanked the game sponsor for his win. “Dreams like these are made possible with the continued support from Airports Company South Africa, who have invested a great deal of time, effort and financial resources in South African Wheelchair Tennis” said Sithole following his win. “I was hoping to take the singles title again but I am excited that my partner Dylan and I were able to clinch the doubles title” Sithole continued.
The world no.4 quads player is now off to represent the country in the prestigious 2015 BNP Paribas World Team Cup in Turkey from 25-31 May. Sithole will be joined by Kgothatso Montjane, Evans Maripa, Leon Els, Mariska Venter, Bongani Dlamini, Marshall Marsh, Thando Hlatshwayo and Danny Mohlamonyane in the International Tennis Federation (ITF)’s flagship wheelchair tennis team event.


Pretoria, South Africa - Good news for the SPAR Proteas netball team is that they will play two official Test matches against New Zealand ahead of the Netball World Cup in Sydney in August.

Netball South Africa (NSA) chief executive Blanche de la Guerre said New Zealand had approached NSA about playing the matches, and South Africa had jumped at the opportunity.

“New Zealand is one of the strongest teams in the world, and it will be an excellent experience for our players. It also means they have time to recover from jet lag and get acclimatised before the World Cup, which starts on August 7,” said De la Guerre.

The Tests will be played in Hamilton on July 27 and in Auckland on July 29. The Proteas will remain in New Zealand until August 3 when they will fly to Sydney.
New Zealand is currently ranked second in the world, behind Australia. South Africa are ranked sixth.

“We see it as something of a compliment that they have invited us to play there,” said De La Guerre.

“We surprised them in 1995, so maybe they want to see what we can do,” she said.
In 1995, South Africa beat New Zealand in the semifinal of the World Cup in Birmingham in England and went on to win the silver medal, after losing to Australia in the final.

De La Guerre said the hosts would pay South Africa’s accommodation expenses while they were in New Zealand.


Porth Elizabeth, South Africa - Bouncy Mapaseka Makhanya has retained her position at the top of the SPAR Grand Prix ladder, despite finishing eighth in the second Spar Women’s 10km Challenger in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

Mapaseka Makhanya 1.jpg

Picture credit: Reg Caldecott

Makhanya’s record-breaking win in Cape Town gave her a head start in this year’s Grand Prix series. Her 10 bonus points for breaking the Cape Town record means she earned 30 points in the first race, and 13 in Port Elizabeth, for a total of 43 points. She is six points ahead of her nearest rival, Lebogang Phalula, who finished third in Cape Town and second in Port Elizabeth, for a total of 37 points.

Phalula’s twin sister, Diana-Lebo, won the Port Elizabeth Challenge, but she was unable to run in Cape Town, because she was representing South Africa in the world cross-country championships in China that weekend. She is in sixth position with a total of 20 points, and has some way to catch up with runners who competed in both races. Last year’s Grand Prix champion will be ruing her failure to break the record, which would have earned her bonus points that would have pushed her up the ladder.

The Kalmer sisters, Rene and Christine, are in third and fourth position, with 33 and 30 points respectively, while Cornelia Joubert is in fifth position with 29 points.
Two times winner of the Grand Prix, Irvette van Zyl, who is in joint eighth position with Thembi Baloyi, on 18 points, will be particularly delighted with her position. Van Zyl is expecting a baby in September, but says she wants to run as long as is possible.

Makhanya won the Grand Prix in 2013, but had a quiet year in 2014. However, she made it know that she wanted to reclaim the title this year, and will make every effort to run all five races.

The Grand Prix series was introduced in 2007, and has become South Africa’s biggest and most prestigious women’s road-running series. The top runners in the five Challenge races held around the country earn Grand Prix points from each race. The 2015 winner will pocket a cheque for a whopping R150 000. The second prize has been increased by R20 000 to R50 000, and the third prize is now worth R30 000. There are cash prizes for the top 15 runners on the points table, making it worthwhile for runners to compete in all five races.


Pretoria, Johannesburg - The SPAR Protea netball team travels to Belfast this week for the European netball championships, to be played from Thursday until Sunday.

From L-R: Lauren-Lee Christians, Shadine Van der Merwe, Rochelle Lawson, Izette Lubbe, Maryka Holtzhausen during the SPAR Proteas departure training camp on Monday, 11 May at Rembrandt Hall, University of Pretoria ahead of the European netball championships.

From L-R: Netball South Africa President Mimi Mthethwa, SPAR Proteas head coach Benny Saayman and Maryka Holtzhausen addressed the media during the press conference on Monday, 11 May at Rembrandt Hall, University of Pretoria.
Picture credit: Netball South Africa

Speaking at a farewell function for the team, Netball South Africa President Mimi Mthethwa, said the tournament was a wonderful opportunity for the coach and players to put into practice what they had learnt from former Australian coach, Norma Plummer, who spent valuable time with the national squad earlier this year.

“She suggested new ideas and a different approach, and the players will be able to try these out. I wish the team every success in this tournament. I know that every combination that takes the court will do their best.”

The other teams taking part in the European Championships are England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Trinidad and Tobago and national coach Bennie Saayman said that although South Africa was the second ranked team in the tournament, the Proteas could not afford to be complacent.

“There is no team taking part that we can take for granted – every match will be a challenge. And of course, the biggest challenge will be England, who are ranked third in the world. It is very important for players to get as much international exposure as possible. The best way of learning how to play top teams is to play against them.”

She said she was very happy with the makeup of the team, which includes three new caps – Mari-Lena Joubert, Rochelle Lawson and Lauren-Lee Christians – as well as a number of very experienced players. Two senior players, Bongiwe Msomi and Zanele Mdodana, who were initially in the squad will not be making the trip to Ireland and have been replaced by Izette Lubbe and Shadine van der Merwe.

“It is a very balanced team,” said Saayman. “It is important to introduce younger players into the national squad so we can see how they cope at the top level.”

She said the squad travelling to Belfast was not necessarily the team that would go to the World Cup. “The Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League started last week, and the top players will have five weeks of intensive, top level netball to show us what they are capable of. Last year, two players, Lenize Potgieter and Phumza Maweni, forced their way into the national squad because of their outstanding performances in the NPL, and we’ll be on the lookout for rising stars this year as well,” said Saayman.

“Also, we have the Diamond League tournament after the Brutal Fruit, so the top players have plenty of opportunities to catch the eye of the selectors,” she said.

There will be live-streaming of the European Championships, and fans can also follow developments on Twitter and Facebook.

Players are as follows:

Lenize Potgieter – Gauteng North

Melissa Myburgh – Gauteng North

Maryka Holtzhausen – Mangaung Metro

Mari-Lena Joubert – Cape Winelands

Lauren-Lee Christians – Mangaung Metro

Erin Burger – Gauteng North

Izette Lubbe – Gauteng North

Precious Mthembu - Ilembe

Shadine Van der Merwe – Gauteng North

Rochelle Lawson - Boland

Phumza Maweni – Cape Metropole

Adele Niemand – Mangaung Metro


Port Elizabeth, South Africa - Defending champion Diana-Lebo Phalula made sure of victory in the Port Elizabeth leg of the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge at Pollok Beach on Saturday, winning the race in emphatic style in 32.57 minutes.

Diana-Lebo Phalula celebrates her win as she crosses the finish line first at the SPAR Women’s Challenge race in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, 09 May 2015.

The top three SPAR Women’s Challenge finishers at the Port Elizabeth leg. (L-R): Rutendo Nyahora (3rd); Diana-Lebo Phalula (1st); and Lebogang Phalula (2nd).
Picture credit: Mark West

Her twin sister, Lebogang, was second in 33.26, with Rutendo Nyahora third in 33.43. Mapaseka Makhanya, who won the opening leg in Cape Town in March, was in eighth position. Makhanya recently finished third in the Hanover Marathon in Germany and was still feeling the effects of the marathon.
Nyahora took the early lead, but Diana-Lebo Phalula, running barefoot, surged to the front after the first kilometre mark, and stayed there for the rest of the race.
“My body was feeling good, and so I decided to go for it. I wanted to help my sister, but she couldn’t keep up with me,” said Phalula.
“I am a bit disappointed in my time, because I wanted to break the record again, but I knew I had to defend my title. The Port Elizabeth race is always one of my favourites.”
Lebogang Phalula, who ran with Nyahora for much of the way, said she had enjoyed the race, although there had been quite a strong wind.
“But I’ve been doing weight training, so I told the wind I’m not going to let you blow me over – I’m strong now,” she said.
She said she had tried to keep up with her sister, but Diana-Lebo had gone too fast for her.
Zimbabwean Nyahora dedicated her third place to the victims of the recent xenophobic violence in South Africa.
“I was determined to finish in the top three so I could make a statement on behalf of the people who have been killed, injured or displaced by the violence,” she said.
“I was running for them today, and they were in my thoughts throughout the race.”
The Phalula twins and Nyahora will all be running in the First National Bank 12km race in Cape Town next week, against some top international runners, including former world champion Vivienne Cheruiyot of Kenya.
Former Grand Prix winner, Irvette van Zyl, who is expecting a baby in September, was delighted to finish in ninth position.


Wednesday, 06 May 2015, Johannesburg, South Africa. – Top South African quads player Lucas Sithole is prepared to fight in his bid to defend his title at the Japan Open. Sithole will jet-off to Japan this weekend to play in the Japan Open, an International Tennis Federation (ITF) Super Series event part of the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour to be staged at Lizuka, Japan, from 12-17 May 2015.

In last year’s Japan Open, Sithole ended world no.1 David Wagner’s sequence of seven successive Japan Open titles when the world No. 4 clinched his first Japan Open tittle.

The country’s top player says the Airports Company South Africa SA Open victory gave him more confidence going into the tournament. “Last year’s Japan Open win and the recent title at the Airports Company South Africa SA Open gave me more confidence that I can do it. Thanks to the support of Airports Company South Africa, I am well prepared and will be looking to retain the title” said Sithole.

Sithole recorded his first Super Series title of the year when he toppled Wagner in last month’s Airports Company South Africa SA Open final as the 28-year-old fought back to prevail 3-6 6-3 6-3. Sithole will battle familiar faces such as world no.1 David Wagner for this year’s line-up, which also includes top 10 world ranked quads players such as Australian Dylan Alcott, ranked 2 globally, Brit’s Jamie Burdekin and Greg Hasterok.

Sithole will be the only player representing South Africa at the tournament which will have Men singles and doubles, Women singles and doubles, Quads singles and doubles.


Johannesburg, South Africa - In her first comeback tournament since her “premature” retirement from competitive tennis, top seed Madrie Le Roux won the R100 000 Wilson Challenge at the German Country Club north of Johannesburg on Wednesday.

Second seed Benjamin Janse Van Rensburg of Gauteng Central in action during the finals of the Men’s Open finals Wilson R100 000 Challenge on Wednesday. Janse Van Rensburg upset top seed Brandon Laubser of Gauteng East 6-2 7-5 in the finals.

Top seed Madrie le Roux of Gauteng North with her trophy after beating second seed Nicole Dzenga of Gauteng North in the Women’s Open finals on day 5 of the Wilson R100 000 Challenge at the German Club on Wednesday.

Fourth seed Benedict Kohler of KwaZulu-Natal with his trophy after upsetting third seed Victor Putter of Gauteng North in the boys 14 finals on day 5 of the Wilson R100 000 Challenge at the German Club on Wednesday.

Le Roux, from North Western Province beat second seed Nicole Dzenga of Gauteng East 6-3 6-4 to clinch the title. Le Roux was never troubled in her straight set victory despite trailing Dzenga 0-2 in the second set.

The former Fed Cup player and African Junior Champion last reached a tournament final at the Sun City Futures in winter last year but during that final suffered from Epstein-Barr virus which side-lined Le Roux from the game from July to October last year. It all became too much for Le Roux who announced her retirement from the game in November and she went into a coaching role at the Riaan venter Tennis Academy in Potchefstroom.

But Le Roux’s hunger to get back on court and play tournaments was so great that in March of this year, Le Roux decided to start playing competitively and started to work on her game.

“I am really feeling good about my win. I played well and I feel a more matured and calm player since I decided to return to competitive tennis” said Le Roux. “Winning the first tournament you play on after a long layoff gives me confidence and hope that I made the right decision. I’m understanding my game much better” said Le Roux.

The men’s singles went to in-form Benjamin Van Rensburg of Gauteng Central. Second seed Janse Van Rensburg caused a minor upset when he beat tournament favourite Brandon Laubser of Gauteng East 6-2 7-5. Janse Van Rensburg, who impressively won the Marks Park Open event last week losing only six games throughout the tournament said he felt good about his win.
“I’m on a good, confident roll winning two titles back to back. Going into the final today I was feeling solid having lost only two games en route to the final.”

Janse van Rensburg pushed Laubser hard throughout the match and capitalized on the loose play by Laubser and high percentage of unforced errors. “I am fit and have the experience advantage over Brandon and knew that with Brandon I may have to spend a lot of time out of court as he plays a solid game from the back court. I decided to play patiently and wait for Brandon to make the errors which worked especially in the first set.”

In the second set Janse Van Rensburg raced to a 5-2 lead and had two championship points. But Laubser, South Africa’s second highest world ranked junior, was not going to give up the fight that easy. Laubser fought back to level at 5-5 saving a third championship point against him. However Janse Van Rensburg regrouped and broke serve in the eleventh game then served for the match and title.

Janse Van Rensburg has Laubser’s number having won all three of their encounters now.

The boys singles was won by Owen Kohler of Kwa-Zulu Natal. Kohler the fourth seed upset the third seed Victor Putter of Gauteng North 6-4 6-3 in the final.

The girls singles title went to top seed Cara O’Flaherty of Gauteng Central. In the final O’Flaherty beat second seed Chelsea Dzenga of Gauteng North 6-1 6-1.


Port Elizabeth, South Africa - South Africa’s top woman runners are gearing up for the second race in the 2015 SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge series, to be run from Pollock Beach in Port Elizabeth on Saturday morning.

Mapaseka Makhanya 1st Runner Winner

Picture credit: Reg Caldecott

All eyes will be on Mapaseka Makhanya, who won the first race of the year in Cape Town in record time, but the Phalula twins, Diana-Lebo and Lebogang, can be expected to provide stiff competition. Diana-Lebo, who won the coveted Grand Prix title last year, did not compete in Cape Town, because she was doing national duty at the World Cross country championships in Beijing. She will be determined to gain as many Grand Prix points as possible, to make up for missing out in the opening race of the year. Her sister, who finished third in Cape Town, will be equally determined to shine.

Another pair of sisters, Rene and Christine Kalmer, who finished fourth and fifth in Cape Town, will also make sure that Makhanya does not have things all her own way. Rene Kalmer, who has won more Challenge races than any other runner, has described the Port Elizabeth race as one of her favourites, and she will be trying to stamp her authority on the race.

“I’ve always liked the PE race,” she said.
“I like the course – it is the kind of course where you can give it all you have, and as long as the wind is not too bad, the course is a very fair one. If it is very windy, which it is sometimes, it can be tough, but I have always enjoyed running there.”

Other runners who cannot be ruled out of contention include Zintle Xiniwe, Rutendo Nyahora and Cornelia Joubert. Zimbabwean Nyahora, who was second in Cape Town, is not eligible for Grand Prix points because she is not a South African citizen, but she remains fiercely competitive in all the Challenge races.

The prize money for the Grand Prix has been boosted to a whopping R150 000, with the runner-up pocketing R50 000, and the third-placed runner R30 000, so there is plenty of incentive for the top runners to compete in as many Challenge races as possible.

The Grand Prix is won by the runner with the most points after the five Challenge races – in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban, Pretoria and Cape Town – have been completed. Bonus points are awarded for record-breaking finishes, and there are also prizes up for grabs in the various age group categories.

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