Johannesburg, South Africa – Tennis fever is at an all-time high with the Wimbledon Championships on the go in London. In South Africa junior tennis players are preparing for challenges of their own with three major tournaments scheduled for July.

The countries junior tennis winter swing begins tomorrow (Wednesday) at Durban’s Westridge Park Tennis Stadium with the Dunlop Challenge, part of the Tennis South Africa Series which will end with the finals on Monday 5 July. Two further Tennis South Africa Series tournaments, namely the Gauteng Central TSA Series and the Gauteng East TSA Series will be played directly after the Kwa-Zulu Natal event.
The Gauteng Central TSA Series will be played at the Ellis Park Tennis Stadium from 7-11 July whilst the final leg of the winter swing will be the Gauteng East TSA Series at the Gauteng East Tennis Complex in Benoni from July 13-17.

Each of these tournaments will see boys and girls in the under 10, 12, 14, and 16 age categories competing at different tennis clubs throughout their respective regions. In addition to these age groups there will be an open tournament for senior men and women which falls in line with Tennis South Africa’s aims and objectives to encourage players exiting the junior ranks to continue to remain competitive in the game.

Gavin Crooks, President of Tennis South Africa said all three provincial associations were ready to deliver great events. “Junior tennis tournaments play a key role in the overall development of players. The school holidays are packed with tennis tournament nationwide giving parents a “peace of mind” that their children will be kept busy in a healthy environment throughout their school breaks.
“What is a major attraction for the tournaments are that they are played over the third Grand Slam of the year Wimbledon when tennis fever is at an all-time high” continued Crooks.


Johannesburg, South Africa - The Irish Davis Cup Captain, Conor Niland last visited South Africa in 2006 to play a series of Futures tournaments in Durban as a starting out pro.

Today Niland, who played 22 ties for his country since turning professional is captaining his countries Davis Cup team and told the South African media in a conference call on Tuesday that he was looking forward to returning to the country.

“My team and I look forward to playing at the Irene Country Club in Pretoria” said Niland. “Only one of our team members, James McGee has played in South Africa before during the Soweto Open so the trip is rather exciting for us all.”

Niland said that he had named his best possible side for the all-important Euro/Africa Group 2 relegation tie to be played from the 17-19 July. “Apart from injured Louk Sorensen, I will have my best team doing duty in Pretoria. We have no injuries and my boys are all playing this week and next so they are in good form.”

Niland said that Ireland were somewhat relieved that Kevin Anderson announced Monday that he would not be available for the Tie and Davis Cup for South Africa indefinitely. “ Kevin is a world class player. We heard that he possibly wasn’t going to play but only until we read on Kevin’s website that he was unavailable did we take that as confirmed. Without Kevin playing, it makes the tie a more even contest as with Kevin playing it would be a real tough order for Ireland to pull off a win. We admit we are pleased he is not part of the side.”

Niland also said that he had heard “via the grape-vine” that South Africa’s top ranked doubles player Raven Klaasen could also not be available for the tie. But Niland did admit that although it was good news that Klaasen may also not play, South Africa had depth and home advantage so they were not getting “too excited” about their chances.

“Even though South Africa have not yet named their side we have a good idea of the players that could be selected and their game styles so are working our game plan around that. We will arrive in South Africa early to prepare and get used to the altitude regardless” said Niland.
Niland said that he was pleased that the court surface chosen by the hosts was hard court. “During winter most of our tennis is played on indoor hard. In the warmer months we play on artificial grass so my guys are used to the quicker surfaces and in fact probably list hard courts as their best surface.”

Niland also said that playing at altitude would always be a problem for teams travelling to South Africa. “The hosts will definitely have an advantage with the altitude. But the Irish team are big guys (6.5 plus) and have big serves and Sam Barry in particular has an aggressive game so the quicker conditions should suite Ireland well.”

For Ireland and South Africa the tie is vitally important. The winner will remain in Euro/Africa Group 2 whilst the loser will be relegated to Group 3. “As important as the tie is for Ireland it surely is for South Africa. We both don’t want to be demoted and we will both put up the biggest fight to retain Group 2 status” admitted Niland.

Niland said that since the year 2000 Ireland had not been in Group 1 and during the past years have dropped at times to Group 3 and were ambitiously working hard in getting to Group 1.

The Irish team is:
James McGee (Singles 146 Doubles 562)
Sam Barry (Singles 424 Doubles 310)
James Cluskey (Singles 1785 Doubles 160)
David O’Hare (Singles 1515 Doubles 250)
Captain: Conor Niland


Johannesburg, South Africa - South African tennis ace, Kevin Anderson is at his highest ever world ever ranking of 14 after reaching the final of the AEGON Championships at the famed Queens Club in London on the weekend losing to world number 3 Andy Murray in Sundays final.

Kevin Anderson in action at the AEGON Championships 2015.

Picture credit: Jordan Mansfield Getty Images

Tennis South Africa (TSA) applauded the “gentle giant” of South African tennis for breaking into the world’s top 15 and reaching his 10th ATP final. The national tennis body also congratulated Raven Klaasen, the country’s top ranked doubles player (ranked 25) for winning the coveted Gerry Webber Open at Halle in Germany with new American partner Rajeev Ram also on Sunday. The win in Halle was Klaasen’s 7th career doubles title and his first with Ram.

There was also confirmation from TSA that Kevin Anderson had made himself available to play Davis Cup for his country on condition that there is a contribution toward his teams expenses. As much as TSA would love Anderson to be included in the line-up for their crucial upcoming tie vs Ireland at Pretoria’s Irene Country Club from 17 to 19 of July, they are unable to cover the costs that Kevin Anderson requires to play and are urgently seeking a sponsor to assist them cover costs.

Anderson needs to make himself available for Davis Cup duty this year and next in order to qualify for the Rio Olympics. Anderson has made himself available subject to his expenses being covered.

“We have until 10 days before the tie to name our team to play Ireland according to Davis Cup rules and are doing all we can to secure a sponsor for Kevin to secure him as part of the team ” confirmed Gavin Crookes, President and acting CEO of TSA.

The last time Anderson wore the green and gold was against Croatia in Potchefstroom in 2011.

TSA appealed to corporate South Africa to contact their offices should any interested sponsor be willing to invest into Kevin Anderson and Davis Cup.

Regardless of whether a sponsor could be sealed, signed and secured, Anderson has voiced his commitment to his country of birth South Africa and TSA have said they will support Anderson and agree to sanction Anderson to play in next year’s Olympics.

Kevin/Kevin1: Kevin Anderson in action at the AEGON Championships 2015.

Picture credit: Jordan Mansfield Getty Images


Netball South Africa (NSA) has announced a strong SPAR Proteas team for the Netball World Cup (NWC) in Sydney in August.
The new head coach, Australian Norma Plummer, selected the squad after trials involving players who had taken part in the KwaZulu-Natal Diamond Challenge and in the European Championships in Belfast in May.

Maryka Holtzhausen was named as the captain of the SPAR Proteas Netball World Cup team announced in Pretoria, South Africa on Tuesday. Holtzhausen will captain the 12 player team that will travel to New Zealand for two tests against the Silver Ferns in Hamilton (26 July) and Auckland (29 July) ahead of the Netball World Cup in Sydney, Australia from 7-16 August, 2015.

Bongiwe Msomi was named as the vice-captain of the SPAR Proteas Netball World Cup team announced in Pretoria, South Africa on Tuesday. Msomi will captain the 12 player team that will travel to New Zealand for two tests against the Silver Ferns in Hamilton (26 July) and Auckland (29 July) ahead of the Netball World Cup in Sydney, Australia from 7-16 August, 2015.

Pictures credits: Reg Caldecott

There were no major surprises in the squad. Erin Burger, who was named Player of the Tournament in the world championships in Singapore in 2011, was included, although she is still recovering from an ankle injury sustained during the recent Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League.
“Erin is on a rehabilitation programme, and we have a deadline for her recovery,” said Plummer.
“If she is not match fit by that date, we will make other plans.”

Plummer, who coached the team to victory in the Diamond Challenge which ended on Friday, said she felt privileged to be given the opportunity to coach such a talented group of athletes.
“I only have three weeks with them before the World Cup, whereas other coaches have had four to five years,” she said.
“So I’m not saying we are going to win the World Cup. I just want to make sure we give the players the knowledge and confidence to take the next step.”
Plummer’s influence was clearly visible during the Diamond Challenge, particularly in the final, when the Proteas stormed back after trailing Malawi at halftime, to win the match by five goals.

NSA President Mimi Mthethwa thanked Plummer and the entire Proteas management team, including the medical staff, for restoring the players’ confidence.
“It was so wonderful and gratifying to see the players so full of confidence and belief in what they can achieve on court,” said Mthethwa.
“This also affirmed that the decision the NSA Executive took to involve Ms Plummer could be the best so far.
“We know that she comes in at a very late stage before the NWC but we looked at what could benefit our players and we are sure that their performance at the NWC will show a much improved Proteas team,” she said.

“Our country has the best athletes. We would like them performing at their best to end the tournament with improved results from where they ended in the previous NWC.”
In 2011, South Africa beat their archrivals, Malawi, in the play-off for fifth place.

SPAR Proteas: Lenize Potgieter, Melissa Myburgh, Lindie Lombard, Maryka Holtzhausen (captain), Bongiwe Msomi (vice captain), Izette Lubbe, Erin Burger, Precious Mthembu, Rochelle Lawson, Karla Mostert, Adele Niemand, Phumza Maweni
Non-travelling reserves: Elsunet du Plessis, Lauren-Lee Christians, Zukelwa Cwaba.


The SPAR Proteas came from behind to beat Malawi 40-35 in the final of the KwaZulu-Natal Diamond Challenge Netball tournament at the Ugu Sports Centre in Margate on Friday night.

The SPAR Protea Netball team celebrate after they defeated Malawi in the final of day 4 of the Diamond Challenge at the UGU Sports Centre on June 19, 2015 in Gamalakhe on the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast, South Africa. Captain Maryka Holtzhausen lifts the winning trophy.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott

It was a thrilling match that had the crowd on the edge of their seats right until the end.
The Proteas’ new coach, Australian Norma Plummer, sprang a few surprises with her starting line-up, with captain Maryka Holtzhausen on the bench, and Elsunet du Plessis getting her first international start as goal attack. Stand-in captain Karla Mostert moved from goal defence to wing defence, and Adele Niemand moved from her normal position as goalkeeper to goal defence.

The Proteas got off to a bad start, and Malawi were 4-0 up before South Africa scored their first goal in the fifth minute. Goalshooter Lenize Potgieter appeared nervous, and missed a few attempts. Midway through the quarter, centre Precious Mthembu had to leave the court with an injury and the very vocal crowd raised the rafters when local favourite Bongi Msomi replaced her. Msomi showed no sign of after effects from being elbowed in the eye in the match against Uganda on Thursday night.

But the Malawi Queens continued to dominate, with outstanding performances from their goal shooters, Joyce Mvula and Sindi Simtowe, and their defenders, Carol Mtukule and Towera Vinkhumbo, who achieved a number of turnovers in the South African circle.
Malawi led 11-6 at halftime, and Plummer made wholesale changes, bringing on a more traditional team. Holtzhausen and Mostert returned to their usual positions at goal attack and goal defence, Msomi moved to wing attack, Mthembu to wing defence and Izette Lubbe to centre. Potgieter found her mojo and her normal accuracy, but at halftime Malawi were still ahead, leading by 22 goals to 19.

It was in the third quarter that the Proteas started to reel the Malawi Queens in. The crowd cheered every goal and every turnover, and when South Africa finally went into the lead halfway through the quarter, the spectators leapt to their feet as one, and cheered as if South Africa had won the World Cup.
The Proteas continued to pull away from Malawi, and ended the quarter with a 31-25 lead. In the final quarter, the Proteas came into their own, and scored six unanswered goals before Malawi scored again. Mostert was outstanding, achieving some breath taking intercepts and turnovers.
“I was very impressed by the courage of the players,” said Plummer after the match.

“They responded very well and they wore Malawi down. It is very important in netball to have the nous to get out of a tough situation. You have to have netball intelligence.”

Asked who had impressed her, she singled out Mostert and Potgieter.
“Karla came through with great stuff and Lenize is amazing for a kid of her age – she’s only 22,” said Plummer.
Several members of the team who played in the European Championships last month, but not in the Diamond Challenge, arrived in Margate on Friday for trials on Saturday. The squad for the Netball World Cup in Sydney in August is expected to be announced next week. South Africa’s first match at the World Cup is against Malawi.

Earlier, Uganda beat Zambia 59-34 to take third place in the competition.


Saturday, 06 June 2015, Seoul, Korea Republic. – South Africa’s Lucas Sithole, the world no.4 quad player, claimed his third Korea Open title, an ITF 1 Series tournament on Saturday with a 6-2 6-1 clean sweep against fourth-seeded Great Britain’s Anthony Cotterill.

After a successful prestigious BNP Paribas World Team in Turkey, it was a short rest for the country’s champion. Sithole started off well with a strong performance eliminating Kyu-Seung Kim 6-0 6-3 in the opening round. It was a mentally strong Sithole who destroyed Anders Hard in straight sets 6-1 6-0 to make his way to the semifinal round. The 28 year old Kwa-Zulu Natal ace was made to work hard for his games yesterday to dispatch Japan’s Shota Kawano in straight sets 6-4 6-2.
“I came to Seoul to win and the only way I could achieve that was to stay focused and stick to my game plan. I am very delighted for my third title here in Korea.” An unstoppable Sithole was in devastating form in the finals defeating Cotterill 6-2 6-1 to lift the 2015 Korea Open quads singles title.

In the women’s tournament, the country’s top player Kgothatso ‘KG’ Montjane withdrew before her final match on Saturday morning with a severe throat infection. Montjane was to play top-seeded Lucy Shuker of Great Britain. Despite the illness, Montjane fought hard to book a spot in the final round against Francisca Mardones of Chile and prevailed with 3-6 6-2 6-1.

South African top mens player Evans Maripa crashed out in the quarterfinal round. The 25-year-old Maripa, seeded 3 in the tournament pressed and fought but ultimately failed to escape the Korea Open quarterfinal round against 7th seed Ben Weekes. Weekes eliminated Maripa in three sets 3-6 7-6 6-1 to book a place in the semi-final round.

The players will now get rested before the start of the Daegu Open, another ITF 1 series event from 9-13 June in Daegu, Korea Republic.

Wheelchair Tennis South Africa Director and performance coach Holger Losch says, “Our players have been working very hard, and it is so good to see them reaping the rewards. We are thrilled to see Lucas Sithole claiming another title. It was unfortunate that KG Montjane couldn’t play due to illness, but despite that she performed extremely well. Participation in local and international tournaments is made possible by a munificent support by Airports Company South Africa, the official sponsor of the sport”, said Losch.


The SPAR netball Proteas reached the finals of the KwaZulu-Natal Diamond Challenge at the Ugu Sports Centre near Margate with a decisive 56-39 victory over Uganda on Thursday.

SPAR Protea Karla Mostert and Rachel Nanyonga of Uganda compete for the ball during day 3 of the Kwazulu-Natal Diamond Challenge Netball tournament at UGU Sports Centre on June 18, 2015 in Margate, South Africa. The SPAR Proteas beat Uganda 56-39 to qualify for Friday evenings final vs Malawi.

SPAR Protea wing attack Bongiwe Msomi in action against Uganda during day 3 of the Diamond Challenge netball tournament at UGU Sports Centre on June 18, 2015 in Margate, South Africa. The SPAR Proteas beat Uganda 56-39 to qualify for Friday evenings final vs Malawi.

Picture credits: Reg Caldecott

The victory meant South Africa went through the round robin stage of the competition without dropping a match. They will meet archrivals Malawi in the final on Friday night.
The Proteas did not have things all their own way. The Ugandan goal attack Rachael Nanyonga had an outstanding game, netting most of her attempts in the circle and the She Cranes never gave up.

Coach Norma Plummer made some changes to the Proteas line-up, with Lindie Lombard starting the match for the first time since a long lay-off because of injury and newcomer Nokubonga Sibiya startingat centre. Pumza Maweni also got her chance to start as goalkeeper, and performed so well she won the player of the match award.
Captain Maryka Holtzhausen sat out the early stages of the match, until the dynamic wing attack Bongi Msomi had to leave the court after being hit in the face in the third quarter.
Uganda started slowly and the Proteas were five goals up before the She Cranes scored their first goal. South Africa were 15-6 ahead after the first quarter. Uganda were outstanding in the second quarter, at one stage scoring five unanswered goals before the Proteas came back hard. The quarter was a tie, with both teams scoring 12 goals and at halftime, the Proteas led 27-18.

Plummer made some changes in the third quarter, bringing Adele Niemand on for Karla Mostert at goal attack, and replacing Sibiya with Izette Lubbe. Midway through the quarter, Msomi fell flat on her back after being elbowed in the left eye. Niemand moved to wing attack and Holtzhausen came on as goal attack. South Africa began to edge away from the Ugandans, outscoring them by 15 goals to 10.
There was joy for Elsunet du Plessis in the final quarter, when goalkeeper Lenize Potgieter sustained a hand injury, and Du Plessis was able to make her first appearance for South Africa.

The very vocal multiracial crowd got behind the Proteas and the noise level rose as the minutes ticked by.
“It was very physical and Uganda kept coming back at us,” said Holtzhausen after the match.
“We just couldn’t get away from them. We let them back in the game, and we certainly can’t do that against Malawi tomorrow.”
She said she was happy with the win, but disappointed that the team had not implemented coach Plummer’s game plans properly.
“Norma likes the short pass, and we tend to use the long pass when things get tough and we have to learn to do things her way.”
She said the team was very excited about working with Plummer.

“She has a different perspective, and she has coached a team that won the World Cup. She knows what it takes. I know we don’t have much time before the World Cup, but we’re willing to work hard and follow her ideas. She is making a huge difference.”
In the earlier match of the evening, Malawi thrashed Zambia 60-34. Zambia lost all their round robin matches, while Malawi were only beaten by South Africa.


Johannesburg, South Africa - The South African under 16 boys tennis team has qualified for the Junior Davis Cup Finals.
The team comprising of Richard Thongoana, Joshua-Howard Tripp and Bertus Kruger secured a spot in the Junior Davis Cup Finals to be played in Spain in September this year after completing a clean sweep against Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt in last week’s Africa Junior Tennis Team Championships in Cairo, Egypt.

“The boys only dropped two sets in all the matches and showcased their dominance against tough opposition on the Clay courts of Egypt.” Said team coach Allan Karam. “The team is well balanced and the players worked hard in all matches and showed incredible self-belief when there were moments of adversity, they managed to come back in certain situations where the score did not favor them” added Karam.
“I am delighted for the players as this is an incredible achievement for them and for tennis in the country. The hard work now starts and preparation for Spain will start immediately.”

Tennis South Africa President and acting CEO Gavin Crookes said “It is with a great deal of pride and satisfaction that I, on behalf of Tennis South Africa, congratulate our boys Richard, Joshua and Bertus for winning this year’s African Junior Championships. Even more commendable in this achievement is the fact that this team has now deservedly earned the right to participate in the Junior Davis Cup Finals later this year. At this event the top under 16 boys Teams from sixteen countries around the world participate – it is particularly gratifying to know that our young South African players have the ability and talent to be up there with the best in the world. This bodes well for the future of tennis in South Africa.

I know I speak for everyone in wishing our Team well and assure them of South Africa’s unqualified support in Spain.”

The Junior Davis Cup Finals will be played from 28 September to 3 October 2015 in Madrid, Spain. The tournament will see 16 different countries competing for the ultimate prize of being crowned the top junior tennis players in the world.

The South African team is as follows:
1. Richard Thongoana
2. Joshua Howard Tripp
3. Bertus Kruger
Captain - Allan Karam


The SPAR Proteas celebrated the official appointment of Australian World Cup winning coach Norma Plummer as their head coach with a decisive 43-33 win over their arch rivals Malawi in the
KwaZulu-Natal Diamond Challenge at the Ugu Sports Centre in Gamalakhe on Wednesday.

Newly appointed SPAR Protea head coach Norma Plummer charges up her players during the 1st quarter break in South Africa’s 43-33 win over arch rivals Malawi at the Diamond Challenge being played at Gamalakhe in Kwazulu-Natal on Wednesday.

Picture by: Reg Caldecott

South Africa took control of the match from the start. Lenize Potgieter was on fire as goalshooter, netting the ball with almost every attempt, including a shot on the run as she passed the post. Captain Maryka Holtzhausen was also effective with shots from the edge of the circle.

At the other end of the court, goalkeeper Adele Niemand and goal attack Karla Mostert did sterling work in defence, with Niemand in particular achieving a number of intercepts and turnovers.
The match was very fast and very physical, with players on both sides blown up for over-enthusiastic contact. Bongi Msomi, playing wing attack, moved like lightning, driving the ball to her circle, while Izette Lubbe did a good job at centre before she had to leave the court with a wrist injury.

The Proteas maintained their lead throughout the match, and won every quarter. At halftime they were 22-16 ahead, and their best quarter was the third, which they won by 11 goals to eight.
It was sweet revenge for the Proteas, who lost to the Malawi Queens at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last year. Malawi are the top-ranked African team, at fifth in the world, while the Proteas are ranked sixth.

Plummer said she had seen an improvement in the Proteas’ performance since Tuesday, when they beat Zambia 63-38.
“I told the girls they had to be prepared to stand up and be counted,” she said.
“I said they had to withstand the pressure throughout the match, and put pressure back on Malawi. By halftime, they had Malawi wondering about their game plan.
“There were some loose passes, where we lost the ball, and that was not good enough. But they sustained pressure for most of the match – there were times when they let it go, but then they came back again.”

However, Plummer said there was still a long way to go.
“I’ve been with them for just five days. So much to do, so much to learn,” she said.
“Our first match at the World Cup is against Malawi. If all goes well, we should play them in the final on Friday night, so it’s a case of one down and two to go. But first we have to beat Uganda tomorrow night, and they are developing into a very good team. It’s four days of very tough netball.”
Plummer once again made changes after the second quarter.
“I am not coaching seven players, I’m coaching 12,” she said.

“I have to know that the bench players can step onto the court at any time without the team missing a beat.”
In the other match, Uganda beat Zambia 59-36 to claim their first victory of the tournament. The world number 14 side dominated the match from start to finish, extending their lead with every quarter. The Ugandan captain, goalshooter Peace Proscovia impressed once again with her accurate shooting. She was ably supported by Rachael Nanyonga, who was named Player of the Match.
The Zambians fought hard throughout the match, but the Ugandan She Cranes proved too much for them.
Zambia take on Malawi in the first match on Thursday. It will be followed by the match between South Africa and Uganda. Both matches will be live on SuperSport.


Gamalakhe, South Africa- Netball South Africa (NSA) announced on Wednesday that Norma Plummer, who coached Australia to victory in the Netball World Cup in Singapore in 2011, had officially been appointed head coach of the SPAR Proteas for the World Cup in Sydney in August.

Newly announced SPAR Proteas head coach, Norma Plummer of Australia gives advice to Wing Defense Precious Mthembu during practice Wednesday at the Diamond Challenge in Gamalakhe, Kwa-Zulu Natal. Plummer will lead South Africa to the World Cup to be played in Sydney in August. JPG

Picture credits: Reg Caldecott

NSA President Mimi Mthethwa said the International Netball Federation and World Cup Committee had approved the appointment and Plummer would take over with immediate effect. Bennie Saayman would be her assistant coach, and Plummer’s assistant in Singapore, Nicole Cusack, had been appointed as the second assistant coach specializing in the shooting area. The former assistant coach, Martha Mosoahle-Samm, had withdrawn from the coaching panel because of family commitments, said Mthethwa. Elsje Jordaan would remain part of the team as the analyst, Dr Shyrelle Calder the EyeGym consultant, Tumelo Komane the team physiotherapist, Ilze Pheiffer the sports scientist and Nisha Rupnarain team manager.

NSA President Blanche de la Guerre said Plummer had been brought in to provide a fresh approach to coaching.
“We have been working with Norma since 2011, and she came here in February to conduct a training camp. The players were excited by her different approach and we realised how much they would benefit from the experience of someone with a proven track record. We couldn’t appoint her then because she was working with the England team,” she said.
Earlier, it was reported that Plummer would act as a mentor to the official coaching staff.

Plummer said she was delighted to take over as coach of the Proteas.
“There is so much talent in the team, and the girls are very hungry for success,” she said.
Plummer is also the head coach for the four nations Diamond Challenge, which is currently taking place in Margate.
“We will travel to New Zealand next month to play two Tests against the Silver Ferns. It is important for the players to have the experience of playing against one of the world’s top teams before they head into the World Cup, and regardless of the outcome of those Tests, they will benefit,” she said.

Mthethwa said NSA would have the freedom to select the World Cup team purely on merit.
“Players will be picked on performance, not on their colour,” she said.

“But NSA is very proud of the fact that last night, in the match against Zambia, there were five black players on court at one time,” she said.
“This proves our transformation process is working.”

World Cup trials will be conducted on Saturday, after the Diamond Challenge, with several other players, including the 2011 World Cup Player of the Tournament Erin Burger, joining the Diamond Challenge squad.


Dublin, Ireland - Ireland have announced their best team to face seeded South Africa this July in the relegation play-offs of the Europe/Africa Zone Group 2 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Tie.

The tie to be played from 17 to 19 July will be staged just outside of Pretoria, at the Irene Country Club.

Irelands non-playing captain Conor Niland nominated his four best players including the highest ranked Irish player, on the ATP World Tour, James Mcgee for their away tie. Mcgee, 28 year old is currently ranked 155 in the world.
The Irish team announced is; James Mcgee, Sam Barry, they will be joined by doubles specialists James Cluskey & David O’Hare.

South African Davis Cup Captain, Earl Grainger said that the Irish team announced would be pose a big challenge to his team. “This is a very strong and competitive Irish side. They pose a major threat to South Africa and ranking wise their players over the past few years have impressed. South Africa are going to have to work very hard and use the high altitude advantage to give themselves the best chance.
But the Irish guys are big and strong and have solid serves so even though we playing on altitude, it’s going to be a hard fight for team South Africa.”

South Africa has not yet announced their team and they have up to 10 days before the tie to announce the team. Grainger said he was still negotiating with players to put together the best possible team. “Between Tennis South Africa (TSA) President Gavin Crookes and myself, we are in negotiations with all the South African players including our top ranked singles player Kevin Anderson and top ranked doubles player Raven Klaasen to make themselves available for the tie come July. With Ireland naming such a strong team, TSA and I need time to select our best possible team to give us every chance of winning at Irene Country Club in July and remaining in the Euro/Africa Group 2.”

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.
South Africa endured mixed fortunes in 2014, winning against Monaco in the first round and losing to Lithuania in the second to remain in Europe/Africa Zone Group 2.

The Irish team is as follows;

James Mcgee (Singles 155 Doubles 556)
Sam Barry (Singles 378 Doubles 345)
James Cluskey (Singles 1751 Doubles 160)
David O’Hare (Singles 1485 Doubles 247)
Captain: Conor Niland


Gamalakhe, South Africa-The SPAR Proteas got off to the start they wanted when they comfortably beat Zambia 63-38 in the opening match of the KwaZulu-Natal Netball Diamond Challenge at the Ugu Sports Centre near Margate on Tuesday night.

Adele Niemand

Precious Mthembu

Pictures by: Reg Caldecott

The Proteas were generally much taller than their Zambian counterparts, and they made good use of their height advantage, particularly in the Zambian circle, where Adele Niemand and Karla Mostert were able to turn the ball and get it back to the South African side.
Bongi Msomi at wing attack and Precious Mthembu at wing defence were also outstanding, achieving numerous intercepts and turnovers.

The match was fast and physical. South Africa maintained a good level of scoring throughout the match. They were 14-10 ahead after the first quarter, and led 33-16 at halftime, with the second quarter being Zambia’s worst, with only six goals. The ‘Chipolopolo’ stepped up the pace in the third quarter, scoring 10 goals to South Africa’s 15, and the last quarter was their best, where they scored 12 goals to the Proteas’ 15.
Former Australian coach Norma Plummer, who has been appointed Proteas coach for the Diamond Challenge, made some changes in the third and fourth quarters, as she tried out different combinations. Lindie Lombard came on instead of Maryka Holtzhausen as goal attack for the second half, with Phumza Maweni replacing Adele Niemand as goalkeeper, and in the final quarter, she replaced centre Izette Lubbe with Nokubongo Sibiya, giving the Kingdom Stars player her first international exposure.
Plummer said afterwards that she was quite pleased with the performance, although there was much to be done if South Africa wanted to succeed at the Netball World Cup in Sydney in August.
“Zambia have not had a lot of exposure to international Netball, and thinks the Proteas can get away with against them will not work against the stronger teams,” she said.
“The Proteas make too much use of the long pass, and teams like Australia and New Zealand will just eat them up – they need to work smarter, and use short and sharp passes. We have a lot to work on before the World Cup,” she said.
Asked about the Zambian team, Plummer praised the shooters, Margaret Mutafela and Agnes Chingambo.
“They’re unbelievable, and they certainly know where the goalposts are,” she said.
Holtzhausen, the South African captain, said the Proteas were very pleased to have won their first match of the tournament.
“We know we still have a lot of work to do,” she said.
“For example, we need to look after the ball better.”
The Proteas’ archrivals Malawi, who are one above South Africa in the world rankings, showed their strength with a decisive 51-40 win over Uganda.
However, it did not go all the Malawi Queens’ way. The Uganda She Cranes, led by their dynamic captain and goalshooter Peace Proscovia, were just one goal behind Malawi after the first quarter, which ended 15-14 in Malawi’s favour, and outscored Malawi in the third quarter by 12 goals to 10. Proscovia, who is Holtzhausen’s teammate at Loughborough in the English Super League, was named player of the match. She said she was very happy that her team had fought until the end.
“Malawi are number five in the world, and Uganda are number 14. So we are very excited that we managed to keep up with them, and even win a quarter,” she said.
South Africa and Malawi meet in the first match on Wednesday, with Zambia and Uganda locking horns in the second match.


Netball World Cup winning Australian coach Norma Plummer has joined the SPAR Proteas as consulting coach ahead of the Diamond Challenge, which begins in Margate on Tuesday.


Picture credit: Reg Caldecott

Netball South Africa President Mimi Mthethwa made the announcement on Monday. She said Plummer would be able to assess the progress made by the national players, and determine whether they were going in the right direction.
Plummer worked with the Proteas in February this year, and will work again with the current coaching panel led by Bennie Saayman.
“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to work with the Proteas again,” said Plummer.
“I retired from coaching fulltime after the World Cup in 2011, but since then I’ve realised that I can serve as a mentor coach. I can come in for a couple of weeks, wherever I’m needed.”
Plummer praised the concept of the Diamond Challenge, in which South Africa will play against Malawi, Uganda and Zambia, the other African countries who will be taking part in the Netball World Cup in Sydney in August.
“Australia and New Zealand play each other all the time, and they also have a very strong league, which means they constantly compete at a very high level. There is a huge pool of talent in Africa, and what they need is exposure to international Netball. They need more competitions like this, but the Diamond Challenge will help them all prepare for the World Cup,” said Plummer.
Saayman said she was very pleased to be able to work with Plummer, who had coached at the very highest level.
“She brings a different approach and we can only benefit from her presence. Our training is going well, and we have had opportunities to study the other three teams. We know what to expect from them and we know what we have to do.”
Mthethwa said she was happy to be able to extend a hand of friendship to South Africa’s African sisters, ahead of the World Cup.
“The Diamond Challenge is a symbol of the unification of African Netball,” she said.
“We welcome our sisters to our country, and we all say no to xenophobia.”


Pretoria, Johannesburg- Two newcomers have been selected to join the SPAR national Netball team for the Diamond Challenge to be played in Margate next week.
The newcomers are Elsje Susanna du Plessis , a shooter from the North West Flames, and centre/goal defence Nokubonga Sibiya of the Kingdom Stars. The two players caught the eye of the selectors during the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League (NPL), which ended in Pretoria on Sunday. Sibiya was named the most promising player at the NPL.

Goal attack Lindie Lombard of the Gauteng Jaguars, makes a welcome return to the national team after a long layoff because of injury. She was carefully managed during the NPL, and was not allowed to play more than three quarters in a game.

“She has been cleared now to play a full game, and we will watch her during the Diamond Challenge to see if she is match ready after her injury,” said Netball South Africa Director of Selectors Christine du Preez.

Others to return to the team, after missing the tour to Northern Ireland for the European championships last month because of work commitments are NPL player of the series Karla Mostert, the Crinums goal attack and NPL midcourt player of the series, Bongiwe Msomi, who plays centre or wing attack for the Kingdom Stars. Another Stars centre court player, Precious Mthembu, also returns to the squad.

Du Preez said the team for the Netball World Cup in Sydney in August would be announced after the Diamond Challenge.
“The team for the Diamond Challenge is not necessarily the team that will go to Sydney,” she said.
“For instance, we will want to see how Erin Burger is and whether she will be ready for the World Cup,” said Du Preez.
Burger sustained an ankle injury during the NPL, and was not available for selection to the Diamond Challenge.

South Africa will play the three other countries that will represent Africa at the World Cup during the Challenge. They are long-time rivals Malawi, and World Cup newcomers Uganda and Zambia.
The tournament starts on Tuesday and ends on Friday night.

SPAR national team: Maryka Holtzhausen (C), Lindie Lombard, Elsunet du Plessis, Phumza Maweni, Bongiwe Msomi, Precious Mthembu, Melissa Myburgh, Adéle Niemand, Lenize Potgieter, Izette Lubbe, Shadine van der Merwe, Karla Mostert, Zukelwa Cwaba, Nokubonga Sibiya.

Team Management:
Coach: Bennie Saayman
Assistant Coach: Martha Mosoahle/ Elsje Jordaan
Team Manager: Nisha Rupnarain


Durban, South Africa- With different winners in the three races in the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge series that have been run so far, the annual SPAR Grand Prix is wide open.

Lebogang Phalula

Picture credit: Reg Caldecott

Lebogang Phalula’s victory in the Durban leg on Sunday pushed her to the top of the Grand Prix ladder.
Her podium finishes in all three races earned her a total of 57 points. She is 10 points ahead of her nearest rival, three times Grand Prix winner Rene Kalmer. Although Kalmer had not finished in the top three in any of the races, her consistent performances have earned her 47 points. Her sister Christine and Cornelia Joubert are breathing down her neck, however, with 46 points each.

2013 Grand Prix winner Mapaseka Makhanya, who topped the ladder after the first two races, has dropped back to fifth position on the ladder, with 45 points, after finishing 18th in Durban. Makhanya, who won in Cape Town in record time, and finished eighth in Port Elizabeth, said she had an Achilles injury, and had only run the race in Durban to earn vital Grand Prix points.

Last year’s Grand Prix winner, Diana-Lebo Phalula, twin sister of Lebogang, is in seventh position. She and Nolene Conrad missed the Cape Town race because they were representing South Africa in the world cross country championships in China, but Diana-Lebo won the Port Elizabeth race and finished sixth in Durban, to earn 35 points. She is one point behind Conrad, who was second in Durban and fourth in Cape Town.

Irvette van Zyl, who is expecting a baby in September, is in eighth position on the log, with 30 points. Van Zyl, who is a two times winner of the Grand Prix, finished 15th in Cape Town and ninth in Port Elizabeth and Durban. She says she intends to run in the Pretoria race at the end of August, although it will be only a couple of weeks before her baby is due.
As far as the clubs are concerned, there is a close battle between Nedbank and Boxer. After three races, Nedbank were on top with 196 points, while Boxer had 195. Transnet were in third place, with 96 points.


With the Netball World Cup (NWC) just around the corner, there’s good news for the SPAR Proteas – the Diamond Challenge is returning to South Africa on June 16.

The four African teams that will be playing at the World Cup – South Africa, Malawi, Zambia and Uganda – will compete in the Diamond Challenge, which will be played at the Ugu Sports Centre in Margate on the KZN South Coast from June 16 to 19.

“We are very excited that the Diamond Challenge is back,” said Netball South Africa (NSA) chief executive Blanche de la Guerre.

“It was last played in 2013, but we have entered a partnership with KwaZulu Natal Sport, and they will help to finance this tournament. In return, we will assist with Netball development programmes in KZN.”

She said Margate had been chosen for the tournament because there is great interest in Netball in the Ugu district, which is the area around Margate.

“The tournament matches will be played in the evenings, and in the daytime, provincial players will hold Netball clinics for senior schoolgirls in the area,” said De la Guerre.
“We will also hold clinics for technical officials and umpires during the Diamond Challenge,” she said.

South Africa and their main African rivals, Malawi, are old hands at the NWC, but this year’s World Cup in Sydney will be a first for Uganda and Zambia.

“By holding the Diamond Challenge, we will be giving our fellow Africans some experience of tournament conditions,” said De la Guerre.

“It will also be good exposure for our players. The team that is selected for the Diamond Challenge is not necessarily the team that will go to Sydney, but this is an opportunity for the selectors to have a look at some different players.”

South Africa won the Diamond Challenges in 2012 and 2013, and will want to maintain their record this year.

De la Guerre said the Diamond Challenge was an expression of NSA’s commitment to fighting xenophobia.

“We are reaching out to our African friends and neighbours, and it is also fitting that the tournament starts on Youth Day – one of the most significant dates in our country’s history,” she said.

The tournament starts with a round robin section with play-offs for positions on Friday June 19.


Defending champion Lebogang Phalula sprinted the last kilometre to win the Durban leg of the Spar Women’s Challenge in 33.36 minutes on Sunday morning.

Lebogang Phalula at the finish line.

Picture by: Reg Caldecott

Phalula ran much of the race alongside Nolene Conrad, who finished second in 33.39 minutes. Rutendo Nyahora was third in 33.53.
There was a lengthy delay at the start of the race because of a safety issue, and a number of athletes complained that they were concerned about running hard, because they were not properly warmed up. They said this was why times were not as fast as had been expected.
“It was a tough race,” said a beaming Phalula.
“I ran with Nolene for much of the way. She pulled away from me at about eight kilometres, but I knew that I had the speed to overtake her if she was still in sight. My body was feeling good, and so I sprinted the last bit to win. I was pleased it was Nolene and not Rutendo, because I don’t think I could have passed her. ”
Phalula, who won the race last year as well, said she was very happy with her win.
“I love the Durban race, and I also love the Johannesburg one, because that’s where I have won,” she said.
Conrad was delighted with her podium finish, which was only her second.
“It’s the first time I’ve been in contention to win,” she said.
“We didn’t start too fast, and Lebogang and I pulled away from the pack at about 4.5kms, and then I ran away from her. But she sprinted past me, and there was nothing I could do. But I’m very happy to have finished second.”
Nyahora was also very pleased with her run.
“Everything went according to plan. I love the course – it’s pretty flat, and really suits me.”
Phalula’s twin sister, Diana-Lebo, who won the Port Elizabeth leg of the Challenge series last month, finished in sixth position. Sisters Christine and Rene Kalmer, finished fifth and seventh respectively, while Cornelia Joubert came fourth.
Former Grand Prix winner Irvette van Zyl, who is expecting a baby in September, delighted everyone by coming ninth – her second top 10 finish this year.
There have been three different winners for each of the Spar races this year, with Mapaseka Makhanya winning in Cape Town. Makhanya finished 19th in Durban on Sunday. She said she had a left Achilles injury, and had only run the race because she wanted to earn Grand Prix points.
With different winners and podium finishers in the three races run so far, the battle for top spot on the Grand Prix ladder is still wide open. The next Challenge race is in Pretoria on August 29. The final race will be in Johannesburg in October.



Durban, South Africa - Results of the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge race run at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead Durban on Sunday

Overall Results: 1-Lebogang Phalula 33.36; 2-Nolene Conrad 33.39; 3-Rutendo Nyahora 33.53; 4-Cornelia Joubert 34.04; 5-Christine Kalmer 34.29; 6-Diana-Lebo Phalula 34.48; 7-Rene Kalmer 34.51; 8-Nicole Van Der Merwe 34.52; 9-Irvette 34.56; 10-Tanith Maxwell 35.29

Female Senior: 1-Lebogang Phalula 33.36; 2-Nolene Conrad 33.39; 3-Rutendo Nyahora 33.53.

Female Junior (15-19 Age Group): 8-Nicole Van Der Merwe 34.52; 25-Simonay Weitsz 37.49; 27- Nomcebo Mtshali 38.05;

Female (35-39 Age Group): 10-Tanith Maxwell 35.29; 14- Bulelwa Simae 36.09; 48-Nonsikelelo Mbambo 41:22

Female (40-49 Age Group): 31-Janene Carey 38:39; 38-Karen Sobrino 40:12; 49-Ronel Thomas 41.25

Female (50-59 Age Group): 35-Judy Bird 39:23; 73-Ansie Breytenbaci 44.21; 84-Janine Engels 45:33

Female (60+ Age Group): 60-Margie Saunders 43.07; 122-Sonja Laxton 48:46; 139- Sandy Fismer 50:01


There is plenty at stake for South Africa’s elite women road runners at the Durban leg of the SPAR women’s 10km Challenge this weekend.

Mapaseka Makhanya

Picture credit: Reg Caldecott

With three races to go, the Grand Prix award is still wide open. Top runners earn Grand Prix points for finishing in the top 20 in each race, with bonus points for runner a faster time than the winning time the previous year.

After two races, the ebullient Mapaseka Makhanya of Nedbank is in the lead, with a total of 43 points. The 2013 Grand Prix winner won the Cape Town race in record time, earning 30 points, and then she took 13 points from the Port Elizabeth race, where she finished in eighth place.

Her nearest rival is Lebogang Phalula, who came third in Cape Town and second in Port Elizabeth, for a total of 37 points. Lebogang’s twin sister, Diana-Lebo, who was last year’s Grand Prix winner, is in third position, with 20 points. Diana-Lebo missed the first race because she was representing South Africa at the world cross-country championships in China.

The Durban race is the flagship Challenge race. The first Spar Challenge was run in Durban, and it has always been one of the most popular. The previous five races had four different winners, with Irvette van Blerk winning back-to-back races in 2010 and 2011. Since then it has been won by Rene Kalmer (2012), Mapaseka Makhanya (2013) and Lebogang Phalula (2014). The runners generally enjoy the race, which has a beautiful scenic route and is relatively flat.

The top Grand Prix contenders will be at the start at Kingsmead Cricket Stadium on Sunday. The Phalula twins are definite contenders for top honours, as is Makhanya. Rene Kalmer and her sister Christine are also expected to do well, and other top runners include Nolene Conrad, Tannith Maxwell and Jenna Challenor. Irvette van Zyl is expected to run, but she is several months pregnant, and although she had a top ten finish in Port Elizabeth, she is unlikely to trouble the top runners on Sunday.

Several of the top runners have been in Durban for some time, supporting runners who competed in the Comrades Marathon last Sunday, and they will have used their time to get used to the route and the conditions.


Tuesday, 02 June 2015, Johannesburg, South Africa. – South Africa’s wheelchair tennis teams delivered a strong performance at the BNP Paribas World Team Cup in Turkey over the weekend, with Evans Maripa going undefeated in the men’s singles.

The South African men’s team which comprised of Evans Maripa, Leon Els, Marshall Marsh competed in the World Group II division where they finished in the second position after they lost to Spain (ESP) on Saturday’s penultimate day of the 2015 BNP Paribas World Team Cup.

The team went on to face USA in the promotion/relegation tie match where they fought hard for a place in the World Group I, the highest level of competition in the game, which features the top 12 nations in the world. Maripa tried to put South Africa ahead when he dismantled Jon Rydberg, romping to a 6-3 2-6 6-0 victory, but the Americas levelled the tie when Steve Baldwin outplayed Marshall Marsh 6-1 7-6(2) and clinched the deciding doubles match clash to beat South Africa 2-1.

Former US Open champion Lucas Sithole together with Bongani Dlamini and Danny Mohlamonyane represented the country in the quads division where they showed good form, eliminating Great Britain 3-0 on the opening day of the event but were downed by Israel and Italy. The team clinched fifth position with a decisive 2-1 over Canada in the 5/6th place play-off.

The women’s team of Kgothatso Montjane, Mariska Venter and Thando Hlatshwayo could not quite match the depth of some of the top nations and finished eighth in the open women’s division. It was the first time both Venter and Hlatshwayo participated in the open women event at the World Team Cup .

Wheelchair Tennis South Africa director Holger Losch was very thrilled by the team’s performance. “It is always such an honour for the players to represent their country especially giving the new players an opportunity to play in the premier event on the wheelchair tennis calendar”. Said Losch
“We achieved the results we expected, and are elated that the up and coming players rose to the challenge, and held their own in both the singles and the doubles events. Our teams gave it all - they played with pride, passion and commitment knowing they are not only playing for themselves, but for a team, and a country”, Losch added.

Evans Maripa, Leon Els, Kgothatso Montjane, Mariska Venter, Thando Hlatshwayo, Lucas Sithole, and Bongani Dlamini have now headed to Korea for the Korea Open, the ITF 1 series event starting today which will be followed by the Daegu Open, also a grade 1 tournament from 09 to 13 June and ITF 2 Busan Open which will also be staged in Korea from 15 June - 18 June.

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