London, United Kingdom; Despite the surprise early exit of twentieth seed Kevin Anderson in round 1 on Monday at the Wimbledon Championships, the South African flag is still flying high above the All England Club in London.

Raven Klaasen of Cape Town will partner with American Rajeev Ram in the doubles and seeded 11 the African/American duo are expecting to do well especially after winning the warm up grass tournament in Halle two weeks ago.

However it’s not just the players who have been flying the rainbow nations flag at the third Grand Slam of the year.

Five Tennis South Africa (TSA) officials are doing duty at the Championships namely Iain Smith, Pieter Hoeksma, George Phiri, Patrick Selepe and Suzette Hattingh, all from Tshwane.

Smith is the Hawk Eye Review Official of the Championships and Hoeksma was a Line Umpire at both the qualifying and main draw.

Phiri, Selepe and Hattingh were Line Umpires during the qualifying tournament and Phiri and Selepe will be chair umpires during the Junior Championships next week.

This is Hattingh and Selepe’s first trip to officiate at Wimbledon. Selepe is amongst the first officials to officiate at the Championships whose from a disability background. He obtained his ITF White Badge Chair Umpire certification in Cape Town last year November, becoming South Africa’s first disabled official.

“I am so honoured to have been selected to work at Wimbledon” said Selepe. “This is the tournament of all tournaments and for an official to take to the grass courts and work the lines and umpire is really a dream come true.”



Durban, South Africa – Winter tennis fever hits Durban this week with over 340 junior tennis players heading for Durban to play in the SHOSPEC KZN TSA Series.

The tournament which begins from the 29th of June and finish on 3rd July 2016 will have singles and doubles events for boys and girls in the age groups 10 and under, 12 and under, 14 and under, 16 and under as well as for men and women in the open age group.
This is the biggest tournament of its kind in 10 years for KZN and will make use of six different venues namely; Westridge Tennis Stadium, Windsor Tennis Club, Stella Tennis Club, Bellevue Tennis Club, Mitchell Park Tennis Club and Westville Tennis Club.

KZN Tennis Association President Leonard Morgas said that this is a continued effort to grow the sport in the province. “We are excited to be hosting the SHOSPEC TSA series tournament in Durban. It is one of the biggest entries we have had in many years. We are looking forward to seeing some great tennis and we hope that people will come out and watch some of SA’s top junior stars.”



London – South African tennis ace, Kevin Anderson was once again elected to the ATP Player Council.
The new ATP Player Council, as voted by players, was announced on Saturday evening at the general player meeting at Wimbledon.
The Council, elected for a two-year term, includes the world’s top two ranked singles players Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, as well as the likes of Gilles Simon, Kevin Anderson, Rajeev Ram and Sergiy Stakhovsky.

Kevin Anderson

Picture credit: ATP World Tour

World No. 1 doubles player Jamie Murray is also elected, alongside his doubles partner Bruno Soares, meaning it will be the first time that two brothers are to serve on the Council at the same time.
Members elected by their peers to serve on the ATP Player Council through June 2018 are:

• 1-50 Singles: Kevin Anderson, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Gilles Simon
• 51-100 Singles: Yen-Hsun Lu, Rajeev Ram
• 1-100 Doubles: Jamie Murray, Bruno Soares
• At-Large: Marcelo Melo, Sergiy Stakhovsky
• Alumni: Colin Dowdeswell
• Coach: Claudio Pistolesi

The new ATP Player Council will have its first meeting in New York prior to the US Open, where the President and Vice President will be elected.

Chris Kermode, ATP Executive Chairman & President, said: “Congratulations to all those that have been elected to the new Council. It’s great news to have such a strong group of players involved as we look to take the ATP World Tour to new heights in years ahead. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the outgoing Council members, led by Eric Butorac as President, for all their hard work and dedication over the past two years.”
Anderson said: “ I am truly honored to be elected again to the Player Council. We have a great group of players on the Council for the next 2 years! “

Djokovic said: “I am humbled to be elected by my colleagues to be on the Players Council. It is a big responsibility and I know how much all of us players care for our sport to thrive and grow. I see this as an opportunity and I hope to fulfil the expectations of my colleagues.”

Andy Murray said: “It’s the first time I’m getting involved in something like this and I’m looking forward to getting started with the rest of the guys on the Council. We’ve seen a lot of growth on the ATP World Tour in recent years and hopefully we can continue that.”

Bruno Soares said: “I’m very happy to be elected for a second time. These past two years were a great experience. We were able to learn a lot and see the sport from a different perspective. I hope I can keep contributing. The players have been very committed to helping to improve our sport, and I’m happy to be a part of that.”

The ATP Player Council meets several times a year and makes recommendations to ATP Management and the ATP Board of Directors through the three Player Board representatives, whom the Council elects.

Earlier this week, Justin Gimelstob was re-elected by the outgoing Player Council as Player Board representative from the Americas Group region. Gimelstob will serve another three-year term starting January 1, 2017. The ATP Board of Directors comprises three Player Representatives, three Tournament Representatives, and ATP Executive Chairman and President Kermode.


Johannesburg, South Africa – On the eve of the Wimbledon Championships, the South African Schools tennis team were awarded with their blazers and colours by the chairman of South African Schools Tennis, David Jaquire. The award ceremony was held at a hotel close to O.R Tambo International Airport on Thursday afternoon.

From left to right, Front Row: Sophie Mcdonald, Lienke De Kock, Hubert Badenhorst, Mrs. Jenny Koster (manageres), Mr. David Jaquire (manager) , Mrs. Jill Meyer (manageres), Wilanie Van Zyl, Thembokwakhe Makhanya
Middle Row: Aletta Macheli, Ester De Kock, Juan-Louis Van Antwerpen, Lungile Ntuli, Cara O’ Flaherty, Wikus Robbertse, Neo Mafuyeka, Daniel De Villiers, Sandil Bhikha, Hannah Siobhan Plageman

Janré Viljoen, Khanya Ramokgopa, Ryan Little, Charles Morkel, James Weatherhead, Hugh Morgan, Chao-Hong Peng
Gauteng: From left to right, back row; Khanya Ramokgopa, James Weatherhead, Hugh Morgan and Chao-Hong Peng.
Front row; Juan-Louis Van Antwerpen, Cara O’ Flaherty, Neo Mafuyeka and Sandil Bhikha.
Picture credit: Stephen Keet Photography.

The team of twenty two junior tennis players is off to the United Kingdom for an invitational tour that will see them take part in two ties against some of the top junior tennis players in the world. The first tie will be against the Academy of Glastonbury (put in date) followed by a tie against The Sutton Academy (put in date).

The tour for the team was planned just before the beginning of Wimbledon giving the juniors an opportunity to attend the Championships on the first two days.

President of Tennis South Africa and acting CEO Gavin Crookes congratulated the players on being selected for the team.
“Representing your country is an honour. I urge each one of you to be exemplary ambassadors for our magnificent country. I know we can count on you to be responsible, accountable and at all times to show the sportsmanship that South African’s are renowned for. Be humble in success and be exemplary role models for all that you play against and meet.
I wish each one of you and the team a successful tour knowing that you will do your best on and off the court. My thanks to David Jacquire and his team of helpers who’s hard work and efforts make this tour happen.
Crookes ended by wishing the team all the best and encouraged them to “play fair”.

The team selected is as follows;

Hubert Badenhorst (GN)
Sandil Bhika (GN)
Ryan Little (Bor)
Thembokwakhe Makhanya (KZN)
Hugh Morgan (GC)
Charles Morkel (WP)
Chao-Hong Peng (GC)
Khanya Ramokgopa (GN)
Wikus Robbertse (Bol)
Juan-Louis Van Antwerpen (GC)
Janre Viljoen (EP)
James Weatherhead (GN)

Coach David Jaquire (GN)

Ester De Kock (GC)
Lienke De kock (GN)
Aletta Macheli (FS)
Neo Mafuyeka (GC)
Sophie McDonald (KZN)
Lungile Ntuli (WP)
Cara O’Flaherty (GN)
Hanna Plageman (KZN)
Daniel De Villiers (FS)
Wilanie Van Zyl (WP)

Coach Jill Meyer (KZN)


Halle, Germany - Third seeds Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram successfully defended their doubles title at the ATP Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany on Sunday, streaking past second seeds Lukasz Kubot and Alexander Peya 7-6(5) 6-2.

From left; South African Raven Klaasen, touring coach Jeff Coetzee (also from South Africa) and American player Rajeev Ram after winning the doubles title of the ATP Gerry Weber Open on Sunday.

The South African-American tandem improved to 18-12 this season, lifting their first trophy in three finals following runner-up finishes in Miami and Geneva. Last year, they captured their first title as a team in Halle.
“It feels fantastic,” said Klaasen. “We came here this week knowing we had a big 500 [Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings] points to defend. At the start of the week, I said to Raj to think back to what the plan was last year. We did more or less the same thing and got the same result, so I’m pumped about that.”
The opening set on Sunday did not feature a break of serve, as Klaasen and Ram converted their first set point in the ensuing tie-break. They would dominate the second, notching breaks in the third and seventh games, sealing the victory after one hour and 15 minutes. The duo, who split €114,070 in prize money and 500 Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings points, did not drop a set in defeating Alexander Zverev and Mischa Zverev in the quarter-finals and top seeds Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan in the semis.
“It was massive to win that first set,” Klaasen added. “Fortunately, we were able to sneak over the hump in the tie-break. The last few points were really crucial. That freed us up play even better.”
Individually, Klaasen claimed his 10th ATP World Tour doubles title, while Ram hoisted his ninth trophy.
“I think it’s the first time I’ve defended a title or won one in the same place,” said Ram. “We had a great week. We only lost one set. We’re really excited about the way we’re playing. Last year was my first year here and I’m definitely coming back the rest of my career.”


Durban, South Africa - South Africa clinched the SPAR Challenge international netball series by beating Wales 64-45 in the second Test at the Durban International Convention Centre on Saturday afternoon.

Maryka Holtzhausen also sealing the ball from Welsh player Steph Perry at the ICC on the 18th June 2016, SPAR Netball series Saturday.
Picture credit: Regg Caldecott

The SPAR Proteas won the first Test 63-43 on Friday. The final Test will be played on Sunday.
The Proteas got off to a much better start than in the first Test. Coach Norma Plummer made some changes to the starting seven, bringing Rochelle Lawson and Izette Lubbe on in place of Precious Mthembu and Bongi Msomi. Both teams appeared to be more relaxed and Wales put up a good fight, particularly in the third quarter, which South Africa won narrowly by 15 goals to 14.

Plummer rang the changes with the team, giving Lauren-Lee Christians her first outing in the series, at wing attack, and bringing on Zanele Vimbela instead of Karla Mostert at goal defence. In the final quarter, she brought Msomi in at wing attack, and moved Lubbe to centre. Lubbe had an excellent game and was named player of the match.
Plummer said she had taken a few risks with the team.
“I have a squad of 14 players, so there are always two behind the bench. But we are building for the World Cup in 2016 and I want to give all the players a chance,” she said.

“The nerves weren’t there today and we had a better start, but they flattened out a bit at various stages.
“The scoreline doesn’t really matter. What matters is putting into practice what we do in training.”
Wales coach Trish Wilcox said it had been a much better performance from her team.

“They used the structures and systems better than yesterday, and I was very pleased with the third quarter, where we lost by only one goal. Our aim is to have four consistent quarters. We are reducing our losing margin one goal at a time,” she said, smiling.
Wilcox said three Under-21 players had played in the senior team.
“It is fantastic to give them exposure at this level, ahead of the Under-21 World Cup in Botswana next year. I made several changes during the match because I want the players to learn to cope with the pressure.”

In the curtain raiser, the Baby Proteas beat Wales Under-21 by73 goals to 22 . South African coach Jenny van Dyk made a number of changes to the squad that beat Wales 75-25 on Friday. Assistant coach Dumisani Chauke said they had played several Under-20 players, because they would be the ones playing in the World Cup qualifiers.

“The Under-21s will help us to qualify, but it is the youngsters who will be playing next year,” she said.
The final day’s play will start at 12 noon with South Africa and Wales under 21 teams doing battle followed at 14h00 by the third and last Test.
Tickets available at Computicket or at the door.



Johannesburg, South Africa – South African tennis senior players will soon be jetting off to Finland to compete in the annual ITF Super Seniors Team Competitions and the ITF Super Senior World Individual Championships. The team competition will take place from 19 June with the finals played on 24 June. The individual competition will be from 25 June and the finals on the 2 July 2016.

The competition will see men and women competing in the 50+, 55+ and 60+ age groups.

The teams have been announced as follows:

1. Johan Gous (MP)
2. Ian Gritzman (GC)
3. Ronald Buthelezi (WP)

1. Hennie Grobler (GN)
2. Duard Botha (GC)
3. Stevie Keuler (WP)
4. HG Scheun (WP)

1. Archie Rudman (Bol)
2. Marius Genis (GN)
3. Ronnie van’t Hof (WP)
4. Jacob Klaasen (Bol)

1. Christine Van Coller (WP)
2. Debra Hyde (WP)
3. Debbie Den Hartog (GN)
4. Vanessa September (WP)

1. Elna Botha (GC)
2. Jeanette Robert (KZN)
3. Emci Dippenaar (Bol)
4. Marietjie Fouche (NWP)

1. Karin Boshoff (KZN)
2. Jenny Cerff (WP)
3. Lynn van’t Hof (WP)
4. Annelie Celliers (GN)



Durban, South Africa - The SPAR Proteas scored a comfortable 63-43 victory over Wales in the opening match in the three-Test SPAR International Netball Challenge at the Durban International Convention Centre on Friday night.

Precious Mthembu at the ICC in Durban on the 17th June 2016 on the first day of the Series.
Picture credit: Reg Caldecott

The Proteas started off slowly, and Wales were first to score. It was three minutes before the Proteas got on the scoreboard, and it took seven minutes before they went into the lead. However, they never looked back after that, and maintained the lead throughout.
Wales, however, put up a good fight, and after trailing 18-9 at the end of the first quarter managed to keep closer to the Proteas for the rest of the match. South Africa won the second quarter by 3 goals, the third by six and the final quarter by just two goals.
Veteran Proteas centre Erin Burger played in her normal position of centre wearing a specially designed face mask after cracking her cheekbone in two places during the Proteas training camp earlier this month. This setback did not appear to affect her play as she did her normal outstanding job of covering the whole court and controlling the game, and was named player of the match.
Proteas coach Norma Plummer said she was reasonably satisfied with the team’s performance.
“Coaches are never satisfied, but you’re never going to achieve perfection,” she said.
“They started slowly, but I think that was because they were very nervous. We have got the first match out of the way now, and I expect a better performance tomorrow and on Sunday.
“Wales did a good job across the transverse line, and I think we played a bit too wide.”
Plummer brought on uncapped players Jeanie Steyn and Renske Stoltz in the final quarter, and said she was very pleased with their performance.
“We were 20 goals ahead at that stage, and that’s an ideal time to bring on players for their first appearance in Proteas kit. I think they did us proud,” said Plummer.
Wales coach Trish Wilcox said there were many positives to be taken out of the match.
“We reduced the margin from 28 last time we played to 20, and that is a step in the right direction, even though it was not as much as we would have liked,” said Wilcox.
“I think we lacked composure, particularly in the circle,
Suzy Drane, the Wales captain, said they were very happy to have turned over the first centre pass.
“But we should have done more with our three goal lead,” she said.
Earlier, the Baby Proteas demolished Wales Under-21 by 75 goals to 25. Outstanding defence by Alicia Puren and the player of the match, goal defence Kgomotso Mamburu, made it difficult for the Welsh players to get the ball into their circle, while the South African shooters, Ina-Mari Venter and Charmaine Baard were both on song. Wales performed best in the final quarter, when they scored eight goals, but the outcome of the match was never in doubt.


Durban, South Africa - Irvette van Zyl’s brilliant year continued on Sunday, with victory in the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge at Kings Park in Durban. It was her third consecutive Challenge victory.

Irvette van Zyl in action during the Spar Women’s 10km Challenge at Growthpoint Kings Park on June 05, 2016 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Reg Caldecott

Picture Credit: Reg Caldecott

Running in cool, overcast conditions, Van Zyl won the race in 33.26 minutes – a full minute ahead of Cornelia Joubert, who finished second, in 34.26. Diana-Lebo Phalula was third, in 34.39 minutes.
Van Zyl went into the lead from the start. She ran side by side with Rutendo Nyahora until the three-kilometre mark, when she surged into the lead.
“I had a fall in training two weeks ago, and hurt my knee. I thought about not running today, but I wanted to make sure that I didn’t fall too far behind in the Grand Prix,” said Van Zyl.
“I expected the other runners to start faster than they did, but when it seemed that nobody wanted to run fast, it played into my hands. I was quite shocked when we got to six kilometres and I saw I had quite a big lead, because my training hadn’t gone as well as I would have liked. I am very happy that I ran today and very happy that I won.”
Van Zyl, who has not been beaten on home soil this year, said her focus from now on would be training for the marathon at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August.
“Winning races gives you confidence, but I also get confidence from training. When I went to the Olympics in London, it was quite overwhelming, but I think I will be better prepared this time because I know what to expect.”
Joubert said she was thrilled to have come second.
“Last year I came fourth, with a better time, but I am so happy to have come second. I trained very hard for this race, and will be training for the rest of the SPAR races this year,” she said.
“Durban is just the place for me, I think.”
Phalula said she was disappointed with her time, although she was surprised to have finished in the top three.
“My focus now is on preparing for the marathon in Rio. We need to run faster times in South Africa if we are going to succeed overseas,” she said.
More than 18 000 took part in the 10km Challenge and the 5km Fun Run.


Open: 1 Irvette van Blerk (Nedbank CGA) 33.26; 2 Cornielia Joubert (Boxer) 34.26; 3. Lebo
Phalula (Boxer) 34.39; 4 Rutendo Nyahora (NedbankCGA) 34.48; 5 Glenrose Xaba (South
Africa) 34.50; 6 Christine Kalmer (KPMG) 35.05;

Junior: 1 Simonay Weitsz (KPMG) 36.27; 2 Yandiswa Shange (KPMG) 37.51; 3 Carina
Viljoen (KPMG) 37.56 ;

35-39 Yrs: 1 Janie Grundling (Boxer) 35:49 ; 1 Bulelwa Simae (Nedbank WP) 37:24 ; 3
Poppy Mlambo (Boxer) 37:32

40-49 Yrs: 1 Tanith Maxwell (Boxer) 35.39 ; 2 Ulrica Stander (FNB ) 38.04; 3 Janene Carey
(Boxer) 39.03

50-59 Yrs: 1 Ansie Breytenbach (Irene Athletics Club) 44:22; 2 Gail Babich (Savages
Athletics Club) 47.11; 3 Elize Cilliers 48:12

60+ Yrs: 1 Sandra Fismer (Hilton Harries) 46.25; 2 Blanche Moila 49:21; 3 Sheree Kristen
(Westville Athletics) 51.24


Johannesburg, South Africa – South African juniors have been invited to participate in the African Junior Teams’ Championships to be held in La Marsa (Tunis) – Tunisia from 3 to 10 June 2016.

South African juniors team to represent South Africa in Tunisia.

Picture credit: Tennis South Africa.

Boys and girls in the under 14 and under 16 age groups have been invited.

The boys under 16 will compete in the Junior Davis Cup qualifiers and the girls under 16 in the Junior Fed Cup qualifiers where the South Africans will be hoping to qualify for the finals to be staged in Budapest, Hungary from 27 September to 2 October 2016.
The boys and girls under 14 will take part in the qualifiers for the world junior finals. The finals of the world juniors will be held in the Czech Republic from 1-7 August 2016.

The teams have been announced as follows:

Boys Under 16 Junior Davis Cup qualifiers
1. Philip Henning (FS)
2. Justin Leibenberg (FS)
3. Christiaan Worst (GN)
Coach: MC Olivier (FS)

Girls Under 16 Junior Fed Cup qualifiers
1. Kaylin Bouwer (WP)
2. Corin De Waal (Bol)
3. Myah Petchey (WP)
Coach: Bridget Visee (WP)

Boys Under 14 World Junior qualifiers
1. Khololwam Montsi (GN)
2. Andreas Scott (GN)
3. Damien Nezar (SWD)
Coach: Charles Mehlape (GN)

Girls Under 14 World Junior qualifiers
1. Makayla Loubser (WP)
2. Lara Van Der Merwe (NWP)
3. Delien Kleinhans (FS)
Coach: Terrey Schweitzer (GE)


Durban, South Africa - There are three new faces in the 14-member SPAR Protea team announced by Netball South Africa for the coming SPAR Challenge international netball series against Wales in Durban later this month.

Vice Captain of the SPAR Proteas Bongiwe Msomi

The Captain of the SPAR Proteas Maryka Holtzhausen

Photo credit: Reg Caldecott

North West Flames shooting partnership, the lanky Sigrid Burger and her shorter goal attack, Renske Stoltz, make their first appearance in the national team and the third newcomer is the Gauteng Jaguars goalkeeper, Jeanie Steyn.
Twenty-two year old Stoltz was named player of the tournament after the final of the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League (NPL) last weekend and won much acclaim for her gutsy attitude and her willingness to shoot at goal from anywhere in the circle. She attributed her confidence to having a tall shooting partner, Sigrid Burger, under the goalpost. Burger had the best shooting average in the competition.
“You know she can get to the ball if you miss,” she said.
The pair worked together very well during the NPL, where the Flames were unbeaten until the knock-out stages of the tournament. Steyn was also a stand-out player at the NPL, winning at least one player of the match award.
Free State Crinums goal attack Maryka Holtzhausen will captain the team, with Bongiwe Msomi of the Kingdom Stars as vice captain. Two members of the squad, Jaguars goalshooter Lenize Potgieter and Crinums goal defence Karla Mostert, returned three weeks ago from playing for Bath in the English Super League. Their experience in one of the world’s top netball leagues should be invaluable for the Proteas.
Exciting news for South African netball is that the SPAR Proteas will be coached by Australian Norma Plummer, who coached the Proteas at the Netball World Cup in Sydney last year. Plummer coached Australia when they won World Cup gold in 2007 and 2011, and is regarded as one of the top coaches in world netball.
Fifth-ranked South Africa and eighth-ranked Wales last met at the World Cup last year, when the Proteas won by 60 goals to 38. South Africa have won all 11 matches between the two teams.
Plummer said she was happy with the team that had been selected.
“The top seven, who were at the World Cup last year, know what I expect of them and the new players will follow their lead,” she said.
“I think it is a very versatile team and we can utilise all their strengths.”
“I am particularly excited by young players like Siggie (Sigrid) Burger and Renske Stoltz, who are the basis for future development. They both slotted into the team very well,” said Plummer.
Netball South Africa have also announced a Baby Proteas team to play Wales Under-21 in curtain-raisers to the three Test matches
The matches will be played at the Durban International Convention Centre on Friday June 17, Saturday June 18 and Sunday June 19.
Tickets are available at computicket.

SPAR Proteas team: Sigrid Burger, (North West Flames), Erin Burger (Southern Stings), Lauren-Lee Christians (Free State Crinums), Maryka Holtzhausen - Captain (Crinums), Rochelle Lawson (Stings), Izette Lubbe (Gauteng Jaguars), Phumza Maweni (Kingdom Stars), Karla Mostert (Crinums), Bongiwe Msomi – Vice Captain (Stars,), Precious Mthembu (Stars), Lenize Potgieter (Jaguars), Renske Stoltz (Flames), Jeanie Steyn (Jaguars), Zanele Vimbela (Eastern Cape Aloes)
Coach: Norma Plummer, Nicole Cusack, Dorette Badenhorst

SPAR Baby Proteas: Charmaine Baard, Stephanie Brandt, Khamyisa Chawane, Melodine Jacobs, Khomotso Mamburu, Sasha-Lee Petersen, Jo Prins, Alicia Puren, Margarethe Rademan, Jeante Strydom, Ine-Mari Venter, Talja Venter (Captain and Vice-Captain to be announced)
Coach: Jenny van Dyk, Dumisane Chauke


The 2016 Comrades Marathon is done and dusted and attention now turns to the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge in Durban on Sunday.
For years the Durban Challenge has taken place a week after the Comrades Marathon, and now there is an even stronger link – Charne Bosman, who won the women’s race last Sunday , is a former poster girl for the SPAR Women’s Challenge. She was a regular winner on the Challenge Circuit in the early years of the 21st century, and even provided novice runners with advice on how to prepare for a 10km road race.

Irvette Van Zyl leads the SPAR Grand Prix 2016 table after winning back to back SPAR Women’s Challenge 10km races in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. In form Van Zyl goes into this Sunday’s Durban leg of the Grand Prix as favourite.

Picture credit : Reg Caldecott

The current top runners, such as Irvette van Zyl, and the Phalula twins, Diana-Lebo and Lebogang, probably have no thoughts of running Comrades at this stage in their careers, although all the top runners have turned their attention to running standard marathons.
There will be a star-studded field for the Durban race on Sunday. Van Zyl and the Phalula twins will be joined by the Kalmer sisters, Rene and Christine, Mapaseka Makhanya, Nolene Conrad and Cornelia Joubert.
In addition to trying to cross the finish line first, the top runners will also be competing for valuable SPAR Grand Prix points, which are awarded to the top runners.
Van Zyl, who is a two-times winner of the Grand Prix, having triumphed in 2010 and 2011, has a narrow lead over Lebogang Phalula after the first two races in the five race series. Van Zyl has 40 points, after winning in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. Phalula, the 2015 winner, has 37 points, after finishing third in Cape Town and second in Port Elizabeth, and Christine Kalmer and Nolene Conrad are in joint third position, with 29 points each.
Van Zyl, who has been unbeaten on home soil this year, said she was taking nothing for granted in the Durban race.
“In the first two races, we all had our minds on qualifying for the Olympic Games in Rio in August, and most of us had run marathons,” said Van Zyl, who won in Port Elizabeth only two weeks after coming 15th in the London Marathon.
“But things have calmed down ahead of the Durban race, and I think we will be on a more equal footing. I wasn’t able to beat the previous time in either race, so I haven’t got those valuable bonus points, but I will be going all out to win in record time on Sunday,” she said.
The six women who have won the Grand Prix have each been paired with a promising junior athlete, who will also be running on Sunday. Makhanya’s protégé, Simonay Weitz, heads the junior section of the Grand Prix, with Lebogang Phalula’s partner, Ashleigh Simonis, hot on her heels.

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