Final Report & Results of the Groenkloof Junior ITF being played at Groenkloof Tennis Stadium, Pretoria.
It was a dream tournament for 15 year old Pretoria junior Lleyton Cronje when he captured his maiden international junior title at the Groenkloof Stadium in the Capital on Saturday.
Fifth seed, Minette Van Vreden of South Africa (The Strand/Boland) won the Groenkloof ITF Juniors being played at the Groenkloof Stadium in Tshwane on Saturday. Van Vreden upset top seed Maxine Bateman (Umhlali/Kwa-Zulu Natal) also of South Africa 6-0 6-1 in the final.
South African 16 seed Lleyton Cronje (Gauteng North/Pretoria) continued his fine run at the Groenkloof ITF Juniors being played in Pretoria. In an all South African affair, Cronje upset top seed Joshua Howard-Tripp (Gauteng East/Boksburg) 6-0 6-3 to win his maiden international junior title..
Picture credit: BLD Communications
Cronje, seeded 16 upset compatriot and top seed Joshua Howard-Tripp 6-0 6-3 in 1 hour 22 minutes to lift the ITF Groenkloof Junior crown.
But it was the bazaar end to the tournament that overshadowed the solid on court performance by Cronje and sadly it was by default that Cronje won the title.
Top seed South African, Howard-Tripp seemed irritated on court from the start of the final and was unable to get onto the scoreboard in the first six games of the match. Trailing Cronje 0-4 in the opening set, and at 0-30 in the fifth game, Howard-Tripp was given a code violation for ball abuse for hitting a ball outside the court which resulted in a warning.
Howard-Tripp in the sixth game was given his second code violation again for ball abuse by Attridgeville chair umpire George Mogofe. This resulted in the top seed being given a point penalty.
Cronje impressively remained calm on court despite all the drama and held serve to win the opening set 6-0.
Howard-Tripp somehow managed to regroup himself and started to play the game that had got him to the final. He won the opening game of the second set and the match went with serve until the seventh game when Cronje broke to lead 4-3. Cronje held serve to lead 5-3 when the real drama unfolded. A unforced error by Howard-Tripp gave Cronje match point in the ninth game of the second set after which Howard-Tripp once again hit all ball out the court into the stadium parking lot which resulted in Tournament Supervisor, George Phiri issuing Howard-Tripp with yet another code violation which resulted in a game penalty giving Cronje the game, set, match and title.
A disillusioned Howard-Tripp could hardly believe that his antics had cost him an international junior title and after the chair umpire announced Cronje as winner he slammed his racket against the court breaking it in pieces.
It was a rather sad end to what was a brilliantly organised tournament that displayed some top class tennis throughout.
Credit to Cronje who kept his composure and took the title. “I was doing my best to stay composed and keep calm on court. I focused on each point and played point by point. Actually I am used to drama like this from opponents, it happens all over the world and I have experienced it so just managed the situation” said Cronje.
Cronje said that he had entered the tournament with confidence having prepared real hard. “I was striking the ball real well from the first round. Beating second seed Richard Thongoana in the third round and ninth seed Lance-Pierre Du Toit in the semis proved that my game was on point. In the final I felt I didn’t play as well as I had all week but all I had to do against Joshua was keep the ball in court and make him play which worked.”
Cronje, who has been based the past few years out of the country in Oklahoma, USA said that he missed South Africa but admitted that him being based in the USA had taught him a lot. “I have come back to South Africa each year I have been abroad to play the odd tournament and I used to return feeling pressure with me expected to impress but I am over that now and I have come back to play, do my best and now win my first big international title, a real bonus and pleasure winning it at home.”
Now Cronje will next week to the remaining African swing of the international junior circuit in Zimbabwe followed by Mauritius. He will then return to South Africa for the two back to back tournaments in Stellenbosch before returning to the USA to play in the Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl events.
In the girls singles, fifth seeded Minette Van Vreden continued her impressive winning match streak when she upset top seed Maxine Bateman 6-0 6-1 in the all South African one-sided final.
Van Vreden who failed to lose a set all week won her first ever international junior title at the Wanderers Junior ITF in Johannesburg last weekend and with her back to back win in Pretoria on Saturday is now on a 10 match winning streak. Hailing from Boland in the Western Cape, Van Vreden said she is feeling “on top of the world”. “I am so proud and excited to be doing so well and winning two international titles. I feel I am playing a solid game and making very few unforced errors which obviously is working for me.”
Van Vreden made it a double title win in Pretoria when she partnered with good friend Mila Hartig to win the girls doubles. Van Vreden and Hartig, seeded two, beat top seed Maxine Bateman and Margo Landman (RSA) 7-6 3-6 (14-12) in the final.
The boys doubles all South African final was won by tournament favourites Sipho Montsi and Richard Thongoana. They beat unseeded George Botha and Philip Henning 6-2 6-2 in the final.
(16) Lleyton Cronje (RSA) bt (1) Joshua Howard-Tripp (RSA) 6-0 6-3
(5) Minette Van Vreden (RSA) bt (1) Maxine Bateman (RSA) 6-0 6-1
(1) Sipho Montsi (RSA)/Richard Thongoana (RSA) bt George Botha (RSA)/Philip Henning (RSA) 7-5 3-6 (10-8)
(2) Mila Hartig (RSA)/Minette Van Vreden (RSA) bt (1) Maxine Bateman (RSA)/Margo Landmann (RSA) 7-6 (4) 3-6 (14-12)