Kempton Park, South Africa - It’s been the best of years, it’s been the worst of years for Irvette van Zyl.

Winner of the 2016 SPAR GRAND PRIX Irvette van Zyl (Nedbank) with her trophy.

Picture by: Reg Caldecott

But the positive side of 2016 was foremost on Thursday night, when Van Zyl collected her third SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge Grand Prix award at a glittering ceremony at Emperor’s Palace.
Van Zyl, who gave birth to her first child in September last year, had a great start to the year. She appeared unstoppable; winning every race she took part in, including the SPAR women’s races in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban.
She was selected to run the women’s marathon at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, and everything seemed to be going swimmingly.
But at the Olympic Games, her world came crashing around her ears. She developed a stress fracture in her foot, and had to withdraw from the marathon.
“I was devastated,” said Van Zyl.
“I didn’t finish the marathon at the London Olympics, because of an injury, and I wanted to make up for that by doing well in Rio. I am not normally prone to stress fractures, so this was a terrible blow. After going to two Olympic Games, I still can’t call myself an Olympian.”
Van Zyl came back from Rio and started intensive rehabilitation, but she was unable to take part in the Pretoria SPAR Challenge.
“I was really worried – I was on top of the Grand Prix table, but I was worried that one of the Phalula twins could overtake me,” she said.
Van Zyl eventually started training again a couple of weeks before the last and deciding Grand Prix in Johannesburg. But on race day, she put any doubts about her fitness to rest, leading from start to finish and winning the race in record time to clinch victory in the Grand Prix by 21 points.
It was her third Grand Prix victory, putting her on a par with Rene Kalmer, who also has three Grand Prix titles to her name. Van Zyl previously won in 2010 and 2011.
Last year’s winner, Lebogang Phalula was second, with 79 points and Christine Kalmer was third, with 70. Van Zyl collected a cheque for R160 000, Phalula took home R53 000 and Kalmer R32 000.
“I am so happy to have won the Grand Prix. It has helped to make up for my huge disappointment at the Olympic Games,” said Van Zyl.
“I want to thank SPAR for all they have done for road running. The Grand Prix has been going for 10 years now and it has added an extra dimension to the SPAR Challenge races. The thought of the very generous prize money is a great incentive on those cold winter mornings when you really don’t want to get out of bed and train.
“The Grand Prix has ensured that the top runners take part in as many races as they can, which means the competition is very stiff. Congratulations to SPAR and I wish them many more successful years with the Grand Prix.”
SPAR Group Marketing Executive Mike Prentice said SPAR was very proud of the Grand Prix and the achievements of the top runners.
“The SPAR Grand Prix, which allows our top end athletes a chance to compete for year-end glory, complements each of the SPAR Women’s Challenge races and over the past 10 years has elevated the series to one of the biggest athletics brands in the country,” said Prentice.
SPAR is passionate about women and the promotion of women across the sporting spectrum and our involvement through sponsorship of women’s sports over the years is testament to that commitment,” he said.
“Congratulations to Irvette on her splendid victory and congratulations to all the other top runners. I also love the wonderful spirit of camaraderie among our top runners, who try their hardest on the road, and then hug one another at the finish.”


Pretoria, South Africa - Tennis South Africa (TSA) extended their congratulations to Wheelchair Tennis South Africa (WTSA) General Manager, Karen Losch, on being awarded South African Sport Administrator of The Year.

Karen Losch (left) General Manager of Wheelchair Tennis South Africa pictured with Deputy Minister of Sports and Recreation Gert Oosthuizen. Losch won the South African sport administrator of the year award at Sunday’s SA Sport Awards held in Mangaung.

Losch was given the award at the prestigious SA Sport Awards ceremony hosted by the Department of Sport and Recreations in Mangaung on Sunday evening.
TSA CEO, Richard Glover, said his association applauded Karen Losch on receiving the award and gave credit for her outstanding work in managing WTSA and promoting the organization. “This is an amazing achievement and is richly deserved. Karen is a world class administrator and she is a shining light for Wheelchair Tennis in this country. Our sport is very lucky to have her.”
WTSA is an affiliate member of TSA and holds a seat on the TSA Board. Both associations are affiliated to the International Tennis Federation (ITF).


• South African face Estonia in first ever Davis Cup meeting on home soil

Pretoria, South Africa – The Irene Country Club in Centurion, Pretoria is becoming the popular hunting ground for the South African Davis Cup team.
For the fifth consecutive year, Tennis South Africa (TSA) have announced that they will return to the picturesque country club for next year’s all-important Euro/Africa Davis Cup Group II first round tie vs Estonia from 3-5 February.

Irene Country Club Davis Cup match court

Irene Country Club Davis Cup match court

Picture credit: Reg Caldecott

This will be the first time that South Africa and Estonia have met in Davis Cup competition.
South Africa, seeded 8 in the Group are ranked 58 on the Davis Cup world rankings, 22 spots ahead of Estonia who are at 80.
The announcement of Irene Country Club as venue was welcomed by South African Davis Cup Captain, Marcos Ondruska.
“I’m delighted we will be back at Irene Country Club for Davis Cup early next year. We have enjoyed great support from the people of Gauteng over the years when playing home ties at Irene and the faster court and altitude will play in the favour of South Africa.”
A dominant South African Davis Cup team romped to a 5-0 win over Luxembourg at the same venue in March this year.
Of the ties played at Irene in the past four years, South Africa have beaten Monaco 3-2 (January 2013), Ireland 5-0 (July 2015) and Luxembourg. The only loss South Africa have had at Irene was against Lithuania 2-3 (April 2014).
This year South Africa suffered a heartbreaking 2-3 defeat to Lithuania away in July, but remained in Euro/Africa Zone Group II after beating Luxembourg.
Estonia were promoted to Group II after winning their Group III competition at home this year.
Newly appointed TSA CEO, Richard Glover, who will oversee his for Davis Cup tie said “The Irene Country Club is a beautiful, family friendly venue for tennis and this year we are spending more time on enhancing the spectator experience. It promises to be three days of cracking action and I really hope tennis fans turn out in their droves to support the team.”
The winner of the tie will play the winner of the Monaco v Slovenia tie in April 2017. The loser will play in the Euro/Africa Zone Group II playoffs against the loser of the Monaco v Slovenia tie, also in April 2017.



London; It was so very close for Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram in London but on the day their opponents had the edge.
Henri Kontinen and John Peers finished their debut season with the perfect ending on Sunday in London. The pairing won the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals doubles title during their team debut, beating fellow first-timers Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram 2-6, 6-1, 10-8 at The O2.

Rajeev Ram of the USA hits a backhand cross court whilst his partner Raven Klaasen of South Africa waits at net during the final of the ATP Masters on Sunday in London. Henri Kontinen (Finland) and John Peers (Australia) beat Klaasen/Ram 2-6, 6-1, 10-8 to win the title.

Picture credit: ATP World Tour
Picture credit: ATP World Tour

Rajeev Ram (USA) left and Raven Klaasen (South Africa) fist pump their supporters box after winning the opening set during the final of the ATP Masters on Sunday in London. Henri Kontinen (Finland) and John Peers (Australia) beat Klaasen/Ram 2-6, 6-1, 10-8 to win the title.

Kontinen, of Finland, and Peers, of Australia, finish the season on a 10-match win streak, dating back to their first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title at the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris earlier this month. They also finish 2016 with five ATP World Tour titles, including crowns in Brisbane, Munich and Hamburg.
Seventh seeds Klaasen/Ram were going for their biggest team title, and the South African and American started strong. They broke twice in the first set and erased all three break points faced to breeze through the 30-minute opener.
Before Sunday, Kontinen/Peers had been broken only twice all tournament, having gone 41/43 on serve during their 4-0 match start. But they rebounded in the second set, breaking Ram to love to lead 2-0. They broke again when Klaasen guided a forehand volley wide and would soon even the match.
Klaasen/Ram regrouped in time for the Match Tie-break, and the teams were tied at 8/8 when Klaasen stepped to the line for a second serve. Kontinen took advantage of the softer offering, though, slapping a backhand that Ram couldn’t handle at the net. On the next point, Peers struck a service winner down the T for their biggest title to date.
Jeff Coetzee, touring coach of Klaasen/Ram said that his charges always knew the final was going to be a tough challenge. “Obviously there is disappointment in the camp especially with the final being so close. After yesterday’s semi-final performance against new world number 1 pair Jamie Murray/Bruno Soares, the momentum was with Raven and Rajeev and I felt that they would have a far better shot at the win today in the final than they had against Kontinen/Peers in the group round-robin.”
Coetzee said that the match was very close and basically was decided on one or two points in the deciding match tie-breaker. “Raven and Rajeev were holding Kontinen/Peers in the breaker but at 8/8 Raven played a safer serve and Kontinen aggressively took advantage with his favourite backhand up the line overpowering Rajeev.”
Coetzee ended by saying that he was extremely proud of Klaasen/Ram and their performance not only in the ATP Finals but throughout the season. “Raven and Rajeev have had a great consistent season ending the year 7th on the world team rankings beating every other top team other than Kontinen/Peers throughout the year.”
Kontinen/Peers will receive 1,500 Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings points and split $455,000 in prize money. Klaasen/Ram will receive 800 Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings points and split $245,000.


London, United Kingdom: Two first-year pairings will contest the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals doubles final Sunday after Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram eclipsed newly minted World No. 1 team Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares in Saturday’s semi-finals.

Raven Klaasen (RSA) and Rajeev Ram (RSA) upset second seeds Jamie Murray (GBR) and Bruno Soares (BRA) 6-1 6-4 in the semifinals of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London on Saturday. Klaasen and Ram now play Henri Kontinen (FIN) and John Peers (AUS) in Sunday’s final.

Picture credit: ATP World Tour

Klaasen, of South African, and Ram, of the United States, will play Finland’s Henri Kontinen and Australia’s John Peers, who earlier in the day upset four-time champions Bob and Mike Bryan.
Klaasen and Ram needed exactly one hour to claim a 6-1, 6-4 win over Murray and Soares, who yesterday learned they would finish 2016 at No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings.
After dropping just 12 points in the first set, Klaasen and Ram faced only one scare in the second set when they saw Murray/Soares recover from 1-3 to level the set at 3-all. But Klaasen and Ram immediately broke back and soon closed out the match.
Klaasen said that he and Ram were very happy with the way they played on Saturday. “This was probably our best performance of the season especially in front of a pro Jaimie Murray crowd, the win was really satisfying.”
“In the final on Sunday Rajeev and I will have to use the momentum we gathered over the last couple of matches to drive home what we have at the moment on court which is some good chemistry and execution. We look forward to one more good performance and hopefully we can lift the trophy come Sunday” added Klaasen.
Rajeev Ram said that he and Klaasen felt they were at their best on court against Murray and Soares. “We played incredibly sharp out there Saturday night from the word go against a team recently crowned world number 1 pair. Our win Friday against Lopez/Lopez really helped us. Against the Spaniards we had to hit a lot of balls and we came out today with the same momentum and sharpness.”
Ram said that the final against Kontinen/Peers would be tough. “Kontinen and Peers are probably the hottest team on tour since the US Open and beat us earlier this week so we look forward to taking to court the same level of energy and execution and getting some revenge on Sunday.”
The final will be played on Sunday afternoon at 15h30 (London time) 17h30 (SA Time) and will be shown live on SuperSport.


Stellenbosch, South Africa; He always plays to win, but to win 30 matches - six titles - in succession is a pleasant surprise for Lloyd Harris.
The 19-year-old Harris won the third and final tournament in the Digicall Futures tennis series in Stellenbosch. He also won the previous two, which means he has 15 games and three tournaments here on the Coetzenburg courts in the past three weeks.

South African Lloyd Harris defended his title at the Digicall Futures 3 international tennis tournament played at Stellenbosch. Harris, seeded 2nd beat his fellow country man 4th seed Nik Scholtz 7-5 6-4.

8th seed Julyette Steur of Germany spoilt South African Chanel Simmonds’s party in the finals of the women’s singles Digicall Futures 3 international tennis tournament played at Stellenbosch. Julyette beat the top seed Simmonds, who won the last two champions 6-0 6-4.

Pictures credit: Outsider Communications

Harris beat his South African compatriot Nik Scholtz. The second-seeded Harris won 7-5, 6-4 in one hour and 25 minutes. Before his arrival in Stellenbosch Harris also won three Futures titles.
“I certainly did not plan to win all three tournaments. In tennis you cannot do that. I just played every game to the best of my ability. I played very good tennis and that’s why I won the three titles,” said Harris.
Harris has now played six tournaments - 30 games - in seven weeks. “My body has been tired for a while now. I pushed hard every day, but how I recovered after each game has made it possible to sustain the pace. However, I certainly need a break now!”
Harris is now leaving for the Czech Republic for his last two tournaments of the year.
The German Julyette Maria Josephine Steur surprised when she beat first seed and the champion of the first two tournaments, Chanel Simmonds of South Africa in two sets for the title. The eighth-seeded won 6-0, 6-4 against on the top-ranked Simmonds. Simmonds was obviously getting tired. It was her 15th match in three weeks.


London; Seventh seeds Raven Klaasen (RSA) / Rajeev Ram (USA) are making the most of their debut at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. The pairing advanced to the semi-finals with a tight 6-3, 7-6(8) win over fourth seeds Feliciano Lopez/Marc Lopez on Friday evening in London.

Finale-2016-klaasen-ram-Friday.jpg: South African Raven Klaasen (left) and his American partner Rajeev ram powered their way into the semi-finals of the ATP Finals in London on Friday by beating Spaniards Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez 6-3 7-6 (8) on Friday. Ram/Klaasen now play world number 1 pair of Jaimie Murray (Great Britain) and Bruno Soares (Brazil) in Saturday’s semi-final.

Picture credit: ATP World Tour

With the win, Klaasen/Ram clinched second place in Group Fleming/McEnroe. Joining Klaasen/Ram in the final four are fifth seeds Henri Kontinen/John Peers, who finished first in Group Fleming/McEnroe with a 3-0 record.
Klaasen/Ram will face second seeds Jamie Murray/Bruno Soares in the semi-finals, who clinched the year-end No. 1 Emirates ATP Doubles Team Ranking on Friday. Kontinen/Peers take on third seeds Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan in the other semi-final.
The importance of the occasion produced some understandably tense moments for both Klaasen/Ram and Lopez/Lopez in the opening set. Both teams traded early service breaks, but Klaasen/Ram gained the advantage after Klaasen hit a volley winner to break Marc Lopez and give his team a 5-3 lead. The South African-American pair won the final eight points of the set to grab an early advantage.
Both teams held serve throughout the second set to force a tie-break. An overhead winner from Klaasen gave his team a mini-break to lead 3/1. Klaasen/Ram were unable to convert on two match points at 6/4, with a passing shot from the Spanish duo levelling the tie-break at 6/6. A return winner from Marc Lopez erased another match point at 6/7, while a volley winner from Feliciano Lopez saved another at 7/8. But Klaasen/Ram stayed calm and converted on their fifth opportunity, wrapping up the match in one hour and 24 minutes.
The semi-finals will be shown live on SuperSport at 20h00 Saturday 19 November.


Stellenbosch, South Africa; Lloyd Harris will have to battle good friend and fellow South African Nik Scholtz for the title as winner of the Digicall Futures 3 tennis tournament.

Julyette Steur of Germany dashed hopes of an all South Africa women’s final when she battled past unseeded Madrie Le Roux 6-4 2-6 6-3 in the semis of the Digicall Futures 3 international tennis tournament being played at Stellenbosch. Steur seeded 8th will now face the defending champion Chanel Simmonds, seeded 1 in the final tomorrow.

South Africa’s Nik Scholtz upset Jordi Samper-Montana of Spain 6-2 6-4 in the semi-final of the men’s Digicall Futures 3 international tennis tournament being played at Stellenbosch. Scholtz seeded 4th will now face his fellow compatriot Lloyd Harris seeded 2 in the final tomorrow.

Pictures credit: Outsider Communications

Harris won the first two in the series of three international tournaments played in Stellenbosch.
The second seeded Harris battled for 2 hours and 13 minutes to book his place in a sixth consecutive Futures final. The 19-year-old Harris beat third seed Alessandro Bega 7-6, 7-5. It was Bega’s best match of all three tournaments. Once again the big difference was that Harris held his nerve on the big points and wasn’t afraid to go big on his serves.
At one stage Harris served four unreturnable serves in one game. Bega through his hands in the air and screamed: “How can he be beaten!”
Harris said afterwards: “He played so much better than in the previous two matches we had. While he lifted his game, my energy levels were somewhat down. It was tough out there, but thankfully my service game was solid.”
This is Harris’ sixth tournament in seven weeks.
He will now face Scholtz, who played an impressive match against the top seed Jordi Samper-Montana. Scholtz won 6-2, 6-4.
According to Harris he will change nothing in his approach to the final. “It is like any other match. My focus and intensity will be right up there like it should be.”
Top seed Chanel Simmonds from South Africa reached the final for a third time after a fierce battle against American Lauren Embree lasting more than 2 hours. Simmonds beat the fifth seed 3-6, 6-3 and 6-4.
Germany’s Julyette Maria Josephine Steur dashed hopes of an all South African women’s final when she battled past Madrie le Roux to win in three sets 6-4, 2-6 and 6-3. Steur advanced to the final for the first time in the series after 2 hours and 27 minutes against the fighting Le Roux.


Stellenbosch, South Africa; Lloyd Harris, Nikala Scholtz, Chanel Simmonds and Madrie le Roux are all playing in the semi-final round of the Digicall Futures 3 tennis tournament played in Stellenbosch.

Top seed Jordi Samper-Montana of Spain won through to the semi-finals of the men’s Digicall Futures 3 international tennis tournament being played at Stellenbosch. Samper-Montana beat 6th seed Christoph Negritu of Germany 6-4 6-4. Samper-Montana will now face South African 4th seed Nik Scholtz on Saturday.

South African Madrie Le Roux upset 3rd seed Margarita Lazareva of Russia in the quarterfinals of the women’s Digicall Futures 3 international tennis tournament being played at Stellenbosch. Unseeded Madrie beat Lazareva 6-3 3-6 6-2 in a game that took over 2 hours. Le Roux will now face 8th seed Julyette Steur of Germany in the semi-final.

Pictures credit: Outsider Communications

It was a good day for the South Africans.
Top seeded Simmonds advanced to the final 4 of the women when she battled past her fellow South African Ilze Hattingh. Simmonds needed just more than two hours to win their match 7-5, 7-5. She will now face American Lauren Embree. The fifth seed made easy work of her match against fourth seed Katharina Hering winning 6-1, 6-3.
The upset of the day went to Le Roux, who won a fiercely contested match against the third seed Margarita Lazareva from Russia. The unseeded Le Roux advanced after 2 hours and 39 minutes in three sets 6-3, 3-6 and 6-2. Le Roux will now come up against Germany’s Julyette Maria Josephine Steur seeded eight. Steur eliminated the second seed Valeria Bhunu 6-4, 6-4.
It was third time lucky for Scholtz who finally managed to get the monkey off his back when he beat British teenager Jay Clarke. The previous two times they played in the Digicall Futures series, Clarke won. This time Scholtz won in three sets 4-6, 6-3 and 6-4. “I did have a better game plan this time around. You never want to lose to the same player three times in a row. He is a really difficult opponent, because his defensive game is so strong and he loves a target at the net so you cannot come to the net against him. It was good to win today, but it was so tough,” said Scholtz.
He will now come up against top seed Jordi Samper-Montana from Spain. Samper-Montana battled past the German Christoph Negritu to win 6-4, 6-4 in just less than two hours.
Harris continued his winning streak with a hard fought victory over Brit James Marsalek. The second seed won 6-2, 2-6 and 6-3. He will play Italian Alessandro Bega who won his match against Swiss Luca Margaroli 6-0, 6-1.


London; There’s more to American men’s doubles than one family from California. One of the lessons from this season is that you don’t have to be called Bryan, or come from a tennis family, or be playing alongside your identical twin brother, to prosper on the ATP World Tour.

(Right) Rajeev Ram and (left) Raven Klaasen at the ATP World Tour Finals.

Picture credit: ATP World Tour

Born in Colorado to parents who are both scientists, Rajeev Ram is in a doubles partnership with South African Raven Klaasen (and they’re not blood relations, not even distant cousins), and yet they have put themselves into the elite by qualifying for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals for the first time. What’s been fascinating is that, on a number of occasions this season, Ram and his partner have excelled when the tennis public had imagined – probably even expected – Bob and Mike Bryan to put on a show.
To explain, some of Ram and Klaasen’s finest wins this season came when they had the Bryans on the other side of the net – beating the Californian brothers took them into the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, while another propelled them into the final of the pre-Wimbledon tournament in Halle, and one more took them into the semi-finals at the All England Club.
Far from being intimidated by having to play against the most accomplished pairing in men’s doubles history, Ram and Klaasen plainly appreciate the opportunity to show off their own skills.
The Rio de Janeiro Olympics was another example of when the sport had expected much from the Bryans, and instead it was Ram who took centre stage. When the Bryans withdrew from the Games, Ram willingly travelled to Brazil as a late call-up, where he and Venus Williams won a silver medal in the mixed doubles competition. Just a few weeks later, Ram featured in another high-profile mixed doubles final – at the US Open – this time in the company of Coco Vandeweghe, though again he was the runner-up.
As if Ram wasn’t busy enough already, he continues to pursue a parallel career in singles. While Ram is in his thirties, this season saw him achieve his highest ever singles placing in the Emirates ATP Rankings, with that peak of No. 56 coming after he made the final of the hard-court tournament in Delray Beach (both of his singles titles on the ATP World Tour, which he won in 2009 and 2015, came at the grass-court event in Newport).
But it’s his alliance with Klaasen, who lives in Cape Town, which has kept him busiest of all. In addition to scoring a grass-court title in Halle and a hard-court prize in Chengdu, they also appeared in a number of finals this season. The most significant of all their runner-up finishes was their run at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event on the Miami cement. And now, here in Greenwich, there’s one another chance in 2016 for Ram and Klaasen to demonstrate their class.
Today (Friday) Klaasen and Ram opening the evening session at the ATP Finals in their last round robin group match against Spaniards Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez. It’s a must win match as the victors will qualify for Saturday’s semi final as both teams have won and lost a match going into tonight’s clash.


London, United Kingdom; For South African tennis ace Raven Klaasen and his American partner Rajeev Ram, their last match in the ATP Finals group round robin group stage is a must win.

South African Raven Klaasen (left) and American Rajeev Ram hard at work Thursday ahead of their final group round-robin at the Barclays ATP World Tour Final to be played in London. Klaasen and Ram face Spaniards Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez for a place in the semi-finals.
Picture credit: BLD Commnications

Klaasen and Ram, seeded seventh will play Spaniards Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez, seeded four in the most important match of the week to date.

Both teams have won and lost a match, so a win will secure a second place in the group behind unbeaten Henri Kontinen (Finland) and John Peers (Australia), and a Saturday semi-final berth.

The light show, the clouds of dry ice, the music, the crowds, the intensity of the competition. Some debutants take a while to become adjusted to the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Others, though, thrive from the off.

Of the five new teams at this year’s ATP Finals, none had as fabulous as an introduction to the competition as Klaasen and Ram. They started the week with a surprise win over the top seeds and world number one all-French pair of Pierre-Hughes Herbert and Nicolas Mahut. Perhaps, you might wonder, there is something about London with brings out the best in Klaasen and Ram, who made the semi-finals of this year’s Wimbledon, beating Bob and Mike Bryan along the way.

But on Wednesday, Kontinen and Peers beat Klaasen and Ram in two sets to secure their semi-final spot.

So come Friday, it’s going to be a big outing for Klaasen and ram at the O2 Arena against a Spanish duo who are as determined to make the last four.

“Both teams know what’s at stake on Friday. Our destiny is basically in our own hands. Rajeev and I are well prepared and looking forward to going out there and giving our all” said Klaasen.

View Our Archives

View our categories

Subscribe via RSS