FRIDAY RAIN HALTS PLAY AT THE ITF YOUNG SENIORS WORLD INDIVIDUAL CHMAPS IN CAPE TOWN

Cape Town, South Africa – Play on Friday was washed out at the ITF Young Seniors World Individual Championships in Cape Town.

It has been raining since early Friday morning and the tournament referee called off play at 12 noon.

As a result, Friday’s playing schedule will be in place on Saturday morning at the three venues: Kelvin Grove (Men and Women 35), Western Province Cricket Club (Men and Women 40) and Western Province Tennis headquarters (Men and Women 45).

The prize-giving ceremony will follow on Saturday at 15.00 or after the last match.


TENNIS SOUTH AFRICA ANNOUNCES EXCITING NEW APPAREL PARTNERSHIP WITH LOTTO SPORT

Pretoria, South Africa – Lotto Sport has today been unveiled as the official technical apparel partner to Tennis South Africa(TSA).

The three-year partnership, which commences in April 2017, will see the Italian sportswear manufacturer, through its local agent, provide playing and practise wear for all TSA national high performance teams - from Under 12 all the way through to the Davis and Fed Cup teams.
The KIA South African Davis Cup Team will play in Lotto Sport clothing for their forthcoming Euro/Africa Zone Group 2 Round 2 Davis Cup tie against Slovenia, from 7-9 April at the Irene Country Club.

Lotto Sport are official clothing sponsors for two of South Africa’s top ranked singles players - Kevin Anderson and Lloyd Harris.

“Lotto Sport are one of the world’s leading tennis apparel brands and this partnership is a significant endorsement for what is a new and exciting era for Tennis South Africa”, said Richard Glover, CEO of TSA.

Lotto Sport joins KIA Motors South Africa, Axnosis and Vodacom as brands that have recently partnered with TSA.


TOP SEEDS STAND FIRM AS OPPONENTS RAISE INTENSITY LEVELS IN CAPE TOWN

Cape Town, South Africa – Top seeds prevailed on Tuesday at the ITF Young Seniors World Individual Championships in Cape Town, South Africa.

Men’s 35 top Jasper Smit of The Netherlands came good against 14th seed Andrew Tavella of Australia at the Kelvin Grove courts. Smit won 6-1 6-2 in a division where the earlier rounds produced a host of upsets, including the demise of seeds 2-6. As a result, three unseeded players have progressed through to Wednesday’s quarterfinal round.

One of the seeds that stood his ground was 10th seeded Frenchman Steeve Nobelcourt who seems to be improving with every outing. He defeated sixth-seeded Canadian Mathieu Giguere 6-4 6-0.

Nobelcourt said afterwards he is fully acclimatised and feeling good about his chances of reaching the final.

I’m just looking to play a steady game and try to make my first serves good,” said Nobelcourt. “I know the conditions well enough now and I try to keep mistakes to a minimum. I’m trying to take the point early in the game so that I don’t have to play long rallies.

I’ve been in Cape Town since last week and I’m always trying to conserve energy for the later games.

In the Women’s 35 division, the quarterfinals were played and top seed, Canada’s Christina Popescu, was fully extended in her 6-3 7-6(9) win over Romania’s Alina Stroiu, the sixth seed.

Marcus Hilpert, of The Netherlands, led the way at the Rondebosch Tennis Courts with a straight-sets 6-3 6-3 win over South Africa’s Harry Anderson in their Men’s 45 third-round clash. The top seed Hilpert will go up against Australia’s Chris O’Mara, the 8th seed in the quarterfinals.

In the Women’s 45 division, the top seed Jurate Hardy of Lithuania perished at the hands of the unseeded Marine Arassus-Texier of France.

Arassus-Texier won 6-3 4-6 7-6(3) and Tuesday’s win was her second over a seed in two days. On Monday, she disposed of Switzerland’s Pascale Johner of Switzerland.

Local interest was centred on the performance of third seed, South Africa’s Jacqueline Booth, who won 6-2 6-3 against Sweden’s Helena Dahlstrom.

Booth has a rather interesting match-up in the quarterfinals against fellow South African Rene Plant who has already toppled two seeds. Plant, a former world tour campaigner is a seasoned campaigner and her clash quarterfinal clash against Booth could produce one of the tournament’s highlights.

Booth has also won through to the later rounds in the doubles and mixed doubles competition, all this while nursing a “sore” arm.

Men’s 40 top seed, Spaniard Roberto Menendez Ferre has won through to the quarterfinals where he goes up against Toby Mitchell, the eighth-seeded Australian. Mitchell has been in superb form in the earlier rounds, making short shrift of the opposition.

Slovenia’s Barbara Mulej, the Women’s 40 top seed, didn’t quite have things her own way against Great Britain’s eight-seeded Candida Reid-Harrop. After a ding-dong battle, Mulej prevailed 6-4 7-6(5).

More trouble could be in store for Mulej in the semifinals where she’s pitted against South African Lisa van der Riet.

The unseeded Van der Riet has been something of a giantkiller, having disposed of the third and fifth seeds in her run up to the semifinals.


TOP TENNIS STAR NOT NAMED IN SLOVENIAN SIDE TO FACE SOUTH AFRICA IN DAVIS CUP

Ljubljana, Slovenia – Blaz Kavcic, the top ranked Slovenian player has not been named in the four man Slovenian team to face South Africa next weekend in their crucial Europe/Africa Zone Group 2 second round Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Tie.

The tie to be played from 7-9 April 2017, staged at the Irene Country Club, Pretoria.

Kavcic’s exclusion in the nominated team named by Tennis Slovenia on Wednesday should be welcome news for KIA South African team Captain Marcos Ondruska and his squad as Kavcic posed a big threat to the South Africans. The talented right hander spent most of 2015 ranked in the world’s top 100 and has been ranked as high as 68. Kavcic this year reached three tournament finals.

The team named by Slovenia is ; Grega Zemlja, Tomislav Ternar, Mike Urbanija and Tilen Zitnik with Blaz Trupej as the non-playing captain.

Tennis Slovenia have not yet stated the reason for Blaz Kavcic not being nominated.

Ondruska named his four man team last week as Lloyd Harris, Nik Scholtz, Ruan Roelofse and Raven Klaasen. Originally Ondruska also named Tucker Vorster as part of his squad and Ondruska confirmed that Vorster would still travel to South Africa as part of the South African outfit. Junior Sipho Montsi will also be joining the KIA South African squad in Pretoria.

“The rules in Davis Cup are that 10 days before the tie you have to name no more than four players to the International Tennis Federation (ITF)” said Ondruska. “Vorster may not have been named on Tuesday but he still can be named to play as according to Davis Cup regulations, two changes may be made up until 1 hour prior to the Draw, which is Thursday next week at 10:00 (09:00 is the deadline for the changes). This applies to Slovenia as well and top player Blaz Kavcic could still be included in their team” continued Ondruska.

The teams nominated are;

South Africa
Lloyd Harris (singles: 274, doubles: 777)
Nik Scholtz (singles: 316, doubles: 503)
Ruan Roelofse (doubles: 168)
Raven Klaasen (doubles: 10)
Captain: Marcos Ondruska

Slovenia
Grega Zemlja (singles:762, doubles:764)
Tomislav Ternar (singles: 789 , doubles: 1326)
Mike Urbanija (singles: 855)
Tilen Zitnik (doubles: 1442)
Captain: Blaz Trupej

Slovenia are ranked 44 with South Africa ranked 56 on the Davis Cup world rankings. Slovenia are seeded two and South Africa eight in the Euro/Africa Zone 2.
This is the third time the two nations will be playing each other. The head to head score between both nations is 1-1.

Programme for the tie:
Friday 7 April: 14h45: Opening Ceremony. The first singles rubber will start at 15h00 with the second rubber following immediately thereafter.
Saturday 8 April: 15h00: Doubles rubber
Sunday 9 April: 11h00: First reverse singles rubber, followed by final singles rubber.
All the rubbers are played as the best of 5 sets until a result has been achieved. The first team to win three rubbers is declared the tie winners.

Tickets to the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Euro/Africa Zone Group 2 Round 2 South Africa vs Slovenia tie are available at R150.00 per person via www.webtickets.co.za


GERMANS REIGN SUPREME AT ITF WOMEN’S 35 SINGLES TOURNAMENT IN CAPE TOWN

Cape Town, South Africa – Friday’s Women 35 singles final will be an all-German affair after Andrea Fischer and Gitte Moeller emerged victorious from their semifinal encounters on Wednesday at the ITF Young Seniors World Individual Championships in Cape Town.

The unseeded Fischer produced yet another giant-killing performance at the Kelvin Grove courts where she defeated another seed - her third on the trot, en route to the final.

This time it was the prized scalp of the top seed, Christina Popescu of Canada, who battled to cope with Fischer’s relentless pressure. Fischer won 7-6(3) 6-3.

Afterwards, Fischer said: “I peppered her with lots of top-spin high balls to her backhand and she made mistakes. It was working well because it broke her rhythm.

There were times when I upped the tempo of the game and it took her by surprise.”

Fischer’s stronger serve came to the fore in the first-set tiebreak and it seemed to lift game somewhat when the second set got under way.

In the other semifinal, an all-German shoot-out, fourth-seeded Gitte Moeller had her work cut out against unseeded Manon Kruse before she signed off with a 6-4 6-4 win.

Kruse seemed to be bothered by her left wrist when playing the double-handed backhand. After the match, she went for treatment to the physio.

Moeller and Kruse are also doubles partners and have reached Thursday’s doubles final after eliminating the top seeds in the semis.

Over at the Western Province Tennis headquarters, all eyes were on local hope Jacqueline Booth, the Women’s 45 third seed.

She went up against fellow South African Rene Plant in the first singles quarterfinal and in the end youth triumphed over experience as Booth won 6-2 6-2.

Plant, five years Booth’s senior, is a former Wimbledon girls singles finalist and a seasoned women’s tour pro who played all the Majors with the exception of the Australian Open in the 1980s.

It turned out to be a classic encounter with Booth imposing herself on the contest with a full array of shots, particularly in the second set when she played with a lot more freedom.

Plant remained unbowed for most of the way and at times tried hard to wrest the initiative by reeling off a succession of angled groundstrokes. She managed a few delightful passing winners when Booth was stranded at the net.

However, Booth was quite content to run down the balls and given her repertoire of shots did well to pick up the ‘big points’ when it mattered. On occasions, the gracious Plant acknowledged her younger opponent’s prowess.

In later matches, Booth went out in the doubles and mixed semifinals and that could count as a blessing in disguise since she’s been receiving treatment all week for a troublesome right shoulder.

Booth will play second seed Ana Salas-Lozano of Spain in a semifinal on Thursday. In the other semi, fourth-seeded Eva Haslinghuis of The Netherlands will go up against South Africa’s Lettica Venter, the 16th seed.

One of the characters at this week’s tournament has been Jeronimo De Faria-Lopes, who describes himself as a “one arm amputee tennis player” and on Wednesday he bowed out in the Men’s 35 consolation singles quarterfinal round after he spurned two match points.

De Faria-Lopes, who hails from Johannesburg, suffered an accident at the age of six and his left arm was amputated.

He has no problem playing against able-bodied opponents and sometimes his matchwinning performances have left opponents bewildered.

They just can’t believe that they’ve lost a match to a player with one arm,” said De Faria-Lopes.

He has been playing since the age of seven and holds the racquet and ball in his right hand for the toss when serving.

And his greatest delight is hitting an ace!

In the last few years, he has been playing in TAP (Adaptive Tennis in Standing Position) tournaments around the world.


NEW LOOK SPAR GRAND PRIX GETS UNDER WAY ON SUNDAY

Johannesburg, South Africa - The new look SPAR Grand Prix gets under way on Sunday, when 21-thousand women line up for the start of the Cape Town Women’s Challenge at the Mother City’s Green Point stadium precedent .
For the first time, non-South Africans are eligible to accumulate Grand Prix points, which is very good news for Zimbabwean Rutendo Nyahora, who has been one of the most consistent top ten runners in the series for the past few years.
Two of South Africa’s most popular road runners, Mapaseka Makhanya and Rene Kalmer, have been named patrons of the Grand Prix this year. Both are former Grand Prix winners, with Kalmer having won the title three times and Makhanya once. Kalmer gave birth to daughter Karli less than two weeks ago, and is not expected to take part in any of the races before the Durban Challenge in June, and Makhanya is making her way back into contention after a series of injuries.
“I feel very honoured to be a patron of the SPAR Grand Prix,” said Kalmer.
“I have been unable to run for nearly a year, first because of a hip injury, and then because I was pregnant. So I am very happy that I am still able to be part of the SPAR Women’s Challenge Series.”
Makhanya said she was very excited about the changes that had been made to the Grand Prix. These include the addition of the Pietermaritzburg race 20 August 2017 , which joins Cape Town 2 April 2017, Nelson Mandela Bay 6 May 2017 , Durban 11 June 2017, Pretoria 05 August 2017and Johannesburg 08 October 2017 as races where elite runners are able to acquire Grand Prix points. Prix money has also been increased substantially, with the winner taking home R173 000. There will also be cash incentives for winners who meet target times.
“I am particularly excited that the Grand Prix is now open to non-South Africans, and I am so happy for Rutendo. She is going to make life tough for the rest of us who are trying to win Grand Prix points,” said Makhanya.
“I am very excited about being named a patron of the Grand Prix. It is a big honour, and I know I will have to be a role model for other runners.”
Kalmer said the SPAR Challenge races had been very important for the development of road running in South Africa.
“I ran my first SPAR race when I was 13, and they have played a very important role in my development as an athlete. I think many runners have discovered the joy of running after taking part in one of the SPAR races.
“At the top level, competition is very tight – you used to be able to win the race with a time of 35 minutes – now you might not even make the top twenty with a time like that,” she said.
“Because there are five – and now six – races in the Grand Prix, you are motivated throughout the year.”
Makhanya said it was particularly fulfilling to run in races designed specifically for women.
“The atmosphere of the SPAR races is very special. I can’t wait to get going with this year’s chase,” said Makhanya.


SPAIN EMERGE MARGARET COURT CUP WINNERS BUT FABULOUS FRANCE LIFT FOUR TILTLES

Cape Town, South Africa – “Olé, Olé, Olé!” rang out at the Western Province Tennis courts on Friday when Spain made a successful title defence of the Margaret Court Cup (Women 45) at the ITF Young Seniors World Team Championships in Cape Town.

Throughout the week, the all-conquering Spanish team sounded a championship challenge with a string of one-sided wins but they were fully extended on Friday by the sixth-seeded South Africa in the gold medal match which attracted the biggest crowd for any venue this week.

In both singles, the Spaniards were subjected to three-sets encounters as they warded off the twin intimidation of never-say-die opponents and a spoiling wind to eventually clinch the tie 2-0.

In their previous matches at the venue, windless conditions prevailed but on Friday the Spanish players were forced to reckon with conditions, and they found it trying.

Top seeds Spain sent out Noelia Perez-Penate for the opening singles against South Africa’s Lettica Venter and neither would have anticipated the dogfight that was to play out in the opening two sets. Perez-Penate eventually held out for a 6-3 4-6 6-1 win.

The match was held up for 10 minutes in the second set when Venter required medical attention for her elbow. Perez-Penate said afterwards the stoppage broke her rhythm.

The wind made it difficult because it was blowing for the first time this week,” said Perez-Penate. “But it was more in the head because I needed to put that behind me.

My plan was to constantly change tactics at the start and it worked well in the first set. In the second set, I started making too many errors and the match started drifting away from me.

By the time we had the injury stoppage I was leading 3-2 and when we resumed she started hitting very flat and with lots of top spin. I was out of it and lost the set 6-4.

I didn’t very long to find my game in the third and I kept thinking that I should have ended the match after two sets.”

South Africa’s Jacqueline Booth made a valiant attempt to rescue the tie for her country in the next singles clash but in the end succumbed to the steady play of Ana Salas-Lozano, who clinched the tie with a 1-6 6-3 6-4 win.

Booth raised a fair amount of applause throughout the clash for her adventurous play but it also yielded unforced errors when big points were at stake in the later sets.

The second-seeded Netherlands were next to strike gold when they annexed the Dubler Cup (Men 45) following their close-shave 2-1 win over top seeds France at the Green Point Tennis Club.

But despite this setback for France, they turned out to the stand-out performers at the 2017 showpiece as they went to win the next four titles on offer. It was a remarkable performance, bagging four titles and a runner-up position in six age divisions.

The Women 35 top seeds France came good against The Netherlands (3) with wins in both singles to lift the Suzanne Lenglen Cup.

Prior to the start of this match, France won the deciding doubles against Germany after rain prevented play on Thursday.

The Tony Trabert Cup (Men 40) also went to France, the top seeds, after they dispatched third seeds Spain 2-0 at the Western Province Cricket Club courts.

Both singles matches were hard-fought affairs, especially the second which was decided on straight-set tie-breaks.

There was more glory for France at the Pinelands Tennis Club after their Women’s 40 team, the third seeds, caused an upset with a 2-0 win over top seeds Spain.

France completed their trophy haul at the Kelvin Grove Club courts in glorious fashion after completing the week-long tournament undefeated.

They won the Italia Cup (Men 35) with a 2-0 win over Great Britain.

Marc Steger who closed out the tie with a straight-sets win in the second singles match said afterwards the team battled in the windy conditions but they remained strong mentally.

We were not overly aggressive. The plan was to play a solid game and make sure faults don’t creep into our play,” said Steger, a tennis coach who hails from Mulhouse, a city in Eastern France.

We put a lot of emphasis on solid groundstrokes and opted to play most of the time from the comfort of the baseline.”

The action in Cape Town will continue on Sunday when the ITF Young Seniors World Individual Championships get under way.


PLAYERS BATTLE THE ODDS AT ITF YOUNG SENIORS INDIVIDUAL CHAMPS IN CAPE TOWN

Cape Town, South Africa – Straight-set wins were the order of the day when the singles contests got under way on Sunday at the ITF Young Seniors World Individual Championships in Cape Town.

Many of the players across the six categories had the benefit of experiencing the local conditions after representing their countries at last week’s ITF Young Seniors World Team Champs in the ‘Mother City’, as Cape Town, South Africa’s oldest city is an affectionately nicknamed.

One such player was Brendan Zackey who started off his Men 40 singles campaign on a winning note when he downed German Ferdinand Fahlke 6-2 6-3 at the Western Province Cricket Club courts.

Zackey, a Johannesburg entrepreneur, played for South Africa at the same venue last week where he had five singles outings. Coming from South Africa’s Highveld he’s had to adjust to conditions at the coast.

I had the benefit of being fully acclimatised since I’ve played on at least five of the six courts at the Men’s 40 event last week,” said Zackey, who previously campaigned on the ATP Tour. “I was off to a fine start to lead 5-1 although it was a battle adapting serves to the varying sun and light conditions at the two ends.

The second set didn’t quite go to plan as I suffered a break of serve after taking a 4-1 lead. Somehow both of us dropped serves later in this set but my earlier lead provided the platform for me to close out the set, and the game, at 6-2 6-3.”

At the Kelvin Grove Club courts, Germany’s Alexander Klec was subjected to a marathon duel against Manuel Pinto de Abreu Portugal before he triumphed 6-7 6-1 6-2.

It was hard on Klec who had only arrived in Cape Town 24 hours earlier from Munich. He said he found local conditions vastly different from those in Europe and on top of that, he was just returning to action after a three-month lay-off as a result of illness.

It was a great gesture on the part of the ITF to give me a wild card and I want to do well at this event,” said Klec. “Having prepared on indoor courts, I soon found out that ball bounces much higher here on the outdoor courts.

The higher temperatures were also a factor because it can be tiring playing in the heat.”

Klec surrendered the first set but it gave him a chance to work out his tactics for the rest of the match.

At the start of the second, I slowed down the game a fair bit although he tried to make me run a lot.

I was quite happy to do that (run) and once I managed to wrest the initiative, I moved him around. As the match progressed, I started serving much better and I noticed halfway through the second set that he was tiring.”

Over at the Western Province Tennis courts, Okan Okyay from Ankara, Turkey, said he was exhausted after his 6-2 6-3 singles win over Australian Tim Thomas in the Men 45 division.

Okyay was still reeling from the effects of a near five-hour singles encounter last week when he represented Turkey against Ireland.

I’m just taking game by game because I’m still suffering from that long match,” Okyay said afterwards. “The set went with serve after four games but then I broke him and soon I was 4-2 up. That’s when I changed tactics and played lots of slice and topspin.

He (Thomas) did try to pressure me but he wasn’t doing too well with the return of serve.

In the second set, I used my ‘weapon’ - the serve and had two breaks to go up 4-1. That’s when fatigue set in and it became a fight for me but I kept thinking about my game right until the end.”

Most of the tournament’s top seeds will be in action at the three venues on Monday.


JUNIOR SOUTH AFRICAN TEAMS ANNOUNCED FOR THE 2017 ITF/CAT AFRICAN JUNIOR TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS

Johannesburg, South Africa – Tennis South Africa (TSA) announced on Friday their junior players to represent South Africa at the ITF/CAT African Junior Tennis Championships from 27 March – 04 April at the Gauteng East Tennis Complex at Benoni Lake, Ekurhuleni.

Two teams were announced namely the boys and girls under 14, and boys and girls under 16. The teams are as follows;

Under 16
1st Team
Myah Petchey (WC)
Delien Klienhans (FS)
Joubert Klopper FS)
Pierre Malan (WC)
Coach: MC Oliver (FS)

2nd Team
Makayla Loubser (WC)
Ntokozo Zungu (GP)
Kholo Montsi (GP)
Charl Morgan (GP)
Coach: Charles Mahlape (GP)

Under 14
1st Team
Kelly Arends (WC)
Christine Kruger (FS)
Carl Roothman (WC)
Connor Kruger (GP)
Coach: Helen Barrett (GP)

2nd Team
Arista Siebrits (GP)
Naledi Manyube (WC)
Rohan Loubser (WC)
Mikael Woodman (WC)
Coach: Thabo Matlhaela (GP)


THE FRANCE-GERMANY SUZANNE LENGLEN CUP (W35) RAIN-ABONDONED TIE LEFT ONCLIFF-HANGER

Cape Town, South Africa – The rain won the day at The Glen tennis courts where a titanic battle between top seeds France and Germany (2) ensued in the Suzanne Lenglen Cup (W35) competition on Thursday at the 37th edition of the ITF Young Seniors World Team Championships in Cape Town, South Africa.

As a result, the tie was not completed and the doubles clash will be decided on Friday after the teams were locked at 1-all after the two singles matches.

France’s Magali Malbet gave her side a 1-0 lead after she defeated Germany’s Andrea Fischer 6-4 6-1 in a match that was far more keenly contested than the final scoreline suggests.

Malbet had to overcome “nerves” and the start and it did not her case that Fischer had found her rhythm early in the contest.

My nerves at the start didn’t quite allow me to move freely and on top of it, my opponent wasn’t making mistakes,” Malbet said afterwards.

Fischer just managed to keep the ball in the court all the time and soon I was trailing 3-4.

Once I managed a service break my game started improving all the time and I went on to close out the first set 6-4.

In the second set, Fischer’s wasn’t quite at her best and she really battled. At the same time, I started playing better as the set wore on.

I started coming to the net more often because my volleys were working well and soon it was all over at 6-1.”

Germany struck back in the next singles match for a 1-all stalemate after which it started raining.

The tie will be completed on Friday morning and the outcome will have a direct bearing on the 2017 destiny of the Suzanne Lenglen Cup.

Once the doubles match is completed, France will go up against The Netherlands (2), who defeated Germany 2-1 on Wednesday.

At the Green Point Tennis Club courts, the South African M45 team attracted a fair crowd and after a promising start by Clinton Richards in the opening singles, the sixth-seeded Swedes fought back to prevail 2-1.

Richards won a protracted match against the Swede Henrik Hobik 6-1 1-6 7-6(5).

Afterwards, Richards said a change of tactics allowed him to close out the match on a high.

I played up a storm in the opening set but in the second he (Hobik) found his range and I really struggled to cope with his big shots,” said Richards.

In the third, I changed the pace and it worked for a while when I went ahead 3-1 but then he stormed back into the game to take a 5-4 lead.

I managed to break serve after a long game and then it went with serve until the tiebreak.

In the tiebreak, I was in serious trouble when I dropped consecutive serves and by then it was becoming an all-out mental battle.

I knew that I had to stay mentally strong and that’s what I did and then won match point with a cheeky drop shot!”

However, South Africa capitulated in the remaining two matches as Sweden claimed the tie 2-1.

Friday’s M45 medal match will see France (1) and Netherlands (2) fight it out for the Dubler Cup while Germany (5) and unseeded Canada will be looking for a third-place finish.

Over at the Pinelands Tennis Club, the teams were battling for the best of the minor placings in the Young Cup (W40) competition.

There were seven teams in action and Germany fared the best to round off their 2017 campaign with a 9th place finish over defeating Ireland 3-0.

In Friday’s final, Spain, last year’s winners, go up against France, last year’s runners-up.

The Netherlands and Great Britain will fight it out for the remaining medal placing in the third/fourth play-off.

At the Kelvin Grove courts, the base of the M35 teams, Germany, the fifth seeds, went out on a high with a 3-0 win over Australia to clinch a tournament-ending 7th place.

Mozambique ended their debut at the tournament with the wooden spoon after they were pipped by India, the eventual 2-1 winners.

However, the Africans did manage their first singles win when Bruno Figueiredo dispatched India’s Aditya Khanna 6-2 6-1.

In Friday’s championship match, Great Britain and France will be looking to annexe the Italia Cup. It will mark a step up for Britain after they finished third last year.

Spain and Netherlands, last year’s finalists, will play in the other medal match.

At the Western Province Cricket Club courts, seventh seeds USA toppled eighth seeds Sweden after winning the doubles match.

Their 2-1 win assures the USA of a 7th place finish.

France, the defending Tony Trabert Cup champions, and Spain will face up in Friday’s final. Spain turned in a vastly improved performance at this year’s event after a 7th place finish last year.

Germany and The Netherlands (last year’s runners-up) will be fighting it out for the remaining medal.

Australia (8) and Sweden (7) ended their W45 campaigns at the Western Province Tennis courts on a matchwinning note.

They finished 2-1 winners against Switzerland and Turkey respectively.

Spain and South Africa will be in the hunt for Margaret Court Cup and the local interest will be huge.

Spain lifted the cup last year in Croatia where they were the fifth seeds.

USA and France have reached the third/fourth medal play-off match.

France will be looking to at least match their feat of last year when they ended third.


UNCHANGED KIA SOUTH AFRICAN DAVIS CUP TEAM NAMED FOR CLASH WITH SLOVENIA

Pretoria, South Africa – South African Davis Cup captain, Marcos Ondruska, has made no changes to his squad that will go guns-a-blazing into their Euro/Africa Zone Group 2 Round 2 Davis Cup tie against Slovenia from 7-9 April at the Irene Country Club.
The KIA Motors South Africa sponsored squad to take on the Slovenians, comprises of Lloyd Harris, Nik Scholtz, Raven Klaasen, Ruan Roelofse and Tucker Vorster.
The same squad faced Estonia at home in February and won comfortably 4-1 to earn their sport in the Euro/Africa second round. A win in April by South Africa will see them playing for promotion into Euro/Africa Zone Group 1 next year.
Tennis South Africa (TSA) announced that rising star Sipho Montsi would join the squad as an official hitting partner. Montsi of Pretoria recently caught the eye of Judy Murray, mother of Andy Murray whilst competing in the junior Australian Open. Judy Murray commented that Sipho’s was “one of the most naturally talented players” she had seen.
“It feels great to be part of the Davis Cup squad at my age and as well as being the youngest player in the squad. It is always an honour to represent my country and I know I’ll learn a lot from the senior players in the squad as well as coach Ondruska. I’m really looking forward to it” said Montsi.
Ondruska will be forced to trim the squad down to four players by the start of the tie, but he does at least have a plethora of riches to choose from.
Despite South Africa’s top player, Kevin Anderson not making himself available for the tie, Ondruska said he was pleased that the country’s second highest ranked singles player, Lloyd Harris was available.
“I am delighted to have our strongest team together again. All players have been working hard and have had some good success on the ATP Tour since the previous tie and I’m hoping that supports what I am expecting to be an incredible tie. It will be our toughest test yet. All the Slovenian players are very good players, having been around the Top 50 in the world. I am confident in our side and it should be a spectacular event for tennis fans!” said Ondruska
Harris, who turned 20 yrs. last month, has made incredible progress on the world rankings climbing some 250 spots in the last eight months. At the end of 2016, Harris won six consecutive Futures titles in Egypt and at home in Stellenbosch, and reached a career high ranking of 266.
“I am very happy to be representing South Africa again in another Davis Cup tie. I always enjoy playing for my country and I love playing in front of the home crowd.
The tie against Slovenia is going to be extremely interesting as we are going up against some world class players that have all been top 100 ATP players. I look forward to spending every second on the court fighting for my country and getting the job done out there.” said Harris
Ondruska said that Harris and Nik Scholtz were very good high altitude players and Tucker Vorster had also enjoyed great success at altitude.
A key member of the team announced is the evergreen Raven Klaasen; the team’s doubles specialist. Klaasen is playing the best tennis of his career at the age of 34 years. And after winning his first ATP Masters title (with Rajeev Ram) over the weekend, Klaasen is back into the world’s top 10 ranked this week 10 on the world doubles ranking. Klaasen is enjoying a solid 2017 run where other than the title in Indian Wells he won the title at Delray Beach, has reached the quarter-finals of Brisbane and Acapulco all with his American partner Rajeev Ram. Last year Klaasen captured two titles on the ATP World Tour resulting in qualifying for the year end ATP World Tour finals with Ram where they were losing finalists.
“I’m honoured to have been trusted yet again to represent my country in this all-important tie against Slovenia. I’m confident that I, together with my team mates, will do our utmost level best early next month at Irene Country Club in order to go back to the Euro/Africa Group 1. We’re very familiar with the courts altitude, which gives us more advantage.” said Klaasen
Ruan Roelofse has proved, according to Ondruska, to be “a great doubles player who performs well in Davis Cup competition.”
“I am very happy with the team to face Slovenia. It is a very experienced team selected” said Ondruska. “Lloyd, Nik, Raven, Ruan and Tucker have more than 16 years of Davis Cup experience between them. It is crucial for us to win this tie because we want to be back in group 1 in 2018.”
“Irene Country Club is a great venue and we hope to get lots of support from the local tennis supporters.” Added Ondruska.
Slovenia will be naming their side next week.
The KIA SA team and their current ranking positions: Lloyd Harris (274 singles, 777 doubles); Nik Scholtz (503 singles, 316 doubles); Ruan Roelofse (168 doubles); Tucker Vorster (633 singles, 269 doubles) and Raven Klaasen (10 doubles)


SEEDS FALL BY THE WAYSIDE AS TEAMS STAKE CHAMPIONSHIPS CLAIMS

Cape Town, South Africa – The M40 teams from France and Spain wielded the whitewash brush to good effect as they ground out semifinal wins on Wednesday at the 37th edition of the ITF Young Seniors World Team Championships in Cape Town, South Africa.

The third-seeded Spain upset the form book when they defeated second-seeded Netherlands 3-0 at the Western Province Cricket Club courts.

Top seeds France despatched European neighbours Germany, the fourth seeds, 2-0. The teams did not play doubles in this tie.

Spanish No 2 Jonathan Garcia set the ball rolling against Dutch opponent Dennis Bank with a 6-2 6-1 victory.

Garcia was given a fright at the start when he was left trailing 0-2 but he showed great presence of mind as he staged a gallant fightback.

I was far too tense at the start but once I settled down it went well for me,” Garcia said afterwards. “Maybe it was a good thing that I went behind because it helped to set me on a roll.

In the second set I went up 4-0 but it was hard work as there were many rallies. One thing that helped in the second set was that I was solid and hardly made mistakes.

The match lasted just over two hours and the hot weather made it difficult to play.”

Xavier Audouy showed the way for France in their opening singles rubber against Germany with a 6-2 6-0 win over on Ron Rohrig.

Audouy gained the measure of his opponent early in the first set and then never relinquished his grip on the match.

At 2-all I broke serve and that seemed to set him back. Up to that stage, we had long rallies and there wasn’t much between the two of us.

Once I managed the break, I started to get a good feel for the conditions and I kept the ball deep.

I also decided the hit the ball early and then applied pressure.

I also tried to speed up the game in the second set and my confidence grew as the set wore on. Physically I was feeling good because I love the hot conditions.

It seemed as if Rohrig was battling with the conditions.”

Over at Rondebosch, the W45 teams from Spain (1) and South Africa (6) scored 2-1 semifinal wins.

South Africa upset second-seeded France when they won the doubles after each had claimed a singles win.

France’s Marine Arassus-Texier provided her team with a 1-0 lead after she edged South Africa’s Lettica Venter 7-6 (4) 6-1.

In the first set, Arassus-Texier found herself trailing 5-3 and then after warding off a set point she maintained a vice-like grip on proceedings to secure a 7-4 tiebreak win.

Once I worked my way back to 4-5 I started making fewer mistakes. I started relying more and more on my backhand and things started working out better for me.

She (Venter) offered a lot of fight at the start of the second set but by then I had worked out her game. I had no problem finding tactics to close out the game in the end.”

However, the French failed to reckon with the resolve in the ranks of the South Africans who managed to draw level when their No 1 Jacqueline Booth won 6-1 6-0 against Virginie Buisson in the next singles match.

Booth was up for the fight again in the deciding doubles with teammate Venter and they clinched the tie with a 6-2 6-0 win over Buisson and Elisabeth Tourreau.

The Pinelands venue also produced an upset as France’s W40 team, the No 3 seeds, toppled No 2 seeds Great Britain 2-1.

The French will go on to play the final against top seeds Spain, who edged home 2-1 against fourth-seeded Netherlands.

The M45 semifinal action at Green Point went according to form as top seeds France and Germany (No 5 seeds) won through to the finals against The Netherlands, the fourth seeds, and unfancied Australia, respectively.

At Kelvin Grove courts, both semifinals yielded upset results.

First, Spain, the top seeds, crashed 2-1 to Great Britain, the No 4 seeds, after a titanic battle which saw two of the matches stretched to three sets.

Later on, France’s Steeve Noblecourt and Marc Steger cantered to straight-set wins over their Dutch opponents.

After France (No 3 seeds) enjoyed a 2-0 lead against The Netherlands (No 2 seeds), the doubles match was not played.


ISRAEL MAKES RETURN AT YOUNG SENIORS TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS

Cape Town, South Africa – The start of the 2017 ITF Young Seniors World Team Championships in Cape Town on Sunday was marked by the debut of Mozambique and the return of Israel after an absence of 15 years.

There was action across six age-groups at as many venues across the Mother City where fine weather conditions prevailed throughout the day. Eighty-five teams, 49 men’s and 36 women’s, from 25 nations will be in action until Friday when the finals and play-offs will be concluded.
The three-man Mozambique team, playing in the Men’s 35-year group, was up against sixth seeds USA and it turned out to be a baptism of fire for the Africans as they went down 3-0 at Kelvin Grove, the tournament headquarters.

Bruno Figueiredo, the Mozambique captain and No. 1, said the team was proud to be flying the Mozambique flag at an international event.
“It wasn’t easy for us but after a six-hour drive from Maputo to Johannesburg, we flew to Cape Town,” said Figueiredo, who like the rest of the team is a professional coach in the Mozambique capital.
“We’ve never been exposed to international events at a senior level but the International Tennis Federation have staged Futures events in the country,” said Figueiredo, adding: “This tournament will be a learning experience for us.”

Germany’s Gerhard Fahlke provided the M35 fifth seeds with a winning start in their tie against Turkey. Fahlke, playing No, 1 for the Germans, defeated Turkey’s Lebit Umut Yurtoglu 6-1 6-0.
“Since we didn’t have a chance to practice on the Kelvin Grove courts we did not know what to expect,” said Fahlke, who needed just 45 minutes to breeze past his opponent with a gameplan that was too hard to contain.

I mixed up my game with fast and slow serves, and then threw in some drop shots, so I never allowed him to settle down.”
Germany who ended 3-0 winners at the end of the day will be up against Mexico on Monday, and Fahlke said Germany will be better prepared this time.
“We managed to have a practice game against Mexico late last week, so we know what to expect.”

On Tuesday, Germany will go up against the top seeds Spain who tasted defeat in the final for the Italia Cup in Umag, Croatia, last year.
Unseeded Mexico found the going uphill in their opener against Spain who sent out their No. 2 Javier Martinez Baena to open proceedings. He was up against the Mexican No. 1 Maurico Mendez who capitulated 6-1 6-1.

My plan was to trade heavily on my serve and forehand and the ploy worked like a charm,” said Baena. “I was looking to do well from the start and as the game progressed I found my rhythm.
“We’re looking for another good result (ended the day 3-0 winners) against Turkey on Monday.”

Over at the Green Point Tennis Club where the Men’s 45 players are vying for the Dubler Cup, conditions were more trying for teams from the Nothern Hemisphere.
Jeroen Bok led the challenge for The Netherlands with a 62 61 win over Ireland’s Patrick McGrath.

He said conditions were “tough” for both teams since pre-tournament preparation was strictly done indoors. “Suddenly you’re tossing the ball at the serve into the blue skies and then the bounce of the ball was so much higher,” said Bok. “I managed a win today but it wasn’t as easy as the scoreline suggests. I had to work really hard and the challenge was to adapt to the conditions.
“I think our opponents were preparing back home on synthetic grass before they arrived.”

The Netherlands saw out the day with a 3-0 triumph over Ireland.

Canada’s captain and No. 2 player, Benjamin Woo, produced a workmanlike performance en route to a 6-4 6-0 win over USA’s Gerrit Disbergen. Woo said he found the playing surface ideal and coped well with the early morning breezy conditions when playing the South African-born American.

I remained relaxed and was prepared to fight for every point. The key was to up the intensity as the match wound its course,” said Woo, after he had given his side a 1-0 lead.
“My opponent did not offer as much fight in the second set and it also helped that I kept the ball in court more often.”

The fourth-seeded USA suffered another early morning setback in the next singles tie and that paved the way for the unseeded Canada to run out eventual 2-1 upset winners at the end of Sunday’s tie.
The Argentina-Sweden opener between Luis Valdez and Jorgen Aberg (SWE) turned out to be a real dogfight.
On arrival, Valdez wasn’t too impressed with the absence of wifi at the venue but once the action started he produced a finely-tuned performance before emerging a close-shave 75 64 victor over the Swede.

There were highs and lows in my game but aslong as I could mix things up, I was in with a chance,” said Valdez. “I fought hard on the back of my serves and then a solid right forehand worked well for me.”

Unseeded Argentina held out for an eventual 2-1 upset win over the sixth-seeded Swedes. In another upset result, unseeded Australia saw off the eighth-seeded Argentina in the M35 division.


BLOEMFONTEIN TO HOST INTERNATIONAL SENIORS TENNIS EVENT

Bloemfontein, South Africa – The first International Seniors Tennis Tournament of 2017 will be hosted in the City of Roses. Bloemfontein will stage the SA Nationals Seniors ITF from 04-08 March 2017. The tournament, a Grade 2 status International Tennis Federation (ITF) event on the ITF’s international seniors calendar offers world rankings points to the participants.

There will be 11 age groups for men’s and women’s, listed as follows;

Over 30 – University of Free State
Over 35 – University of Free State
Over 40 – University of Free State
Over 45 – University of Free State
Over 50 – Free State Tennis Stadium
Over 55 – Free State Tennis Stadium
Over 60 – Free State Tennis Stadium
Over 65 – Free State Tennis Stadium
Over 70 – Oud Studente Tennis
Over 75 – Oud Studente Tennis
Over 80 – Oud Studente Tennis

The finals of the tournament are scheduled for Wednesday, 8 March 2017 at the Free State Tennis Stadium


SPAR GRAND PRIX BIGGER AND BETTER THAN EVER

Johannesburg, South Africa -The SPAR Grand Prix, one of South Africa’s most prestigious athletics events, will be bigger and better than ever this year.
The Grand Prix has been expanded to include a sixth race – the Pietermaritzburg SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge and the prize money has increased by seven per cent, with the eventual winner pocketing a whopping R173 000. In addition, the Grand Prix is now open to all woman runners, regardless of their nationality.
“The inclusion of international runners is an important step,” said Grand Prix coordinator Ian Laxton.

Last year’s SPAR Grand Prix winner Irvette Van Zyl holding the tropy after the announcement.

Picture by: Reg Caldecott


“For ten years, we helped a generation of local runners move into the international arena. Now it’s time to open it up to everyone, because our local girls are ready to take on the world.
“With six races this year, these international runners need to come to at least four, and probably five, of the races if they want to win. That means we could have several African stars here for the whole series,” said Laxton.
“That’s good for road running in South Africa and we plan to eventually become a destination for world class women athletes. We invite the Kenyans, the Ethiopians and other world class runners to come to the SPAR Grand Prix in 2017.”
Laxton said the tenth anniversary of the SPAR Grand Prix in 2016 had been very special, but the organisers knew that they had to continue to improve the race.
“We decided to include Pietermaritzburg as one of the Grand Prix races because we wanted to expand the Grand Prix, and the Pietermaritzburg race was ideal for our purposes. It is well run, and well supported, so it has enough clout to fit into the Grand Prix, and it has been sponsored by SPAR for a number of years.”
“We are excited about the improvements to the Grand Prix,” said SPAR Marketing Director Mike Prentice.
“The SPAR Challenge races and the SPAR Grand Prix are among our most important sponsorships, and it is important that they change and improve every year. We look forward to another titanic battle for Grand Prix points in 2017.”
One runner who will be delighted by the expansion of the Grand Prix to all nationalities is Rutendo Nyahora. The Zimbabwean has been a regular top ten finisher for several years, with a number of Challenge wins to her name, but until now she has been excluded from the Grand Prix.
“I didn’t mind that it was only for South Africans,” said Nyahora.
“But I am so happy that I can now also get Grand Prix points, and stand a chance of winning.”
As part of efforts to raise standards, there will be a cash incentive for runners who beat target times for each of the races. The targets are the fastest winning times in the past three years. In addition to the cash prize of R5000 in the open category and R2500 in the age categories, runners who meet the target times will receive bonus points. Only the winner will receive the cash bonus, but all runners who beat the target times will receive bonus points.
The first race is the Cape Town Challenge on Sunday April 2. The Port Elizabeth Challenge is on Saturday May 6 and the Durban race is on Sunday June 11. There will be two Challenge races in August, with the Pretoria race on Saturday August 5 and the Pietermaritzburg race on Sunday August 20. The final race is in Johannesburg on Sunday October 8 at their new venue, Marks Park in Emmerentia.

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