MOLOTSANE WINS HER THIRD SPAR WOMEN’S CHALLENGE

Pietermaritzburg, South Africa - Kesa Molotsane (KPMG) virtually clinched the SPAR Grand Prix with a stunning win in the Pietermaritzburg SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge on Sunday.
She finished in 34.21 minutes. Rutendo Nyahora (Nedbank) was second in 34.44 and Irvette van Zyl (Nedbank) was third in 34.37.

This is the first time the Pietermaritzburg SPAR race has formed part of the Grand Prix series, so the route was unknown to many of the runners. It was a very hilly route, and the race was run on a chilly morning, with 4 500 runners taking part.

Van Zyl took the lead early on, followed closely by Lebogang Phalula, Nyahora and Molotsane. Van Zyl looked strong on the steep hills, but at about six kilometres, Molotsane made her move and caught up with her. Phalula dropped back, but the top three ran side by side. Molotsane, who is known for her amazing ‘kick’, left the other two and crossed the finish line looking as if she could run another 10 kilometres. The top three all earned bonus points for finishing inside the target time.

Phalula, who won the Pietermaritzburg race last year finished in 34.50 minutes.
“I love hills, and I really liked this route,” said Molotsane, who left almost immediately after the race to join her South African teammates at the World Student Games in Taipei, where she will compete in the 5000 metres event.

“I had to get special permission to stay behind to run this race, but it was very important to me,” she said.
Molotsane said her training for the track helped her to maintain speed on the road.

Nyahora, who ran the marathon in the World Athletics Championships in London two weeks ago, said that at four kilometres, she felt she had no strength left in her legs.
“But I just reminded myself that I wasn’t running a marathon and it was only a few kilometres to go. I tried to stay with Kesa, but she has such a strong kick. I am very happy with my race,” said Nyahora.
Van Zyl, who won the SPAR race in Pretoria two weeks ago, praised Molotsane and Nyahora.

“I tried my very best, but it wasn’t good enough today,” she said.
“Kesa was just too good. She ran an amazing race, and Rutendo was also amazing, just two weeks after running a marathon. I just didn’t have the strength in my legs to stay ahead.”
The final leg of the SPAR Challenge series takes place at Marks Park in Johannesburg on October 8.

SPAR WOMEN’S 10 KM CHALLENGE RESULTS

Results of the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge run at the Pietermaritzburg Oval on Sunday

Senior
1. Kesa Molotsane (KPMG) 34.21; 2 Rutendo Nyahora (Nedbank) 34.34; 3. Irvette van Zyl (Nedbank0 34.37; 4 Lebogang Phalula (Boxer) 34.50; 5. Bertha Chikanga (Maxed Elite) 34.58; 6. Maria Shai (Boxer) 35.02; 7. Glenrose Xaba (Boxer) 35.05; 8.. Nolene Conrad (KPMG) 35.11; 9. Nicole Louw (KPMG) 35.23; 10 Rudo Mhonderwa (Nedbank Zimbabwe)

Junior
1. Nicole Louw (KPMG) 35.23; 2. Shanley Koekemoer (KPMG) 37.27; 3. Lyndi Roelofse (Boxer) 37.44

35-39
1. Jane Grundling (Boxer) 37.22; 2. Makhosi Mhlongo (32 Gi0 37.41; 3. Fikile Mbuthuma (Nedbank) 39.02

40-49
1. Tanith Maxwell (Boxer) 37.56; 2. Janene Carey (Boxer) 39.55; 3. Delia Jay (Dolphin Coast Striders) 44.40

50-59
1. Judy Bird (KPMG) 39.54; 2. Grace de Oliveira (Boxer) 44.10; 3. Gail Babich (Savages Athletics Club) 46.47

60-69
1. Blanche Moila (Savages Athletics Club) 49.19; 2. Sonja Laxton (RAC) 50.34; 3. Jenny Taylor (Saints Athletics Club) 51.13

70 +
1. Gill Tregenna (Westville Athletics Club) 59.22


SOUTH AFRICA VS DENMARK DAVIS CUP VENUE ANNOUNCED

Pretoria, South Africa – The Danish Tennis Federation (DTF) announced Wednesday that the Ceres Arena in Aarhus, Denmark would be the venue for the all-important upcoming Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Group 2 third round tie between Denmark and South Africa.

Ceres Arena in Aarhus, Denmark was announced to host the Davis Cup. The forthcoming Davis Cup Euro/Africa Zone Group 2 Round 3 tie South Africa vs Denmark will be played from
Friday, 15 September – Sunday, 17 September 2017

Photo credit: Danish Tennis Federation


The promotional playoff tie will be played from 15th-17th September 2017

The winner of the tie will be promoted to Euro Africa Group 1. Denmark are seeded 4 and South Africa seeded 8 in Group 2. The two countries have met five times before with South Africa leading head to head 3-2 and South Africa winning the only indoor tie in 2003 in Bronby, Denmark.

It was also confirmed that the surface chosen by the hosts would be indoor hardcourt (Rebound Ace Synpave).

Director of DTF, Klaus Norby Jakobsen, said he was pleased with the agreement to bring the Davis Cup to Aarhus: “We are looking forward to hosting South Africa in yet another tennis festival in Aarhus. We have a very good cooperation with Aarhus Municipality, and we hope that together with the clubs in Aarhus and surrounding areas we can create the best experience for the teams and the public. There is no doubt that Ceres Arena have all the fundamentals for the tie to be successful.”

The municipality of Aarhus also looks forward to hosting the Davis Cup again: “I am looking forward for the event to being hosted again in Aarhus. We have developed into a city where the experiences stands in line. It makes it very popular to visit Aarhus and, above all, live in. I am looking forward to giving the best of Denmark’s tennis enthusiasts, the best support and atmosphere.” said Rabih Azad, councilor for Culture and Citizenship.


NSA OPTS FOR EXPERIENCED FAST5 SQUAD

Johannesburg, South Africa - Head coach of the SPAR National Netball team Elsje Jordaan says she is excited about the makeup of the team selected for the Fast5 World Series to be played in Melbourne, Australia, at the end of October.

Newly appointed Protea coach, Elsje Jordaan giving a press conference during day 5 of the SPAR National Netball Championships at the Hoy Park sports complex on August 11, 2017 in Durban, South Africa.

Photo credit: Reg Caldecott


“Last year, Netball South Africa (NSA) chose a young squad, to give some of our rising stars a taste of international netball,” said Jordaan.
“But we have seen that countries like England and Australia are sending their best possible teams, so this year we have opted for more experience and a better balanced squad,” she said.
“All the members of the Fast5 team are in the SPAR national training squad, except for Lauren-Lee Christians, who is recovering from injury. But Lauren-Lee did a very good job as captain last year, and so I have chosen her to captain the side again, to provide some continuity from last year.”
Jordaan said she had a better-balanced team than in 2016.
“Last year, we didn’t have specialist goal attacks, whereas this year we have two, in Maryke Holtzhausen and Renske Stoltz. Maryke brings so much to the team, with all her experience and her exceptional talent. Renske hasn’t been to the Fast5 World Series before, but she has international experience, and she and Phumza Maweni have been invited to play in a Fast5 tournament in England next month,” she said.
“This will be a massive benefit for us, because they will learn a lot there and will be able to pass that on to their teammates.”
She said she had taken too many centre court players to the Fast5 last year.
“There is no point in taking players who normally play wing attack or wing defence,” said Jordaan.
“A Fast5 team is made up of goalshooter, goal attack, centre, goal defence and goalkeeper. If you take centre court players, they will be playing out of their comfort zones and will be less effective, so we have picked two very good centres in Lauren-Lee and Rome Dreyer.”
The Fast5 team was named after the SPAR National Netball Championships played in Durban last week. The selectors also named a youth squad and added four names to the SPAR training squad. These players are Tshina Mdau, Jessica Khomo, Kgomotso Itlhabanyeng and Nobubele Phuza.

SPAR Fast5 squad: Deanke Rohde (Gauteng), Maryke Holtzhausen (Free State), Renske Stoltz (Gauteng), Charmaine Baard (Western Cape0, Rome Dreyer (North West), Lauren-Lee Christians (Eastern Cape), Phumza Maweni (Western Cape), Fikile Mkhuzangwe (North West), Jessica Khomo (KwaZulu Natal), Zanne-Marie Pienaar (Gauteng)
Non-travelling reserves: Talja Venter (Western Cape),Tshina Mdau (Gauteng), Shadine van der Merwe (Gauteng).


GAUTENG WIN THRILLING SPAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS FINAL IN EXTRA TIME

Durban, South Africa - Gauteng squeaked home by one goal after extra time to beat the defending champions, Western Cape and win the 2017 SPAR National Netball Championships 47-46 in a thrilling final at Hoy Park on Saturday.

Chante Louw of Gauteng (r) and Stephanie Brandt of Western Cape in action during day 6 of the SPAR National Netball Championships at the Hoy Park sports complex on August 12, 2017 in Durban, South Africa.

The triumphant North West u/21 team after they beat Gauteng in the u/21 final during day 6 of the SPAR National Netball Championships at the Hoy Park sports complex on August 12, 2017 in Durban, South Africa.

Photo credit: Reg Caldecott


Gauteng were four goals up after the first few minutes, but Western Cape responded with a flurry of seven unanswered goals.
The lead changed hands frequently during the match as the game swept up and down the court. At the end of the first quarter, Western Cape were 10-8 up, but Gauteng won the second quarter, which ended 19-all. After the third quarter, Western Cape led 31-30. Both teams played their hearts out in the final quarter. At one stage, with less than four minutes to go, Gauteng had a lead of five goals, but Western Cape coach Annelie Lucas brought her star shooter, Jambaye “Bakie” Zauana, back on, and Western Cape clawed their way back to level the scores on 40-all. With the seconds ticking away, Gauteng captain Chante Louw, tried to score the winning goal, but the ball rolled round the ring and dropped off the wrong side.

The game went into extra time. The crowd got involved, cheering their favourites on, singing and dancing. After the first seven minutes of extra time, Western Cape had a 44-42 lead. In the final seven minutes, fortunes swung both ways, with first one team, then the other, getting the upper hand. With less than a minute to go, Gauteng scored, to take the score to 47-46. Western Cape had the next centre pass and tried to level the score again, but the shot at goal missed and the Gauteng players jumped for joy.

It was a worthy final after a week of exciting netball. Gauteng were unbeaten, although they drew with North West during the round robin phase. Western Cape lost only two matches, both of them to Gauteng.

Gauteng Coach Jenny van Dyk said they had been preparing for the final since last year.
“We trained at the hottest time of the day, and we put them under pressure. Decision-making under pressure is the key to winning big matches,” she said.
“When things were getting tight, I told them to settle down and make matters simple – to take the ball with both hands and to keep calm.
Earlier, North West won the Under-21 final, beating Gauteng 44-36. It was the third year in a row that North West won the title.

Chante Louw was named shooter of the tournament. Rome Dreyer of North West was named the best centre court player, Jessica Khomo of KwaZulu Natal the best defender, and Shadine van der Merwe of Western Cape the best overall player.


GAUTENG UNBEATEN AT SPAR NATIONAL NETBALL CHAMPIONSHPS

Durban, South Africa - Gauteng remained unbeaten at the end of the round robin section of the SPAR National Netball Championships at Hoy Park with a 45-25 victory over Mpumalanga on Friday.

Shongile Hlungwana of Gauteng in action against Mpumalanga during day 5 of the SPAR National Netball Championships at the Hoy Park sports complex on August 11, 2017 in Durban, South Africa.

Photo credit: Reg Caldecott


The match against one of the weaker teams gave Gauteng coach Jenny van Dyk the opportunity to give some of her bench players a run and to rest critical players ahead of the final against defending champions Western Cape on Saturday. The match against was by no means a walkover as the Mpumalanga defense was tight and the Gauteng shooters had to fight hard to score.

Van Dyk said afterwards she was pleased with the way the tournament had progressed and Friday’s match had been a good workout ahead of the final.
“We’ve been preparing for the final since Day One, working on our tactics and strategies,” she said.

“I took pages of notes during our match against Western Cape yesterday, and we will spend some time seeing where we did not execute our game plan. But it will all depend on the quality of decision-making on the court tomorrow. I can do as much as I can to prepare them, but it is down to the players on the court.”
Western Cape breezed past Northern Cape, beating them 69-12.

“It was a nice relaxed game, and we are going to relax today,” said coach Annelie Lucas.

“The girls are going to the beach this afternoon and they are not going to think about netball. They know what they have to do tomorrow. I have a few options up my sleeve. What we are going to focus on is a tight defense and the need to get the ball into the circle so that our shooters can score goals.”

North West thumped Eastern Cape 57-15 to finish the tournament in fourth position, while last year’s finalists, Free State beat KwaZulu Natal 50-39. They clinched the bronze medal when they beat North West 35-28 on Thursday.


DUNLOP BUNDES LEAGUE RETURNS TO ELLIS PARK

Johannesburg, South Africa – South Africa’s premier men’s and women’s club tennis league, the Dunlop Bundes League will return to Ellis Park in Johannesburg this weekend.

The premier league hosted by the Gauteng Central Tennis Association was last played at Ellis Park the “grand old lady of tennis” three years ago. In its 22 years of existence, the Dunlop Premier League has always had its home at Ellis Park but for the past three years different clubs in the greater Johannesburg area have been given the opportunity to host the league.

The provinces top six men’s and women’s teams will compete for title honours each Saturday afternoon from 12 August to 9 September. The league is run on a Round-Robin basis over the five weekends.

The 6 participating men’s teams are:

Marks Park A; Wanderers A; Fairland A; Bedfordview A; Old Edwardians A and Randburg A

The 6 participating women’s teams are:

Bryanston A; Rivonia A; Randburg A; Old Edwardians A; Boskruin A; Marks Park A

Last year’s runner-up, Marks Park A are seen to be men’s title favourites with 2016 champions Bryanston deciding to not defend their title due to a contractual dispute with
Gauteng Central Tennis Association. Wanderers A are earmarked as possible dark horses this year.
In the women’s league, Bryanston A would appear favourites to repeat their victory in 2016. However age and injury might play a role in opening the door to the experienced Marks Park A side or even the youthful exuberance of Observatory A.
With the possibility of rising stars like Bertus Kruger and Richard Thongoana, both Junior Davis Cup players participating and former National Champion Bradwin Williams in action the
Dunlop Bundes League is sure to live up to its billing of the country’s premier club tennis league.


THREE TOP TEAMS STILL UNBEATEN AT SPAR NATIONAL NETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Durban, South Africa - Western Cape continued their campaign to defend the title they won last year with two victories on the second day of the SPAR National Netball Championships at Hoy Park Sports Complex in Durban on Tuesday.

Jo Prins of Western Cape in action against Eastern Cape during day 2 of the SPAR National Netball Championships at the Hoy Park sports complex on August 08, 2017 in Durban, South Africa.

Photo Credit: Reg Caldecott


They had a very comfortable win over Eastern Cape in their morning match, beating their neighbours 73-10. The victory was no surprise and Western Cape dominated throughout the match.

Their second match, against North West, was much tougher. The two top four teams were neck and neck early in the match, and at the end of the first quarter, were level on 11-each. Both teams included some untried players in the place of their SPAR Proteas, who are not playing in the tournament, as well as players who have moved to other provinces, but in the end it was Western Cape that prevailed. At halftime, they were 21-18 ahead, and they led 32-28 at the end of the third quarter. The coastal team then pulled out all the stops and won the match 43-34.

Coach Annelie Lucas said she had expected a tough match, and was slightly surprised at the final goal difference.

“At the start of the first quarter, I told them to watch what the North West players were doing, and then we worked out our strategy accordingly,” she said.

“I knew they had new shooters and I believe we have the best defenders in the country. They turn a lot of balls and that gives us a chance.

“Our defenders did their work and we gradually gained control of the game.”
Western Cape have their toughest match so far on Wednesday, against Gauteng, and Lucas said they would prepare carefully for that encounter.

“What we need is patience and accurate shooters, and I believe that will help us to win that match.”
Gauteng also won both their matches on Tuesday, beating Kwa-Zulu Natal 47-29 and Eastern Cape 46-26. Coach Jenny van Dyk said she was very happy with her team’s performance so far.

“The absence of our Proteas means we can test our depth and give opportunities to untried players,” she said.
“We had a very physical match against KZN, but our defenders were very good and that helped us.
“If we can play consistent netball, I believe we can win the title,” said Van Dyk.

In other matches played on Tuesday, Free State also won both their matches, beating Mpumalanga 46-26 and Northern Cape 66-14. North West won their morning match, beating Northern Cape 53-27. Kwa-Zulu Natal beat Mpumalanga 37-34.


TOP FOUR ALL VICTORIOUS ON OPENING DAY OF SPAR NATIONAL NETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Durban, South Africa - KwaZulu Natal (KZN) came close to causing the first upset at the SPAR national netball championships at Hoy Park on Monday.
North West pulled out the stops in the final quarter to beat KZN 40-35, and retain their status as one of the teams to beat at the tournament. KZN won the first quarter by one goal (12-11), but North West fought back in the second quarter to lead 22-18 at halftime. The coastal team came back strongly, outscoring North West 10-6 in the third quarter, before North West clinched matters in the final 15 minutes.

Marna Claassens of Free State in action against Eastern Cape during day 1 of the SPAR National Netball Championships at the Hoy Park sports complex on August 07, 2017 in Durban, South Africa

Picture credit: Reg Caldecott


Most of the top teams have been hard hit by the absence of their SPAR Proteas, who are not playing in the tournament, and KZN and North West were both affected.
The match was hard and very physical, and North West captain Chante Bester said it had been an ideal start to their campaign.
“We knew it was going to be very physical, so we were prepared for that. We didn’t expect it to be such a close game, though,” she said.
“But a hard game like this sets us up for the matches to come.”
Coach Dorette Badenhorst agreed.
“They really pushed us,” she said.

“I didn’t expect us to be level on 28-all after the third quarter. But the important thing was they stepped up and did everything they needed to do to win the match.”
She said she had some young players in the team who were still finding their feet at the senior level, but she was happy with the way they were responding.
“We had a very inexperienced goal circle, but goalshooter Anje Esterhuizen and Melandi Pretorius did well. It is very important for the more experienced players to back them up and give them the confidence to do their best.”

Last year’s runners-up, Free State, made short work of Eastern Cape, beating them 55-27, after leading 30-17 at halftime.
Free State coach Burta de Kock said she was pleased to have been able to play all 12 members of the team.

“We have to get used to being without some of our stars, like goal defender Karla Mostert and so we need to develop the younger players,” she said.
“We’ll be without Karla again next year, because she has signed for another year with the Sunshine Coast Lightings in the Australian Super league. But I am happy that we have the players to take over from the senior stars.”

In other A-section matches played on Monday, the defending champions, Western Cape thrashed Mpumalanga 58-17 and Gauteng beat Northern Cape 49-28.


MOLETSANE STILL LEADS GRAND PRIX TABLE

Pretoria, South Africa - Kesa Moletsane and current title holder Irvette van Zyl are locked in a titanic struggle to win the 2017 SPAR Grand Prix and the generous R173 000 prize.

Kesa Molotsane in action during the SPAR Women’s Challenge at SuperSport Park on August 5, 2017 in Pretoria, South Africa.
Photo credit: Reg Caldecott


With four races completed, and two to go, Moletsane has 107 points, giving her a 19-point lead over Van Zyl, who has 88 points.
Van Zyl won the Pretoria race on Saturday in 34.36 minutes, while Moletsane finished third, behind Nolene Conrad. All three earned 10 bonus points for finishing within the target time set by the race organisers.

Moletsane won the Port Elizabeth race and finished second in Durban. She has also been declared the winner of the Cape Town race, after the winner, Louisa Leballo, was removed from the Grand Prix standings because she failed an out-of-competition dope test on March 20. Leballo has been banned for eight years, and her SPAR Challenge results were nullified because she failed the test before the start of this year’s Challenge series.

Van Zyl was elevated to second place in Cape Town, and finished second in Port Elizabeth. However, she had to drop out of the Durban race because of an injury.
Conrad was sixth in Cape Town, fourth in Port Elizabeth and eighth in Durban, proving that runners can do well in the Grand Prix if their results are consistent.

“Louisa being banned doesn’t really affect the Grand Prix,” said Van Zyl.
“It just means that Kesa and I get an extra point each. I haven’t given up on winning the Grand Prix this year. I won it last year, despite not being able to run the Pretoria race because I was injured,” said Van Zyl.
The three-times Grand Prix winner said she had set her sights on doing well in the two remaining Challenge races, in Pietermaritzburg on August 20 and in Johannesburg on October 8.

“And I am also training for the Cape Town Marathon on September 17,” said Van Zyl.
Moletsane, who is running in the SPAR Challenge Series for the first time this year, said she was determined to stay ahead of the pack in the race for the Grand Prix title.

“I am enjoying running on the road instead of the track, and I would like to cap my year with the Grand Prix title,” she said.
In the club competition, Moletsane and Conrad’s club, KPMG, has stretched its lead over Van Zyl’s club, Nedbank, from eight points to 91. KPMG have 441 points, and Nedbank 350. Boxer are in third position, with 314 points.

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