EASTER IS BEACH TENNIS TIME IN GAUTENG!

Pretoria, South Africa – Tennis South Africa (TSA) recently launched beach tennis in the country and promised a bumper line-up of local and international events in 2018. The first of these events is the TSA Beach Tennis Challenge, which will be played at the Rand Show at the Johannesburg Expo Centre, Nasrec from Saturday, 31 March through to Tuesday, 3 April.

TSA Beach Tennis activation

Photo credit: Tennis South Africa

In addition to R15 000 in prize money, the tournament has a unique hook – the winners of both the men’s and women’s sections will represent South Africa at the ITF Beach Tennis World Championships, in Russia, in August 2018. On top of this, the winners will also be wild-carded into TSA’s first international beach tennis event - to played under the auspices of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) - during the Arnold Classic in May at the Sandton Convention Centre.

The tournament will be open to the general public, who are attending the Rand Show. In addition, selected action from the Easter weekend tournament will also be streamed live, courtesy of Vodacom Live - via www.vodacom.co.za/beachtennis. Fans will be able to watch the action on Vodacom LIVE from 09h00 to 17h00 on the 1st and 2nd April and from 09h00 to 15h00 on the 3rd April.

The tournament will have a men’s and women’s section. Four pools of four teams will make up the men’s draw with two pools to four teams making up the women’s draw.

Men’s top seeds are Davis Cup player, Tucker Vorster and partner Ryan Brookshaw of Pretoria. They will head up Pool 1. Seeded to meet Vorster and Brookshaw in the final are Reinhard Pelser and Lionel Jarrad, also of Pretoria. As second seeds, they will head Pool 2. Pool 3 will be headed up by Gauteng North coaches Andre van Rijn and Marcel Cillie with Siyabulela Nkachela and Prince Motswenyane of Johannesburg heading up Pool 4. In the women’s section, Lisa van der Riet and Tamara Day of Pretoria head up Pool 1 with Anmarie Lotz and Lindsay Heys, also of Pretoria, seeded 2 - heading Pool 2.

Free clinics will be held on Friday, Sunday and Tuesday for the public to try out the new form of tennis.

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SOUTH AFRICA’S TOP JUNIOR TENNIS PLAYERS TOFILL UP MANGAUNG

Bloemfontein, South Africa – More than 700 of the country’s top junior tennis players will shortly be heading to the Free State capital, Bloemfontein, for next week’s Growthpoint Junior Nationals.

The six day event kicks-off on Wednesday, 04 April – with the finals scheduled for Monday, 09 April. The Growthpoint Junior Nationals is played across four age groups - under 12, 14, 16 and 18 - at multiple tennis venues in the city.
The Growthpoint Junior Nationals immediately follows on from the ‘warm up tournament’ for the main event, the Growthpoint Free State Super 8 – which gets underway on Thursday, 29 March.
Tennis South Africa (TSA) CEO, Richard Glover, said that the event plays a vital role in the development of junior tennis in South Africa, “The Growthpoint Junior Nationals are a massive event in our annual calendar and provide a real opportunity for young players, across the country, to test themselves against their peers - on a national stage. We are delighted that this year’s field is set to be of one of the biggest in the last ten years. There is no doubt that tennis will be taking over Mangaung in the coming weeks.”
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DEFENDING CHAMPION TOPS THE SPAR GRAND PRIX TABLE AFTER FIRST SPAR WOMEN’S CHALLENGE

Cape Town, South Africa - Kesa Molotsane (KPMG) gave notice of her intention to defend her SPAR Grand Prix title when she cruised to victory in the opening SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge race at the Bellville Stadium in Cape Town on Sunday.

Kesa Molotsane (KPMG) addresses the media after winning the SPAR Women’s Challenge in Cape town on Sunday, Molotsane the defending SPAR Grand Prix champion tops the Grand Prix leaderboard. To the right of Molotsane is Glenrose Xaba (Boxer) who finished 2nd in Cape Town and to the left of Molotsane is Van Zyl (Nedbank) who finished third.

Photo credit : Reg Cladecott


Molotsane dominated the six race Challenge series last year, winning in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Pietermaritzburg, coming second in Durban and Johannesburg and third in Pretoria – and she intends to do just as well in 2018.
The Cape Town race was moved from the flat seafront course in Greenpoint to a more challenging course in Bellville, where the runners had to contend with a long slow uphill from the third to the seventh kilometre. As a result, none of the top senior runners was able to earn bonus points for running a better time than last year.
Molotsane tops the Grand Prix ladder with 20 points, followed by Glenrose Xaba (Boxer) with 19 and Irvette van Zyl (Nedbank) with 18. Van Zyl, who has won the Grand Prix title three times, in 2010, 2011 and 2016, was runner-up last year, but she is nearly seven months pregnant, which could affect her participation in the other SPAR races.
“The Two Oceans half-marathon next week will probably be my last race before the birth,” Van Zyl told the media after Sunday’s race.
“But I will see how I feel. Maybe I will run in Port Elizabeth in May – if I am still allowed to fly by then.”
Molotsane and Xaba said they had no plans for major races before the Port Elizabeth Challenge race, and would be focusing their attention on preparing for it.
“The SPAR races are very important and I will be taking them very seriously,” said Molotsane.
Xaba, who last had a podium finish in a Challenge race in Pretoria in 2016, said she would be working hard to ensure that she had more top three finishes.
The second leg of the SPAR Grand Prix will be the Port Elizabeth SPAR Women’s Challenge on Saturday May 5th.
The 2018 SPAR Grand Prix calendar is as follows;

Bellville, Cape Town Sunday 25 March 2018
Port Elizabeth Saturday 5 May 2018
Durban Sunday 24 June 2018
Pretoria Saturday 4 August 2018
Pietermaritzburg Sunday 19 August 2018
Johannesburg Sunday 7 October 2018

FOR MORE INFORMATION GO TO
http://www.sparwomensrace.co.za/

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GRAND PRIX CHAMPION STARTS SPAR SERIES ON A WINNING NOTE

Cape Town, South Africa - SPAR Grand Prix title holder Kesa Molotsane (KPMG), who dominated the SPAR Women’s 10km Series last year, continued her winning ways on Sunday with a comprehensive win in the opening race of the 2018 series at the Bellville Stadium in Cape Town.
Her winning time was 34.10.

From left Glenrose Xaba - Boxer (2rd place),race winner Kesa Molotsane – KPMG (1st) and Irvette Van Zyl - Nedbank (3rd place) at the finish line this year’s SPAR Women’s Challenge held at Bellville Stadium in Cape Town on Sunday 25 March 2018. The Cape Town race was the first of 6 races making up the 2018 SPAR Grand Prix.

Winner of the SPAR Women’s Challenge Cape town 2018, Kesa Molostane (KPMG) crossing the finish line in 34:01 minutes. The race, the first leg of the 6 race SPAR Grand Prix was held at Bellville Stadium in Cape Town on Sunday 25 March 2018.

Photo Credit : Reg Caldecott


Glenrose Xaba (Boxer) was second, in 34.39 and Irvette van Zyl (Nedbank) was third in 35.07. It was an amazing performance by the three-times winner of the SPAR Grand Prix, because she is six months pregnant with her second child.
Christine Kalmer (KPMG) took the lead initially, running just ahead of Maria Shai (Boxer), with a number of runners, including Molotsane and Van Zyl, running in a group behind them.

Approaching the 4km mark, Xaba and Zintle Xiniwe pulled ahead and Kalmer and Van Zyl appeared to lose touch, but at the halfway point, Van Zyl surged ahead of the pack. Xaba and Xiniwe were close behind and for a time, Durbanville runner Olga Firsova took the lead. However, she fell back and Molotsane, who was looking very comfortable, applied her famous kick and took over the lead. She finished well ahead of the rest of the runners.
“It was a great start to the year for me,” said Molotsane, who said she had been suffering from flu after returning from the African cross-country championships in Algeria.

“I only discovered on Wednesday that we weren’t running at Greenpoint, but I liked the route. There were some hills, but it’s not like Johannesburg hills. I think it was challenging, but it wasn’t that hard.”
“I was thinking to go maybe after 7km, because the race really starts at 7km, so I told myself just to relax and then kick.
“When Kesa kicked, I just tried to go with her,” said Xaba.
Van Zyl was beaming at the post race media conference.
“I really enjoyed the race,” she said.

“I was quite confused when I found myself in the lead at the halfway mark. I have been listening to my body and I am very happy with the way I ran today, because I haven’t been training like an elite athlete, as I would normally do.
“The last two kilometres, which were downhill, were easy – I just leant forward and the baby gave me momentum.
“I am doing the Two Oceans half marathon next week, and that may be my last race before the birth. But who knows – I might run the Port Elizabeth SPAR race, if I am still allowed to fly

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SOUTH AFRICAN FED CUP TEAM ANNOUNCED

Pretoria, South Africa – Former professional tennis player, Rene Plant, is working hand-in-hand with Tennis South Africa (TSA) to promote, develop and improve the status of women’s tennis in the country.

On announcing her Fed Cup squad to do national duty in Montenegro from the 16-21 April 2018, Plant said that she had selected a balanced squad to allow South Africa the best chance of gaining promotion into the Euro/Africa Zone Group II of the Fed Cup competition.

Plant announced her squad on Wednesday as follows;

Chanel Simmonds
Madrie Le Roux
Katie Poluta
Minette Van Vreden
Lungile Ntuli

As per the rules of Fed Cup, Plant will have to nominate a four player team from her squad of five ahead of the commencement of the tournament. These four nominated players will then participate as team South Africa for the entire tournament. Changes may be made to the singles and doubles for each rubber played by Plant from the four players.

The team will be playing in the Euro/Africa Zone Group III tournament alongside 20 other countries. The countries have been split into two groups. One group will be playing in Tunisia (10 countries) and the other group in Montenegro (10 countries). The countries at each venue will be drawn into two pools and a round robin will be played within each pool with each tie consisting of two singles and a doubles rubber. The pool winners will then play out for promotion to the Euro/Africa Zone Group II.

Two countries will earn promotion, one team from Tunisia and the other from Montenegro.

The Montenegro tournament will be contested by hosts Montenegro as well as South Africa, Andorra, Cameroon, Finland, Ireland, Kenya, Malta, Morocco and Uganda.

Chanel Simmonds, South Africa’s highest ranked women’s player will spearhead the challenge. After suffering injury early last year, Simmonds bounced back strongly towards the end of 2017 enjoying good runs in Senegal and Stellenbosch at the Digicall Futures.

Doubles specialist Madrie Le Roux, like Simmonds, is a seasoned Fed Cup campaigner. Le Roux has played 18 ties for the country since 2011 and won the African Junior doubles championships back in 2016 with fellow countrywoman, Ilze Hattingh.

Katie Poluta of Cape Town was one of the most promising junior tennis players in the country, consistently ranked in the top 5 of each age group she played. Poluta took up a scholarship with the University of Texas and is presently enjoying a stellar run with the Division 1 NCAA team. Poluta will be making her Fed Cup debut.

Minette Van Vreden, a South African Masters and National champion has dominated the junior game and like Poluta makes her Fed Cup debut.

17-year-old Lungile Ntuli of Cape Town is one of the brightest prospects in women’s tennis in the country. Born in London, Ntuli moved to South Africa with her parents and was based in Pretoria before moving to Cape Town. Ntuli is a provincial player and was selected for the South African High Schools team.

Joining the squad in Montenegro will be former South African Davis Cup player, Tucker Vorster, who will act as hitting partner and Manager and Karen Frye who will be the team physiotherapist.

The squad will travel early to Montenegro to prepare for the Fed Cup clash, acclimatising to the conditions and clay court surface.

Plant confirmed that she would be holding a pre-departure doubles camp using former ATP doubles specialist, Jeff Coetzee, to add value to the doubles games of the selected team, “Doubles are a key part of every Fed Cup tie and we need to leave South Africa knowing that our girls are best prepared for any rubber winning doubles rubber.”

Plant said that her selection process was based on the “Next Gen” idea, “We need to start building for the future. It’s no secret that the women’s game in the country in recent years has been challenged. We don’t have any more players in the top 200 of the world and that makes our efforts in Fed Cup difficult. So either than drawing on the experience of Chanel and Madrie, we’ll need to develop the next generation of players and groom them to assist the country regain its status in women’s tennis.”

The idea Plant has is to draw players from a bigger base being junior, university, senior and professional ranks.

After the Fed Cup in April, Plant, together with TSA - will hold a Fed Cup camp from 28 June – 1 July at the Bryanston Sports Club in Johannesburg. The aim of the camp is to develop some depth for selection opportunities going forward, to get players to network with each other, to create a bigger base of players to work with and to create energy and enthusiasm amongst all the female players in South Africa. A “Next Gen” tournament will be held in conjunction with the camp and this will allow for a few head-to-head results.

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SPAR GRAND PRIX SERIES KICKS OFF ON SUNDAY

FIRST SPAR WOMEN’S CHALLENGE RACE OF 2018 SEASON TO TAKE PLACE IN CAPE TOWN THIS WEEKEND

Johannesburg, South Africa - Thousands of women will take to the streets of Bellville next Sunday, kicking off the 2018 SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge series .
This will be the first of six races that make up the 2018 SPAR Grand Prix series.

2017 SPAR Grand Prix winner Kesa Molotsane is excited for the start of the 2018 SPAR Grand Prix season which kicks off in Cape Town at the Bellville stadium on Sunday the 25th March 2018.

Photo Credit : Reg Caldecott


After number of years in Greenpoint, the Cape Town Challenge has returned to its original home at the Bellville Stadium.
SPAR Grand Prix coordinator Ian Laxton said the change of venue would have an impact on the race, and on the Grand Prix series.
“The route at the Cape Town Stadium was flat and fast, whereas the route at Bellville is fairly hilly. I imagine the winning time will be slower, and the top runners will not be able to get time bonus points, which can make all the difference in the battle to win the Grand Prix,” he said.
“There are lots of ups and downs, and I think it could be quite a challenging course.”
As always, the race has attracted the cream of South African roadrunners, but all eyes will be on Kesa Molotsane, who dominated the series last year. Molotsane, who was better known as a track athlete, took to the road like a duck to water and won the Grand Prix title at her first attempt.
Molotsane is only the seventh person to win the title, and the only one to do so in her debut year. She won the Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Pietermaritzburg races, finished second in Durban and Johannesburg and third in Pretoria to finish with 156 points – 10 ahead of her nearest rival, three-times Grand Prix winner Irvette van Zyl, who won in Pretoria and Johannesburg, came second in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth and third in Pietermaritzburg.
Irvette van Zyl, who has won the Grand Prix title three times, will be competing and will be going all out to win, despite being six months pregnant with her second child. She and Glenrose Xaba have been performing well in local races in Gauteng in recent weeks.
Two former Grand Prix winners, Mapaseka Makhanya and Lebogang Phalula, will miss the race, because they are doing national duty at the world half-marathon championships in Valencia, Spain that weekend. Others who will miss the SPAR Race because of the world championships are Nolene Conrad, who was third in the Grand Prix last year, Cornelia Joubert and Jenet Dlamini.
The top runners competing in the race will all be seeking to earn Grand Prix point. The prize money for the Grand Prix has been boosted to a whopping R185 000 for the winner – R12 000 more than last year. The runner-up will receive R60 000 and the athlete finishing third in the Grand Prix will take home R35 500.
Grand Prix points are earned in the six SPAR Challenge races run in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban, Pretoria, Pietermaritzburg and Johannesburg.
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SUCCESSFUL AFRICAN TENNIS SAFARI FOR SOUTH AFRICAN JUNIOR TEAMS

Pretoria, South Africa; It was a successful African tennis safari for the South African junior teams who returned to the country this past weekend from the under 18 ITF/CAT African Junior Championships.

Top seeded Philip Henning of Bloemfontein pictured after winning the African Junior Championships at the Royal Tennis Club in Marrakech, Morocco. Henning beat second seeded Yassir Kilani of Morocco 6-1 6-1 in the final.

Picture Credit: Tennis South Africa


The 41st under 18 boys and girls tournament was held at the Royal Tennis Club in Marrakech, Morocco.

Top seeded Philip Henning of Bloemfontein was crowned the African junior tennis King when he captured the coveted boys singles title winning 6-1 6-1 against second seed Yassir Kilani of Morocco.

The title was not an easy one for Henning as in the semi-finals he found himself a set and 1-3 15-40 down against another Moroccan, Soufiane El Mesbahi. Henning made a dramatic comeback beating the Moroccan 0-6 6-3 6-1 to qualify for the final.

“It was a tough week. The tournament was of a high standard and each and every match in its own way was a big challenge for me from the opening round to the final. I dug so deep in my semi-final to secure the win and played a great final, making few errors and not giving my opponent much opportunity. The win means a lot to me. I have always dreamed of winning the African Junior Championships and in the past years I have come close but couldn’t quite win the title so in my last year as a junior it’s fantastic to have finally lifted the crown” said 17 year old Henning.

Rene Plant, South Africa’s Fed Cup Captain who travelled with the team as girls team coach said Philip was a great role model. “Philip is such a fine example to his team mates. He showed them how to really dig deep and keep fighting despite being down.

Another South African, Lleyton Cronje of Pretoria put in a strong performance to reach the boys semi-finals losing to Kilani, 7-5 3-6 4-6.

Marcos Ondruska the South African Davis Cup captain who was the boys team coach gave full compliments to Henning on his win. “Philip’s win was outstanding. He had a tough match to start the week, and getting through that one tough match, set the tone for playing each match better than the previous one.”

Ondruska said that he was happy with the overall boys performance. “With Lleyton Cronje reaching the semis and Kholo Montsi (Cape Town) and Christiaan Worst (Pretoria) played phenomenal tennis all week.”

Both South African boys doubles teams, Henning and Worst as well as Cronje and Montsi reached the boys doubles semi-finals.

In the girls singles, Megan Basson who is still under 16 was the best performing South African girl reaching the singles quarterfinals.

“Considering that the team had to play on clay, they did themselves proud and it was a great learning experience” said Plant. “There was a great team spirit and camaraderie amongst the South African players. “

Morocco continued their domination of African junior tennis winning the overall team title. Morocco won the Girls under 18 singles and had a semi-finalist in the same draw. They also captured the Girls under 18 doubles title. With two pairs of semi-finalist in the singles and also in the boys and girls doubles the Moroccan’s earned the most team points of all 18 nations competing. South Africa finished in second place behind the hosts on the team ladder.

Ondruska said that the South African team that travelled to North Africa were a very talented group of juniors that were able to produce the goods on large stages like the African Junior Championships.

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AFRICA SHINES IN LATEST WORLD RANKINGS

SPAR Proteas remain number six on netball world rankings
SPAR Proteas top ranked African team on latest world rankings

Johannesburg, South Africa - It is 10 years since netball world rankings were first introduced, and South Africa has made steady progress up the ladder.
When the first rankings were announced in 2008, South Africa was ranked ninth, but the SPAR Proteas have since worked their way up to fifth position, overtaking their African rivals, Malawi, in the process.

The SPAR Proteas Pictured from left, back – Zanele Vimbela, Lenize Potgieter, Ine-Marie Venter, Phumza Maweni, Danelle Lochner, Maryka Holtzhausen, Karla Pretorius (Vice Captain).

Front – Bongi Msomi(Captain) ,Shandine Van Der Merwe , Precious Mthembu, Izzete Griesel, Erin Burger.

Photo Credit : Reg Caldecott


This year, for the first time, three African countries are ranked in the top 10, with South Africa at five, Malawi at six, and Uganda at seven. Ten years ago, Uganda were not even in the top 15, so their progress up the ladder has been remarkable.
David Kendix, who devised the ranking system, told the International Netball Federation (INF) that Uganda’s rise to seventh position was an example of the value of world rankings.
“For sport to be meaningful you need to have surprises and upsets, you need to have teams that are getting to the top and others that are moving down,” said Kendix.
“You need to have that fluidity to keep sport interesting. Uganda’s rise has been a great achievement.”
Kendix said it was very exciting that the number of teams that are ranked has risen from 22 in 2008 to 40 now.
“I do believe that countries have been motivated by getting a ranking,” he said.

“Once a country has it, they don’t want to drop off the table. If you look across the ten-year period, I believe that the world rankings have acted as an incentive for some countries to play more than they would otherwise have done – which must be good for the game as a whole.”
The top four teams have remained unchanged over the past 10 years. Australia and New Zealand are ranked first and second respectively, followed by England in third place and Jamaica in fourth.
“Rankings play a crucial part in determining qualification for major events such as Commonwealth Games”, said Kendix .

“On a given date, July 1, it is the top 12 eligible countries who go through. If you are around the cut-off area, and you’ve got a Commonwealth Games spot at stake, then it certainly focuses the mind. To that extent, the rankings system is more than just general interest, it’s become part of the infrastructure of the sport, in so far as the rankings are driving qualification.”

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SECOND GROWTHPOINT DEVELOPMENT CENTRE LAUNCHED BY TSA

Johannesburg, South Africa – Tennis South Africa (TSA) on Friday launched its latest Growthpoint Development Centre - in Soweto, Johannesburg.

The Soweto facility is the second of five TSA Growthpoint Development Centres to be launched in the next few months. The first Development Centre was launched in Cape Town late last year.

Pictured at the launch of the TSA Growthpoint Development Centre in Jabavu, Soweto at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Complex are, from left; Norbert Sasse (Growthpoint Properties Group CEO), Gavin Crookes (Tennis South Africa President), and Wire Zondi (Gauteng Central Tennis President). The first Development Centre was launched in Cape Town late last year.

Pictured in front, kneeling from left are, Norbert Sasse (Growthpoint Properties Group CEO) and Estienne de Klerk (Growthpoint Properties Managing Director), with juniors from Jabavu, Soweto at the launch of the TSA Growthpoint Development Centre at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Complex. Gavin Crookes (Tennis South Africa President) is on the far left.

Photo credit: BLD Communications

The Soweto centre is based at the historic Arthur Ashe Tennis Complex in Jabavu, and is aimed at providing a platform to grow the sport of tennis across the greater Johannesburg area. TSA recognizes that for the game of tennis to grow it needs to make the sport accessible to all communities in South Africa. These new TSA Growthpoint Development Centres are the start of that process.

“The launch of the Growthpoint Development Centres are a key foundation of TSA’s new transformation plan. We see them as galvanizing forces for tennis development in the target communities – both from a grassroots participation, as well as a high performance perspective. The launch of the Soweto centre is a highly symbolic step forward for the Federation and it is appropriate that it should be based at the historic Arthur Ashe tennis centre.” said Tennis South Africa CEO, Richard Glover.

The new Soweto centre has both a grassroots and a junior high performance focus – more specifically:

• To integrate with and provide support to existing tennis development initiatives in Gauteng – including providing coaching expertise and training support for these projects.
• To grow the sport in target schools in the surrounding area.
• To act as a platform for junior talent identification and junior talent development – especially in terms of providing talented junior players from the community with coaching and equipment support, a long term player development plan and access into selected TSA junior tournaments.

Norbert Sasse, the Group CEO of Growthpoint Properties concluded: “We wanted to sponsor a sport where we could invest at grassroots level and we are delighted to see that our partnership with Tennis South Africa is starting to make an impact. Our intention is to make a lasting difference to the sport of tennis in the country by creating new opportunities for children and adults from all backgrounds to learn, compete and excel. The Growthpoint Development Centres are intended to give tennis players – young and old – space to thrive.”

The Soweto centre has been made possible, thanks to support from Growthpoint Properties, Dunlop Sport, the National Lotteries Commission, the City of Johannesburg and the Department of Sport and Recreation.

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