Defending champion Christo Potgieter off to winning start at SA squash nationals
Share this article:
Cape Town - Defending champion Christo Potgieter demonstrated his hunger for another title while the women’s draw threw up some intense match-ups as the Growthpoint SA Nationals squash tournament got off to a riveting start in Cape Town on Thursday.
The specially constructed all-glass court at the V&A Waterfront saw the cream of South Africa’s players begin the duel to be crowned national champion, both at a senior level and in the Under-17 category.
The men’s draw went according to plan and Potgieter showed that he is returning to his best form with a 3-0 demolition of Canada-based Tristan Eysele.
The 34-year-old second seed is the oldest player in the men’s field but the thrill of being back in action after a lengthy period of injuries manifested itself in his electric movement around the court.
“I was out for about eight months and have only played two tournaments, but I’m definitely just enjoying it out there,” Potgieter said.
“The hunger is definitely there to try to win it again and I have never won a tournament in Cape Town, so I’m hoping to change that this week.”
His victory set up a rematch of last year’s final when he faces Ruan Olivier of Northerns in Thursday’s semifinals.
Top seed Dewald van Nierkerk rounded off the day’s action by sending hometown hopeful Jacques Duminy out of the tournament and looms as a big threat to Potgieter’s dreams.
However, the 24-year-old Dewald must first get past his older brother Rudi, 33, whom he meets on Thursday. It should be a fascinating showdown between of the best players currently in the country.
The women’s championship was more fiercely contested, with top seed and two-time runner-up Lizelle Muller having to use all her experience to quell the challenge of Helena Coetzee.
The Northerns player hit the ball with great freedom in the opening game to surprise Muller and the keen contest continued in the second before the Gqeberha-based player dug deep to fashion a 3-1 win.
Afterwards Muller, 37, said she knew everyone was gunning for her as the top seed.
“It’s quite hard with everyone coming at me and Helena played very well, attacking the ball, so it was challenging,” she said.
“I decided I needed to play my game, to get in the first attack and to try to dominate the middle of the court.”
It certainly helped as she poured on the pressure on to take the last two games 11-5 and 11-6 to set up a semifinal showdown with SA Country Districts teammate Alexa Pienaar.
Pienaar also had to work hard, losing the first game against Jennifer Preece before fighting back strongly to reach the last four.
The other interesting match-up came between Teagan Roux and Hayley Ward. Roux was the higher-ranked player but this was always going to be a tight contest and there was nothing in after they split the first two games.
Ward, though, showed her composure in a tense situation and, constructing her rallies with great clarity, she was able to up the ante to win the last two games 11-5 and 11-5.
1-Lizelle Muller(SACD) bt Helena Coetzee (Northerns) 3-1 (8-11 11-8 11-5 11-6)
2-Milnay Louw (Northerns) bt Cheyna Wood (Joburg Squash) 3-0 (11-7 11-9 11-8)
Alexa Pienaar (SACD) bt Jennifer Preece (Joburg Squash) 3-1 (7-11 11-6 11-6 11-8)
Hayley Ward (EP) bt Teagan Roux (Joburg Squash) 3-1 (11-9 9-11 11-5 11-5)
1-Dewald van Niekerk (SACD) bt Jacques Duminy (WP) 3-0 (11-4 11-7 11-6)
2-Christo Potgieter (Joburg Squash) bt Tristan Eysele (Midlands) 3-0 (11-4 11-3 11-4)
Rudi van Niekerk (SACD) bt Matthew Boote (KZN) 3-0 (12-10 11-4 11-5)
Ruan Olivier (Northerns) bt Tristen Worth (SACD) 3-1 (11-8 11-7 9-11 11-5).