Naidoo sisters squash the competition and reign as SA champions

Published Jul 2, 2024


Pietermaritzburg sisters Cevana and Makayla Naidoo are taking the South African squash scene by storm.

The duo are the reigning South African squash champions for their respective age divisions.

The teenagers, who attend St John’s Diocesan School for Girls, started playing squash at a young age.

Cevana, 17, started playing at age 8 because she wanted to lose weight.

“I started playing squash because I was overweight even though I played many sports, nothing helped.”

She said playing the sport was not easy but she persevered.

“⁠It is difficult to play squash when you are a beginner, you need to have good hand eye co-ordination which takes quite some time to develop. It was also difficult to keep up with the pace of the game as it is a very fast-paced game and requires one to be very fit.”

Both sisters played in the Growthpoint SA Nationals last year, which took place at the V&A Waterfront, where Cevana won the U17 section and Makayla won the U15 section.

“I injured myself while playing the Tecnifibre Bloemfontein Junior Open, I dislocated my ankle and therefore couldn’t compete for 4 months but I never gave up.

“My next competition is in December. We will be playing the Scottish Junior Open and the British Junior Open,” said Cevana.

The younger Naidoo sister, Makayla, 15, started playing squash when she was just 6.

“I started playing squash by watching my older sister play at a squash training camp. I was inspired by my older sister to start playing squash. It was hard to play at the beginning but watching my sister play helped me a lot.”

Just like her sister, Makayla also sustained injuries.

“I had attended a SA doubles camp in St Francis Bay where I ended up having 3 stitches on my knee due to a freak accident. I am still able to compete and play. I had 2 days of full bed rest, a week of no sport and I removed my stitches after 1 week and played the day after removing them and still won.

“It felt good winning knowing that I was injured and not playing at 100%. It motivated me to train harder once I was fully recovered.

“We owe our success to our parents, coach, family, friends and god. Without the motivation and constant support from them, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” said Makayla.

Their coach, Ravi Govender, who played squash for 34 years while coaching for 22 years, is the owner of Ravi Govender Academy where he has been training young squash players for years.

Govender had been training the sisters from the beginning of their career in squash and hopes to see them, like the rest of his students, take squash further in South Africa.

“I coach from ages 7 to 17. It is a very difficult sport, the kind where you cannot only talk about it but rather be a doer.

“The Naidoo sisters have been playing from a young age and they are very talented students. I expect them, like my other students, to do well in squash,” said Govender.