June 18, 2024

Steep learning curve at world champs for South African squash juniors

South Africa’s emerging generation came back with renewed aspirations to improve their levels after taking part in the WSF World Junior Squash Championships in Melbourne, Australia, last month.

The South African (SA) girls’ and boys’ teams competed with 33 nations in the event at the Melbourne Squash and Aquatic Centre. The boys were involved in only an individual event, while the girls played in individual and team competitions.

Though the sides were not able to achieve high rankings, there was consensus among the teams and coaches, Cara Fourie (boys) and Joanna Dodd (girls), that the champs were a fantastic learning opportunity for SA’s young players.

Fourie said watching some of the best players in the world was important for the players to realise what they needed to do to compete at this level.

“In terms of general fitness, I don’t think matches were lost due to cardio fitness, but possibly because of a few poor decisions made on crucial points,” she said.

Decision-making

“I do see that the intensity is something our players are not exposed to on a regular basis and their discipline in decision-making was a big factor. “One of the positive things we could take from the tournament was watching how the best players go about their matches – how they warm up, their construction of rallies and their cool- down regimens.

“The boys all commented how professionally the players conducted themselves and realised what they could really learn from them. “It was an incredible learning opportunity and exposure to the world stage for all the players. Great friendships were established, within the team as well as between countries.”

Northerns player Luhann Groenewald finished the best of the SA players in 33rd spot, winning six matches and losing just one.

The other players were Luke Jacoby (68th, won 3, lost 3); Diodivine Mkhize (81st, won 4, lost 2); Connor Earl (84th, won 2, lost 4); Joshua Deutschmann (86th, won 2, lost 4); Devon Osborne (105th, won 3, lost 3).

Girls’ manager Joanna Dodd agreed that this sort of exposure to a higher level was crucial for the development of SA’s players.

“The tournament was extremely well organised and was a fantastic experience for our young squash players,” she said. “It was good for our top SA juniors to test their skills against top international talent. It gave them the best idea of where they stand because they don’t often get this opportunity.

Lessons learnt

“A lot of lessons were learnt, the main one being what you are prepared to put in is what you get out! “On a positive note, our young players came back home with new goals and aspirations to compete, and win, at the highest possible level. “They learnt a lot more about the game, as well as themselves, as individual and team players.”

The girls’ results were Savannah Ingledew (9/16 seed for the tournament, knocked out in the round of 16); Dene van Zyl (knocked out in the special plate); Elske Garbers (knocked out in semifinals of consolation plate); Jordin Phillips (knocked out in semifinals of consolation plate).

Team event: 1st stage round-robin: SA lost to US 3-0, SA bt Chinese Taipei 3-0, SA lost to England 2-1.

9-14 playoffs: SA bt Ireland 3-0, SA lost to New Zealand 2-1, SA lost to Singapore 2-1. SA finished 12th

SOURCE: BLD Communications

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