June 18, 2024

Teenager causes major upset at SA National Squash Champs

Teenager Savannah Ingledew produced arguably one of the best wins of her career when she upset Eastern Province top seed Hayley Ward on the opening day of the Growthpoint South African Nationals Squash Championships in Cape Town on Thursday.

In a terrific contest at the V&A Waterfront, the 18-year-old Ingledew, who is currently based in England and has placed a lot of emphasis on her squash career over the last year, won a 70-minute thriller 13-11 in the fifth.

It was a match full of drama as both players showed supreme determination and skill, and there was little to choose between the pair in the end.

But Ingledew, who previously played for KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, benefitted from getting off to a great start, winning the first game 11-1, and it was clear that Ward would have her work cut out to get back into the match.

This she did, overcoming a 2-1 deficit to level the match before the cut and thrust of the fifth game.

Ingledew had two match points which Ward fought off, but eventually a drive down the wall was adjudged out of her reach by the marker on the third match point and the SA U19 No 1 was through to the last four, where she will meet former champion Milnay Louw, a 3-0 winner over Keschia Scorgie 3-0

Coming into the tournament as the eighth seed, Ingledew said she had no great expectations, but clearly, she has reaped the benefits of her work over the last year.

“I didn’t quite know what to expect, but that was no excuse not to go out there and try my best,” she said. “I recently attended the World Junior Champs (in Australia) and that was a big tournament for me, and I put in a lot of training in preparation. “But to come here and beat the top seed, well it is a big confidence boost for my squash.”

Earlier, in a thrilling clash which set the tournament alight, seventh-seeded Shelomi Truter caused the first upset when she defeated No 2 Alexa Pienaar 3-1.

The match featured two players who know each other well as they are colleagues in the South African Country Districts team which won the Kaplan Cup at the Growthpoint Interprovincial in Pretoria last month.

Pienaar is the higher ranked player, but Truter was determined to show that her hard work was not in vain as she took control with some accurate and hard drives which had her opponent under constant pressure to run up a 2-1 lead.

There were also a few unforced errors from Pienaar, which did not help her cause, but, with her back to the wall, she put together some measured and precise play which was more in keeping with her normal game and seemed to have her comeback on track when she led 10-4 in the fourth.

Then came a remarkable revival from Truter, who never gave up running to maintain the pressure on her opponent as Pienaar tried to finish the game off.

In the end she just could not find the killer blow as the score transformed to 10-10 after six game points. Although Pienaar had her seventh game point at 11-10 when Truter put a boast in the tin, she again could not take advantage.

Finally, Truter claimed a match point at 12-11 but her anxiety to finish it off saw her put a drive in the tin, only for her to go ahead again 13-12 after a superb service return down the wall, and this time she made no mistake in taking a well-deserved win.

Overwhelmed with the result, Truter said she felt the odds had been stacked against her going into the match.

“But I have been working hard on my consistency, especially against the top players against whom I haven’t won much,” she said. “For me it’s a matter of trying to calm down a bit and not get over excited, just to get into the rally and wait for my chances.”

In other action, third seed Teagan Roux (Joburg Squash) faced a strong challenge from No 6 Helena Coetzee (Northerns) but held her composure in the crucial stages to win the first two games 11-8 11-9. She then took control to win the third 11-4.

In the closest clash of the men’s round, fourth seed Damian Groenewald (Northerns) showed a deft touch to hold off a huge challenge from Rudi van Niekerk, who is based in Gqeberha but plays for SA Country Districts, to win 3-1, 11-9 in the fourth game.

It was a tough encounter and Van Niekerk drew first blood by winning the opening game.

Groenewald, though, dug in and showing his array of shots and excellent control, he was able to run up a 2-1 lead.

There was little in it during the fourth game as the advantage swung from one player to the other. Van Niekerk edged ahead to 9-8, but the Northerns player got back on even terms and then finished off the match in style.

Van Niekerk’s younger brother, Dewald, the top seed and defending champion, coasted into the semifinals with a 3-0 win over SA Country Districts teammate Jonty Matthys.

These days he divides his time between playing in South Africa and campaigning overseas and it will take a massive effort to stop him from collecting hat-trick of Growthpoint Nationals titles.

In other men’s matches, Christo Potgieter (Joburg Squash) and Ruan Olivier (Northerns) advanced with comfortable 3-0 wins to set up a clash in Friday’s semifinals.

Potgieter showed great touch and measured strokeplay to outclass a game Lawrence Kuhn (Free State), while Olivier came from a third game deficit against KwaZulu-Natal’s Justin Gouweloos to earn his spot in the last four.

Thursday’s results were:

Women

8-Savannah Ingledew (KZN Midlands) bt 1-Hayley Ward (Eastern Province) 3-2 (11-1 10-12 11-9 8-11 13-11)

7-Shelomi Truter (SA Country Districts) bt 2-Alexa Pienaar (SA Country Districts) 3-1 (7-11 11-5 11-8 14-12)

3-Teagan Roux (Joburg Squash) bt 6-Helena Coetzee (Northerns) 3-0 (11-8 11-9 11-4)

4-Milnay Louw (Northerns) bt Keschia Scorgie (SA Country Districts) 3-0 (11-5 11-4 11-5)

Men: 1-Dewald van Niekerk (SA Country Districts) bt Jonty Matthys (SA Country Districts) 3-0 (11-7 11-3 11-6) 2-Christo Potgieter (Joburg Squash) bt Lawrence Kuhn (Free State) 3-0 (11-4 11-4 11-7) 3-Ruan Olivier (Northerns) bt Justin Gouweloos (KwaZulu-Natal) 3-0 (11-8 11-7 11-8)

4-Damian Groenewald (Northerns) bt 5-Rudi van Niekerk 3-1 (9-11 11-4 11-7 11-9)

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