July 14, 2024

Awande Malinga goes through in Growthpoint Junior Nationals

Cape Town – The opening day of the Growthpoint South African Junior National Squash Championships got off to a flying start in Cape Town on Thursday, with several close games marking the first round of action.

The best of the country’s junior players is competing in U19, U17 and U15 age-groups at the V&A Waterfront, with the aim of being crowned South Africa’s national champion on Sunday.

While there were several comfortable wins for the top seeds, this was mixed with several well-contested encounters and an indication that no match can be taken lightly at this event.

Defending girls’ U19 champion Awande Malinga (Northerns) made a winning start against Boland’s Caylin Nieuwoudt in straight games, although she was pushed in the third.

Despite trailing 2-0, Nieuwoudt showed great spirit to extend her higher ranked opponent to 14-12 in that game before finally conceding defeat.

In the U15 age-group top seeds Elzandri Janse van Rensburg (Northerns) and Christian Swanepoel (Eden) comfortably saw their way into the semifinals, but there were less comfortable moments for others.

Third-seeded Kate van Biljon (Border) looked to be in cruise control against Eden’s Hanrie Duits when she won the first two games 11-5 and 11-2, but suddenly found herself in a scrap for survival when her opponent levelled the match.

But the Border player held her nerve in a clutch situation to edge through 11-8 in the fifth.

Another five-game showdown in the U15 section saw KwaZulu-Natal’s Aiden McNiell finally subdue the challenge of Ross Smorfitt of Eden.

It was extremely close as McNiell took a 2-1 lead, but Smorfitt was not going down without a fight. He surged back strongly to win the fourth game 11-4, but McNiell regrouped to take the decider 11-6 and a spot in the semifinals.

In a slight upset in the boys’ U17 division, Boland’s Louis le Riche, who started as the No 5 seed, put out fourth-seeded Free Stater Joel Rix in four games.

It was a tough 38-minute encounter with little to choose between the players in the third and fourth games as Le Riche shaded his opponent 11-9 and 13-11.

In another closely fought battle, third seed Hector Durbach Western Province (WP) saw off the challenge of Russell Jones (Joburg Squash), also in four games.

Durbach ran up a handy 2-0 lead, but Jones showed his fighting qualities by taking the third and then pushing his opponent all the way in the fourth, finally conceding it 11-9 and the match.

Thursday’s early first round results were:

Girls

U15: 1-Elzandri Janse van Rensburg (Northerns) bt 8-Danika Theron (Eden) 3-0 (11-1 11-0 11-0), 2-Mikayla Naidoo (KZN) bt 7-Tara Neville-Smyly (WP), 3-0 (11-3 11-5 11-6), 3-Kate van Biljon (Border) bt 6-Hanrie Duits (Eden) 3-2 (11-5 11-2 9-11 9-11 11-8), 4-Starla Phillips (Northerns) bt 5-Anushka Janse van Rensburg (Northerns) 3-0 (11-3 11-9 11-9)

U17: Cevana Naidoo (KZN) bt Anke Garbers (Northwest) 3-1 (11-8 10-12 11-3 11-6), Cara Knott (Border) bt Laura Smit (Joburg Squash) 3-0 (11-8 11-3 11-9), Chante Leppan (Northerns) bt Lia Viljoen (Boland) 3-0 (11-3 11-7 11-2)

U19: 1-Awande Malinga (Northerns) bt Caylin Niewoudt (Boland) 3-0 (11-3 11-5 14-12)

Boys

U15: 1-Christian Swanepoel (Eden) bt 8-Matthew Muller Eastern Province (EP) 3-0 (11-3 11-2 11-3), 2-Milan Raffa (Northerns) bt 7-Savata Nkuna (Joburg Squash) 3-0 (11-5 11-3 11-3), 3-Aiden McNeill (KZN) bt 6-Ross Smorfitt (Eden) 3-2 (15-13 9-11 12-10 4-11 11-6), 4-Joseph Myers (Northerns) bt 5-Joshua Edwards (Border) 3-1 (9-11 11-3 11-8 11-4)

U17: 1-Judah Phillips (Northerns) bt Tilak Nana (KZN) 3-0 (11-0 11-1 11-4), 2-Juan-Corne Brand (Northerns) bt Carel Froneman (Northerns) 3-0 (11-6 11-4 12-10), 3-Hector Durbach (WP) bt Russell Jones (Joburg Squash) 3-1 (11-7 11-7 5-11 11-9), 5-Louis le Riche (Boland) bt 4-Joel Rix (Free State) 3-1 (11-8 10-12 11-9 13-11)

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