S A National Squash Championships report: semi-finals

Wanderers Squash Club, Johannesburg

Based in Orlando , USA Steve Coppinger, the top seed, moved a step closer to capturing his eighth SA men’s national squash crown when he outplayed ¾ seeded Rodney Durbach  in straight games, 11-6 11-3 11-4,  in the semi-final played this evening (Thursday) at the Wanderers Club, Johannesburg.

Despite some entertaining rallies when Durbach went for broke Coppinger, his former pupil,  now ranked 24 in the world, has lifted his game a number of  notches higher. Coppinger’s speed, accuracy and deep drives left Durbach with no answers.

In the final Coppinger will face Thoboki Mohohlo, the young Turk, who will play in his first national senior final. Mohohlo raced through the first two games 11-4 11-3 in his semi-final encounter with Devon Hendrikse who had caused an upset in the quarter finals, by ousting  Christo Potgieter, the third/fourth seed. Mohohlo took a commanding 8-5 lead in the third game before Hendrikse gradually gained control . Playing harder, deeper drives he rolled off six consecutive points to take the game 11-8. Points seesawed in the fourth game until 7-all when Hendrikse seemed to run out of steam , made a number unforced errors allowing Thoboki to close in on the match at 11-8.

In contrast with the men’s semi-finals the women’s matches provided a number of fireworks.

Second seeded Milnay Louw, winner of the recent Western Province Open pulled out all the stops to edge through against ¾ th seeded Cheyna Tucker in 66 minutes.

With both  players playing positive attacking squash and moving fluidly, points were hard earned as the score line edged towards 8-all. Louw broke two rackets in the space of a few minutes allowing Tucker to take the game 11-8.

The second game followed a similar pattern with long hard rallies but at 7-all the players were not moving so easily and  a number of lets ensued. Louw had game points at 10-9 and 11-10 but could not close off.  Tucker equalled matters at 11-all winning the game 13-11 to lead by two games to love.

In the third game using accurate placings and deceptive cross courts, Tucker moved to a 9-6 lead – only 2 points away from victory – to put her in her second consecutive final but she lost focus after a call from the referee which surprised her and Louw won 5 consecutive points to put herself back in the match and trail by 1 game to two.

Despite a number of unforced errors in the fourth game Tucker held match point at 10-9 but Louw clawed back to 10 all and pocketed the game 12-10. A fairly despondent Tucker saw Louw lead 6-1 before bouncing back to level at 6 points all but it was Louw who after a number of let situations kept her focus and won the game and the match at  11-7.

The second women’s semi final was also a hard hitting battle between two fit and agile athletes. Top seeded Siyoli Waters winner in 2013 and 2014 unleashed some hard attacking drives racing through the first game 11-6 in 5 minutes.  Elani Landman , who had defeated ¾ seed Alex Fuller in the quarterfinals started off the second game in feisty fashion powering her way to a 9-1 lead, eventually winning 11-6. The third game was a topsy turvy affair with Waters completely in command running up a 10-4 lead only to see Landman turn the tables save 6 consecutive game points and level at 10 points all. Landman held game ball at 11-10 but Waters called on her experience winning the game 13-11.

Accurate placings moving her opponent all around the caught gave Waters the edge as she won the fourth game 11-4 and secure her place in her third final which is a repeat of 2014 when Waters emerged victorious by 3 games to 1.

Play begins on Friday at 18h30 with the women’s final followed by the men’s final.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *