The 26th Knights Team depart at 12h00 today (30th November) from O R Tambo airport for a highly intensive excursion in the UK lasting 45 days, which sees them playing 36 matches.
Captained by Craig Stephens, the team includes Esjee Robinson (NW), Mick Gouweloos (Midlands), Francois Cloete (North West) and Nell van der Merwe (Northerns).
Stephens, who hails from Parys, matriculated two years ago from Pretoria Boys High and is studying a BSC at Pretoria University. He represented South Africa at the 2010 World Junior Men’s Team and Individual Championships and has played for Northerns A side in the past two years at Jarvis.
“Old man” of the side at 25, Robinson is a MSC Masters student at Potchefstroom University. Starting squash at 15, he has represented North West Juniors at the junior age group interprovincials and at the SACD Championships where he was selected to represent SACD at the Jarvis Cup.
A Masters student in Information Systems at University of Kwazulu Natal (Pietermaritzburg), Gouweloos was one of South Africa’s top juniors through the ranks . He comes from one of the well known squash families in Midlands where many members of the families have dominated the junior then the senior and the masters scene.
Interestingly, another player who started squash late – at 18 – Francois Cloete, a Tourism student at Potchefstroom University, has made rapid strides in the last 4 years to see him selected for the 2012 University’s first team together with Robinson and Christo Potgieter (a member of the 24th Knights Team) and the SACD team at Jarvis.
2012 Grade 12 student, van der Merwe, the “youngster”, completes the line-up. Captain of the 2012 National Junior Team at the World Junior Men’s Team and Individual championships in Qatar, he has been in the top 10 junior rankings since he first represented Northerns in the under 13 age group. He also plans to go to University to study Quantity Surveying.
(All 5 players clear examples that intelligence and squash go hand in hand.)
The heavy itinerary sees them travel the length and the breadth of the country: London, Surrey, Oxford, Kent, Brighton, Guernsey, Jersey, Isle of Wight, Suffolk, Oxfordshire, Windsor, Reading, Torquay, Exeter, Bristol, Cardiff, Yorkshire, Halifax, Middlesbrough, Cumbria, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Nottingham and Birmingham.
A quick glance through the names of the members of the previous 25 trips shows the number of national players who have also had the pleasure and the privilege of being members of a Knights Team – David Barrow, Doug Barrow, Dawie Botha, Alan Colburn, Selwyn Machet, Richard O’Connor, Ian Holding, Norman Ingledew, Trevor Wilkinson, Murray Winckler, Stuart Hailstone, Mike Tootill, Rodney Durbach, Adrian Hansen and Craig Wapnick to name but a few.)
An enormous amount of work goes into the organisation of this itinerary which will see more than 150 individual encounters played and thanks go to Joe Richardson and Steve Doeg (also as a selector.)
John and Tracy Devonport – as always gracious hosts – gave the team a fitting farewell dinner last evening, where the team also played some of the former Knights – Craig Wapnick, Rodger Harris, Jimmy Schlebusch and Christo Potgieter.
Follow the team on www.squashknights.co.uk