Women’s champions secure a hat-trick of Kaplan Cup titles
The SA Country Districts teams made it a double delight when they secured the men’s and women’s titles as the curtain came down on the Growthpoint Interprovincial squash tournament in Gqeberha/Port Elizabeth on Friday.
The women’s Kaplan Cup finished in thrilling fashion as two-time defending champions SACD held their nerve when the heat was on to shade Eastern Province A by three points for the title.
Later, the men’s outfit made up for last year’s dramatic loss to Joburg Squash in the final when they regained the Jarvis Cup title they first won in 2019 by comfortably seeing off the challenge of Western Province.
With the women’s title in the balance going into the final round – four sides were in the running – EP scored an excellent win over Joburg Squash to ensure that SACD would have to beat Northerns in their final fixture to keep the title.
In a tight contest, Kim McDonald helped Northerns draw first blood by defeating Shelomi Truter, but SACD Nos 1 and 2 Lizelle Muller and Alexa Pienaar got their title hopes back on track.
Unfortunately Farrah Fenner had to retire injured after the first game against Pienaar.
Then came a key encounter between the No 5s, with Lara Patrick of Northerns having a genuine chance of defeating the promising young Elske Garbers.
When she led 2-1, Northerns’ chances looked bright, but Garbers showed her potential and fought back determinedly to win the last two games to secure the title for her team.
With three matches in the bag, SACD had done enough to be crowned champions again, although it was typical of the competitiveness of Kaplan Cup that Helena Coetzee and Cara Fourie fought out a titanic five-game match even though the tie was effectively over.
In the men’s final Jimmy Schlebusch opened on a confident note by outduelling WP’s Gary Wheadon in four games and SACD No 1 Dewald van Niekerk put them within sight of the promised land when he defeated Jacques Duminy 3-0.
WP needed to pull something special out of the bag and the experience and skill of Rodney Durbach threatened to do just that.
He grabbed the first two games against Rudi van Niekerk before the SACD No 2 decided that this was his moment. Chasing everything down, and playing some superb winners of his own, he surged back for a 3-2 win to clinch the tie and the title.
Awards made at the prize-giving were:
Best of the rest women: 1 Milnay Louw (Northerns), 2 Cheyna Wood (Joburg Squash), 3 Jacqui Ryder (EP), 4 Panashe Sithole (Joburg Squash), 5 Sarah O’Grady (EP)
Best of the rest men: 1 Ruan Olivier (Northerns), 2 Daniel Smith (KZN), 3 Mighael Lombard (WP), 4 Luke McFarland (Midlands), 5 Gary Wheadon (WP)
Most promising ladies player (Lisa O’Grady award): Elske Garbers
Most improved ladies player (Glenda Erasmus trophy): Makgosi Peloakgosi
Clifton-Parks trophy for embodying the Kaplan spirit: Hayley Ward
Most organised province: SACD
Seccie de Villiers award for embodying the Jarvis spirit: Gary Wheadon
Most improved men’s player (Lance Sibbald trophy): Jacques Duminy
Most promising men’s player (Greg Hammond trophy): Tristen Worth