Professional star shows her class in women’s final
V&A Waterfront, Cape Town: South Africa’s leading squash players showed their class as Alex Fuller and Dewald van Niekerk were crowned the Growthpoint SA Nationals champions after the finals at the V & A Waterfront in Cape Town on Sunday.
Showing her attacking instincts, Cape Town’s Fuller claimed her fourth title overall, regaining the crown she took in 2020 with a 3-0 win over second seed and defending women’s champion Lizelle Muller.
In a gruelling men’s final over 44 minutes, Van Niekerk took his second title in a row as he outgunned World Masters over-35 champion Christo Potgieter in straight games in a battle which was as much mental as it was physical.
Having successfully grown his game to become the country’s best player, Van Niekerk now plans to try to move to the next level and will look to campaign overseas in 2023.
He was delighted to win his second national title, repeating his win of 2021 over Potgieter, but admitting that it had been much tougher this year.
“Christo is obviously a very good player and I had to be extremely disciplined about not opening the court too much for him and giving him time to play his shots at the front of the court,” Van Niekerk said.
The result was arguably decided in a marathon second game of 24 minutes when Potgieter knew he had to try to match his younger opponent’s discipline and gave Van Niekerk little pace to work with.
Through sheer determination, he worked his way to a game point at 10-9 with a superb drop into the nick.
Yet Van Niekerk was equal to the task, delivering a winning backhand volley before a drop shot error by Potgieter and another Van Niekerk volley winner gave him a telling 2-0 lead.
He then took control of the third game and was delighted to win his second title.
“It was another dream come true, especially against a guy like Christo,” Van Niekerk said. “I had to push hard in that second game or else I was in trouble, but congratulations to Christo for his efforts.”
In the women’s final, Fuller, ranked 30 in the world, showed her experience gained from campaigning on the professional circuit as she outplayed her 37-year-old rival.
“It is always special to win the national title and it’s been a great experience playing here,” the 29-year-old WP star said.
“It’s a brilliant set-up here and to have all the people watching has been awesome.”
Swift to capitalise on anything loose, Fuller said her attacking approach had been developed on the pro tour.
“Putting yourself in an attacking position is something you simply have to work on because the world tour demands it,” she said.
“The game is very physical at that level and the girls are so strong that the deeper you are in the court the more trouble you will face.”
Final: Alex Fuller (WP) bt Lizelle Muller (SACD) 3-0 (11-4 11-6 11-5)
3rd place: Siyoli Waters (WP) bt Alexa Pienaar (SACD) 3-1 (11-4 9-11 11-8 11-4)
5th place: Teagan Roux (Joburg Squash) bt Helena Coetzee (Northerns) 3-1 (11-9 2-11 11-2 11-9)
7th place: Shelomi Truter walkover (Hayley Ward, EP, injured)
Final: Dewald van Niekerk (SACD) bt Christo Potgieter 3-0 (11-2 12-10 11-3)
3rd place: Tristen Worth (SACD) walkover (Ruan Olivier, Northerns, ill)
5th place: JP Brits (SACD) bt Rodney Durbach (WP) 3-0 (11-7 12-10 11-6)
7th place: Matthew Boote (KZN) walkover (Thoboki Mohohlo, Joburg Squash, injured)