Joburg and SACD primed to retain their titles
A week of high-octane squash is on the menu when South Africa’s leading players clash in Gqeberha/Port Elizabeth from September 13-17 to battle it out for the prestigious Jarvis and Kaplan Cups at the Growthpoint Interprovincial.
Since the inaugural event in 1960, this tournament has occupied a special place in the careers of many squash players and there will be plenty of blood, sweat and maybe a few tears before the dust settles next Friday.
Joburg Squash (formerly known as Gauteng), with SA National champion Christo Potgieter at the helm, will be primed to defend the Jarvis Cup men’s title, while SA Country Districts women, led by Lizelle Muller, will be chasing a hat-trick of Kaplan Cup women’s titles.
Sheldon Erasmus, Joburg Squash IPT convener and a member of the Jarvis team, said they had no doubt the race for the title would go down to the wire.
“It looks like another tough week and on paper, you would have to say that SA Country Districts are the favourites,” he said.
“They do have a lot of depth but we all know that at the Growthpoint Interprovincial anything can happen at any time, so the message to our team is to stay in the moment and not get ahead of ourselves.
“We have respect for all the teams in the tournament and will focus only on who our next opponents are.”
SACD were the men’s champions in 2019 and only lost out in the final in Pretoria last year when Devon Hendrikse registered a dramatic win over Dewald van Niekerk in the last tie of the match.
Van Niekerk, along with elder brother Rudi, will be looking to rectify that this year and will get strong support from the talented Tristen Worth, from East London, and the experienced Jimmy Schlebusch.
Joburg Squash are bringing a larger than normal squad to the week, which Erasmus said would allow them to take a strategic approach as they sought to keep all their players fresh during the tournament.
“It also allows us to blood some younger players to start preparing for the future,” he said. “For example, Devon is playing his 20th and final Interprovincial this year so we need to groom these players.”
Despite their success in the last two years, SACD captain Lizelle Muller said they knew they would have to work hard to make it three in a row.
“There are going to be some very tough matches during the week, but we are looking forward to the challenge,” the experienced No 1 said.
“Although we come from different areas, there has been a lot of communication among us during the year and we are very motivated to win again.
“There have been some changes to our team from last year, but Alexa Pienaar is back and we have two young players in Shelomi Truter and Elske Garbers who are excited at this opportunity.”
There will be plenty of challengers, though, with Joburg Squash, headed by the talent of Teagan Roux and experience of Cheyna Wood, among them, while Eastern Province will also be keen to show what they can do on their home courts.
Matches will be played at Londt Park, Crusaders and Old Grey, but Covid-19 regulations will preclude spectators from attending.
The eight men’s teams have been divided into two pools and will play a round-robin, followed by cross-pool playoffs on Thursday and Friday.
The seven women’s teams will play a straight round-robin to decide the winners.
The pools are:
Jarvis Cup (men)
Pool A: SACD, Zambia, WP, EP
Pool B: Joburg Squash, Northerns, Midlands, KZN
Monday’s fixtures are:
At Londt Park, 1pm: SACD v EP, Zambia v WP, Joburg Squash v KZN, Northerns v Midlands
Kaplan Cup (women): SACD, Joburg Squash, EP A, Northerns, Midlands, EP B, Zambia
Monday’s fixtures are:
At Crusaders, 9am: Northerns v Joburg Squash, EP A v EP B, SACD v Zambia
At Crusaders, 1pm: Midlands v EP A, Northerns v Zambia, EP B v SACD