Wanderers Club, Johannesburg
Results : Semi-finals: Men: 1-Steve Coppinger (Kzn) bt 5/8-Christo Potgieter (SACD) 11-5 11-3 11-6, 2-Clinton Leeuw (WP) bt ¾-Thoboki Mohohlo (CG) 11-4 11-7 7-11 9-11 11-7.
Women: 1-Siyoli Waters (WP) bt ¾-Milnay Louw (N) 11-4 10-12 6-11 11-6 11-7, ¾-Alexandra Fuller (WP) bt 2 – Cheyna Tucker (CG) 11-7 3-11 13-11 6-11 12-10.
Western Province, whose men’s and women’s teams won the respective Jarvis and Kaplan Cup titles at the senior interprovincial championships in July, dominate the S A National squash finals providing 3 of the finalists.
Since 2009 in the men’s, Western Province has supplied one of the finalists : 2009 Rodney Durbach, 2010 Clinton Leeuw: 2011 and 2012 Shaun le Roux. Similarly n the women’s with Siyoli Waters in 2010 and 2012 and Milnay Louw and Tenille Schwartz in 2011.
A good crowd of about 100 people together with 40 learners from the Egoli Squash Inner City and Soweto programmes were treated to some of the most exciting semi-finals in the past few year. As MC, Rodney Durbach said after the first entertaining encounter between the two University students Alexandra Fuller and Cheyna Tucker – “WOW”. Rodney repeated it after the Leeuw/Mohohlo encounter which also provided some astounding retrieving, striking of the ball by both players and astute courtcraft. And for the third time after the Waters/Louw encounter and then came Coppinger/Potgieter. It was nearly 5 hours of scintillating squash and the winner all the way was squash.
Saturday sees top seeded Steve Coppinger contest his seventh consecutive final – 6 of which he has won – when he clashes with second seeded Clinton Leeuw, who lost to Coppinger in the 2010 final at the same venue.
In the semi-finals on Friday Coppinger, ranked 16 in the world, was far too polished for Potgieter to make much indentation in his armour. The entertaining match was dominated by Coppinger’s astute placings, which had Potgieter demonstrating his explosive agility and lightning reflexes, but Coppinger was always in control as he strolled through in straight games 11-5 11-3 11-6. The crowd was enthralled by a number of Potgieter’s volley interceptions of attacking drives by Coppinger. Particularly in the second game Coppinger had Potgieter dashing all around the court in his inimitable fashion – must have been highly frustrating chasing the drives and then only earn 3 points but it was highly entertaining and also demonstrated the level of play to which Coppinger has risen this last year.
In contrast the semi-final between Leeuw and Thoboki Mohohlo, which lasted 70 minutes, could have gone either way. Leeuw, presently based in Boston, USA where he is coaching, dominated the first two games 11-4 11-7, however Mohohlo had shown glimpses of what was in store. The third game saw the lanky Central Gauteng player assisted by some unforced errors from Leeuw race to 7-0. Playing more consistent squash and to a better length, Leeuw fought back to 7-8 before Mohohlo applied more pressure and with string of controlled deep drives held game point at 10-7 taking the game with an accurate cross court nick. With both players trying to control play, the fourth game developed into a duel of wits, which Mohohlo won, levelling the match at two games all. In the fifth game Mohohlo led 7-5 with victory and a big upset only 4 points away, but Leeuw dug deep and calling on his many years of disciplined play reeled in 6 consecutive points to win the match and his second appearance in a final.
The women’s semi-finals produced some of the most entertaining squash and in some cases inexplicable squash seen in women’s squash in the past few years. The first women’s semi final provided exceptional highs and then dismal lows but squash is likened to a game of chess and this proved true.
Alexandra Fuller , a student at UCT, pocketed the first game surprisingly easily against the second seeded Cheyna Tucker of the University of Johannesburg, who seemed a little overawed by the occasion. Starting confidently and striking the ball harder, Tucker turned the tables, racing through the second game 11-3 against an opponent, who made far too many unforced errors.
In the third game both players were striking the ball with ease as the points seesawed with first Fuller having a game point at 10-9 which Tucker saved and she then proceeded to hold a game point at 11-10. Fuller saved and collected the next 3 points to take a two games to one lead.
Tucker played her way back into the match winning the fourth game 11-6. Fuller took a early lead 4-1 which Tucker overturned and lead 6-4.Some determined retrieving had Fuller lead 9-6 . The second seed, Tucker, fought back and moved to her first match point at 10-6 but was unable to capitalise allowing Fuller back into the picture and she did not waste the opportunity, clinching the match with a hard low cross court at 12-10. In her first senior national final Fuller meets last year’s finalist and provincial teammate Siyoli Waters, the top seed.
In another topsy turvy encounter Waters managed to get the better of Milnay Louw, who produced some of the best squash she has played this year. Playing hard attacking squash and moving fluidly, Louw led 9-4 in the first game before her opponent, who is ranked 34 in the world, got into her stride and levelled at 9 all. Louw eventually won the game 12-10. Despite some accurate placings from Waters, it was Louw who took the third game 11-6. Waters turned up the pressure in the fourth game dominating the play with attacking placings winning through also at 11-6 .The decider had Louw edging ahead 4-2, then 7-5 but the top seed caught back to 7 all and again dominated the play to pocket the game at 11-7 and enter her second national final.
The women’s final is at 11h00 followed by the men’s.