Tswalu SA National Doubles championships – report

Johannesburg Country Club, Auckland Park, Johannesburg – by Liz Addison

University of Johannesburg student, Cheyna Tucker, collected two titles when the finals of the Tswalu SA National Doubles were played at the Johannesburg Country Club on Saturday 6th April 2013.

Winning the women’s doubles, partnered by Claire Nitch and the Mixed with Paul Atkinson, Tucker joins a list of 4 illustrious women and 2 men players, who have annexed two titles at one championship in the same year. Diana Haynes (Argyle) in 2009, 2011, 2012 won the mixed and women’s, Sjeanne Cawdry in 1999, 2000 and 2001 was also victorious in the mixed and the women’s as was Angie Clifton Parks in 2004 and 2005 and Natalie Grainger in 1998. Interestingly, Grainger went on to collect bronze at the Commonwealth Games later in 1998 with the same partners, Claire Nitch and Rodney Durbach.

Only 2 men have won two titles in one year: Craig van der Wath in 2002 and Richard Castle in 2000 and 2001.

In the 2013 championships both the Women’s A and Mixed A  sported small draws and were then hit by the unfortunate calf injury of Angie Clifton Parks in the mixed doubles on Friday night against Natalians Grant Findlay and Samantha Herbert with the score standing at 1 game each and two points all. Christo Potgieter, partnered by Senade Haupt, who caused the upset on the first evening when they defeated van der Wath/Clifton Parks, was also forced to withdraw from the championship.

Paul Atkinson, now resident in Cape Town, is one of only three men who have captured the mixed and the men’s titles in one year. In 2007 Atkinson won the men’s doubles with Mike Tootill and then went on to win the mixed with Diana (Argyle) Haynes.

Atkinson and Tucker playing for the first time together, had little trouble adjusting to a competitive partnership. They stumbled in the first round against Findlay and Herbert after leading 11-7 11-7 losing 2-11 in the fifth but in the final  they reversed the defeat winning 11-7 11-3 5-11 11-5 in 53 minutes.

In the women’s doubles Nitch and Tucker, losing finalists in 2004, 2005 and 2007, coasted through the first three rounds against Maryna Aucamp/Tracey Le Roux, Desiree Edwards/Sharon Le Roux and Herbert/Julie Lee before the awaited clash in the final against Clifton Parks/Cawdry disappeared away with Clifton Parks’ injury.

Defending champions, Justin Gouweloos and Alan McGuigan, proved a point when in a strong line-up of three previous winners: Michael Tootill/Paul Atkinson (2004, 2005, 2007), Craig van der Wath/Gareth Schnehage (2008, 2010), Jimmy Schlebusch/Christo Potgieter (2011) they emerged unbeaten to take the men’s title.

In the second round Gouweloos/McGuigan took 2 hours to defeat Tootill/Atkinson by three games to two with the second rally lasting 16 minutes!!!!!! Van der Wath/Schnehage took second place followed by Tootill/Atkinson. Schlebusch and Potgieter were forced to withdraw with Potgieter suffering from appendicitis.

The men’s B section was a really closely contested affair. 8th seeds Derek van der Merwe/Jac Meyer from Northerns, runners-up in 2012,  defeated last year’s winner Mark Southwood/Calvin Deutschmann in the quarterfinals before outplaying Kevin de Lange/Brian Schutte in the semi finals and Tom Blagden/Colin Daniels by three games to one in the final. Blaar Coetzee/Rob Abrams (N) took third place slipping through 11-10 in the fifth against de Lange/Schutte!

Denis Jones/Paul Cordiero won the Men’s C section accounting for Eddie Upton and Maroun Farry in five tight games.

The Masters’ section was also highlighted by tough games with the first three places decided on a count out. Donald Hector/Andrew Wallers won the section with 7 games for and 4 against. Karl Bauermeister/Ian Horrell finished second as they had defeated Southwood/Deutschmann 3-1 on the round while the Westmorland brothers, Neil and Shaun, took fourth place. (After two rounds positions 1 to 4 and 5 to 8 were played on a round robin basis which sorted out any seeding discrepancies.)

Matches were also tough in the Mixed B. Brett van Rensburg/Sharon le Roux, seeded third, defeated second seeded Bauermeister/Klette in the semi-finals and then continued on their winning way in the final accounting for top seeds, Deon Venter/Desiree Edwards in four games.

The standard of play is getting higher and the matches were far closer: on Thursday of the 52 matches played 23 went to 5 games.

Most of the players are wearing smart matching outfits and 16 players were commended for that.

Squash South Africa is extremely appreciative of Mr Nicky Oppenheimer’s continuing interest in the    National doubles with 2013 being the seventh year under his patronage. Mr John van Heeswijk, chair of Johannesburg Country Club is also thanked for his liaising with Mr Oppenheimer.

The ideal venue, Johannesburg Country Club with the 4 doubles courts, 5 singles court  and the attractive open area is thanked for the use of their facilities, as is Jamie Fortune , the manager of the facility.

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