FINALS : Three for Milnay, a first for JP
The Growthpoint SA Nationals came to a close in the picturesque all-glass squash court on Saturday evening in Pretoria as number one seeds Milnay Louw and JP Brits were crowned South Africa’s champions.
Heading into the tournament at Brooklyn Mall as the clear favourite to win, Milnay went the entirety of the tournament without dropping a single set. In the final against Lizelle Muller, after a tight start in which she won the first set 13-11, she comfortably saw out the match with 11-5 and 11-6 games respectively.
Milnay Louw expressed her delight at Growthpoint’s involvement “To be able to play this event in an incredible venue like this is amazing and I am just so happy to have won this title again.”
In the Men’s final, JP Brits overcame Clinton Leeuw to win his first Growthpoint SA National’s title. JP won the first but a strong second set from Leeuw tied it up at 1 apiece. In some brilliant Squash, JP just edged out Leeuw in the 3rd and then continued his slight advantage to close it out in the 4th.
“I am so grateful to everyone who has helped me get here, it is a dream I have had since I started playing squash and to finally win it is an amazing feeling,” said Brits.
SEMIS: Thrilling Finals in store
All eyes will be on Brooklyn Mall this Saturday as South Africa’s best squash players will be crowned in both the Men’s and Women’s finals. A new Men’s champion will reign supreme as Clinton Leeuw will take on JP Brits as they both aim to win their first Growthpoint SA Nationals title. In the Women’s division Milnay Louw will aim to win back the title she won in won in 2017 in a battle against Lizelle Muller.
In the match of the day, Clinton Leeuw pulled off a stunning victory over Christo Potgieter in an electric five set match. The 37-year-old rolled back the years to force Christo into taking high risk shots which did not work for him today. Christo seemed to overcome the issue of unforced errors when he brought the game back to two-all, but fell in the final set as Clinton reached the final for the third time in his career and will aim to go one better in 2019 as he faces number 1 seed JP Brits.
JP played percentage squash to force Dylan into making errors and his strategy worked perfectly as he consistently stayed ahead in each game to take it in straight sets.
In the Women’s semi-finals, Milnay Louw made quick work of Jennifer Preece as she beat her in three straight sets with the match only lasting 18 minutes. The other semi-final was a tighter affair, with Lizelle Muller managing to come out on top against UJ Master’s student and finalist of the World University Championships Alex Pienaar.
The four-game match finished in favour of Lizelle 12-10, 5-11, 11-9, 11-6 and she will now head into the final against her rival Milnay in a repeat of the 2018 Semi-Final.
The Growthpoint SA Nationals is the first of three major events for Squash South Africa in 2019 and takes place in the unique all glass squash court in Brooklyn Mall in Pretoria. The competition is also used as part of the selection criteria to determine South Africa’s best squash players and also select the national team that will represent South Africa later in the year at the WSF World Squash Championships.
QUARTERS: Stage set for Semis in Pretoria
Squash South Africa hosted the Quarter-Finals of the Growthpoint SA Nationals in the refurbished all-glass squash court in Brooklyn Mall, Pretoria. It was the second set of quarter-finals in the men and women’s draw after the first round was held on Wednesday.
In the first match, fan favourite Alexa Pienaar beat Awande Malinga, who represent the future of South Africa and a star of the U/14 circuit. Alexa won in straight sets but Awande showed moments of brilliants to confirm why she is so highly rated and will have taken a lot of learnings from making it to her first Growthpoint SA Nationals Quarter-Finals.
Alexa Pienaar’s semi-final opponent will be Lizelle Muller who beat 2019 SA Schools champion Helena Coetzee. Although it was a straight sets victory, Helena showed she has the potential to win the tournament in the years to come.
The first Men’s quarter-final of the day saw second seed Christo Potgieter stroll to an easy victory over Gary Naidoo. He will now face 2018 runner-up Clinton Leeuw in the semi-finals in on Friday after he overcame Tristan Eysele in the closest contested game of the day.
With this event serving as a key factor in deciding the national team, when Clinton Leeuw was questioned on whether that’s what he was focussed on he responded by saying “I think my time has come and gone with the national team and its time for the younger generation to represent us, much like players did when I was coming through, I need to step aside for the future of SA Squash”.
Although he may not have his sight set on National colours again, you can be certain he will want the Growthpoint SA Nationals title and there is some exciting squash to be played over the next two days at Brooklyn Mall.