Steve Coppinger and Diana Argyle both turned in star performances to capture the respective men’s and women’s national titles last weekend.
S A National Squash Championships, Wanderers Club, Johannesburg
11-18 August 2012.
The 21st National Championships since Unity in 1992 provided a number of milestones: it was the first time the championships were registered as a PSA and a WSA event: Steve Coppinger captured a record breaking 5th title – Craig van der Wath and Glenn Whittaker have won four each : Rodney Durbach and Adrian Hansen 3 each. Diana (Argyle) Haynes appeared in her third final taking her first title, capping an outstanding season which has seen her win the Central Gauteng Open and be undefeated at the annual Kaplan Cup interprovincial tournament.
With 24 players directly into the main men’s draw, 32 players battled for the 8 qualifying spots. Kyle Maree, Wesley Daniels, Lithemba Velleman (Lucky loser), Deon Venter, Craig Stephens, Richard Middleton, Derek van der Merwe, and Jarred Carter fought their way to the first round of the main event.
First Round: There were no surprises in the men’s event with the top 4 seeds Steve Coppinger, Shaun Le Roux, Clinton Leeuw and Christo Potgieter advancing through, although Potgieter dropped a game to talented Michael Wood, a student at Tukkies University.
5-8 seed, Tristan Eysele, based in the UK, coached and trained by former Zimbabwean and National player Jesse Engelbrecht, had a tough encounter with Jacques Kruger eventually winning in 5.
The women’s first round also had no fireworks with only 1 match going beyond three games – UJ student Alushca Botha defeated Lindy Riphagen in 4.
Second Round: Thoboki Mohohlo provided a surprise when he outplayed Eysele in four games – altitude could well have played a part as Eysele looked jaded and nowhere near as sharp as in his previous day’s encounter with Kruger. 2012 World Masters 45-49 champion, Craig van der Wath found the pace and rapid responses of Clinton Leeuw too much and bowed out in three games – 2012 being the first time in 24 years that he has not been a quarterfinalist !!!!!!!! In an entertaining encounter JP Brits registered a good win over Devon Hendricks.
Again the seeded players in the women’s event took their places in the quarterfinals with relative ease. Former National Champion, Farrah Sterne, who has been playing little squash because of injuries , took the first game against Diana Haynes but then faded. UJ student Elani Landman won the first game against Angie Clifton Parks but could then not counteract her opponent’s wily experience and lost in 4. 5-8 seed Sonica Fritz won a close encounter against her former pupil, Robyn Baptiste, 15-13 in the fourth.
Quarterfinals: In a festival of squash – Women’s Day , a public holiday, the four men’s and women’s quarterfinals were played on the all glass court. 32 top development players from Central Gauteng’s grass roots development programme also participated in a coaching programme which saw Coppinger, Brits, Leeuw, Siyoli Waters and Cheyna Tucker involved in the various sessions.
Le Roux, the number 2 seed, advanced to his second consecutive semi-final via a straight game win over former National title holder, Rodney Durbach: ¾ seed Clinton Leeuw eventually subdued Rudi Willemse in 4 games while Coppinger accounted for Mohohlo in 3 games although the second went to 12-10.
The match of the championships was unquestionably the quarter-final clash between mercurial Christo Potgieter and Jean Pierre Brits, two young players who have joined PSA and are trying to make their way up the world ladder. Potgieter accompanied the National team to the 2011 Men’s World Team event. Training and practice partners, both based in Potchefstroom, a town 180kms away from Johannesburg both players gave no quarter but it was Potgieter who took his allotted place in the semi-finals after a 9-11 11-8 10-12 11-8 11-6 victory.
The top four seeds in the women’s event – Siyoli Waters, Cheyna Tucker, Milnay Louw and Diana Haynes – all had reasonably comfortable wins . Waters, however, dropped the third game to Fritz before recovering and taking the fourth 11-5. Louw was too strong in all departments against Haupt dropping only 12 points and in so doing setting up a clash with Waters against whom she has registered 2 wins this season. Haynes and Tucker had straight games wins over Samantha Herbert and Angie Clifton-Parks respectively.
Semi-finals: For three games Potgieter matched Le Roux point for point and stroke for stroke, showing a patience which is not always apparent in his game . With the score standing at 9-11 11-8 11-9 in Le Roux’s favour , Le Roux returned to the court and with relentless placings clinically waltzed through the game 11-0.
Coppinger was a delight to watch : focussed, confident , in control : he just coolly countered every attack from Leeuw winning through 11-2 12-10 11-5.
In the first match on court Haynes took on Tucker. Tucker took the lead in each game but could not clinch the vital points, bowing out 10-12 9-11 10-12 against the composed left hander.
Louw started off strongly against Waters but Waters took the first game 11-9. Louw lead 7-4 in the second when Waters suddenly lifted her game , attacking at every opportunity to rattle off 5 consecutive points. But Louw fought back and points seesawed until 12-all when Waters notched the next 2. In the third Waters completely dominated winning 11-5 and looked a strong contender for her first national title the next day.
Finals: The women’s final was first on court. Right from the outset it was an unusually confident Haynes who dominated winning the first 2 games 11-6 11-3 and taking a substantial lead in the third. Desperate retrieving by Waters saw her edge through at 12-10. Haynes again took control and outplaying Waters won the fourth 11-5 to put the seal on an extremely successful year.
In a repeat of the 2011 final, played at the Parkview Centre, Coppinger raced through the first game 11-2 against Le Roux , who had appeared to be quietly focussed all week. The second game saw Coppinger again gain the upperhand and he pocketed it 11-7. In the third game matching Coppinger’s length and pace, Le Roux unleashed some winning drives and placings which put him in the driver’s seat and he took the game 11-5. The fourth game was one way traffic as Coppinger exerted his superiority racing through 11-4 to capture his well deserved fifth title.
1- Steve Coppinger bt Kyle Maree 11-9 11-9 11-5, Andrew Martin bt Jarred Carter 11-6 11-8 11-7, Thoboki Mohohlo bt Jonathan Letlake 11-6 11-2 11-5, 5/8-Tristan Eysele bt Jacques Kruger 11-8 4-11 8-11 11-8 11-5, 5/8 –Rudi Willemse bt Rudolph Coetser 11-7 8-11 11-2 11-5, Jimmy Schlebusch bt Wesley Daniels 11-8 11-5 11-1, Craig van der Wath bt Lithemba Velleman 9-11 11-7 11-5 11-5, ¾-Clinton Leeuw bt Charles Fourie 11-9 11-3 11-4, ¾-Christo Potgieter bt Michael Wood 11-8 11-9 4-11 11-6, Mike Tootill bt Deon Venter 11-7 11-4 11-8, Devon Hendricks bt Craig Ruane 11-4 11-0 11-1, Jean-Pierre Brits bt Craig Stephens 13-11 11-6 12-10, 5/8 Rodney Durbach bt Richard Middleton 11-2 11-5 11-2, Zuko Kubukeli bt Jason Kershaw 13-11 11-9 11-5, Gary Wheadon bt Derek van der Merwe 8-11 11-5 11-4 11-5, 2-Shaun le Roux bt Gary Naidoo 11-4 14-12 11-6
Second Round: Coppinger bt Martin 8-11 11-8 11-4 11-7, Mohohlo bt Eysele 6-11 11-6 11-5 11-2, Willemse bt Schlebusch 11-6 11-9 13-11, Leeuw bt van der Wath 11-7 11-3 14-12, Potgieter bt Tootill 11-4 11-3 11-6, Brits bt Hendricks 8-11 11-6 11-9 13-11, Durbach bt Kubukeli 7-11 11-5 11-7 11-6, Le Roux bt Wheadon 11-4 11-5 11-2.
Quarter-finals:Coppinger bt Mohohlo 11-5 12-10 11-4, Leeuw bt Willemse 11-13 11-1 11-8 11-7, Potgieter bt Brits 9-11 11-8 10-12 11-8 11-6, Le Roux bt Durbach 11-8 11-6 11-5.
Semi-Finals : Coppinger bt Leeuw 11-2 12-10 11-5, Le Roux bt Potgieter 9-11 11-8 11-9 11-0.
Final: Coppinger bt Le Roux 11-2 11-7 5-11 11-4
Women: First Round :1-Siyoli Waters bye, 9/16 – Aluschca Botha bt Lindy Riphagen4-11 11-6 16-14 11-8, 5/8-Sonica Fritz bt Jemma Dawson 11-0 11-5 11-6,9/16-Robyn Baptiste bt Nono Sekhoto 11-5 11-8 11-9,3/4 –Milnay Louw bye, 9/16-Alexandra Fuller bt Metja Mohohlo 11-5 11-3 11-5, 5/8-Senade Haupt bye,9/16-Julie Lee bt Ceanne Cole-Niven 11-7 11-3 11-6, 5/8-Samantha Herbert bt Sebongile Serota 11-5 11-2 11-4, 9/16-Farrah Sterne bt Ashleigh Ditchfield 11-1 11-6 11-4, ¾ Diana Haynes bye, 9/16-Elani landman bt Janice Harmse 12-10 11-9 11-4, 5/8 Angie Clifton-Parks bye, 9/16-lume Landman bt Mariska Wiese 11-9 11-2 11-9, 2- Cheyna Tucker bye.
Second Round:Waters bt Botha 11-1 11-6 11-2, Fritz bt Baptiste 11-8 11-13 11-6 15-13, Louw bt Fuller 11-3 11-8 11-2, Haupt bt Fourie 11-9 11-9 11-1, Herbert bt Lee 11-3 11-9 11-5, Haynes bt Sterne 5-11 11-3 11-4 11-3, Clifton-Parks bt Elani Landman 9-11 11-5 11-8 11-4, Tucker bt Lume Landman 11-4 11-3 11-7.
Quarter-finals: Waters bt Fritz 11-7 11-4 7-11 11-5, Louw bt Haupt 11-6 11-3 11-3, Haynes bt Herbert 11-6 11-5 12-10, Tucker bt Clifton-Parks 11-4 11-6 11-6.
Semi-finals: Waters bt Louw 11-9 14-12 11-5, Haynes bt Tucker 12-10 11-9 12-10.
Final: Haynes bt Waters 11-6 11-3 10-12 11-5