MARK OF A LEGEND
What makes a Champion? Skill, talent, determination and discipline are all important factors while the age old of saying: “practice makes perfect” certainly holds true for all aspiring professionals.
The real question is what makes a Legend? I believe that the difference between good and great is an undying passion and commitment as well as an appreciation for the history of your chosen sport. The greatest sportsman are generally ‘students of the game’ and use records and memorable moments of the past to motivate themselves and set goals.
South Africa’s top professional squash player is Stephen Coppinger and considering his recent move up the PSA World Rankings to his current position of 26, the Hilton Old Boy is headed in one direction and that’s up. Steve has an unmistakable passion for squash which was partly instilled at his first Jarvis Cup way back in 2001:
My first Jarvis was in Cape Town in 2001 for Midlands where I played at 1 in the B Section. Being renowned as one of the more social sides it was certainly an eye opening event. I was immediately hooked on the atmosphere of the tournament and so have only missed 1 Jarvis since then, this week will be my 11th edition.
One stand out memory from that first year was being able to watch the final between KZN and Gauteng on the UCT centre court. The passion going into that fixture was like nothing I’d ever seen before and I supported our neighbours KZN register a slick win from their Scottish import Dave Heath and an inspiring performance from Fabrice Ruscoe edging out Mike Tootill to keep the cup in contention for the heavyweights of the era to go head to head for the cup. Adrian Hansen vs Glen Whittaker.
I didn’t know either of them but it was evident that there was almost a bottled up hatred between them which added to the tension. The match was nothing short of a hum-dinger as Adrian fought his way to 2-1 up and held a match ball in the 4th which had almost exactly half the crowd poised for huge celebrations, only for Glen to fight his way back and motor through the 5th for the other half of the crowd to go wild. Intense images for my 16 year old eyes and that was just the start.
It wasn’t until the competition returned to Cape Town 7 years later in 2008 that I had my chance to play a role in lifting the title for KZN. That was particularly special as we had come so close, indeed I had come so close, the previous year by being only 2 points away from beating Gauteng’s French import Renan Lavignein the final in PE when we had 2 wins in the bag.
That forehand volley drop that hit the tin at 7-7 and 2-0 up still haunts me (and probably at least 4 others too). We were unable to defend the title the next year but with a home jarvis to look forward to we came back strong in 2010 and thanks in no small part to our Hungarian team member Mark Krajcsak and a consistant side we are now aiming for our 3rd consecutive Cup.
The off-court side of Jarvis is equally important as it is what makes the tournament so unique. With over 200 competitors every year it is without doubt the most fun tournament on the calendar. I know of no other tournament quite like Jarvis anywhere in the world and in whichever province it is held, a fantastic event is produced every single year. It’s why it has been and most likely will be the first tournament on my calendar for a long time to come.
As for my predictions for the 2012 Jarvis Cup Champions? KZN and Western Province stand a head above the rest this year but the battle between them will be fierce and the difference will probably be decided by 1 or 2 crucial rallies.
KZN FOR THE WIN!!!
The ladies’ section is far more open with three teams standing a realistic chance of lifting the Kaplan Cup. Western Province and Central Gauteng have dominated historically and the last four years but with the recent acquisition of former Province star Milnay Louw, hosts Northerns should not be discounted. The 2012 hosts have never won the trophy, so history will be made if No.1 Louw can lead her new team to the title in its 53rd year.
Jarvis Cup – KZN vs Easterns, WP vs Border and Central Gauteng vs Northerns
Kaplan Cup – Northerns vs South African Country Districts, Central Gauteng vs Eastern Province, WP vs Easterns
The above matches will be contested at Pretoria Country Club.
by Nusrah Cassiem & Brendon Brash