Moms, daughters on the ball

Neo Bodumela

MOTHER-and-daughter teams are taking the Eastern Province squash scene by storm, with the women competing in the Investec interprovincial tournament being held in Nelson Mandela Bay this week.

The super-fit mother-and-daughter teams taking to the squash courts are Joanna Dodd and Kacey-Leigh, who is the South Africa under-19 champion, and Lisa and Sarah O’Grady.

There could have been more family ties in the EP teams, with the daughters of Karen Schepers and Jacqui Ryder both highly promising players.

The players’ collective honours include podium finishes in international competitions, the SA u-19 championship honours and being ranked in the top 10 in SA squash, as one player was during her years as a junior.

Playing squash requires aerobic fitness, flexibility and mental strength as it is a fast-paced and high-intensity game.

The most recognisable of the players, Lisa O’Grady, is dubbed “Mrs Squash” and was recently given the squash merit award – the highest honour that can be given by Squash South Africa to any administrator or player who has served the sport with distinction at club, provincial or national level.

“I actually started out playing hockey,” O’Grady said.

“I only started playing squash later in my life. I was an Eastern Province hockey player, and it was only around my late 30s that I started playing squash and I realised that I could make a success of it.

“I made my debut in the EP Kaplan A side in 1997 at the age of 39. I’ve never really forced or encouraged Sarah to play squash and she did it of her own accord when she was about 10 or 11. She started playing on the court and hitting the ball around.”

O’Grady competes in the masters, women’s and men’s leagues in Port Elizabeth, and is also an administrator for the sport.

She also teaches at Woodridge College and Preparatory School.

She has won two silver medals and a bronze medal at two different World Masters squash tournaments and also a doubles championship.

“The year 2008 was a good year for me. EP won the B section and together with Michelle Roos we won the masters doubles. I also won a silver medal at the World Masters in Christchurch that year.

“In 2010, I won silver in Cologne and in 2012 bronze in Birmingham in the same competition.

“At the World Masters in Hong Kong next year, I enter a new age group, which I hope to win.”

Daughter Sarah has been a leading junior in SA since she started playing in the under-14 group. She recently competed for NMMU in the University Sport South Africa squash tournament held in Port Elizabeth.

The Investec Jarvis Kaplan Cup competition started yesterday and ends on Thursday.

The tournament is being played at Londt Park, Old Grey, Westview and Crusaders squash courts in the city.

The tournament features men’s and women’s provincial teams from all over South Africa.

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