KWAZULU-NATAL’s Gary Wheadon crowned a fine weekend by upsetting top seed Adrian Hansen to capture the Brian Bands Sports NMMU Squash Open title at NMMU yesterday.
Wheadon, ranked three places lower on the national rankings than his provincial colleague, was joined on the winners’ podium by women’s champion Lizelle Goosen, who defeated Londt Park clubmate Jacqui Ryder.
Seeded third, Wheadon beat No2 Rudi Willemse in Saturday’s semifinals and yesterday took a 2-0 lead to set up a 3-1 victory over Hansen in 41 minutes.
The second game was a particularly tough affair, with Wheadon fetching everything he could and Hansen fighting desperately to achieve parity.
The energy Wheadon expended to win that game seemed to count against him in the third, which Hansen won quickly, but the left-hander was back at his fighting best in the fourth.
This time it was Hansen’s energy levels which seemed to fade and a 9-4 lead put Wheadon in the driving seat. The experienced Hansen fought back to 9-6, but Wheadon got to 10-6 and a tight backhand volley down the wall forced a final error from the top seed.
Goosen and Ryder have had some terrific duels over the years and yesterday’s final was again well contested. The defining moment came when Ryder, down 1-0, led 10-8 in the second after playing a good length game which squeezed errors from her opponent.
But the second seed failed to capitalise on her position and a few errors allowed Goosen to draw level before going on to win it 13-11.
Goosen maintained control in the third and despite missing two match points at 10-6, she clinched the title when Ryder put a backhand volley into the tin.