Neale Emslie email@example.com
AS the countdown to name the EP provincial squash teams nears, Jason le Roux and Lizelle Goosen will be out to defend their titles when the Crusaders Challenge takes place this evening (5.30pm) to Sunday.
The pair were worthy winners last year and go into the event as strong favourites to retain their titles, although the tournament has attracted a good entry and neither will be taking anything for granted.
The EP teams for the Jarvis and Kaplan Cups from July 8-12 are due to be announced after the finals on Sunday.
Even if some of EP’s leading players are missing, the men’s event promises to be an intriguing battle, with Border players Dwain Dodd and Geoff Stephen well capable of having an influence on the final results.
Dodd, who is unbeaten in the Border first league this season, ended fifth in the Rhodes Open where he lost 3-2 to Le Roux and this is an ideal opportunity to fine-tune his game for July’s interprovincial in Port Elizabeth.
Last year, Kyle Schwarz, the NMMU No 2 behind Le Roux, had an excellent tournament and defeated top seed Rudi van Niekerk in the semifinals. He eventually ran out of steam against the relentless play of Le Roux in the final, but, a year later, he will be a strong contender for the title.
Experienced EP players such as Thami Mngcete, Sean Bailey, Bonakele Nomkala and Shaun Viljoen will ensure there is no easy passage for the leading seeds.
Goosen’s exposure to men’s first league squash this year has moved her game up another level and it is difficult to see anyone stopping her from reaching another final.
Her chief protagonist, Londt Park clubmate, Jacqui Ryder, is sure to present her main opposition, while the home club’s Diane van Eyk, Karen Scheepers and her daughter Ashleigh, Alison Oshry and Kacey-Leigh Dodd will make for an intriguing set of matches in the women’s competition.
The tournament has drawn an excellent entry of 76, with another section for the women and four further men’s divisions. It continues all day tomorrow and will finish at lunchtime on Sunday.