Level of SA squash lot higher’

Neale Emslie

NOT having competed in South Africa’s Jarvis Cup since 2005, former Grey High pupil Mark Rogers is delighted to be back in his home city, turning out at No1 for the Eastern Province men’s side in the Investec squash interprovincial.

Rogers, 34, who lives in the Bavarian capital, Munich, is enjoying the experience of being involved in the showcase of South African provincial squash and has been impressed with the standard of play.

He has retired from a fulltime squash career and is now employed as a translator – he speaks German fluently – and an organiser for events and festivals.

“I last played in Jarvis in 2005 when I turned out for Border [he played for Border from 2002 to ’05] and it’s great to be back,” Rogers said.

His parents live in Port Elizabeth.

“It’s very enjoyable, and I am sure I will try to come back again.

“What I see is that the level of squash is much higher when you compare it with the same level in Germany, so there seems to be quite a lot of depth in SA squash.”

After leaving school in 1996, Rogers embarked on a squash career which he pursued mainly in Europe, playing in various leagues, as well as the professional circuit.

He rose to No4 in the South African rankings, but said the need to play qualifying tournaments here, which were normally held in the northern hemisphere off-season, was fairly stressful.

“It was tough to play two seasons back-to-back and in the end I found I needed a break and ended up playing just in Germany,” Rogers said.

“I would play up to five leagues – German, Dutch, Italian, Swiss and Czech – sometimes in the same week, so I did a lot of travelling around Europe.

“I did that for about eight years, playing against top professional players on a regular basis. So the level of play was very strong.”

In 2009, Rogers suffered an injury and now only plays in the Bundesliga, where he is the foreigner in his club team, along with three Germans.

“I still have strong roots in South Africa and my plan is to work nine months overseas and spend three months here to be with my family,” he said.

“Looking back on my life, it’s been a great experience, but it’s also so nice to come back here and see players like Jacques Wessels (EP C), Richard Driscoll (EP selection convener) and Alan Stapleton (tournament convener) still so involved in the game – guys I played with so many years ago.”

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