EASTERN Province squash star Jacqui Ryder will be aiming to revive memories of one of her best wins when she targets the women’s title in the Joe Davis Locksmiths Crusaders Challenge, starting today.
While there are several serious challengers, the talented and experienced Ryder still start as strong favourite to recapture the title she won in 2011.
That year she registered an excellent five-game win over Londt Park rival Lizelle Goosen, who has proved to be something of a nemesis for Ryder in EP tournament finals.
In fact, since the women’s section was introduced at the Saders Challenge in 2010, they have contested all the finals, with Goosen winning the remaining three.
Goosen has not entered this year, having only recently returned to competitive squash after having a baby.
It puts Ryder at the top of the pile for the Saders event, but there will be strong opposition from Janet Byrnes, Diane van Eck and Sarah O’Grady.
It is difficult to see anyone stopping EP No1 Greg La Mude marching to another title – he is aiming for his fourth overall – but that will not prevent his adversaries from trying.
Not all the top EP players have entered, but there is still an impressive field, with the Border trio of Geoff Stephen, Jimmy van Niekerk and Garrett Amm sure to add some fresh interest to the competition.
Local competitors Sean Bailey, Paul Mason, Dane Bigara and Stef Euijen will join La Mude in leading the EP challenge, while players such as top junior Dewald van Niekerk, Bonakele Nomkala and Thami Mngcete will be especially keen to make their mark as the selectors assess the options for the July interprovincial.
The EP squads are due to be named at the conclusionof the tournament, although the selectors could still request more challenges to be played before the Jarvis and Kaplan Cup selection.
The tournament gets under way today at 5pm and will continue all day Saturday and Sunday morning. – Neale Emslie