Young players get big opportunity

Four Eastern Province squash juniors will enjoy the trip of a lifetime after being selected for SA junior teams to undertake a trip to Malaysia, leaving on Sunday.

Pearson’s Danell Douglass will join male colleagues Gerard Mitchell (Grey High) and Siphelele Mpini (Ndzondelelo) in the SA U16 teams.

Grey Junior’s Dean Venter is in the U14 side.

Venter is still in the U13 age group, but received special permission to compete in the U14 interprovincial this year and is rated No 2 in the SA U14 rankings.

Douglas is the top-ranked U16 in the country, while Mitchell and Mpini slot in at three and four respectively.

Mpini, whose trip has been sponsored by SPAR South Africa, is another example of the terrific work being done by Angela Difford in the township schools and by the Old Grey development programme.

Club chairman Darryl Smith, who initiated the programme several years ago, said it was exciting to see these young players coming through the system.

“I think the Old Grey project exposes players who show potential at school to quality competition in the men’s leagues,” he said.

“Siphelele played in the third league in 2015 and has lost only two matches in the second league this year.”

While Smith is pleased with the players’ efforts on the courts – four players in the project have turned out for EP Schools – he said it was also satisfying to see older players who had come through the programme mentoring the younger players.

“What is also satisfying is to see players such as Thami [Mngcete] and Bonakele [Nomkala] helping where they can, while Yanga [Manxeba] and Awonke [Mdana] have shown real leadership in supporting younger players and assisting with coaching at the club,” Smith said.

“A person like Siphelele has also received mentoring from an experienced campaigner like Carlo Giaconi.

“Carlo is part of the Old Grey development project.”

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