EP pair Ward and Dodd clinch national doubles title

Previous winners regain glory after slaying giant-killers

Kacey-Leigh Dodd and Hayley Ward celebrate winning the Tswalu SA National Doubles Squash Championships women’s title at Country Club Johannesburg on Sunday
CROWNING MOMENT: Kacey-Leigh Dodd and Hayley Ward celebrate winning the Tswalu SA National Doubles Squash Championships women’s title at Country Club Johannesburg on Sunday

The Eastern Province pair of Hayley Ward and Kacey-Leigh Dodd crowned a successful return to the Tswalu SA National Doubles Squash Championships when they regained the title in Johannesburg at the weekend.

They had previously won the title in 2021 but were then ousted in the 2022 final before a severe knee injury sidelined Dodd for about 12 months.

But at Country Club Johannesburg on Sunday there was no stopping them as they kept their errors to a minimum and exploited their shot-making skills to run away with the match after a closely contested first game.

Up against giant-killers Alexa Pienaar (SA Country Districts) and Northerns teenager Elzandri Janse van Rensburg, who defeated top seeds Alex Fuller (WP) and Cheyna Wood (Joburg Squash) in the first round, the second seeds held their nerve as their opponents fought back from 6-2 down to eventually win the opening game 11-8.

The second game followed a similar pattern as Ward and Dodd shot out to a commanding 5-0 lead.

This time, though, there was no way back for Pienaar and Janse van Rensburg as their EP opponents never gave them a chance to storm to victory 11-1.

Ward and Dodd showed match-winning strokes and cutting out the mistakes meant they were able to maintain intense pressure on their opponents.

Once they had built a commanding lead, there was no way back for the team, who had caused a sensational upset in the first round when they put out defending champions Fuller and Wood in three games (11-9 9-11 12-10).

The EP pair were delighted at regaining the title in such an emphatic fashion.

“It’s a phenomenal feeling winning a second title after winning in 2021 and then losing an incredible, brutal final, 12-10 in the third game, the next year,” Dodd said.

“That year I sustained a horrible knee injury and was out for a while, but we came back strongly this year.

“We prepared well for the final and implemented the game plan very well, so I’m proud of our efforts.”

Ward said the win was made all the sweeter by facing some “really strong teams in the draw”.

“I think we came into the match knowing we had to be the best we could be as they had done so well,” she added.

“We just made sure we kept it deep in the back corners and when it was on we shot straight and short, and it all worked well for us.”

In a men’s final full of spectacular rallies and phenomenal shot-making, Tristan Worth and Damian Groenewald retained their title against Joburg Squash opponents Christo Potgieter and Michael Wood.

Worth (SA Country Districts) and Groenewald (Northerns) were sent the full distance but eventually won 11-8 9-11 11-5 as the players lit up a thrilling climax to the weekend.

In the mixed final, playing an attacking brand of squash, Alex Fuller (Western Province) and JP Brits (SACD) ended the run of Cheyna Wood and Christo Potgieter (both Joburg Squash) to win 11-5 11-7.

Wood and Potgieter were chasing a fourth title in a row, but this time Fuller and Brits found their rhythm early on and never relinquished that advantage to win 11-5 11-7.

It made amends for their loss to the same opponents in 2023’s final and provided some compensation for Fuller after she and Wood were upset in the first round of the women’s doubles. — BLD Communications



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