Juniors give great hope to South African tennis

The new President of Tennis South Africa (TSA) was encouraged about the future of the game in the country after attending the finals of the South African Junior National Championships in Bloemfontein.

Gavin Crookes from Kwa-Zulu Natal, appointed on Saturday as the new President of TSA, said that he was impressed by the standard of play during Monday’s finals. “After attending the Davis Cup in Gauteng I travelled down to Manguang to present the prizes at the National Champs. The standard of play was exceptional and gives me great hope for the future of tennis in the country.”

Crookes said that the future Davis and Fed Cup stars were on court during the finals in Manguang. “It’s vital for the future success of our Davis Cup and Fed Cup chances to ensure that we have a good crop of junior players coming through the ranks. The finals in Bloemfontein showcased the cream of our junior talent and I really am encouraged in what I saw” said Crookes.

Junior Davis Cup team member, Francois Kellerman clinched the boys under 18 title. Kellerman, seeded three from Western Province needed over three hours to beat unseeded Musa Mpondi of Kwa-Zulu Natal 7-5 4-6 7-5. Mpondi who won the under 14 National Championships three years ago had a brilliant week beating 3 seeded players en route to the finals. Mpondi led 5-1 in the opening set but just wasn’t able to close it in his favour. Although Mpondi captured the second set 6-4 it was Kellerman who kept the edge in the third set.

The girls under 18 title was won by top seed Katie Poluta of Cape Town who beat second seed Marli Van Heerden of South West Districts 6-1 7-6 (5).

In the under 16 age group, two Capetonians fought for honours in the boys finals. Seeded one and two respectively, JD Malan was too good on the day for Calvin Jordaan who won 7-5 6-1.
Lee Barnard of Gauteng North, seeded three beat fourth seeded Mila Hartig also of Gauteng North 6-4 6-2 in the girls under 16 final.

Mathew Johnson, another Capetonian, captured the boys under 14 title by upsetting third seed Philip Henning of Free State 6-3 1-6 6-4. It was Johnson’s first major title win. Johnson, seeded 3, who had beaten Henning early this year, was composed throughout and regards his win over Henning in Bloemfontein as a highlight in his career. “Philip is a great player and won the 2012 and 2013 National Championship titles, so beating him in his own back yard was something special” said Johnson.

Top seed Corin De Waal of Boland won the girls under 14 title when she came back from a first set deficit to beat second seed Kaylin Bouwer of Eastern Province 4-6 6-6 6-0.

In the under 12 age group, the boys title went to Charl Morgan of Gauteng Central and the girls title to rising star Lara van der Merwe of North West Province.