70 players participated

13 April 2021 | Sports

Staff Reporter

This past weekend, the Namibia Tennis Association hosted its fourth national tournament for the year sponsored by Sanlam. The tournament took place in Windhoek from the 9-10 April and 70 players in the age groups under 10 to under 18 participated in singles and doubles matches at the Central Tennis Courts, SKW and Namibian Police Courts.

The biggest surprise of the weekend came as 10-year-old Israel Dowie seized the gold medal in the boys under-16 division. Dowie currently lives in Cape Town where he attends the Anthony Harris High-Performance Tennis Academy for aspiring young tennis players. This sacrifice is paying off as Dowie has progressed from coming third in last year’s Sanlam Tournament in the boys’ under-14 division to coming out top this round.

Dowie has been participating in the Cape Town Tennis Mini under-12 tournaments this year and won the last three tournaments.

In the quarterfinals, Dowie beat the fourth-seeded Stephan Koen 6-4, 6-1. He then had to fight his way past Oliver Leicher seeded first in the semi-final. Great tennis was on display as both players made few mistakes. In the end, it was Dowie who kept up the pressure and won 6-2, 6-3 to proceed to the finals. Another promising youngster, second-seeded 12-year-old Ruben Yssel beat the third-seeded Ruben Nel in the semi-finals 6-1, 6-4 to meet Dowie in the finals. Dowie started with great momentum and won the first set 6-1. Yssel got his nerves under control and fought back in the second set. The match was characterised by super long rallies of 30 strokes or more, a variety of powerful groundstrokes and very steady tennis with few mistakes. Both players played excellent tactical tennis which only proves that Namibia’s junior tennis is in an upward spiral. In the end, it was Dowie who made the fewest mistakes and took gold by winning the second set 7-5. For the third place, Leicher and Nel fought a titanic battle. Leicher eventually took bronze with a score of 6-7, 6-4 and 10-5.

Meanwhile, the girls’ under-14 division was contested by the four top seeds in the semi-finals: Ayanda Basson (third seed) won against Odycia Karaerua (first seed) 6-1, 6-4 while Joanivia Bezuidenhout beat Mari van Schalkwyk (fourth seed) 7-5, 6-3. The finals were a tough, nail-biting match, with both players playing strong groundstrokes. In the end, it was the more consistent 11-year-old Bezuidenhout who took gold with a score of 7-5 and 6-3. Mari van Schalkwyk, another 11-year-old took bronze by beating Odycia Karaerua 6-2, 6-2.

The under-14 boys held little surprises as the four top seeds all progressed to the semi-finals. Abraham Alemu (third seed) beat Eduan Schollij (second seed) 6-3, 6-2, while Lian Kuhn (first seed) beat Ruan Calitz (fourth seed) in a close match with a score of 7-6, 6-4. The finals were a long battle as both opponents refused to give up and kept the ball going. Great talent was displayed by the two 11-year-olds and amazing tennis shots were executed with skill and precision. In the end, Kuhn made fewer mistakes and outplayed Alemu by taking gold with a score of 6-3, 7-5. Schollij beat Calitz to take third place with a score of 6-3, 6-1.

In the boys’ under-18 division, great strength and power were on display with many aces being served and winners being played. In the round-robin group one, George Louw came out top by beating Daniel Krige, a visiting South African player, 6-4, 5-7 and 10-2. In the second group, Daniel Jauss won his division by beating Sarel Janse van Rensburg 6-4 and 6-2. In the finals, Jauss (seeded second) surprised the first seeded Louw by beating him in two sets 6-4 and 7-5.

The boys’ under-10 division was overshadowed by Divan Engelbrecht as he beat De Witt Bergh 8-3. In the girls’ under-10 division, the finals were contested between Linda Alemu and Emma Brinkmann. Alemu took gold with a score of 8-4, while Liha Tromp came in third.

Johan Theron easily won the boys’ under-12 division by only dropping three games in his four matches. Second place was taken by Markus van Heerden with Kyle Els in third place. The girls’ under-12 and girls’ under-18 divisions both only saw three entries each. In the under-12 category, Hane Schierschmidt came in first with Tjivingurura second and Kaylar Amutse third while Larushka Kruger came out top for the girls’ under-18 division by beating Dominique Theron 6-0, 6-1. Johanna Teofelus came in third.

The Namibia Tennis Association would like to say a special thank you to Sanlam Namibia for sponsoring this event and supporting the development of tennis for many years. “We are now definitely picking the fruit of many years’ endeavours to grow the sport. Sanlam was always there to support us. With all the young players performing so well in this tournament, it is clear that we do not have a shortage of talent nor a shortage in the number of players to take junior tennis to the next level,” the association said in a statement.

The winners were spoiled with Sanlam goodie bags and bottles and had great fun participating. This is the first of two junior Sanlam-sponsored tournaments, with the next scheduled for 2 July.