Feast of quality tennis on offer at Kershaw Park

2010-01-06 00:00

THE annual Braaiketts KZN Open and Junior Tennis Championship kick off at Kershaw Park from 8 am today.

The two segments of the tournament run side by side, culminating in Sunday’s finals. This is the 113th KZN Open while is the 13th Braaiketts event for juniors, and the feast of tennis on offer should be player- and spectator- friendly with good weather expected.

To add to the five days’ entertainment, Idols singer Graeme Watkins performs at Kershaw Friday evening and tickets are available at the tennis complex or by contacting Wendy at 084 592 7631. Entrance for players is free.

The KZN Open features a host of the country’s leading players. And such is the quality on offer it isn’t easy to predict a winner. This is the only tournament in SA to have five-set finals, the last KZN Open five-set final being in 1975.

Raven Klaasen from the Western Cape, who is a current SA Davis Cup player and the KZN Open defending champion, heads the seeds. Seeded two is Ruan Roelofse from Western Cape, a highly talented young player and winner of the 2008 title.

Seeded third is BJ van Rensburg, a leading player from Gauteng well- suited to the hot Kershaw conditions. Fellow Gautengers Hendrik Coertzen and Pieter Calitz, seeds four and five, are also right in there with a chance. The former is a promising young player while the latter has skill aplenty and could pose a threat to the youngsters.

Sixth seed Rikus de Villiers won the tournament three years ago, and will draw on the experience and knowledge earned as a current U.S. College player. The young man who hails from Westville heads the KZN challenge.

Pieter Joubert, the seventh seed, is another Western Capetonian and enjoyed a world ranking of 500 a few years ago. If fully fit, he will pose a serious threat, as will local hope Boyd Michau, the last of the seeded players.

Pietermaritzburg’s Michau knows the Kershaw courts as well as anyone and is undoubtedly the dark horse.

There is also a healthy number of quality, unseeded players from all over SA, so upsets are on the cards. The KZN Open takes place on Courts one, two, five and six.

The popular Braaiketts junior event sees four age group categories for both boys and girls. In the U10 division the boys winner may be PMB’s Robbie Searle while the girls section has Jessica Redfern and Hannah Willows as possible favourites.

The girls’ U12 has four PMB players immediately coming to mind, namely Tessa van der Merwe, Zandi Powell, Sarah Grenfell and Sarah Mayne. Although PMB’s Nikolai Manchev and James Strachan are tipped for Sunday’s final, the boys’ U12 is wide open with James Redfern, Mathew Kiln and Don-Don Paterson all in the mix.

A healthy entry of 18 in the U14 girls has a top seed in Jenna Davidson of Durban, with Nikki Deenik arguably her main rival for the crown. Highly regarded Musa Mpondi of Durban is favoured in the boys’ U14s with competition coming from the likes of Andrew Darroch, Keegan Foss and Ben Philpot.

Durban’s Jodi Davidson is tipped for the girls’ U18 title with Braaiketts Tennis Club’s Brian Boshoff punted to walk off with the prize money on Sunday against Durban’s Joshua Divine.

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