PMB’s double trouble take world champs … again

2013-04-26 00:00

JUSTIN Gouweloos (24) and Alan McGuigan (23) are double trouble on the squash court, having won their second successive doubles title at the South African Squash Champs in Johannesburg earlier this month.

The Pietermaritzburg duo finished top of their group to claim the title, a different format to last year where they sweated for two-and-a-half hours to overcome Craig van der Wath and Gareth Schnehage 3-2.

It’s a prestigious title to own in the squash world and the pair entered for the first time last year, relying more on hope and a prayer in a tournament boasting the best in the land.

Said Gouweloos: “Alan and I are the top two players in Pietermaritzburg and thought we would have a chance at the championships, entering as a doubles pair.

“We had never played together and it was a spur-of-the-moment decision.

“Before we knew it, we had notched up two titles in succession.”

Squash is renowned more as a singles game, but doubles taps into a player’s pysche, calling on all his reserves and stamina, asking the question of how hard he wants to win.

“The doubles court is half-a-metre wider on each side than a singles court, meaning it’s that little more difficult to execute winning shots.

“It’s fair to say the workload is a little easier than singles as there is a partner on court, but it’s all about who makes the least mistakes. The key is patience and waiting for the opposition to make the error,” said Gouweloos.

During the past couple of years, Gouweloos and McGuigan have gelled and know each other’s games backwards.

Said Gouweloos: “We train together these days and know our strengths.

“We play well as a team, with great understanding on court, with our consistency and patience at the fore of our approach.”

Both have played the game for the past 15 years. Gouweloos is ranked 22nd in South Africa and McGuigan was 34th last year.

At KZN level, McGuigan is the current number five, while Gouweloos is in the top 10.

Said McGuigan: “I currently play as No. 1 seed in the Pietermaritzburg and Durban first divisions. Justin and I play at the same club and are great league mates. We reckoned it would be good fun and a challenge to play doubles at the national champs, never thinking we would actually win.

“This year, our hardest matches were against last year’s finalists [Van der Wath and Schnehage] who we beat 3-0 and the Paul Atkinson/Mike Tootill pairing where we came home 3-2.”

Gouweloos has a respectable CV in the game and has been the Midlands champion for the past seven years. He too plays league in PMB and Durban.

“I started playing squash at junior school and received my honours when I made the SA U16 touring side to England when I was at St Charles.

“I play No. 1 for my club Howick, No. 1 for Midlands and Crusaders in Durban, plus the Midlands Jarvis Kaplan Cup team. I have been the Maritzburg Golf Club squash champion eight years and counting, won the Howick club champs once and the Crusaders [Durban] title once,” he said.

Besides the U16 tour, Gouweloos was invited on the Knights Tour to England at U23 level.

“That is one of my squash highlights as the tour is only by invitation.

“We played top level squash against strong leagues, many with professional players in them. I gained huge experience and exposure, plus the quality of squash in the UK compared to South Africa is amazing. It’s bigger and to watch and play the professionals adds copious amounts to your game,” he said.

Off the court, Gouweloos spends his working day as a carpenter, designing kitchens and doing built-in cupboards, pubs and vanities.

It seems Gouweloos’s quick hands on the squash court are kept in great nick through his daily work, making him a deadly opponent on court.

A Maritzburg College old boy, McGuigan is currently back at his alma mater doing his teaching practical.

He aims to complete a post graduate teaching certificate at UKZN, specialising in teaching English and life orientation. Out the classroom, he coaches squash at College and across the road at St Charles. He also went on the same Knights tour as Gouweloos and represented South Africa at the World University Championships in Australia.

The two have met on numerous occasions in the final of the Midlands Championships.

Next year, the duo are striving for a hat-trick of SA doubles titles.

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