Westville’s Rikus gives Ruan a scare

2010-01-09 00:00

DAY three of the Braaiketts KZN Open and Junior Tennis Championships at a baking Kershaw Park yesterday saw four quality singles quarter-finals that nevertheless went according to the seedings, setting the stage for exciting men’s semi-finals at 9 am today to determine finalists for tomorrow’s title match at the same time — with a R20 000 winner’s purse at stake.

The last-four slugfest between Westville-raised Rikus de Villiers and second seed Ruan Roelofse of the Western Cape saw the number six sizzle in more ways than one on the hot courts and an aggressive start ensured a 6-4 first set.

De Villiers, now playing on the U.S. College circuit, gave his all in the second set, which was a ding-dong affair reminiscent of a couple of heavyweights slugging it out — and came really close to wrapping up the match. However, the second-set tiebreaker went to Roelofse 7-5 and although the final set produced many wonderful rallies, Roelofse had just a bit more gas for 6-3.

Eighth seed and local Pietermaritzburg hope Boyd Michau, suffering from a touch of pink eye, met number four Hendrik Coertzen, who was out of the blocks very quickly to run away with the first set 6-1. Michau came back in the second and the rallies were intense, but Coertzen (19) was in no mood to surrender his advantage and ground it out 6-2.

“The score looks easy, but not actually,” said Grey College product Coertzen. “Boyd was a bit sick, but played well in parts, close games that went my way and that’s how it goes.”

Full-time pro Coertzen, who leaves for the U.S. and Europe later, is looking forward to meeting top seed Raven Klaasen in today’s 9 am semi-finals on Kershaw’s showcourt. “I lost to Raven exactly a year ago, so it will be interesting to see where I am now in comparison.”

Klaasen, playing balanced tennis, beat hard-hitting number seven Pieter Joubert 6-3 6-2 and his court craft will stretch Coertzen to the fullest, yet the man now playing out of Vereeniging will draw strength from Kershaw’s conditions. “It’s been a bit overcast in the morning and the ball is quite slow through the air here, very nice as I’m from the Highveld now where it’s very quick and bounces higher.”

The battle of Gauteng between third seed B.J. van Rensburg and number five Pieter Calitz bore witness to long rallies and very clever tennis. Calitz, the older player, was aware that court temperatures appeared to be rising exponentially and set his stall on a straight-sets victory. The superfit Van Rensburg knew he had to outlast Calitz.

The older player clinched the first 6-3; Van Rensburg moved him from side to side in an extremely tight second for 6-4 and finished strongly to close out the final set 6-1.

WEEKEND FINALS SCHEDULE

Saturday – Singles semi-finals (both 9 am): 1-Raven Klaasen vs 4-Hendrik Coertzen; 2-Ruan Roelofse vs 3-BJ van Rensburg.

Doubles final (1.30 pm): best-of-five sets.

Sunday – Singles final (9 am).

Ju nior finals: (from 9 am).

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