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Fifth national squash win for UJ

By in Sport, Leisure on July 15, 2016

The University of Johannesburg continued their domination of the University Sport South Africa (USSA) squash tournament with their fifth straight title in Stellenbosch last week.

The defending champions had a close encounter with arch-rivals University of Pretoria in the semifinals, finally ending on top with a score of 16-9.

They carried that momentum into the final against host varsity Stellenbosch, proving too strong with a decisive 22-4 victory.

UJ Squash Club manager Linly de Beer said they were “very proud” of their success.

“We became the first club from UJ ever to win five USSA tournaments in a row so it was a huge achievement,” said De Beer.

He said the match against Tuks in the semifinals had been a tough encounter.

“The team came out quite bruised from that encounter. It was a hectic match and fairly close in squash terms, but it set us up for a good win in the final.”

De Beer said the programme they had set up at UJ and the contribution of coach Mike Bester were some of the reasons behind their success.

“I think in comparison with some other universities we have the best squash programme. It is not only about high performance because we develop our own players internally and the amount of hours we put into training is immense.

“The contribution of Mike is also very important because he has a lot of experience and is a very good coach.”

In a gruelling week of squash, the students competed in the individual section for two-and-a-half days, followed by the team competition.

The UJ players sent out a strong signal of their depth when two of their players, Kyle Maree and Ruan Olivier, contested the men’s final, with Maree taking the gold medal.

UJ’s Alex Pienaar was runner-up to Tshwane University of Technology number one Lauren Siddall in the women’s tournament, while Kacey-Leigh Dodd of UJ finished fourth.

Besides winning the overall title, the UJ men’s team won their division with the women finishing runners-up in theirs.

In addition, Maree, Olivier and Pienaar were all named in the South African team to play in the World Student Championships in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in September.

Bester will coach the side, while De Beer will be the men’s team manager.