Madibaz - Bianca Keeley

The incentive of attending the World University Squash Championships in November has seen the Nelson Mandela University Open attract a powerful entry.

The tournament takes place in Gqeberha this weekend after an enforced absence during lockdown and tournament director Jason le Roux is delighted with the cross-section of entries from around the country.

“We are thrilled to be able to host the tournament again and it has been marked as one of the qualifying tournaments for students to gain selection to the USSA team to attend the World Champs,” said Le Roux.

“That has seen players from around the country’s varsities making the trip, including students from North-West University, University of Johannesburg, UP-Tuks and Stellenbosch.

“It has created a really strong field for the men’s draw of 16 and there will be competitive matches throughout the weekend.”

Le Roux said players such as Tristen and Hayden Worth and Reuel Videler from North-West, Gqeberha-born Gerard Mitchell from UJ and Reece McLachlan from Maties would ensure stiff competition.

He added that it was a perfect opportunity for the Madibaz players to test themselves against some of the best students in the country.

“Besides myself, we have players such as Warren Bower, Murray Schepers and Sips Mpini in the draw and this will be a nice chance for them to show what they can do.

Madibaz - Bianca Keeley

Bianca Keeley is one of several Madibaz squash players who will be competing in the Nelson Mandela University Open from Friday to Sunday. Photo: Oakpics

“In the women’s field we also have a powerful line-up, with Eastern Province number one Hayley Ward having entered,” he added.

“She was a former Madibaz number one and a member of the USSA team that attended the World University Champs in Birmingham in 2018.

“Currently she is among the leading players in South Africa, having reached the semifinals of the nationals in the last two years.”

He felt Ward would face fierce competition from players such as Teagan Roux (UJ), Helena Coetzee (UP-Tuks), Keschia Scorgie (North-West) and Tarryn Emslie (Maties).

“Among the women our (Madibaz’s) number one, Dani Shone, and Bianca Keeley will be out there fighting for a spot in the later rounds and this will be really good exposure for them.”

Madibaz Sport squash manager Theresa le Roux welcomed the fact that the event was back on the calendar.

“As this tournament did not happen over the last two years, we are really pleased that it will take place again this weekend,” she said.

“We are also delighted that USSA Squash has announced it as one of the tournaments where students from all universities can qualify for selection for the World Championships.”

The tournament gets underway on Friday and will finish on Sunday, while the World University Championships will take place in Egypt from November 7 to 13.