The pressure will be squarely on the Madibaz men’s team to fly the Nelson Mandela University flag at next month’s University Sport South Africa squash tournament.
The USSA week takes place at the Parkview Squash Centre in Randburg from July 3 to 7.
Following the departure of stars Hayley Ward, Bianca Keeley and Dani Shone, the women are in a rebuilding phase and therefore all eyes will be on the well-established men’s side to come through for the university.
Madibaz Squash Club coach Jason le Roux said there were distinctively different goals for the men and women in Johannesburg.
The former will want to prove that they are among the top combinations in the country while the latter will look to learn and gain experience.
However, the overall positions are decided by a combined men’s and women’s team and Le Roux felt a podium was well within their grasp.
Although the chips are stacked against them right now, the future looks promising for the Madibaz women who have rising stars Bianca Lansdown and Tanith Moreton in their midst.
Both turned out for Eastern Province Schools but this will be their first foray at varsity level and they may find the going tough against the top sides.
They will be joined by Savannah Barron.
The men’s team are at the other end of the scale and likely to lose a number of key players next year.
“But, at this stage, we have plenty of experience and will be fielding almost the same team as last year,” Le Roux said, confirming first-year Michael Donaldson coming in for Gershwin Forbes as the only change.
The other members are Warren Bower, Sips Mpini and Murray Schepers.
Le Roux did not expect an easy time of it because North-West University had one of the country’s top players in Tristen Worth while the University of Johannesburg always had depth, but he remained hopeful.
“I believe that if the men can do well and the women can come to the party with some good results, we could get close to a podium.”
He said several other varsities also seemed to be struggling in the women’s department and saw this as an opportunity.
“We will continue to work hard in our preparations and see what unfolds during the week.”
The USSAs will be followed by the annual Growthpoint interprovincial in Pretoria, where Bower and Mpini will represent the Eastern Province A side and Donaldson will turn out for the B team.