Madibaz No 1 Warren Bower was rewarded with a silver medal in the men’s individual section after producing his best performance at the annual USSA National squash tournament recently.
The 25-year-old came up against UCT’s Lawrence Kuhn in the final and admits to nerves getting the better of him as he went down in straight games.
Nevertheless, he is pleased with his efforts as he came from a seeding of five to contest the final against a player he also lost to in the team competition.
The biggest challenge, Bower added, was to become accustomed to the Highveld conditions when the individual rounds began on the Sunday evening.
“We only flew up to Johannesburg on the Saturday morning so playing at altitude and getting used to the different bounce of the ball on the same day was a significant factor to overcome,” he explained.
In fact, he endured a tough opening game in the first round against Stellenbosch’s Keagan Waugh before settling down and beating him 3-2.
Having survived that examination, the construction management student at Mandela University found his rhythm in the unfamiliar conditions to register notable wins in the next two rounds.
In the quarterfinals he beat Stellenbosch No 1 Nathan van der Westhuizen 3-0 and, in the semis, he overcame North-West University’s No 1, Dylan Niemack.
“Even though I won 3-1, it was a very hard match and he was a difficult opponent.”
Not expecting to make the final at the Parkview Centre, Bower acknowledges that he wasn’t at his best in the championship match.
“I actually did have a lot of people rooting for me and felt that I had a lot riding on my shoulders, especially with the knowledge that I would be the first Madibaz player to win the title.”
Unfortunately, the nerves took over and it was a relatively easy win for his opponent in the end.
“I was happy to move up the rankings this year,” Bower, who is playing No 1 for Eastern Province at the Growthpoint Interprovincial in Pretoria this week, said.
“Last year I was included in the top six, so to finish at No 2 was a step in the right direction.”
Madibaz coach Jason le Roux was pleased with his protégé’s run to the final, acknowledging that “it was a great effort to get there”.
Considering the inexperience of the women’s team, finishing fifth overall in the combined men’s and women’s standings and beating UCT in their final playoff match were commendable.
“There was a big improvement by the women during the week and that was something we were very happy about. For example, we beat Wits and Rhodes in the playoffs and ended up meeting UCT to decide the fifth spot.”
Although the women lost 2-1 in matches, both Tanith Moreton and Savannah Barron picked up games to make the difference in the end.
Against UCT, Bianca Lansdown won her match while Murray Schepers and Mike Donaldson won the men’s encounter to end on three matches apiece and taking the victory on a games count-out.
“The women always put up a big fight and it was impressive how they played in that last match,” Le Roux said.
The men’s team, he added, did not do quite as well as expected, losing to Stellenbosch and North-West to finish third.