Bloemfontein resident, Philip Henning wrote his name amongst the junior tennis greats of South Africa on Easter Sunday when he won the under 18 boys singles title at the Free State Tennis Stadium.
Henning, aged 17 is in his first under 18 year and his comfortable 6-2 6-1 win over Lleyton Cronje of Pretoria in 1 hour 16 minutes was his sixth junior national singles title.
Only former ATP professional and Davis Cup player, Neville Godwin has won more titles than Henning. Godwin captured seven of the eight possible titles, and could have won all 8 played in the under 12, 14, 16 and 18 age groups but missed one Junior Nationals tournament due to international duty for his country.
Henning lost an under 14 final to Western Provinces Mathew Johnson four years back but won all the rest contested. The Grey College pupil ties with another former professional Jeff Coetzee on six titles and still has a chance next year to equal Godwin’s record.
“It’s really great to have won another title, especially in my home town. I feel proud and blessed” said the modest top seeded Henning after victory. “I played a good defensive game against Lleyton today. Lleyton is a very aggressive player and came into the final with a lot of confidence after playing so well all week so I had to get on top of him early in the match in order to have a good chance.”
Henning got the first break of serve in the sixth game of the opening set to lead 4-2. Cronje, seeded ten, seemed to lose the drive at that point in the match that had earned him a well-deserved spot in the final. Henning won the next seven games back to back, and leading 6-2 4-0. A lacklustre Cronje served three double faults in a row giving the match and title basically ‘on a plate’ to Henning. In form Henning failed to lose a set all week.
The girls under 18 title went to tournament favourite Minnette van Vreden of The Strand in Boland who had little trouble in beating unseeded Maja Gledic of Gauteng Central, 6-4 6-2. It was van Vreden’s first national junior singles title and seemed pleased to have gone one better after losing in the final last year.
In the under 16 boys fourth seeded Charl Morgan of Johannesburg was crowned champion when he upset top seed Joubert Klopper of Bloemfontein 7-6 (3) 6-2. It was a good week for Morgan who revenged his loss in the 2017 African Junior Championships final to second seeded Pierre Malan of Cape Town in Saturday’s semi-final. Morgan trounced Malan 6-3 6-1 and was a far better player on court that a week earlier against Malan.
Free State claimed their third title when resident Delien Kleinhans out played Cape Town’s Myah Petchey 7-5 7-5 in the under 16 girls final. It was a dream final for the tournament organisers with the top two seeds contesting title honours. It was sweet revenge for Kleinhans who lost to Petchey last week in the African Junior Championships.
Devin Badenhorst of Gauteng North won the boys under 14 title upsetting eighth seed Daniel Wessels of Eden 6-1 6-1.
In the girls under 14, tenth seeded Gabriela Broadfoot of Gauteng Central was crowned champion. Broadfoot enjoyed a solid week upsetting Durbanite, Cylin Misdorp, the fifth seed in the semi-finals. In Sunday’s final, Broadfoot ended the fine run of Christine Kruger also of Gauteng Central winning surprisingly easy 6-1 6-3. Kruger had on Saturday shocked top seed Kelly Arends to reach the final.
In the under 12 age group Jordan Georgiev seeded two of Gauteng Central won the boys title with second seeded Nadia Gouws of Gauteng North winning the girls title.
The under 10 boys title was won by Willem de Waal of Boland. The girls under 10 title went to defending champion Donna Le Roux, daughter of former rugby great Ollie Le Roux. Le Roux of Free State defended Korona Rugara saving two match points in her final.
Final results of the SA Junior Nationals, a Tennis South Africa (TSA) junior ranking tournament being played at the Free State Tennis Stadium in Bloemfontein on Sunday
Willem de Waal (BOL) bt Daniel Markman (GC) 6-2 6-2
2-Jordan Georgiev (GC) bt 1-John Coetzee (BOL) 7-5 7-6(3)
15-Devin Badenhorst (GN) bt 8-Daniel Wessels (EDEN) 6-1 6-1
4-Charl Morgan (GC) bt 1-Joubert Klopper (FS) 7-6(3) 6-2
1-Philip Henning (FS) bt 10-Lleyton Cronje (GN) 6-2 6-1
Donna Le Roux (FS) bt Korona Rugara (GC) 7-5 4-6 11-9
2-Nadia Gouws (GN) bt 7-Leila Nel (EP) 6-16-1
10-Gabriella Broedfoot (GN) bt 13-Christine Kruger (FS) 6-1 6-3
1-Delien Kleinhans (FS) bt 2-Myah Petchey (WP) 7-5 7-5
1-Minette Van Verden (BOL) bt Maja Gledic (GC) 6-4 6-2
2-Ben Scholtz (BOL) / Willem De Waal bt Nathan Tsaura (GN) / Aadil Vally (GN) 6-2 6-3
2-Cornel Libenberg (FS) / Stuart Van der Merwe bt 1-John Coetzee (BOL) / Jordan Georgiev (GC) 6-2 6-7(4) 10-8
Devin Badenhorst (GN) / Connor Kruger bt Carl Roothman (BOL) / Andreas Scott (GC) 6-4 5-7 10-5
1-Pierre Malan (GC) / Charl Morgan bt 2-Joubert Klopper (FS) / Thando Longwe-Smit (WP) 3-6 7-6(4) 10-7
2-Lleyton Cronje / Justin Liebenberg (GN) bt 3-Liam Coertzen / Philip Henning (FS) 7-5 7-6(5)
1-Donna Le Roux (FS) / Korona Rugara (GC) bt 2-Danielle / Lana Van Deventer (GE) 8-0
2-Anke Heyns / Kaitlyn Rumduth (FS) bt 4-Nadia Gouws / Carli Kruger (GN) 6-3 6-3
Gabriella Broadfoot / Christine Kruger (FS) bt 2-Ine Lamprecht / Arista Siebrits (GN) 6-1 6-1
Marne Derksen / Myah Petchey (WP) bt 1-Tamsin Hart / Megan Basson (GC) 1-6 6-1 10-5
1-Bianca Koen / Lize-Alet Morkel (GN) bt 2-Maxine Bateman / Megan Lombardi (KZN) 6-3 6-4