Rain dampens the spirit of the Growthpoint Junior Nationals


Heavy rains fell over the Free State capital of Bloemfontein on Monday – preventing the completion of the Growthpoint Junior Tennis Nationals.

Only six of the ten singles finals could be decided and the doubles event in each of the five age groups had to be cancelled.

Tennis South Africa (TSA) officials decided that the singles titles of the finals that could not be completed and would be shared by the finalists. The ranking points on offer would also be shared by the finalists.

In the boys under 18, top seeded Philip Henning despite not being able to complete his final against second seed, Lleyton Cronje of Pretoria made history. The Bloemfontein Grey College scholar (Henning) in his final year as a junior can boast 7 out of 8 junior national title wins in the eight years he has played the premier junior event. This equals the record set by Neville Godwin. Only Jeff Coetzee come close to Henning and Godwin having won 6 out of 7 national finals played.

Henning was leading Cronje 6-1 5-6 before rain cancelled play.

“It was a great match and I was feeling really good after the first set,” said Henning. “Lleyton is always a tough opponent and came back strong in the second set so it’s a real pity we could not finish the final but to have shared the trophy with a player of Lleyton’s class is a pleasure” continued the modest Henning. Henning thanked the large group of local supporters that had braved the cold and wet weather to come and support the tournament.

The Girls under 18 final was won by Lize-Alet Morkel of Boland. Morkel, seeded four needed less than an hour to upset second seed, Corin De Waal, also of Boland 6-1 6-1.

In the boys under 16, talented Damien Nezar of George lifted the trophy. The tournament favourite, Nezar, was never troubled in his final by Luc Koenig of KwaZulu-Natal, winning 6-1 6-1. It was a good week for Koenig – who seeded fifteen, and beat third seeded Nikolai Hensberg (Border) and eight seeded Alexander Edley (KwaZulu-Natal) en route to his first National final.

Top seed in the Girls under 16, Megan Basson won her age group title without losing a set all week. Basson of Johannesburg lost only two games in beating fifth seeded Kelly Arends of Cape Town 6-2 6-0 for the title.

The boys and girls under 14 singles titles had to be shared. Before the rain fell, in the boys singles, top seeded Devin Badenhorst of Gauteng North was leading fourth seeded Rohan Loubser of Western Province 7-5 5-5. In the girls singles, fourth seeded Suzanie Pretorius of Free State was a game away from title honours before the rain fell down. Pretorius led top seeded Leigh Van Zyl of Boland 6-2 5-4 when the players were called off court.

Fiesty, Jordan Georgiev was crowned under 12 boys’ singles winner. Top seed, Georgiev beat the rain and second seed, Guy Vorwerk of KwaZulu-Natal 6-2 6-0.

The girls under 12 title was shared between second seeded Jani Steyn of Boland and third seeded Mari-Louise Van Zyl on North West Province. Steyn was 6-3 2-1 when the heavens opened.

In the under 10 age group, Evan Swart of Eastern Province and Morgan Jordaan of Gauteng North won the boys and girls singles titles respectively.