Free State’s John Kuhn and Port Elizabeth-based Lizelle Muller were crowned the Madibaz Open squash champions at an exciting conclusion to the tournament in Port Elizabeth on Sunday.
Both finals went the full distance, with Kuhn, now studying at the Nelson Mandela University in George, claiming the men’s title in his first appearance at the event.
He defeated Rudi van Niekerk 3-2 in the final, pulling off a dramatic victory with his fourth match point for a 13-11 scoreline in the fifth game.
That meant further disappointment for Van Niekerk, who lost his third final in a row at the Madibaz event after defeats against Gary Wheadon in the previous two years.
The women’s final also went the full distance, with Jacqui Ryder putting up a gutsy display to challenge the supremacy of Muller.
Down 2-1, Ryder showed great determination and skill to level at 2-2.
The final game was marked by an unfortunate collision between the two players in the first point, which led to an injury time-out.
When they returned, it was Muller who took control by winning the decider 11-4.
Kuhn led 2-1 in the men’s final, but Van Niekerk refused to bend and he took the match into the fifth game decider.
After a tense battle, Kuhn eventually stood on the verge of victory when he led 10-8, only for Van Niekerk to fight off three match points before finally succumbing.
Tournament director Jason le Roux said it was another “fantastic event with really good competition”.
“We were really happy with the way things went and there were a lot of closely contested matches,” he said.