Leading Port Elizabeth player Rudi van Niekerk has been installed as the favourite for the Madibaz Open squash title when the tournament is held in Port Elizabeth from tomorrow to Sunday.
Taking place at the Nelson Mandela University’s south campus, a quality field has been assembled, even though defending champion Gary Wheadon is not available on this occasion.
The Cape Town-based player has won all six Madibaz Open titles since 2012 but has a commitment in Durban this weekend.
This means Van Niekerk, ranked 15 in South Africa, will be the main contender for the title, although he will have his work cut out over the three days.
“Even though Gary cannot be here, we have a number of top local players in the field and I am confident we will again have very good competition in the men’s A section,” said tournament director Jason le Roux.
“John Kuhn, who is ranked 26 in the country and played for Free State in the Jarvis Cup A section, will provide good opposition.”
Van Niekerk, who plays for SA Country Districts provincially but lives in PE, reached the past two finals, but went down both times to Wheadon.
In the women’s field, champion Lizelle Muller would be back to defend her title.
Madibaz squash manager Melissa Awu said this was an important event on the university’s sports calendar.
“It’s a chance to showcase the talent we have at Madibaz squash,” she said.
“Secondly, it provides our players with a chance to measure ourselves against the top players in the province.”
The event will reach a climax when the finals take place on Sunday.