University of Johannesburg student Alexa Pienaar outlasted experienced rival Lauren Siddall 3-2 to retain the individual title in the University Sport South Africa squash tournament in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday.
The 23-year-old, who was runner-up in 2016, won the title for the second year in a row in a tough final at the Nelson Mandela University north campus courts.
Pienaar later admitted that nerves had kicked in as she closed in on victory against her 33-year-old opponent from Tshwane University of Technology when she led 2-1 and 7-4.
“I think I got a bit tight at that moment because suddenly I was thinking that I could win this,” she said.
“I managed to regroup for the fifth game and I just said to myself ‘OK, it’s back to square one; just get in there play some long rallies’.
“I was still feeling strong and I knew I could keep the pressure on.”
Pienaar, who won the final game 11-8, said it was a big breakthrough for her to finally beat Siddall, who has played on the professional circuit and had a best world ranking of 38 in 2008.
“It was an important win for me because I’ve had such a mental thing about playing against her,” the UJ No 1 said.
Pienaar will now turn her attention to the team event, which UJ have won for the past six years. The tournament ends on Friday.