Namibia
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Top-class squash in store

Top-class squash will be on show in Windhoek towards the end of the month when the BDO Namibian Open and a Four-Nations Tournament will be staged at the Wanderers Squash Club. 

The BDO Namibian Open, which takes place from 20 to 23 September, is a registered Professional Squash Association event and forms part of the PSA calendar. As such, prize money in excess of N$100 000 will be on offer, with the men and women’s PSA events offering prize money of US$3 000 each. 

The BDO Namibian Open will consist of the PSA event that will feature 16 professional men and 16 professional female players, as well as Men’s A and B Divisions with 32 players each and a Women’s Division with 16 players.

Some of Africa’s top players have already confirmed their participation for the PSA event, including  Abdelrahman Abdelkhalek of Egypt, who is ranked 166th in the world, and two of Nigeria’s top-ranked players in Kehinde Samuel Temitope, who is ranked 283rd in the world, and Gabriel Olufunmilayo who is ranked 314th.

South Africa will send a strong field, including their third-ranked player, Ruan Olivier (250th in the world) and fifth-ranked Damian Groenewald who is ranked 332nd in the world, as well as Groenewald’s younger brother Luhann Groenewald, who won the SA Junior National Squash Championships in Cape Town last month. 

The top-ranked players from Kenya, James Dalidi, and Zambia, Manda Chilambwe have also confirmed their participation, while another entrant from further afield is Sri Lanka’s second-ranked player, Shamil Wakeel, who is ranked 254th in the world.

Namibia’s top-ranked players will test their mettle against the star-studded field, but they could find the going tough as Arno Diekmann is only ranked 422nd in the world, while the junior Janre Olivier is ranked 821st in the world.

The women’s field is just as strong and features three of Egypt’s upcoming stars in 19-year-old Menna Walid, who is ranked 113rd in the world; 20-year-old Amina El Rihany who is ranked 156th in the world; and 21-year-old Marian Ashraf, who is ranked 247th in the world. 

Some of Nigeria’s top female players will also be in action like Busayo Olatunji, who is ranked 179th in the world; Rofiat Abdulazeez (181st), Isaac Blessing (254th) and Favour Utukpe (277th), as well as several South African stars like Hayley Ward (ranked 199th in the world), and the upcoming juniors Dene van Zyl (ranked 355th) and Bianka Pienaar (ranked 427th). 

Van Zyl, who was born in Namibia, but now lives in Somerset West in the Cape, recently finished runner-up at the South African Junior National Squash Championships in Cape Town.

After the BDO Namibian Open, a Four-Nation tournament between Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe will be held at the same venue from 25 to 27 September. 

The South African men’s team will be strengthened by their two top-ranked players, Dewald van Niekerk (ranked 112th in the world) and JP Brits (227th in the world) and also includes Damian Groenewald, Jonty Matthys and Rudi van Niekerk. 

The Namibian team consists of Max Endjala, Brandon Grane, Dane Greeff, Emil Dorgeloh, Le-Hugo van Rooyen and Christof Knoetze.

The South African women’s team consists of Hayley Ward, Alexa Pienaar, Teagan Roux, Shelomi Truter and Helena Coetzee, while the Namibian team consists of Adri Lambert, Chantel de Gouveia, Lida-Marie Calitz, Carla Venter and Jacolene Steenkamp.

The Zambian and Zimbabwean men and women’s teams still have to be announced. 

The squash festival will also see the conclusion of the president of the Namibia Squash Association, Rudi Koekemoer’s five-year term of office, with the election of a new president and board due to take place during the annual general meeting on 23 September.