The university’s first-team tennis players came out on top in the intra-Wits club championship.
First-team player Loyiso Kole captured his second intra-Wits men’s singles title after defeating teammate Ciaran Swartz 6 –3, 7 –5. His first was in 2021.
With nine total breaks-of-serve between the two, Swartz managed to save three match points, however, Kole converted the fourth with his signature serve-and-volley play. “I could place my volleys well today,” said Kole. “It got to a point where I really counted on them.”
Another first-team player, Justine du-Pont, took the women’s singles title after winning all three of her matches in the round-robin format (everyone plays everyone). Du-Pont captured her second title of the day in the women’s doubles, with teammate Jesse Platt, after defeating Joanne Joseph and Isabella Weber, 6 – 0, 6 – 0.
Women’s singles and doubles champion du-Pont dropped only six games in her four matches. “My forehands and serves were really solid.” she said.
In total, three competitions were run over the weekend of April 1 and 2 by the Wits Tennis Club. Participants consisted of 10 prospective and current first team players. There were several withdrawals of first-team players before the tournament, resulting in smaller draws and cancelled men’s and mixed-doubles matches.
Each match was best of three sets, with the third set being a 10-point tiebreaker. The men’s singles ran as a knockout, with a back draw (loser plays loser). Seven men entered the tournament – with three consecutive wins needed to claim the title.
The men’s final between the two first-team players brought in spectators. Second-year BA student Neo Matutoane described the match as “super exciting”.
Although happy with their overall performance, first-team players indicated that there was room for improvement throughout the course of this year. “We (the team) are going to work very hard this year,” said Kole. Swartz and du-Pont echoed similar sentiments. “We all want to and need to improve,” said Swartz, and Du-Pont added that “There is a lot of hard work ahead of us.”
The tournament is aimed at fundraising ahead of the club’s first appearance at the University Sport South Africa’s (USSA’s) A section in six years, after their performance in USSA’s B division in December 2022, hosted by North-West University in Potchefstroom. This year’s event will be hosted at Rhodes University in the Eastern Cape.
Head coach Sylvester Zungu, who joined the club in 2020, aims to get Wits to be considered as one of the top tennis universities in the country. “I am ambitious,” said Zungu. “I want [the club] to go to USSA and bring back silverware. The university is known for being the best in academics – it is time for it to be the same for tennis.”
Wits Tennis chairperson Connel Manhica said that the club was planning to organise friendly fixtures against the first teams of other universities in the USSA A section – particularly the University of Pretoria and North-West University in Potchefstroom. “This is aimed at getting match experience against strong teams,” said Manhica.
FEATURED: Ciaran Swartz lunges for a return of serve in the men’s final. Photo: Seth Thorne
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