The Madibaz men’s squash team regained a title which had slipped from their grasp in the last two years when they were crowned EP Super League champions at Londt Park in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday.
Jason le Roux’s side went through their league programme unbeaten, sealing the deal when they overcame defending champions Londt Park 3-2 in matches this week.
The Nelson Mandela University side ended two points behind their rivals on the log, but the league rules meant their record of four straight victories against Londt Park’s three wins and one loss gave them the trophy.
It was a hard-earned effort in the end because the match was in the balance when it was 1-1 after two matches and Londt Park’s Warren Watermeyer won the first game against Gershwin Forbes.
But Forbes rallied for a 3-1 victory and young Siphelele Mpini finished things off in style when he defeated Arthur Maree 3-0 for an unassailable 3-1 lead.
Club coach and No 1 Jason le Roux said they were very pleased with the result and said the team found the belief necessary to achieve league success.
“I felt Warren [Bower, who beat Tyrone Dial] and Siphelele [Mpini] were the big wins on the night,” he said.
“Siphelele was unbeaten at his position during the league and this came after he defended three match balls in his first game to win 3-2. From there he just got better during the season.”
He felt the team always had the ability to win the league, but that they needed to believe in themselves against a potent Londt Park side.
“We have put extra time in at the gym and extra time in training these last three weeks,” he said.
“The team did some consistent training. Spending time together and working hard gave them the belief they could pull it off.
“We had not won the league for two years so there was a hunger to regain the title.
“We went into the match against Londt Park with the mindset that we would have to work hard to get the win and we were prepared to do that work.”
Le Roux said they would take the same attitude into the University Sport South Africa tournament to be hosted by Rhodes in Grahamstown in July.
“Our squad is looking good at the moment because we will have John Kuhn back and the maturity of the team has grown.
“We have almost the same team as last year, but there is greater experience and we are at a higher level this time.”
Kuhn was the team’s No 1 in 2018, but was not available for USSA last year.
He said the women’s team, who ended second last year, would be the same, headed by Hayley Ward.
“Hayley and Bianca [Brown] are stalwarts in the team and experienced players, while Dani Shone is maturing all the time. So we again have a strong women’s team.”