Local Players Struggle At Squash Tourney

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Local players had a tough time in the court during the Diamond-in-the-Rough tournament held over the weekend at Botswana Squash Racket Association (BSRA) courts. 

The number one seed at the tournament Calvin Ndlovu lost to Allister Walker during the 2015 All Africa Championships. Ndlovu is currently ranked number five in South Africa. 

The tournament was organised and sponsored by Lefika Ragontse of Dread Sports.

One of the local players, Theo Pelonomi told Sport Monitor that he started preparing for the tournament a month ago but it was not a well-executed training.

He said when the tournament began the first match was easy because he played against someone that he trains with all the time. Things changed in the second match when he played against a Zambian player.

“I started off well in the match, but my opponent had experience and knew what to do all the time. It forced me to make mistakes and I tried to get back into the game after winning the third quarter and I made him run. That did not last as he came back to clinch a win in the last quarter,” he said.

The 20-year old said the last match taught him to be patient, not force points and keep the ball in motion. He said it is difficult for him to make plans to attend major tournaments because of financial constraints.

Pelonomi said he depends on well-wishers and his mother for financial assistance. He said it was his dream to travel with Ragontse to the United States of America (USA) for training.

For his part, Ragontse said the weekend event was a professional tournament under the auspices of Professional Squash Association (PSA) in Europe. He said there has been a decline of the sport in Botswana over the years.

“PSA is the mother body of squash. It like what FIFA is to football and ITF to tennis. This is an inaugural professional tournament in this country. I was sponsoring this tournament with around P100, 000. The winner walks away with P12, 000,” he said.

The USA-based Ragontse said the tournament had attracted the best players from Kenya, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

He said the idea was to choose three players who would get chances to train in his three squash academies in the USA. He said the selection does not necessary focus on the winner. 

Ragontse owns squash courts in Lutherville-Timonium, Baltimore and Princeton.  

Meanwhile, squash coach, Condrad Ntsebe said they have been focusing a lot on junior teams and some of the players are now seniors playing professional squash in the region.

“We did not have the women section, but hopefully next time we will have it and our women players will be strong enough to participate.

It is not about having women coming from other countries but us having players first, ready and strong enough to compete,” Ntsebe said.

He said the tournament was part  of  the PSA tour calendar and it was open to any player. Ntsebe said since it was the first time they hosted a professional tournament, the event was of the low level and attracted fewer players. 

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