Els & Dlamini Advance At Pretoria Open

Former world number one junior and women’s top seed Mariska Venter exits meanwhile Leon Els and Bongani Dlamini put on a masterclass performance in the men’s and quads ‘singles semi-finals respectively at Rietondale Tennis Club in Pretoria on Tuesday.  The match of the day belonged to compatriots’ top seed Mariska Venter and fourth seed Rosalea Van Der Meer, in a match lasting 210 minutes and Van Der Meer won the gruelling encounter.  It was an epic match and no player was willing to give an inch.

Van Der Meer caused the first upset of the tournament when she eliminated the former world number one junior to march to the final round.  Van Der Meer thrashed Venter 7-5 6-3 to set-up a final clash against second seed French lady Christine Schoenn.  Van Der Meer says:  ‘I was very much focused during my match and with Mariska being the top seed I wasn’t expecting an easy challenge.  I was in charge in both sets from the onset but I kept making lot of errors especially in the first set but I am very thrilled that I emerged victorious.’

Schoenn beat Van Der Meer for the Airports Company South Africa SA Open consolation title in 2013 and the South African is savouring the opportunity to return the favour.  Van Der meer says:  ‘I played Christine two years ago at Ellis Park in the consolation final and she is a very strong player and despite having lost to her in that debut I am confident and ready to take her on in tomorrow’s final.’  Schoenn, who is no stranger to South Africa dispatched the country’s Thando Hlatswayo 6-1 6-2 to advance to the final.

Men’s top seed Leon Els edged out second seed Henry De Cure of Australia 6-3 6-1 in a two-hour two-setter Pretoria Open semi-final on Tuesday.  The 27-year old and defending champion awaits a tough final clash challenge from second seed Australian Keegan Oh-Chee.  Els says:  ‘I played my game today without holding back and it paid off.  It will be the first time I play Keegan tomorrow, I have lots of respect for how he plays.  He plays very fast and consistent and most importantly has a very good attitude.  With him being my doubles partner I have studied how he plays so I am ready for the challenge tomorrow.’  In another men’s semi-final, Australian Oh-Chee ousted Israeli Amir Levi 6-2 6-0.

Their match was full of long rallies and spectacular shot-making, but Oh-Chee’s battle with Levi was mostly made up of short points and all about who could blunt their opponent’s serve.  The top-seed South African quad ace Bongani Dlamini whipped his countryman Ronewa Mudzanani 6-3 6-4 and will meet Danny Mohlamonyane of Dannilton in tomorrow’s final after the second-seed Mohlamonyane defeated fourth-seed Queen Nlapo in straight sets 6-0 6-1.  Quads singles final will start at 0:h00 followed by women then men’s final on Wednesday.

Photo credit: Reg Caldecott