League of extraordinary women take title

09 January 2004

The UCT women's first squash team have broken a 13-year drought, clinching the Western Province league title. It was the fourth time UCT took top honours since the league began in 1965, and follows wins in 1971 and 1972, and again in 1991.

Captain Siyoli Lusaseni, who ranks eighth in South Africa, struggles to find the words that best describe the team's triumph.

"Excited, elated," she throws out. Her team mates Gina Robinson (ranked 20th in South Africa), Angela Bonora (ranked 57th) and Annie Aling, agree.

Last year the team straggled in third place, solid, but not outstanding. What turned things around this season?

"We don't have a coach; we motivate each other," says Lusaseni. Her team mates also performed superbly, she adds. Robinson dominated at number 2, winning all her games (she's ranked number three in Province and Lusaseni number two). Bonora and Aling also got better and better with each game.

"We started the season strongly and by the second half we had a huge lead on points," Lusaseni explains, "and made a clean sweep in the final match against Western Province A, last year's winners."

As sports administration's Lydia Hall points out, all four are students. Many university clubs are open to outside members - and lure top players with handsome sports bursaries.

"It's a pity they couldn't make it a double-header by winning the SASSU Games title in Grahamstown recently."

It was a close affair by all accounts, with UCT going down 3-2 to RAU in the finals.

For now the women are looking ahead and training for next season, cementing the hard work put in this year. Lusaseni sees no reason why they shouldn't dominate again.

"The team is settled and confident."

It's a stark contrast to the men's side, who felt the sharp edge this season. Lusaseni is sympathetic.

"They lost five of their top players and are rebuilding, starting from scratch. It's a heavy loss."

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