England’s Jasmine Hutton and Columbia’s Juan Vargas prevailed in their respective Professional Squash Association (PSA) finals at the 14th annual Keith Grainger Memorial UCT Squash Open Tournament, beating out a record entry of 154 men and 55 women.
Hutton, ranked 77 in the PSA, faced South Africa’s Milnay Louw in the main PSA Women’s Final on 3 May. Although Louw came out firing in front of her home crowd for her 13th final and raced to a 2-0 lead, she was outclassed by Hutton’s strength and the international player eventually clinched the match 3-2 to take her second consecutive title on South African soil.
In the men’s final on the same day, Vargas, who is in his third year on the PSA World Tour, challenged France’s Fabien Verseille. The Frenchman has played on the tour for the past 14 years, with this being his sixth final.
The crowd enjoyed an amazing 33-minute opening game which Verseille clinched 18-16. A blood break was required to patch the Frenchman’s finger, and this may have been what Vargas needed. The Columbian then took control of the match and started dominating rallies, taking the next three games to become the first Columbian winner of the event.
“The record-breaking number of professional and amateur participants came from countries across the globe, including Nigeria, England, Egypt, Colombia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, France and Brazil.”
The six-day tournament, initiated in 2002 in honour of late UCT squash legend Keith Grainger who died in his third year of study, kicked off on Friday, 26 April and wrapped on 3 May. The record-breaking number of professional and amateur participants came from countries across the globe, including Nigeria, England, Egypt, Colombia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, France and Brazil.
Eight Open Schools age-group sections kicked off proceedings at UCT’s squash courts, with the tournament also including five age-group draws from men and women Masters players older than 35.
Sixteen of South Africa’s best players also went head-to-head for a chance to join the PSA men and women in the main draw, with Siyoli Waters, Juanette le Roux, Katie Mayhew, Miranda Lang, Rodney Durbach, Gary Wheadon, Adam Shean and Mighael Lombard emerging victorious.
Transformation and social responsiveness are overarching pillars for UCT’s squash club, which organises and hosts the tournament in honour of Grainger, who was already a champion player at high school when he was diagnosed with cancer in his knee during his matric year.
Despite having his leg amputated, he was actively involved with squash at UCT between 1999 and 2001. He died during his third year of study and was posthumously conferred with the Chairperson’s Award for service to UCT sport that year.
eKapa Squash is run by Waters, who is South Africa’s former women’s number one, a three-time tournament winner and a UCT alumnus. It is an outreach programme aimed at school children in Khayelitsha, giving them access to the sport and squash courts, and making it possible for them to play in the tournament.
Through UCT Squash Club’s “Squash Fridays”, the eKapa children visit UCT’s courts on upper campus. They engage with and are coached by the student players. To end off their weekly sessions, they are treated to refreshments before being transported back home. While financial constraints put the initiative on hold for a while, Squash Fridays will return in the new semester.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Please view the republishing articles page for more information.