South Africa’s top two women tennis players met in the first round of the US Open on Wednesday, but the match carried very different significance for SA number one Chani Scheepers and number two Chanel Simmonds. After her 6-0, 6-2 defeat of Russia’s Nina Bratchikova, Simmonds faced Taylor Townsend. “I played what was probably the biggest ‘grind’ match of my life,” she reckoned of her 6-2 2-6 7-5 win. Simmonds said her experiences at the US Open had been positive and she was thrilled with her performances, especially in the qualifying rounds. For Scheepers, it was an opportunity to get back on track after a season undermined by injury in which she has slipped to 85th in the world rankings. For Simmonds, ranked 165th in the world, it was about enjoying her first qualification for a Grand Slam event. ‘A crunch match’Afterwards, Scheepers said she was pleased to have come away with the win. “It was a big opening match. When I saw we had drawn each other I knew it was going to be a crunch match,” she said. SAinfo reporter 29 August 2013 The 29-year-old Scheepers and the 21-year-old Simmonds had never previously met, but the result ultimately went with the world rankings, with Scheepers emerging a 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 winner after an hour and 39 minutes. “Chanel is a great striker of the ball and has a great future ahead of her.” ‘I felt confident’“Going into my second round qualifier, I felt confident, and even though my opponent was carrying an injury, I was pleased with the way I played and won the match.” On winning her opening match against Renata Voracova of the Czech Republic, she said: “I played a very good match in the opening round of qualifying, a tight match where I won important points. ‘I played so well’Reflecting on her clash with Scheepers, Simmonds said she had started well and found it hard to believe that she had won the opening set 6-2 in less than 30 minutes. “I played so well in that opening set. The two very long games in the second set which I lost changed the momentum and gave Chani the confidence to split sets and run away as the winner.” “Playing an American in New York is never easy as you have to play the player and the crowd. I had to fight back from 1-4 down in the decider against Taylor to win and qualify, so that felt real good.” Scheepers will face former world number one and sixth-seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark in the second round. Good newsScheepers said Simmonds’ qualification for the US Open was also good news for South African tennis. “For far too long I have been the lone South African woman carrying the rainbow flag in the singles at the majors. I’m happy that Chanel has made this breakthrough, and I think it is great that Chanel and I could represent our country, not only in the major, but at the same time. I hope to see her in more majors.” “Chanel is playing some great ball and got to the final of the Soweto Open on the hard courts, which she likes, so for me, it was a good win, especially coming back from a shaky and nervous start.
19 February 2015The new Green Point Athletics Stadium, upgraded by the City of Cape Town at a cost of R85-million, was officially opened by executive mayor Patricia de Lille on Wednesday.Young boys and girls who hoped to become the next global athletics icons would now have the opportunity to make that dream a reality, De Lille told assembled guests.The world-class facility now meets the technical standards set by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), De Lille said.The improvements include a state-of-the-art cobalt-blue tartan track and seating capacity for 4 500 spectators, making the stadium able to accommodate 1 000 more spectators than it did before. It is designed to be accessible by disabled people and has a VIP suite, changing rooms and a large reception area.Three tenants are to be housed in the facility: the Lions Club, the Cape Peninsula University of Technology Athletics Club, and the Western Province Athletics Federation.The stadium would be available for a range of athletics events – from school athletics days to national athletics competitions.“The scale and quality of this stadium will mean that learners will be able to perform on the same track as Olympic athletes,” De Lille said.Olympic silver medal winner Elana Meyer said at the opening on Wednesday that the new facility was “world class and it will inspire youth to join athletics”, The Times newspaper reported. She said the stadium reminded her of the first time she ran as a youngster on a tartan track.Meyer won silver at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.Cape Town has been chosen to host the World Triathlon Series in April. The new stadium will be used for the transition betweeen cycling and running, and for the finish.“We look forward to welcoming the best 65 men and 65 women triathletes in the world to our city to compete in this prestigious event,” De Lille said.“We look forward to the loud cheers and to many records being broken right here.”SAinfo reporter