Rodney Durbach and Lizelle Muller were crowned champions when the SPAR PSA Satellite Closed squash tournament drew to a thrilling close at Londt Park in Port Elizabeth on Sunday.
The 47-year-old Durbach lived up to his top seeding by defeating No 2 Gary Wheadon, nine years his junior, 3-1 in a tough men’s final which lasted 47 minutes.
In the women’s title match, hometown favourite Lizelle Muller, seeded two, defeated the top-seeded Alexa Pienaar, but only after a terrific fightback from 2-1 down.
The finals brought the curtain down on a week’s festival of squash at the Stella Londt club, which saw the Londt Park Open being finished on Friday evening before the start of the PSA tournament.
Muller showed fluid movement and a winning touch whenever there was anything loose to take command of the first game against Johannesburg’s Pienaar.
But the top seed is a formidable opponent and she seized on a few errors by her opponent in the second game to level the match and then went ahead after a tightly contested third game.
The players gave little away in the fourth game, but Pienaar was prone to some errors on her forearm volley. Her fighting spirit kept her in the match and there was nothing in until 8-8 when Muller shot ahead 10-8 and levelled the clash as Pienaar returned a serve out of court.
The momentum was with the second seed and she made no mistake in the decider, rushing to a big lead and sealing it 11-2 after 49 minutes.
In the men’s final, Wheadon was quicker out of the blocks as Durbach produced five unforced errors which made it difficult for him to keep parity in the opening game.
However, the top seed began to build up a head of steam in the second game. His command of his strokes to the back of the court and a superb touch on the drop shot had the energetic Wheadon chasing the ball all over the court and after 21 minutes the match was all square.
Durbach continued to test his opponent at the front of the court with his tight drops and ability to delay his shots to take a telling 10-6 lead in the third. Although Wheadon courageously fought off three game points, the top seed eventually took it 11-9.
The fourth game followed a similar pattern, but Wheadon’s remarkable retrieving and his own skill meant there was little to choose between the two.
At 6-6, Durbach again produced a few telling drop shots which helped him go 10-7 ahead, and he took the title on his first match point after 42 minutes.
- Men’s final: 1-Rodney Durbach bt 2-Gary Wheadon 3-1 (8-11 11-4 11-9 11-7)
- Women’s final: 2-Lizelle Muller bt 1-Alexa Pienaar 3-2 (11-5 6-11 8-11 11-8 11-2)
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