Jessica Simpson, Nadine de Villiers, Minette van Vreden and Zoe Kruger emerged age-group champions as the Dunlop Junior Challenge helped set the stage for a dynamic week of tennis in Bloemfontein this week, with the South African Junior National Tennis Championships beginning in Mangaung on Thursday.
Tuesday saw the end of the Dunlop-sponsored Free State Challenge, a premier event on the South African tennis calendar, part of the Key Health series and the official warm-up tournament of the National Championships.
Over 720 players converged on Mangaung for the annual event. The Ggirls U12 final top seed Zoe Kruger (Gauteng North) beat second seed Carli van Onselen of Eastern Province 6-1 6-1. Kruger impressed this week by not losing a set on route to winning the title, losing only eight games throughout the week.
“I won this tournament last year and it felt nice to win again. I have been playing tennis since I was 4-years-old and have won a lot of tournaments but it’s always good to win more,” Kruger, who counts Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova as her favourite players says.
The Girls U14 singles title was won by Minette van Vreden of Western Province. Number four-seed Van Vreden caused a minor upset, beating second-seeded Maxine Bateman of KwaZulu-Natal 6-4 6-3.
In the U16 age groups, Nadine de Villiers of Gauteng North emerged as champion. De Villiers was a delighted winner over fifth-seed Zani Barnard of North West Province.
De Villiers, who has been struggling with her game of late finally, regained the form that has helped to a series of title wins in the past. Western Province’s Jessica Simpson won the U18 Girls singles title.
Final Girls’ results of the Dunlop Junior Challenge played at the Free State Tennis Stadium in Bloemfontein: Under 12 Singles: 1-Zoe Kruger (GN) bt 2-Carli van Onselen (EP) 6-1 6-1 Under 14 Singles: 4-Minette van Vreden (WP) bt 2-Maxine Bateman (KZN) 6-4 6-3 Under 16 Singles: 6-Nadine de Villiers (GN) bt 5-Zani Barnard (NWP) 6-2 6-0 Under 18 Singles: 2-Jessica Simpson (WP) bt 1-Carieta Moolman (FS) 6-0 6-0 Under 12 Doubles: 3-Carli van Onselen (EP) / Bianca Wolmarans (WP) bt 1-Zoe Kruger (GN) / Lara van der Merwe (NWP) 6-2 6-4 Under 14 Doubles: 2-Maxine Bateman (KZN) / Kirsty Orton (WP) bt 3-Mila Hartig (GN) / Minette van Vreden (WP) 4-6 7-5 10-6 Under 16 Doubles: 3-Lee Barnard / Zani Barnard (NWP) bt 8-Katie Poluta (WP) / Helene van der Merwe (BOL) 6-2 7-6(4) Under 18 Doubles: 1-Carieta Moolman (FS) / Amy Olivier (WP) bt Julie Mansour / Jeanne-Francine Schmidt (GN) 6-3 6-4