Identical twins Elani and Lumé Landman will double the firepower of the South African side competing at the U/19 All Africa Junior Squash Championships in Harare, Zimbabwe, from April 5 to 10.
The premier African tournament will see players from as far afield as Egypt, Zambia, Nigeria, Senegal, Namibia, Malawi and the host nation battle it out for this year’s continental honours.
According to team manager Mike Bester, the SA side will be definite medal contenders but should face strong opposition from reigning champions and tournament favourites Egypt.
The Landman sisters are determined to seek vengeance after losing to their northern rivals in last year’s final. “We’re definitely going for a win. They’re pretty strong but it’s not impossible,” said former U/16 national champion Lumé.
The 18-year-old University of Johannesburg students qualified for the national side based on their performances at the Prince SA Open Junior Squash Championships in February.
Three-time national U/19 champion Elani claimed the title with her younger sibling taking the runner-up spot.
No strangers to international competition, the twins first represented their country at U/14 level. In 2009, they were the first U/16 players to be included in the squad for the World Junior Women’s Championships in Chennai, India.
Last year they competed in Women’s WSF World Junior Championships in Boston, USA, where Elani encountered the likes of Egyptian junior world champion Nour el Tayeb. “Now that we’re playing at senior level, the competition is even tougher,” said Lumé.
Although the two regularly come up against each other in matches, Elani said there was no special treatment for family. “Then she’s just another player, not my sister.”
Originally from Port Elizabeth, the Bachelor of Education students train daily with UJ coach Bester and hope to play professionally after completing their studies.
He praised their work ethic and determination to have a future in the sport. “They train really hard and right now they’re fitter and stronger than they’ve ever been. They can both go very far.”
The full South African squad: Ruan Olivier (Free State) Nell van der Merwe (Northern Gauteng) Jonathan Esteves (Midlands) Alexandra Fuller (Western Province) Julie Lee (Midlands) Luke Willemse (Western Province) Simpiwe Gqibane (Central Gauteng) Daniel Smith (Midlands) Elani Landman (Eastern Province) Lumé Landman (Eastern Province) Megan Page (Non-travelling reserve, Northern Gauteng)