SA teen shines at African Junior Champs
26 March 2012
South African junior tennis star Ilze Hattingh, aged 15, did the "double" at the African Junior Championships at North West University in Potchefstroom on the weekend by winning both the singles and doubles titles.
Hattingh, seeded fifth, beat her good friend, doubles partner and roommate Madrie Le Roux 6-1, 6-1 in the final of the singles.
"It's been an amazing week, the week of my life," said Hattingh after her victory. "I had a great night, woke up with confidence, and played a great game and put Madrie under a lot of pressure today."
In a match that lasted just 55 minutes, Hatting dominated from the start, breaking Le Roux in the second game of the opening set. She went on two drop only two games en route to winning the most prestigious junior title on the continent.
"This win has really opened doors for me. My world ranking will shoot up and I will be able to hopefully play in the junior Grand Slams and start making an impact on the junior world tour. I am still young and to make a start like this is great for my future."
In their last meeting in Zimbabwe, Le Roux beat Hattingh, but Hattingh won their earlier encounter at the Nike Junior Tour Masters in Stellenbosch.
'I peaked at the right time'
"We are such good friends. We've played each other a bunch of times and we've both beaten each other, but this win was a real big one and I think I peaked at the right time," reckoned Hattingh.
She then teamed up with Le Roux to capture the doubles title. Seeded second, Hattingh and Le Roux toppled top seeds Lynn Kiro and Theresa Van Zyl, both of South Africa, 6-4 6-4 in the final.
In the boys' singles final, top seeded Karim Hossam of Egypt needed exactly an hour to stamp his authority as the best junior in Africa by beating second Wayne Montgomery of South Africa 6-3 6-2.
'I love Africa'
World number 17 Hossam said his win was important as he holds the African Junior Championships as one of the most important tournaments on his schedule. "I love Africa and am always proud to play in Africa. Being the African junior champion is so very important to me," he said.
Like Ilze Hattingh, Hossam did the "double". He teamed up with fellow countryman Mahmoud Zazou to upset top seeds Wayne Mongomery and Matthew Rossouw 7-6(2) 7-5 in the doubles final.
Team South Africa were named as the best under-18 junior tennis nation in Africa following the tournament by the Confederation of African Tennis (CAT) and the International Tennis Federation (ITF) due to their excellent results through the week of the African Junior Championships.
South African team coach Pietie Norval said he and his fellow coach John Laffnie De Jager were proud of their team. "We had a great group of committed and dedicated juniors on our team. Each player played his and her own part in contributing to South Africa winning the team title. I am very proud today of the players and to be a South African."
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