Local, young squash stars playing for SA in Malaysia
TOP local squash players, Lara Patrick, 15, and Tristen Worth, 14, will be representing South Africa at the International Penang Junior Open in Malaysia from August 22 to 27.
The excited pair headed to Malaysia last weekend for the initial training week, under the guidance of world No 3, Nicol David, from Malaysia.
Sixteen players were selected from across South Africa in the U14 and U16 age categories.
Patrick and Worth are the only representatives from East London to be selected to compete against top junior players from around the world.
Clarendon High School pupil Patrick is ranked fifth in the U16 category and first in U15 in South Africa.
“I was shocked when I discovered I had been selected.
“I thought that only the older U16s would be chosen but I was so happy when they chose me.
“I am excited to visit another country for the first time and play in my first international tournament,” Patrick said.
She advised aspirant players to: “Always do your best and spend a lot of time on court.
“Also, try playing against other players who are ranked higher than you to gain experience.”
Her coach, Tim Leeuw, said it was Patrick’s hard work, speed around the court and “never give up” attitude that had got her to this level.
Worth, from Selborne College, who is ranked as No1 in South Africa in the U14 category, will compete in the U15 category in Penang.
He grew up on the squash court and began playing at age five.
Worth progressed from just making the Border A team at U11 level, to being ranked South Africa’s top U14 player this year.
He also climbed from third league to first league over a one-year period at the Old Boys Squash Club.
“There is going to be some strong competition at the tournament, particularly from the Egyptian players.
“I’m excited to go overseas, take a break from school and check out the international competition.
“At first it was all about getting to Malaysia, then about getting as far as possible. Now I’m aiming to get past the quarter- finals,” Worth said.
Leeuw, who also coaches Worth, described him as a talented young player with tenacity on the court.
“I am very proud of both players. We were expecting to be selected and this will bring them some great exposure to international squash.
“Coming from East London, we don’t have much exposure to squash and always have to go to bigger cities to gain experience.
“Being able to make a tournament of this level says a lot about their hard work and skill.”
Both players would like to extend their thanks to all those who generously donated funds to make their trip possible.