NMU-Madibaz squash players Hayley Ward and East London’s Bianca Brown kept the varsity flag flying high at the University Sport South Africa tournament this month, being selected for the Top Six at the end.
Competing in the individual event, Ward, 19, a second-year accounting student, finished fourth, followed by Brown, 21, in fifth spot in Johannesburg.
In the team competition, which combined the men’s and women’s sections, Madibaz ended fourth overall.
Brown, an ex Hudson Park pupil, said she felt she had played some of her best squash at the USSA tournament, having missed out on Top Six last year.
“It was reward for the hard work I have put in, even though I found the tournament very tough,” said the third-year law student.
After losing in the quarterfinals to eventual champion Alexa Pienaar of the University of Johannesburg, she won her remaining matches in the 5-8 playoffs to end fifth.
Brown also alluded to the importance of the team event.
“The big highlight of the week was certainly our team match against University of Stellenbosch, where Gershwin Forbes snuck the one game which we needed to avoid a points count-out, allowing us to make the semifinals.”
Ward, a former Collegiate pupil, said the final outcome was a boost for her confidence.
“I am so happy I was able to accomplish this because it shows that all the hard work has paid off,” she said.
She said the highlights of the week were receiving the most improved player award and being named at number one in the Best of the Rest team. This side is named at the end of the tournament and does not include members of the winning university.
“Besides the individual section, I thoroughly enjoyed the team event,” Ward said.
“There was a lot of spirit in the team and encouragement from the whole squad, and we were all there to support one another.”
Looking ahead, she said she would be aiming to make the USSA side for the International University Sports Federation Games next year.
Madibaz Sport squash manager Melissa Awu said they were proud of the two players’ achievements, as well as the performance of the team.
“It was indeed a competitive tournament and great to watch.
“The girls really flew the Madibaz flag high and showed great sportsmanship throughout.They can only improve from here.”