8 August 2017 – The Saint Andrew’s 1st squash team leaves for Pietermaritzburg this week to represent the Free State in the annual Top Schools tournament after claiming the Free State provincial crown for a seventh successive year.

In 2016, Saints had the luxury of John Kuhn, the number one ranked under-19 player in the South Africa, in their ranks. Without Kuhn as a “banker”, each player in this year’s team has had to hold himself accountable for delivering victories.

Team manager Margo Morgan commented: “The boys realised they all have to work extra hard, that nothing is guaranteed for them. Everyone has stepped up to the plate and filled their gaps, like they have to.

“They’re a good team together”

“They’re a good team together. They’re positive and they’ve got a good unit going. I think that is going to pull them through. They are all going to support each other. I know they will.”

Heading into the tournament in Pietermaritzburg, Saint Andrew’s has had to deal with some injuries and illness, the most concerning of which was a bout of encephalitis suffered by the team’s very solid number three Lenny Kretzmann. Morgan feels the team is not 100 percent healthy, but she is in no doubt that they will give their best against the best South Africa has to offer.

The Saint Andrew’s line-up includes three matric boys – captain Triston Cantor, number one John Pan and Dean Wasserman – and under-16 standouts Kretzmann, Kyle Kitching, who is ranked ninth in his age group in the country, and Keanan Cantor.

Saint Andrew’s 1st team squash captain Triston Cantor

“We’re just looking for their best effort. That’s good enough for us. Whatever the position is in the end doesn’t matter, as long as it’s their best effort,” Morgan said.

She identified Port Elizabeth’s Grey High School as the clear favourites to win the title, but positions two to seven will be very closely contested, she reckoned.

Tight competition

“We’ve had 3-2 results against Pretoria Boys High and Saint John’s. The clear successes we had earlier this year were against Michaelhouse and Selborne, but then again you never know what Selborne is going to deliver because they are always strong, and at the FNB Festival they don’t always have their top players here because some play cricket.

“It’s tough out there. It’s going to be strong. It’s going to be hard squash. There are no easy games. There is nothing that’s a given. If the boys want it, they have to work for it. Anything that they give us, which is their best effort, we will be proud of.”

If number three Lenny Kretzmann is back to full health, the Saints’ challenge will be hugely boosted

It was pleasing to note, Morgan said, that Saint Andrew’s is, as usual, taking on teams from schools of a significantly larger size. This is possible, she explained, because of the work done by Saints’ long-time coach Calvin Deutschmann and the school’s well-established and extremely successful squash programme.

“We build our own here”

“We build our own here. From grade two, they start and they work hard. When they get to the end and they get the chance to play top schools it is such a huge reward for them and such a huge privilege.

“This year it is Keanan Cantor’s first time, and he is so proud [to be a part of it]. For them, it is something they really aspire to. Top Schools is a big thing for them and they always want to do their best.

“It’s cut-throat competition. It’s huge, like the Classic Clashes of rugby.”