Springbok legend’s daughter makes breakthrough on the tennis court

The 14 year old Zoë Kruger from Pretoria caused a major upset to win African Championships u.18 crown in Tunisia earlier this week. Photo: Tennis SA

The South African junior u.18 team dominated the African Junior Championships which ended in Tunis the Tunisian capital over the weekend.

The most notable win for South Africa came when 14 year old Zoë Kruger won the Girls u.18 title upsetting second seed Dia El Jardi of Morocco 4-2 4-2 in the final.

The tournament organisers were forced to change the format to short sets when rain continuously disrupted play in the early rounds of the outdoor hard court championships.

In the quarter finals Kruger also upset fourth seed Nermeen Shawky of Egypt in straight sets.

Back in October of 2013, renowned Swedish coach Thomas Hogstedt introduced Zoë Kruger and her younger sister Isabella to the South African media in a press conference, saying the Kruger sisters were “the most exciting news for world tennis in a long time.”

Hogstedt who has coached the likes of Maria Sharapova, Li Na and Caroline Wozniacki to the pinnacle of their careers said he saw from the first day that he could transform Zoë Kruger into one of the best players in the world.

Kruger, a former pupil of the Curro School in Hazeldean, is only 14 years of age, so her win in the older under 18 African Junior Championship age group no wonder has impressed the world.

South Africa won a second title when favourites Bertus Kruger and Richard Thongoana won the boys doubles title. Kruger and Thongoana beat fellow South African team mates and second seeds Sipho Montsi and Phillip Henning in the final.

Montsi, who is also a local Pretoria boy, reached the boys singles semi-finals.

The boys team coach Stephan de Kok said the conditions were extremely tough.

“We came into a cold wintery Tunisia from hot summer weather in South Africa and it was difficult for the players to adapt. Plus with us playing outdoors we had to brave the cold elements including the rain which caused chaos throughout the tournament. Considering all of this our team excelled,” De Kock explained.

South African girls team coach, Earl Grainger gave full praise to Kruger.

“Zoë is an extremely talented player and the way she strikes the ball and constructs her points during matches at her age is so impressive. This is just the start and I see Zoë making some big waves in the women’s game as she matures and grows older,” said Grainger.

The strong performances by the South African players enabled the team to earn enough points to be named best performing team of the Championships.


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