The weekend of 5 February 2022 weather besmirched
The Clifton cricket fixtures at Michaelhouse Saturday, February 5 have already been cancelled but at least the first team basketball under coach S’bu Cele are set for a 2pm start on the main indoor court at House.
The first team water polo match at House is scheduled for 12.10pm.
The Kearsney first team cricket match at Northwood looks in serious doubt of completion Saturday but the first team basketball clash set for 1 pm at Kearsney we hope is all set to take place.
All the basketball matches scheduled at Northwood have already been cancelled.
The Kearsney first water polo side are at the St David’s festival in Johannesburg.
The Kearsney first side are scheduled to play Northwood firsts on 15 February, a Tuesday, at 4pm in Durban North.
Meanwhile, DHS first XI beat Glenwood by 5 wickets in the 100-Ball Coastal competition on Tuesday, Glenwood totalling 147/4 to which School replied with 151/5.
Westville hosting DHS on the cricket field look in serious weather-doubt while the basketball firsts were scheduled for a 5pm start Friday at Westville . The basketball was scheduled for Thursday at 5pm (first team). No result, as yet.
Northwood looking good
The Knights (first XI) played Clifton Wednesday afternoon (yesterday) in the KZN Coastal 100-ball competition at Clifton’s Riverside Sports Club ground and won by 5 wickets.
The Northwood School first XI under the captaincy of Adam Chislett had recorded an emphatic 111-run win in the 50-over match with Clifton School first XI on the Smith Oval in Durban North last Saturday.
The stage was set on the Saturday by a punishing James Nielsen at the top-of-the-innings’ Power Play as he raced to his half-century off just 30 deliveries.
Nielsen went on to make 83 off 94 balls and together with number 3 Evan Fouche (75 off 104) the Northwood pair added a match-defining 140 for the second wicket.
The Knights’ middle-order batsmen weighed in with handy contributions and the home side were able to set Clifton a challenging target when the innings closed at 232 for 6 in the allotted 50 overs.
The Knights of Northwood skipper Chislett then led by example in getting two early wickets and it was an uphill struggle from thereon for the Clifton batting line-up.
Liam Peverett’s four for 33 in 10 overs was the cherry on the top for Northwood, to go with Chislett’s final match analysis of three for 26 as Clifton were bowled out for 121.
Northwood first XI will be looking to maintain their winning momentum when they host Kearsney on the Robin Smith Oval from 9am on Saturday.
As is the case with the St Charles College first XI, who went to the Rondebosch festival, the Northwood first XI appear to have benefited immensely in fitting in a festival ahead of the start of the school year and the first-term domestic season.
The Knights were at the Grey High School festival, which took place from January 6 to 10 in Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth, colloquially known as “PE”) and first up was a wake-up perhaps as the host school won the T20 match by 10 wickets.
Northwood Knights’ scored 159 for 5 in their 120 balls but it turned out to be too little in terms of extending the Grey PE batting line-up, the 2021 North/South competition T20 champions cruising home without the loss of a single wicket and 18 balls to spare.
The Knights then won their remaining 5 matches at the festival across different formats. A 131-run loss at Michaelhouse on the first Saturday of the school term halted the Knight’s winning ways but the blip was rectified 4 days later by a 52-run win at Glenwood in the 100-Ball competition followed by the 2 comfortable wins over near-neighbours Clifton.
Coach Khalipha Cele and director of cricket Mornantau Hayward, who also have the experience of Vaughn van Jaarsveld with his coaching the Northwood Bears (second XI) appear to have a good set-up on the go in the 22 cricket sides at this fine school situated in Adelaide Tambo Drive, Durban North.
One of the Northwood coaches I have got to know over the years is Mike Wolstenholme, who is looking after the third XI. If I know Mike, he is a caring coach who puts the team and the players first. Much experience has been gained over his years in cricket. Mike has also played a major role in KZN schools’ umpiring circles.
Northwood director of sport Sean Baker’s comments on the trip to Michaelhouse on January 22: “Northwood travelled to Michaelhouse for their first fixture for 2022. Michaelhouse is traditionally a tough away fixture and true to form, the House boys did not make it easy.
“In the basketball, it was Michaelhouse who dominated but not without a fight. Most of the matches were a few points in it, the game of the day for Northwood belonged to the U15E who had a closely- fought battle, dug deep and edged the MHS team 9-8.
“In the cricket there were equally exciting and closely contested matches across the age groups. The Northwood U15 age group won all their matches, the U15C team winning by 1 run. In the U14A match, Michaelhouse were in complete control until a superb piece of boundary fielding from Jamie Wimble to force a run out at a crucial moment swung momentum to the Squires who then went on to successfully defend their 159-run total by a 7-run margin.
“Michaelhouse won the junior water polo section but the day belonged to Mr Richter’s 1st team who against arguably one of the better KZN teams around, pulled off a 5-4 victory. Congratulations to the Knights water polo side. The second team also played well with Morne Earle bagging 5 goals in their 10-3 victory.
“Thank you to Michaelhouse for their hospitality and great sportsmanship throughout the day across all three sporting codes.”
Best wishes from KZN10.com to the Northwood boys in the upcoming matches – and that sentiment applies to all.
After Kearsney this weekend, Northwood’s block school fixtures for the rest of the term are as follows: away to Westville (Feb 12), away to DHS (Feb 19), home to Glenwood (Feb 26) and away to Maritzburg College (Mar 5).
Durban north cricket derby: Clifton vs Northwood
The Clifton School first XI under the leadership of captain Ross Montgomery and coach Brandon Scullard are at the Robin Smith Oval this Saturday 29 January for the 9am starting time 50-over match against hosts Northwood.
Clifton vs Northwood: Ben McElligott, Camden Riley, Mitchell Tillard, Keaton Murray, Matthew Gore, Mohamed Taqvi, Ross Montgomery (capt), Tristan Naicker, Ryan Jairaj, Dario Reddy, Nathan Armitage-Graves. Coach: Brandon Scullard
Photo caption: The Captain’s Blazer tradition at Clifton has been updated and handed on with Ross Montgomery the new incumbent.
In the last 7 first XI matches between the near-neighbours Clifton have won 4 and Northwood 2 with 1 match abandoned.
Northwood first XI to play Clifton: Evan Fouche, Muhammad Karodia, James Nielsen, Bradley Bumberry, Adam Chislett (capt), Matthew Anderssen, Ethan Grace, Jason Pearce, Reinhardt Nel, plus 2 players still to be confirmed. Coach: Khalipha Cele
So far this year Clifton have played 6 matches won 3 lost 2 and had one match abandoned. And the matches have either been decisively won or lost, a trend that seems prevalent among the schools this year.
For info on the Northwood first XI year so far go to
Clifton: at the Kearsney festival earlier this month:
10 Jan vs Futura Academy: no play possible due to weather.
11 Jan vs Michaelhouse: Clifton 253/8 and Michaelhouse 109 all out leaving Clifton 144-run winners.
12 Jan vs KZN Coastal Invitational XI: Clifton 270 all out beat Coastal 140 all out by 130 runs.
13 Jan vs Kearsney: lost by 5 wickets in Kearsney reaching 130 for 5 chasing Clifton’s 129 all out.
At Durban High School on 22 Jan:
Clifton 235 for 8 in 50 overs (McElligott 31, Montgomery 30, Riley 35, Naicker 39, Jairaj 39) DHS 59 all out (Jairaj 3-22, Armitage-Graves 4 for 1 (including a memorable hat-trick))
Clifton won by 176 runs.
The Northwood Knights’ 2022 cricket journey
The trip to Balgowan and the Roy Gathorne Oval last Saturday (22 January) turned out to be a tough one for the Northwood first XI.
Michaelhouse compiled a match-winning 305 for the loss of 7 wickets in their allotted 50 overs and Northwood’s reply was a modest 174 all out, which left the Men of House 131-run winners.
Northwood put Michaelhouse in and a measured start by openers Murray Baker (57) and James Kennedy set the ideal platform for House, the first wicket falling in the 16th of the allotted 50 overs with the total at 96.
And that ideal platform was not undone as House captain Jeremy Foss (71), Thomas McCall (48) plus the contributions of Joshua Heath (25) and Robbie Lawrence (27) took the home side to a formidable 305.
When it was Northwood’s turn to bat the Michaelhouse bowlers were backed by excellent support in the field with the spin of Joshua Heath (3 for 14 in 5 overs) and seam of Michael Thornton (2 for 14 in 6 overs) doing much of the damage.
In the last 8 matches between the two schools’ premier cricket sides, House have won 5 and Northwood 1 while 2 matches had to be abandoned.
I have no information on yesterday’s 100-balls per innings contest between Northwood and hosts Glenwood. Evidence suggests that Northwood coach Khalipha Cele’s boys have demonstrated that they are able to bounce back.
Feature photo: Best wishes to the Northwood coaches for the 2022 year. Former Proteas pace bowler Mornantau (Nantie) Hayward has been in the director of cricket position since October 1 and is also the U16A coach. Nantie obviously also works with first XI coach Khalipa Cele while the second XI (the Brown caps) are piloted by Vaughn van Jaarsveld and Brian Gow, with Alex van der Merwe (U15A) and Sam Mofokeng (U14A) completing the group.
Northwood had put together a good set of results going into the Michaelhouse fixture, having won 4 and lost 1 of their matches at the Grey High School festival in Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth).
First up was a T20 match against the hosts, Grey High, and the outcome did not favour the Knights, as the Northwood first XI is known. Despite getting off to a brisk start with James Nielsen’s 32 off 18 balls leading the way, Grey managed to pin the Northwood batsmen in their creases.
Not being allowed to rotate the strike put the Northwood batsmen under pressure and it took a 24 off 15 balls from captain Adam Chislett – the skipper came in with 3 overs to go – to push the Durban north lads to a total of 159.
The Grey opening batsmen took their time in establishing the platform for what would be a winning partnership and duly hauled in the run target with three overs in hand.
The Knights bounced back from the 10-wicket loss to earn an emphatic 92-run win over local side and match hosts Framesby High the next day before reeling off three closely-fought wins on the trot in their remaining festival games.
The Framesby match had to be reduced to a 45-over match due to rain. Having been put in, Northwood compiled a solid total of 199 with the main contributors being James Nielsen (40 off 70 balls), Ethan Grace (71 off 80) and captain Adam Chislett (29 off 29).
Chislett and Grace then opened the bowling and were able to contain the Framesby run chase. The pressure reaped its due reward with leg-spinner Saurav Matai taking 3 wickets in 4 balls in his eventual 3 for 18 from his maximum 9 overs. Ethan Grace completed a productive match in returning bowling figures of 2 for 15 in his 9 overs.
Adam Chislett opened the bowling with Ethan Grace restricting Framesby in the first 10 overs. Saurav Matai channelled his inner Shane Warne as the leg-spinner took 3 wickets in 4 balls. Matai finished with figures of 3/18 in 9 overs. Ethan Grace also contributed with the ball taking 2/15 in his 9 overs. Framesby all out for 107 to leave Northwood 92-run winners.
Next up for the Northwood Knights was a 50-over match against St Andrews School of Bloemfontein. Saints won the toss and got off to a good start, earning 54 runs before the opening batsmen were separated.
The Knights bowlers were then able to get wickets in clusters, which stymied Saints’ goal of building partnerships. With Adam Chislett picking up 4 wickets for 44 in 9.3 overs and Jason Pearce 3 for 29 in 7 it was a commendable effort to keep the run target below 200 as Saints’ innings folded to 189 all out from 46.3 overs.
Chasing 190 off 300 balls, Bradley Bumberry and the aggressive Jason Pearce added a 73-run partnership (Pearce getting 57 of the 73-run partnership) but it was touch and go at the end with 50 still needed to win and just three wickets in hand.
Under pressure, Northwood kept their heads and Evan Fouche alongside Ethan Grace got the Durban lads past the winning post with 1 wicket still intact.
On the same day at the Lance Klusener U15 festival hosted by his alma mater Durban High School (DHS) the Northwood U15A side beat Jeppe by 11 runs.
Northwood U15A made 144 all out in 44.5 overs with Jed Mun-Gavin 34 (43), Kyle White 25 (44) and Connor Leclezio 23 (53) standing out, to which Jeppe responded with 133 all out in 46.5 overs, the chief Northwood U15A wicket protagonists being Ben Cilliers (5/35 from 9.5 overs) and Matthew Norton (2/16 from 7 overs).
Next up for the Northwood Knights at the Grey festival was the premier team of one of South Africa’s greatest cricket nurseries, King Edward VII School (KES) of Johannesburg.
The gist of it is that in reply to KES’s 180 all out, Northwood reached 181 for 6 and a four-wicket victory.
Northwood skipper Adam Chislett (2 for 30), Ethan Grace (2 for 15) and Jason Pearce (2 for 26) restricted the KES batsmen to 180 all out before Grace (44), Pearce (32) and Evan Fouche (32) did the bulk of the business in piloting the Northwood ship home.
Just 96 days earlier, at Maritzburg College’s Oppenheimer Michaelmas Cricket Week, the KES first XI had beaten Northwood by 7 wickets.
Not exactly the same player personnel without doubt. But I would venture that a fair number of the same players played in both matches, so a Northwood turnaround of great merit.
This especially notable day for Northwood cricket also included the U15A side beating the Maritzburg College U15A team by 4 wickets. Northwood U15A’s successfully chased down the Maritzburg College U15A total of 212 for 7 to end on 213 for 6 with the main batting contributors being Aiden Potgieter (57), Ryan Fisher (46 not out) and Ross McGlashan (38*).
Earlier, two of the Northwood U15A bowlers to do make notable inroads into the Maritzburg College U15A batting attack were Ben Cilliers (2 for 30) and Matthew Norton (2 for 43).
Northwood’s first XI Knights then rounded off a successful festival in the Eastern Cape with a 9-run win over locally-based Pearson High. This high-scoring game saw the Knights compile 288 for 6 in their 50 overs, to which Pearson replied with 279 all out.
Three years prior, almost to the day, when the two schools had last met, Northwood edged home by 2 runs, and this time round the winning margin was also in single figures.
This Saturday, 29 January, Northwood host Clifton School first XI on the Smith Oval.
KEARSNEY NORTHWOOD 1sts HOCKEY MATCH REPORT TEAMS RESULTS
With the mystifying government moratorium on school contact sports, which has no medical science or logic to back it, let’s take a look at the Kearsney College vs Northwood 1st team hockey match 10 days ago – and it may well be the last game of the year, unless the government bows to pressure and fast-shoe shuffles on its mistake.
TEAM LISTS AND THE TEAMS’ 2021 RESULTS AT BOTTOM OF THIS STORY.
On 23 April the two sides met and the outcome was a 2-2 draw. Just 22 days later, the outcome was different.
Kearsney started the game very strongly, dominating possession and creating numerous early chances, said the Kearsney report.
Tracey van den Aardweg feature photo: Kearsney 1st XI captain Manzi Mhlungu in possession against Northwood.
Kearsney’s strikers were receiving great ball in dangerous areas; but Northwood defended those areas well and managed to keep the scores level.
Northwood took some time to get going and really opened up the game towards the end of the second chukka.
Both teams put on a great display of hockey with some really close chances going both ways.
With the game still at 0-0 going into the final 15 minutes it was going to take something special from either team to take the lead.
Kearsney broke the deadlock with a great goal from striker Daniel de Kock.
Kearsney used the momentum to run in two more goals, one from eventual man of the match Kai Hielckert and the final goal giving Daniel de Kock his second of the game.
Other notable performances came from Campbell Duckworth, who controlled the midfield, and Bryce Wiggett, who controlled Kearsney’s defence.
One assumed that Northwood coach Shaun Baker and Kearsney’s JJ Reed plus Wayne Marsden would have had a tidy number of matches ahead for their players to work on the positives and minuses from this encounter.
But… the government has made short work of that particular assumption.
NORTHWOOD vs KEARSNEY RUGBY WRAP
In this 1st XV match report from Kearsney: The Northwood 1st XV hosted Kearsney College for their annual Classic Clash in Durban North on a steaming hot Saturday afternoon (15 May 2021) with temperatures well above 30 degrees.
Tracey van den Aardweg feature photo: Kearsney 1st XV eighthman Tom Carmody with ball in hand during the loss against home side the Northwood Knights 1st XV on Reece-Edwards Field.
The match got off to a flying start when Northwood’s star flyhalf received a poor midfield kick from Kearsney in an attempt to exit their half from the kick-off.
The Northwood Knights’ number 10 Emmanuel Bahji collected the ball close to the halfway line and ran untouched to score in the right-hand corner. which he converted for a 7-0 lead after 1 minute of play.
Two minutes later, hosts Northwood also failed to exit and Kearsney turned the breakdown – with 8th man Tom Carmody prominent – and winger Trent Coetzee scored an unconverted try, shrinking the deficit to 7-5.
Northwood 1st XV results vs Kearsney the last 8 years.
The next 7 minutes caused some drama with Kearsney losing firstly scrumhalf Matthew Bergset from a late charge, and soon after the inside centre with a suspected concussion.
Kearsney then took the lead 8-7 following a penalty by flyhalf Lethu Gwarube.
NORTHWOOD TEAM vs KEARSNEY 15 MAY 2021
Conditions might have contributed, but both teams were guilty of sloppy skills and below-par defense.
Northwood scored their second try from another poor decision by the Kearsney backs on the counter, to regain the lead 12-8.
In the 25th minute the hosts stretched their lead further to 15-8 with a converted penalty.
Kearsney attacked well during the last 5 minutes of the half and were rewarded with a Coetzee try, which Gwarube converted to take the score to 15-15 at halftime.
Shortly after the break, Kearsney added another Gwarube penalty for an 18-15 lead.
KEARSNEY TEAM vs NORTHWOOD 15 MAY 2021
The visitors played the most constructive rugby in the next 15 minutes, but failed to convert the territory into points, even turning down kickable penalties.
Northwood adopted a kick-and-chase tactic, which led to their next converted try, to regain the lead at 22-18.
Kearsney had a golden opportunity for an all-important 7-pointer but poor handling prevented a sure try.
Kearsney’s morale took a dip, which Northwood capitalised on, to score a converted try, which was also signaled the final score of 29-18.
The first XV match has left Kearsney coaches Barend Steyn and Nico Breedt, and Northwood’s Grant Bashford and Jeremy Mclaren, with much to consider.
ALL THE NORTHWOOD RUGBY RESULTS vs KEARSNEY 15 MAY 2021
NORTHWOOD OLD BOY DURAN KRUMMECK IN IRELAND 7s RUGBY TEAM
A big @KZN10.com pat on the back of Northwood School Class of 2014’s Duran Krummeck, who has been selected for the Ireland Sevens rugby team to play against the USA and Great Britain teams in an upcoming international tournament in England.
Feature photo: Northwood Old Boy Duran Krummeck looks completely at home in that Ireland national sevens rugby team shirt.
A DURAN MUST-WATCH ON OVERCOMING SETBACKS, MAKING THE JOURNEY AND MORE
These are Tokyo Olympic Games squads, so the future is looking bright for this proud Northwood Knight, who is a prime example of the quality that is produced by the dedicated rugby coaching staff at one of our favourite schools.
KZN10.com schoolboy soccer greats – Mark Tovey of Northwood
Mark Tovey, now 66, is a Northlands Old Boy (now Northwood after the amalgamation of Northlands and Beachwood) who played for Durban City U10 12 and 14 before signing for Durban United aged 16.
At age 23 Mark won the Federation Professional League and Cup Double with one of the great clubs of the segregation era, Durban City. In his second spell at City, Mark won the 1982 and 1983 National Professional Soccer League (NPSL) again under legendary SA coach Clive Barker.
Feature image: Mark Tovey of Northlands Primary and Northlands High School… in the twilight of a remarkable soccer career that culminated in 6 trophies at Kaizer Chiefs.
After joining Bush Bucks, Mark won the first ever National Soccer League (NSL) title (in 1985), once again under Barker, who was known as “The Dog”. In 1987, Player of the Tournament, Mark won the JPS Knockout Cup with Bush Bucks after Bucks won the replay against Orlando Pirates.
Chiefs owner Kaizer Motaung had been after the signature of Mark since Tovey’s teenage years and finally secured this now 33-year-old iconic South African footballer to play under the Amakhosi colours in 1988.
Mark Tovey won 6 titles while at Chiefs and it is widely held that this Northlands Old Boy played an instrumental role in the early career of Lucas Radebe, who became a household name with the national team Bafana Bafana and played with great distinction at Leeds United.
Mark Tovey, older brother of another SA star Neil, is a true legend of KZN schoolboy soccer.
So near yet so far… let’s hope we’re not too far off from it happening again
Around end-September 2020 would have seen the 61st edition of Maritzburg College’s stellar Oppenheimer Michaelmas Cricket Week… but it was not to be. These annual four days of cricket, glorious schoolboy first XI cricket, have been etched into my sporting heart for so long it felt almost like a bereavement at the time.
Feature photo: Some of the Oppenheimer Michaelmas Cricket Week’s most distinguished alumni. See how many you can identify and then attach them to their schools.
Yes, there are far more important things in life, yet at the same time one must not minimise the impact of the special things that make the trials and tribulations of life (almost) bearable.
As a reminder of what we have taken for granted – until last year- here is a look at the KZN10.com first XI line-ups that represented our province’s premier cricket schools at the 2017 OMCW.
Let’s not worry about scores etc. Let’s just reflect on names and the personal and collective cricket memories they conjure up.
Maybe you’d like to share some of them?
2017 KZN first XI’s at the 58th Oppenhemer Michaelmas Cricket Week
Hosts Maritzburg College first XI
Scott Steenkamp (capt), Damian Walden, Brad Sherwood, Matt Crampton, Michael Horan, Brynley Noble, Andre Bradford, Jayden Gengan, Cameron Holloway, Jared Campbell, Dean Dyer, Keagan Collyer. Staff: Dave and Elmarie Pryke
Clifton College first XI
William Masojada (capt?), Scott Quinn, Matthew Montgomery, Joshua Brown, Luke Shave, Simon Holmes, Ariq Chetty, Daniel Freitag, Daniel Elgar, Connor Veitch, Jason Groves, Muhammad Noorbhai, James Feuilharde. Staff: Matt Savage, Yash Ebrahim, Oliver Cash
Kearsney College first XI
Blaise Carmichael, Patrick McGrath, Rory Bloy, Luke de Vlieg (capt), Robbie Koenig, Steven Conway, Michael Brokensha, Marco Gouviea, Carl Heunis, Jared Brien, Jethro Strydom, Bradley Beaumont. Staff: Hubert von Ellewee, Jonathan Beaumont
Michaelhouse first XI
Sean Gilson (capt), Tom Price, William Glassock, William Norton, Thomas Trotter, Fraser Jones, Nathan Wesson, Michael Brownlee, Liam England, Declan Newton, Gift Mokoena, Cameron Leer, Michael Meneer. Staff: Dean Forword, Jason Wulfsohn
Northwood first XI
Slater Capell (capt?), Ali Hamid, Jordan Edy, Andile Mogagane, Daniel Zvidzui, Alvin Chiradza, Samkelo Gasa, Wander Mtolo, Jeremy Martins, Mpumelelo Xulu, Luke Stevens, Cameron Ciaglia, Nicolas Deeb. Staff: Divan van Wyk, Riaan Minnie
Hilton College first XI
Robbie McGaw, James Ritchie, Michael Sclanders, Gareth Schreuder, Chris Meyer, Brandon McMullen (capt), Michael Booth, Alistair Frost, Jared Venter, Alex Roy, Mike Frost, Kamogelo Selane, William Haynes. Staff: Dale Benkenstein, Sean Carlisle
DHS first XI
Safwaan Barradeen, Kribashan Naidoo, Liam Green, Martin Mugoni, Sumiran Ramlakkan, Jordan Bryan, Joshua Stride (capt?), Brayden Sambhu, Sinolin Pather, Taine Owen, Tawanda Zimhindo, Rodney Mapfudza. Staff: Oss Gcilitshana, Florian Genade
Glenwood first XI
Daelen Fynn (capt?), Jared Paul, Thamsanqa Khumalo, Cameron Reid, Caleb Alexander, Joe Jonas, Nikhil Prem, Hayden Rossouw, Alex Pillay, Khwezi Gumede, Jaden Hendrikse, Nathan Archibald. Staff: Jarryd Chetty, Brandon Scullard, Bevon Futter
Westville first XI
Carl Jairaj (capt), Matthew Pollard, Sam Gervasoni, Josh Brady, Josh Parker, Caleb Pillay, Brandon McCabe, Hayden Bowman, Jaryd Cook, Bonga Chepkonga, Keshlan Govender, Jandre Viljoen, Mazwi Meyiwa, Jarred Oosthuizen. Staff: Fabian Lazarus, Thomas Jackson, Chester Comins
* Not sure if all the captains are correct. Please advise. Thanks
Grand Slam champion Kevin Ullyett talks tennis and influences
4 June 2020 – Born in Zimbabwe, Kevin Ullyett moved to South Africa at a young age. He attended Atholton Primary School in Umhlanga Rocks before moving on to Beachwood (which less than a year after he finished there amalgamated with Northlands and became Northwood) for high school. At the beginning of his matric year, he left school to pursue a career as a professional tennis player. It proved to be an excellent decision. He spent 18 years on tour, winning 34 doubles titles in total, including three Grand Slams.
Speaking with KZN10.com’s Brad Morgan, he said sport was an important part of life in the Ullyett household. Kevin’s dad, Robert, played Currie Cup cricket for Rhodesia and also represented the country in hockey at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. His older brother, Clive, was also a good tennis player who would go on to play professionally, but without achieving similar success to Kevin.
From an early age, the boys were subjected to an active lifestyle and from the latter days of his junior school career that meant early morning tennis coaching for Kevin, between 05:30 and 06:30, under the tutelage of Peter Waters. Then it was off to catch a bus to school at 07:00.
Kearnsey, Northwood share spoils in cracking season-opener
Peter Waters coached Kevin from a young age. He eventually retired in mid-2019 after a coaching career that lasted 55 years.
“As I started putting in the hours,” he recalled, “I started having some decent results and realised I liked it more than the other sports, I suppose.”
Becoming a top junior player meant his holidays were often filled with tournaments. “Every holiday, from under-12, about standard five, I would go to Johannesburg, because it’s always been the place where the tournaments were held. Then, at the end of the year, there were the East London and Port Elizabeth Sugar Circuit events. From under-12 through to under-18, I did that every year.”
Tennis at Beachwood was strong. Practices took place a couple of times a week and then there were matches, too. Westville Boys’ High, at that time, was also exceptionally strong and Kevin often played against those players, who included, among others, Robbie Koenig, Ellis Ferreira, Grant Adams, Kirk Haygarth and Myles Wakefield, all of whom went on to successful professional careers.
Robbie Koenig, who has become a world-renowned tennis commentator, was a good friend and rival as they grew up. “Robbie and I played so much junior tennis together. We had such good battles throughout our junior career, and we would go and practice together on weekends, all day. He was quite instrumental in my game, because he was probably the best competitor out of all the juniors here, like a Pit bull, never-give-up kind of attitude. He broke my heart so often in the juniors. It toughened me up a lot. We spent so much time together. It was good.”
While Robbie might have broken Kevin’s heart at times, Robbie wasn’t having any of it when discussing Kevin. “Don’t take his BS,” he said with a laugh. “When it really mattered he got one over me in the seniors, when there was big money up for grabs. Over the course of his career, he cost me a boatload of money on the Pro Tour.”
Remembering his time at Beachwood, Kevin said: “We had a really good Headmaster, Mike Ellis, when I was there. Back in those days, there was a lot of structure and quite a lot of discipline. Nowadays, I think the kids get away with murder, but back then there was no stepping out of line. Mike Ellis went on to become a politician for the DA and Mr Robinson, the Vice-Head, stepped in. That structure and discipline helped me in tennis. My dad also got us to focus on a hard work ethic.”
The teachers, too, were really good, he said, and the competition provided by other nearby schools, like Glenwood and Northlands, helped keep the standards high.
At the Inter-provincial Schools Tennis Tournament in Bloemfontein, with Damian Mustard (Pinetown), Garth Furmidge (Michaelhouse), Ryan Fitzwilliam (Northlands), Roger Mills (Westville), Kevin Ullyett (Beachwood), Clint Lishman (Grosvenor), teacher Gary Coombe (Beachwood) and Kirk Haygarth (Westville).
When Kevin reached matric one of the pivotal moments of his life occurred three weeks into the first term. He explained: “During that time, tennis in South Africa was at a stage where there were a lot of local events, challengers and satellites, where locals were getting wildcards, guys like Wayne Ferreira and Marcos Ondruska.
“There were eight to 10 guys who were getting world rankings points and doing really well in those tournaments. They were all leaving school, so I convinced my dad (I don’t know how) that I should leave school as well.
“I completed my schooling through correspondence and split it over two years, so that I could play tennis and travel to all of the events around the country, while I was still under-18. I played against all the Defence Force guys who were doing their national service. That’s what I convinced my dad about and he bought into it.”
Nowadays, without the tournaments that existed back then, it is so much harder for South Africans to make it onto the ATP World Tour, but at that time the satellite and challenger events drew players from overseas. And the high altitude of Johannesburg favoured the local players, Kevin recalled.
“The conditions in Joburg were quite different and the ball flew around. They weren’t used to that. Living here, it was a great opportunity for the young guys, who were getting wildcard opportunities, to get some scalps of the guys who were coming over and ranked 200-300 in the world. That was a good springboard, but it is much harder now starting out, because you have to fly to other countries and play in tough conditions to fight for points.
Hanging out with visiting players for a Challenger event in Durban. That’s Ryan Fitzwilliam (Northlands) on the right, opposite Kevin, in front.
“If you did well in those tournaments back then, you could pick up 10 or 30 points in a Challenger and ramp up your ranking. It was easier, but now you have to get out there, find some places you can get in. There are also more people playing, and it takes cash to travel now. We were lucky back then that the South African Tennis Federation assisted a lot of the juniors to get into tournaments.”
The fact that a group of talented juniors, many of them from KwaZulu-Natal, were emerging at the same time helped them make the jump into the professional ranks. “That’s key,” Kevin said. “That’s why I think the Spanish and the French have done so well. They’ve had 15 to 20 guys all at once [coming through].
“You don’t to want to lose to the one guy and he makes some points, and you want to match him. It’s a good rivalry to have and we had that, with about six to eight guys in Natal, and then there were the Joburg guys, so there was a good pool of kids. We had the numbers, but I feel they have now dwindled a little and it’s difficult to get that now.”
Support from the national tennis federation also played a crucial role, with a Super Squad, under the coaching of Glenwood old boy Keith Diepraam, featuring Wayne Ferreira, Marcos Ondruska and Grant Stafford, while just below them was the Elite Squad, which included Kevin. It was coached by Kobus Botha.
“Those couple of years, 1991-1994, with Kobus really helped me, especially mentally,” Kevin said. “He was really good on the mental side of competing and we worked terribly hard, and that’s what gave me a good springboard. Peter Waters gave me my whole life as a kid but, when I left Durban and went to Joburg and overseas, Kobus was the one that pushed me to get onto the circuit and to play bigger events.
Coach Kobus Botha (left) played a very important role as Kevin transitioned to life as a professional tennis player.
“In 1995, Kevin Curren coached and mentored me, which was also a key stage in my career. He taught me how to think more of the ‘bigger picture’ and play the right way and not be results/cash-driven, which took some pressure off of me. He encouraged and helped me to put on five kilograms with the help of a trainer in Austin, Texas, to try add more pace on shots and move more explosively. I was very fortunate to have someone like Kevin Curren, who had competed at the highest of levels of the game, guiding me.”
Kevin enjoyed some success as a singles player, with his ranking settling in between 100 and 300 in the world from the time he was 19 years of age. But there was a problem: clay courts. “I was more of a classical player, playing on fast courts. I had to bypass the whole clay season because I couldn’t actually move on the stuff. My results were too inconsistent to keep my ranking at 100 or below on a regular basis. I had to rely on a couple of good weeks every year, and it showed in my singles rankings.”
Some of the older pros, who were playing doubles, suggested to him that he should focus on doubles. He made the decision to follow that path in 2000, strangely enough after his best year in singles in 1999.
“It takes a lot of hard work to stay high up in singles. It was a career decision to hang up my racquet and do something else or to give doubles a crack, like all the other guys were doing, and see what happens. It turned out that I had eight really good years of doubles.
With the benefit of hindsight, he admitted: “I should have done that earlier. I felt I still had something to offer in singles, but the [good] results were too intermittent.”
Young and with a full head of hair, practicing to make it to the top.
Doubles also had the benefit of having a partner. “The singles is more cut-throat,” Kevin said. “In doubles, it’s nice to play as a team. You can practice together. It’s a lot more beneficial. If you just play singles, it can be quite solitary. The doubles’ players generally get on really well. There is a lot of camaraderie.”
Finding the right partner is important, though, especially with matches often being decided by small details and margins. He explained: “It’s like trying to find a girlfriend. What was important to me was finding someone to fit my style of play. I was decent at the net, but I wasn’t as consistent at returning, so I needed someone who could return really well. That’s what I looked for. If saw someone who was solid on returns, those were the people I would target.
“You just have to go up and ask. You just say why don’t we try a few weeks and the worst they can say is no. You try it and work, and then you commit to play the next year, and then you’ve got to give the bad news to your current partner that you’re breaking up with them, and it happens in reverse. Your partner might tell you they’re moving on, which is fine. It’s a career decision. I think everyone understands that. You’ve got to look after number one, unfortunately.”
His doubles exploits started with Pietie Norval, who had partnered Wayne Ferreira to an Olympic silver medal in Barcelona in 1992. “We were mates and we spent a lot of time together in London, and we did well for a couple of years. It was just people I knew,” Kevin said.
Despite leaving Zimbabwe at an early age, the country came to play a role in Kevin’s tennis career and the Black family, which produced professional players Byron, Wayne and Cara, were a big part of it.
Looking back, Kevin said: “We left Zimbabwe pretty early. I remember Wayne, we were a similar age, playing juniors at under-eights. Then I didn’t see him for my whole junior career, but bumped into him again as we were all turning pro.
He and Wayne then formed a very successful doubles partnership, including teaming up to play Davis Cup for Zimbabwe. Their tie against the USA in Harare in 2000 is a match that Kevin reckons was the most memorable of his career.
“It was at the Sports Centre, which had a corrugated iron roof, and we had 5 000 people banging drums in between every point. It sounded like a festival. The Americans included Andre Agassi and John McEnroe was the captain. It was phenomenal. We had a packed Harare crowd and we managed to win 7-5 in the fifth set [against Rick Leach and Alex O’Brien]. That was probably the greatest moment and most intense match I was a part of.” The victory gave Zimbabwe a shock 2-1 lead over the USA, but they were unable to hold on to it and eventually went down 2-3 after a tremendous battle.
Playing in the Davis Cup brought a different dynamic to competition and it was something that Kevin enjoyed. “It was amazing. Our Davis Cup matches in Zim were always a nice week back there. We practiced hard and the crowds were really vocal and it was fun. We would have a really good time. We didn’t really put that much pressure on ourselves. It was really something to play in a team event for your country.”
In 2001, Kevin and Wayne Black claimed a major title, the first for both of them, when they landed the US Open crown with a 7-6 (11-9), 2-6, 6-3 victory over the American duo of Donald Johnson and Jared Palmer in the title-decider.
New York: Kevin Ullyett and Wayne Black celebrate victory in the 2001 US Open. It happened just two days before the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre’s Twin Towers.
Remembering what it took to get there, Kevin said: “We would often get to the quarters or semis, one or two matches away, and it builds up a lot of pressure. In losing a few heart-breakers, you learn some hard lessons and you feel terrible afterwards. But two, three, four years down the line, you get in a similar situation again and the experience from those hard knocks before is valuable.
“You also see mental coaches and follow those kinds of processes to try and put yourself in that situation again and see what and how you would do things differently. That all goes into a mixing pot to improve yourself. Once you got yourself into a similar position again, you were ready.”
The following year, in 2002, Kevin captured another Grand Slam title, teaming up with Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia to takes the honours at the Australian Open. That was an unexpected result.
He recalled: “It was by chance that I played with Daniela. Her coach was a good friend of mine, Nigel Sears, and we were in Cape Town. We used to go there every year before the Australian Open, and she would fly from Europe to practice with him there. I was looking for hits and would hit with her. We put in some practice sessions and just said let’s play some mixed doubles. Our first tournament we played in we won and it was the Australian Open, so it was perfect!”
Kevin and Daniela Hantuchova lift the trophy after claiming the Australian Open mixed doubles title with a convincing 6-3, 6-2 win over the Argentinian pair of Paola Suarez and Gastón Etlis in the final.
His third and final Grand Slam win came in 2005 at the Australian Open when he and Wayne Black beat the most successful doubles team in history, the twins, Bob and Mike Bryan, 6-4, 6-4.
“I always had a dream of winning a Grand Slam. But, if I am honest with myself, I never really thought I would,” Kevin said. “It didn’t feel like we were good enough at one stage, but things started to happen. The next thing we had a Grand Slam title to our name and from there the confidence got really big. Once you’ve achieved that kind of milestone you want to win more. It was a surprise in a way.”
Apart from the three Grand Slam wins, he also made the Wimbledon final in 2008, partnering Jonas Björkman, along with six further semi-finals and 12 appearances in the quarters of the Grand Slams.
In mixed doubles, he made the Wimbledon final with Daniela Hantuchova in 2002 and made it to the semis with her in 2003. Two years later, he teamed up with former South African, Liezel Huber (now an American citizen), to reach the Wimbledon semis once again. That same year, he and Huber were beaten in the Australian Open final.
On the top rung of the ATP World Tour, Masters 1000 events, he recorded wins in Miami and Hamburg in 2004, in the Canada Open in Montreal in 2005, Hamburg again in 2006, and Paris in 2008. The first three titles were with Wayne Black, who retired after the 2005 season, while the latter two were with Paul Hanley (Aus) and Jonas Björkman (Swe). There were eight further finals appearances, 13 semi-final slots, and 14 appearances in the quarter-finals.
Kevin Ullyett and his long-time doubles’ partner Wayne Black won the Masters 1000 title in Miami in 2004.
During the course of his career, he amassed over 500 victories and was ranked as high as fourth in the world in doubles.
As a fan of the game, he selected two matches as the best he has ever witnessed and both of them were singles finals at Wimbledon: the 1980 final between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe, which Borg edged 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (16-18) and 8-6, and the 2008 final, an incredible shot-making classic, between Roger Federer and Rafael Nafal which the Spaniard won 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-7 (8-10) and 9-7.
In 2004, Kevin married Marylou in Hillcrest. In 2005, their first child, Jemima, was born. As a top sportsman travelling the world, with a child in tow, life had become more complicated.
He explained: “After 9/11 airline travel became so much more difficult, especially travelling with a kid and prams. You would go the airport for a 14:00 flight out of New York and you would get there at 11:00 to deal with the stringent security. It was becoming so tedious, so you really had to work hard on your schedule, and you needed a good travel agent to make sure that you were not flying via this place, via that place, and another.”
Inevitably, Kevin began considering the next step in his life, the one after tennis. Finally, after he made the decision to retire, he ended his career at the 2010 South African Open, partnering Wesley Moodie in the doubles.
“At that stage I was 36 and the travel was getting tough. I was a little over-cooked by then. I had been on tour for 18 years. It was quite a difficult decision, but in hindsight sometimes you get a bit clouded by the travel and losing some matches. That life is actually phenomenal.
“You get into the ‘real world’ and you realise how good playing tennis and making a living is. You’ve got your own time, you’re outside, playing a sport you love, and you’re getting paid.
“Just the kids and the travelling and, maybe, being away from them led me to think about doing something else. By default I fell into property development through my brother-in-law and a friend back in South Africa, just as I was trying to figure out what I was going to do for the next 20 to 30 years of my life.”
For a while, he and his young family lived in London following his retirement, and soon another son, Nicholas, was born. They then made a decision to return to South Africa and a home on the north coast. Back in South Africa, Florence, his fourth child, became the only one of his children to be born in South Africa.
Now, with four children – Jemima, Sebastian, Nicholas and Florence – it’s a very different life, revolving around family and plenty of time spent at home. There is time, too, for golf and he’s excelled there, winning the SuperSport Shootout in 2015 and multiple Umhlali Club strokeplay titles.
Travel is no longer an unavoidable part of his life. And Kevin’s very happily enjoying the change.