Van Niekerk and Van Zyl stormed to victory

Tournament praised
Organisers said next year's event will be even bigger and better.
Tielman Van Lill
The 2022 BDO Namibian Open Squash Championship was comfortably won by Dené van Zyl and Dewald van Niekerk in the women's and men’s finals at Wanderers in Windhoek on Saturday afternoon.

The 15-year-old Van Zyl from the Western Province defeated Sharon Chimfwembe from the Copperbelt, Zambia, in three sets in the final.

Van Zyl, the under-17 South African national squash champion, forced Chimfwembe to surrender with 11-2, 11-6 and 11-4.

Chimfwembe is a squash legend. She won the Namibian Open five times and the Malawian Open Championship once. She was the Zambian champion for many years and represented her country several times at the Commonwealth Games.

Van Niekerk, from the North-West Province, overshadowed the courageous Jean-Pierre Brits from Gauteng North with 11-4, 11-4 and 11-2 in the final. Van Niekerk is currently the South African Open champion.

Wonderful time

Chimfwembe told Namibia Media Holdings: "It was a wonderful tournament, but I am not going to participate in the Namibian Open again next year. I am going to play in the Masters' Division in 2023. I have now become too old to compete against the young players and will now face my own part instead.

"We don't have enough competitions in Zambia, and a lot of work needs to be done. There are some good up-and-coming young players who need to be developed. I had a wonderful time and fun in Namibia and enjoyed it immensely. Thank you so much for spoiling me here."

Van Zyl said: "The South African Championship is an incredibly tough competition. There are so many players who are at the same level. Either one can win the title on the given day. I experienced a good tournament and was able to emerge as champion.

"Many thanks to BDO for sponsoring the Namibian Open. The Namibian Open was held five years ago, but this is the first of many more Namibian Opens to come. I will be back next year to defend my title. Meanwhile, I have to finish school and play in as many tournaments as possible. Then I will try to become a professional player in the Professional Squash Association's (PSA) international tours."

Fantastic experience

Van Niekerk said: "I will definitely be back next year. The Namibians are fantastic people, and the squash community welcomed us with open arms. My body has been struggling since Thursday, and in the final, it complained anew about the treatment."

Brits said: "The tournament was well organised. It is nice to play squash again after a number of years. We were a nice, strong group of South African players together with Zambia. The hospitality of the Namibians is incredible. Thank you very much."

Dr. Rudi Koekemoer, chairman of the Namibian Squash Association, said "we had a record number of entries with stiff competition between the visitors and the Namibian players. Tonight, BDO announced their support for next year, and we are incredibly grateful to them.

"We learned a lot of lessons from the tournament, and next year the event will be bigger and even better. We are now part of the African Squash Association and a leading member of the SADC Region. More and more countries are joining the continental body, and next year there should be more countries here.

"We are incredibly excited about the future for squash in the country. We are working hard to get squash listed as an Olympic sport. It is on the short list, and we are hopeful to be represented at the next Olympics."