CAPTION: Defending individual champion Kyle Maree will again be a key member for the University of Johannesburg when they defend their title in the University Sport South Africa (Ussa) squash week in Johannesburg next month. Photo: Supplied


 The University of Johannesburg will have a strong mix of experience and youth as they aim for their sixth title in a row in the University Sport South Africa squash tournament next month.


Under the guidance of coach Mike Bester, UJ have shown remarkable consistency in dominating varsity squash and they will again be focused on maintaining their high standards from July 2 to 8.


Helping them will be the fact that the tournament will be played on their home courts at the Auckland Park campus, while Johannesburg Country Club will also be used as a venue.


UJ squash manager Reedwaan Asvat said although they had lost players from last year, they would still be able to field a strong team.


We have been able to retain some of our senior players and have also recruited a few really good junior ones, said Asvat, who also pinpointed the role played by experienced coach Mike Bester as important.


We have some new faces this year and I believe we have the players who will do UJ proud.


Newcomers such as Jenny Preece, he said, would complement the experience of leading players such as Alexa Pienaar, Kacey-Leigh Dodd, Kyle Maree and Blessing Muhwati.


Maree, Pienaar and Dodd will help to maintain continuity from last year after they underlined their ability in the individual competition where Maree was crowned champion, Pienaar finished runner-up and Dodd placed fourth.


Asvat said the squad were confident that they would again give a good account of themselves.


It is important for us to continue to show that we are competitive against the other institutions.


Unlike some other codes who are involved in the Varsity Sports concept, the Ussa tournament is the major goal for our squash players. This is their chance to make a big impact.


He added that the players had been working hard from the start of the year to prepare themselves.


Under the guidance of the coach, the players are always pushing themselves and striving to improve with every match.


The five that I mentioned will obviously be key players, but I think that all our players need to be at their best to give us a chance of winning another title.


He said a big challenge would be coping with any injuries that might occur.


But that is something we cant really control. Instead, we will keep focused on what we have to do as a team to ensure that our fitness is at a high level to cope with the attritional nature of the week.