University of Johannesburg’s squash star Alexa Pienaar won the sportswoman of the year award for the first time after her best season to date.
The 23-year-old said the award, which was announced at the University of Johannesburg’s Sports Gala awards function recently, had come as a complete surprise.
“I was awarded third place for sportswoman of the year last year, but I never expected to be awarded sportswoman of the year,” she said.
“It has been a fantastic year and it is great for us athletes to get recognition for our efforts. We do not always realise that people do notice what we do so it is very rewarding getting an award of this nature.”
Pienaar hit the ball out the court with a stellar season, racking up a long list of achievements, and the award ranked among the best of them she said.
The third-year fine art student was crowned University Sport South Africa champion while helping UJ to the overall title for the sixth year in a row in July.
She also made it into the SA National Championships and SA Open semi-finals, which took place in Johannesburg in June and July.
“I feel that this year has been my lucky year,” said Pienaar, who lives in residence at the university.
“I have been lucky enough to win the Hyundai Award (for up-and-coming squash stars) for 2017, which includes a full sponsorship with Hyundai, and now this. It is by far my best year in terms of achievements.”
Looking ahead, Pienaar said she was still determined to achieve her next major goal – qualifying for the senior national team for the next world team championships.
To achieve this, she would need to reach a top-four national ranking by the middle of next year.
“World champs have been a long-term goal and every year I have edged closer to reaching it.
“Even if I don’t necessarily reach it next year, I know I will be a few steps closer.”
Her ability to balance her studies and sport, which was recognised when she was named student-athlete of the year, cemented her belief that it was just a matter of time before she’d be where she wanted to be.