University Sport South Africa squash champion Alexa Pienaar has acknowledged the squash systems in place at the University of Johannesburg following their success in a number of tournaments.
Not only did the 23-year-old fine arts student take the individual title at the Ussa event in Johannesburg this month, UJ triumphed in the overall team category for the sixth year in a row.
Pienaar, who attended Outeniqua Primary in George and Menlo Park High in Pretoria, said much of it was due to the training programmes they went through under coach Mike Bester.
“My game has certainly improved in terms of my fitness and stamina,” she said. “I have been able to take my game to the next level, upping the pace, playing longer rallies and putting my opponents under more pressure.
“UJ have also supported me financially which allows me to play more tournaments like the World Student Championships.”
Besides Bester, whom she said had had a major influence in recent years, she also paid tribute to Charlie Amm and Craig van der Wath for her progress in the game.
“I consider these three my mentors and they have supported me all the way.”
Pienaar wants to capitalise on her Ussa success by aiming for the next level.
“I am working towards making the senior national team (top five in SA) for next year’s world championships,” she said.
“I need to keep working on my physical ability and stay committed. I know I will have to put in that extra little bit of work to achieve my goals.”
She is enjoying one of her best years in the game, having made the last four at the SA Nationals and the SA Open.
She also represented South African Country Districts at the Kaplan Cup interprovincial in Pretoria this month, a team she connected with while growing up in George before moving to the capital city at the age of 15.