ZONE VI 2023 BEACH TOUR North Beach, Durban 20-22 January.

Durban’s North Beach is proving to be an excellent ‘’hunting ground’’ for the South African teams participating in the 7th leg of the Zone VI Beach Tour. After the end of the round robin stage on Day one of the tournament,four South African teams: Ndingi & Motlhobi; Williams & Danilo (all men) and Palesa & Natasha; Karina & Tatiana (all women) progressed into the quarter final stage of the Zonal championship. It was the first time that so many South African teams achieved such a feat in an international zonal competition.

However, in the first semi-final clash South Africans Leo Williams and Danilo von Ludwiger were pitted against Ainadino Martinho and Monjane from Mozambique, the tournament’s top seeds who have not been defeated at any of the six (6) legs of the Zonal Beach Tours they participated in. Unfazed about the hype around the top seeds Williams and Danilo entered the court determined to unseat the reigning champions. Their gusty play and will to win immediately put their opponents on the ‘back foot’ as they struggled to contain the rampant attacking of Danilo von Ludwiger and the solid blocking of Leo Williams who took care of matters at the net. Much to the delight of the partisan crowd, Williams and Danilo raced to an unassailable 11-3 lead in the opening set. Although the team from Mozambique made every effort to get back into contention, they were unable to get the upper hand against the South Africans who thrilled and entertained their fans with a sparkling performance. Unable to withstand the pressure Monjane served into the net at a crucial time that handed Williams and Danilo a 20-10 lead. Still reeling from his blunder, Monjane hammers a spike into the net to give the South Africans a resounding 21-10 victory.

With a change of mind set in the crucial 2nd set, Aindino and Monjane fought back and levelled the scores at 11:11. When Danilo posted a series of quick cross-courts attacks off Williams’ nimble fingers things became decidedly uncomfortable for Ainadino and Mojane. The South Africans lads took a slender 18-17 lead when Leo Williams fired home a cracking power attack that bounced off the base line. From that stage onwards it was an all Danilo ‘affair’ as the youngster powered past the number one seeds at will and closed proceedings with a blistering 21-19, 2nd set victory. In the 2nd men’s semi-final clash between Mondlane & Mongoi from Mozambique the tournament’s 3rd ranked team and South Africa’s Ndingi and Motlhobi it was the latter who clinched a place in the final when they won a hard- fought encounter against the lads from Mozambique. The opening set went in favour of Mondlane and Mongoi as they cleverly exploited the use of the soft attack over the blocker and found empty spaces down the line towards the back court. The South Africans failure to speedily overcome this set back saw them staring at defeat when the score was at 13-9 in Mozambique’s favour. Not to be out done Motlhobi’s occasional power attacks and Ndingi’s quick cross-court ‘cut shots’ brought them back into contention at 14-17.

However, Mondlane’s penchant for effortlessly choosing placement of attacks instead of power attacks befuddled the South African pairing who went on to succumb to a 21-19 first set loss. In the 2nd set the South Africans’ quick fire 5-1 lead was cut short when Mondlane and Mongoi combined well to level matters at 9-9. Spurred on by the fans the home side took a well -deserved 15-10 lead which they converted to a 21-15 ,2nd set win to level matters at 1-1. In the ‘do or die’ 3rd set Ndingi’s unforced service errors could have cost his team dearly. Eventually the South Africans triumphed with a 15-11 scoreline to meet their fellow country -men, Leo Williams and Danilo von Ludwiger in an all -South African men’s final at Durban’s North Beach on Sunday.

Entry to the matches is free.

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