It was a glorious final day of the 7 th leg of the Zone VI Beach Tour for the South African contingent as 3 of its teams reached the finals of the competition viz. Leo Williams & Danilo von Ludwiger will square up against country men, Thokozizi Ndingi & Jonas Motlhobi in the men’s final while Palesa Sekhonyana & Natasha Webber take on the tournament favourites, Sinaportar & Muniango from Mozambique in the
women’s final. To-date the Mozambican pairing have not lost a match on the year-long Zonal Beach Tour.
PALESA SEKHONYANA & NATASHA WEBBER (South Africa) V SINAPORTAR & MUNIANGO ( Mozambique)
As the tournament favourites, Sinaportar & Muniango from Mozambique were not going to allow their opponents from South Africa to prevent them from reaching the podium as the gold medallists. According to Sinaportar her Brazilian coach watched the South Africans’ semi-final encounter against the 3rd ranked team from Mozambique and has crafted a solid game plan for victory. What was very evident
from the outset was that the team from Mozambique had developed an excellent synergy after having played together for many years.
Taking the scorching weather conditions into account, Sinaportar & Muniango sacrificed power for ‘soft touches’ into open spaces that made the SA pairing work harder to recover balls that floated into the far reaches of the back court. Relying on their vast experience the Mozambican team took a 8-4 lead that immediately put undue pressure on their challengers.
While Palesa and Natasha are no strangers to this level of competition, they lacked game time together as a team to pose a real threat to the number one seeds. Given her experience Palesa knew that when things become decidedly uncomfortable one has to sacrifice power for controlled soft attacks into open spaces to pick up valuable points. With Palesa’s deft touches out of the reach of her opponents and Natasha’s
occasional power attacks the South Africans bounced back into contention. However, not to be out done Sinaportar and Muniango’s reliance on a variety of attacking options gave them the edge as they closed proceedings with a 21-13 first set win.
While the sizzling heat and the burning sand added to the woes of the South African pairing, Natasha Webber had to contend with an injured foot which she sustained during the semi-final match a day earlier. Normally an energetic athlete on court, Natasha mobility was hampered by her injury.
However, given the winning combination of the Mozambican pairing on the Zonal Beach Tour it came as no surprise when Palesa and Natasha succumbed to the top seeds by a 21-9 scoreline.
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