By Mark Etheridge
Stability is key judging by the South African badminton selectors who have once again opted for a youthful structure when announcing the team to contest the 2014 All Africa Championships in Lobatse, Botswana later this month.
The team mirrors the team that took the continental title in Mauritius last year ago, excepting for one player, Ian Edwards.
The competition will be played between 23-29 April and is as follows: Jacob Maliekal (Border),┬á Wiaan Viljoen (Free State, captain and pictured right), Prakash Vijayanath (South Gauteng), Andries Malan (FS), Jamie McManus (Western Province), Michelle Butler-Emmett (East Gauteng), Elm─ò de Villiers FS, Jennifer Fry (North Gauteng) and Sandra le Grange (Free State).
Doing coach/manager duties is Stewart Carson, also the national head coach and the man who was responsible for the same duties at the London Olympics two years ago.
The team are much more experience than last year when they unexpectedly won the title in Mauritius. ÔÇ£The youngsters really came to the party and made South Africa proud,” said Larry Keys, President BSA after last year’s triumph.
With Malaysian based Jacob Maliekal dominating men’s singles the last few years in Africa, he will be a very difficult opponent to beat while men’s doubles pair and defending continental champions Viljoen and Malan, recently returning from a three-week tour in Europe should be in form.
Together with Elmß║┐ de Viliers who also toured Europe and the traditional strong South African ladies doubles couple, South Africa will be fielding a formidable team.
Jennifer Fry, one of the doubles aces, was recently part of the 2014 Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton Relay that visited South Africa en route back to Glasgow later this year.