By Mark Etheridge
This year’s national senior badminton championships in Bloemfontein delivered some history-making moments.
Commonwealth Games team member Sandra le Grange won her maiden senior singles title and the Dednam brothers (Chris and Roelof) took their 10th senior doubles title as a team.
Le Grange’s fellow Commonwealth Games team member, Elme de Villiers, was the 2014 and 2015 champion but was unable to make it a hat-trick of titles as she’s currently in Dubai gaining work experience.
This gave Le Grange the opportunity to beat up-and-coming youngster Johanita Scholtz 21-14 21-19 in the final.
An African Games medal winner, Andries Malan won his second consecutive senior men’s singles title by beating SA teammate Cameron Coetzer 21-19 21-18 in the final, in a repeat of the 2015 final.
‘I’m actually retired,’ says Malan. ‘But I just missed the feeling of playing and thought I’d give SA’s a go. And it turned out to be a lot of fun … they were tough matches but I pulled through with experience.
‘It was a good tournament and I might come out of retirement but the decision isn’t definite yet.’
Malan and Le Grange then teamed up in the mixed doubles and earned themselves more medals.
Le Grange was in the mix for more medals but missed out in the women’s doubles final as she and SA teammate Michelle Butler-Emmet lost to Demi Botha and Sandra Rujevic.
And Malan also missed out in the men’s final. Regular partner Wiaan Viljoen retired after this year’s Olympic qualifying period and Andries teamed up with Jovica Rujevic.
They reached the semi-finals but the combined experience of the Dednam duo proved too much in the final as they took their 10th doubles title, beating Cameron and Jason Coetzer 21-18 21-13.
Chris, who coaches the national senior side, has now notched up an amazing 23 national senior titles.
Free State also won the Melvill Cup (the equivalent of rugby’s Currie Cup) for a fifth consecutive year.
In the pictures are the victorious Melvill Cup team, Free State and the doubles champions, the Dednam brothers Chris (front) and Roelof