A sixty-four-player strong South African delegation is aiming to retain the World Masters Nations Cup this week at the McArthur Squash Center in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The Nation’s Cup was inaugurated two years ago in Johannesburg as an informal team competition between nations, with individual finishing positions contributing points towards each nation’s standing.
The Nations Cup has two divisions with teams having more than ten players entered in division I, and teams with nine or fewer entered in division II.
Two years ago, South Africa’s 650 players edged England to claim the inaugural title on home soil. One of those winning team members, Trevor Wilkinson, has made the trip to Charlottesville to compete in the men’s 55+ division.
“To be the first-time winners of the cup at home was unbelievable,” Wilkinson said. “We are looking to defend the title, which will be tough, but we’re looking forward to the challenge. We have about seventy players—a strong turnout. We have a talented group and a great chance to win it, but all the nations are tough. Win or lose, it’s great camaraderie.”
Wilkinson has competed in a dozen World Masters and already recorded two 3-0 victories to reach the round of sixteen.
“Charlottesville is a beautiful city, and the people and facility are absolutely incredible,” Wilkinson said. “Thank you to Boar’s Head and US Squash for entertaining such an amazing event. This is my thirteenth World Masters, and it’s already been one of the best, and we’re only on the third day. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the week, it’s been a wonderful experience.”
A first-time member of the South African delegation is former PSA professional Clinton Leeuw, who was ranked as high as world No. 79 in 2013. Leeuw, who is based in New York City, opened his World Masters campaign with a routine 3-0 victory on Tuesday.
“A lot of the South African team members have known me my whole life,” Leeuw said. “Some used to coach me throughout different points of my life. I know 99% of the team. Everybody’s always told me about the World Masters, especially the older guys who were helping me as I was growing up. They would always say, ‘one of these days you’re going to be there’, and I would always say never. But here I am.”
Leeuw is a 3/4 seed and predicted to face former world No. 9 and top seed, Laurens Jan Anjema of the Netherlands, in the semifinals.
“I played a PSA event here when this facility was first built, and I knew I had to come down when the World Masters was announced,” Leeuw said. “I represented South Africa in the world teams, and this is a different kind of dynamic as the squad is much bigger. It’s a different feel, but because there’s so much history between everyone we all feel really connected, which is special. I know they’ll be supporting me, and I’ll be supporting them.”
South Africa boasts two top seeds in the form of Jean Grainger (75+) and Michael Tootill (55+), as well as a two seed in the form of Zuko Kubukeli (45+).
The Nations Cup standings will update on https://www.wmsquash.com/live-team-leaderboard/ as finishing positions are registered through Saturday.
Wednesday sees the round of sixteen play out with matches starting from 9am EDT.
Watch live streaming from six courts and follow live scores on wmsquash.com/live.