THE biggest squash event yet to be staged in Namibia, the All-Africa Senior Squash Championships, starts at the Wanderers courts this morning.
Ten teams from six countries will compete in two pools in the team competition today and tomorrow, while the positional playoffs and finals will take place on Thursday. The individual competition takes place from Thursday to Saturday.
Unfortunately, African champions Egypt could not make it but some of the best players on the continent will still be in action.
Among the men, Botswana's Alistair Walker, who plays professionally in the United States, will be a big drawcard as he is currently ranked 14th in the world.
According to squashinfo.com, Walker is looking forward to the event and hopes to win a medal for his country.
"It is the first time Botswana has sent a team to the All-Africa Senior Championships so there is a lot of excitement in the camp. We hope to be medal contenders in both the team and individual events. It's a great opportunity to compete as a team before the World Team Championships later in the year to be held in France," Walker said.
Defending champions South Africa will once again send a strong team including Rodney Durbach and Christo Potgieter and their top women's player Siyoli Waters, who is ranked 37th in the world.
The six competing countries are Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Botswana, Nigeria and Mauritius, while Uganda was a late withdrawal.
Namibia's men's team will be captained by number one Marco Becker, who played professionally in Germany a few years ago and captained Namibia at the World Team Championships in 2011, where they came 31st out of 32 teams.
The other team members are Sven Gruttemeier, Andrew Forrest, Henry Smit, Michau Basson and Archie Botha.
Namibia's women's team consists of number one Isabel Schnoor, Adri Lambert, Trix van der Westhuizen and Anina Huisamen.
Namibia finished fourth at the previous championships in 2011 and Namibian team coach Tyc Kakehongo said he hoped they could do better than that on home soil.
"We are aiming to do better than that but it will be tough. South Africa and Zambia are very strong while Nigeria and Botswana will be the dark horses," he said.
The teams competing in Pool A are South Africa A, Botswana, Namibia A, Zambia B and Nigeria B, while the teams in Pool B are Zambia A, Nigeria A, Mauritius, South Africa B and Namibia B.
There will be three sessions each day, with today's programme for the team competition as follows:
09h00: South Africa A v Zambia B, Namibia A v Botswana
12h00: Botswana v Nigeria B, Namibia A v Zambia B
15h00: South Africa A v Botswana, Namibia A v Nigeria B
09h00: Zambia A v South Africa B, Nigeria A v Mauritius
12h00: Mauritius v South Africa B, Nigeria A v Namibia B
15h00: Mauritius v Namibia B, Zambia A v Nigeria A