Quintin van Jaarsveld
Four Paddock Polocrosse Club players are set to saddle up for South Africa in international fixtures later this year.
Sisters Amber and Paige Pretorius (pictured) and stablemates Kenan Classen and Jens Bunge have long been four of South Africa’s top rising stars and have all been selected to represent their country again.
Amber has been included in the South African ladies A-team, Paige and Classen cracked the nod for the national Under-19 side and Bunge will feature for the national Under-16 side.
Despite their young age, the local quartet boast vast experience and have all previously played for South African age-group sides, including in last year’s June Tests against Australia.
Amber has come through the ranks remarkably, representing her country at all junior age-group levels, and will realise her dream of playing for the South Africa senior ladies A-team in the quadrangular against the UK, USA and the South African B-team in Mooi River in June.
“I’m really excited to be playing in the quadrangular,” she told eHowzit. “I feel privileged to be a part of the ladies A-team and being able to play polocrosse amongst players of a world-class standard.”
She added she welcomes the challenge and looks forward to playing at the highest level. “I feel it will be a step-up as there will be ladies of all ages and experience, which counts for a lot.”
The junior teams will tackle Zambia and Zimbabwe in Richmond in July.
The talented trio of Classen, Paige and Bunge starred for the national Under-16 side against the opposition from Down Under last year. This time around, Classen and Paige, who served as captain and vice-captain of last year’s Under-16 outfit, will make the jump to Under-19 level.
“I’m super excited about being selected because I have such a great team and I’m really looking forward to playing with my best friend Keighley van Wyk again,” said Paige, adding she aims to help the team triumph and claim the best number 1 and best lady player accolades.
Claasen is currently in Australia, where he’s staying and working on a horse stud farm in New South Wales with his host family, who supplied many of the horses for the senior tour tests between South Africa and Australia at the weekend.
He linked up with the South African team and help out in the ‘ponylines’ (helping to care for and assist with the ponies) for the team during the tour.
The home-schooled teen has also been playing in local tournaments in both the A and C divisions in Albury and is looking forward to displaying new dimensions of his game in the upcoming internationals.
“It is a great honour to be selected again to represent my country,” he said. “I gained a lot of experience from the tests last year including how it feels to be in a team and, as captain, how to manage it. I am excited to play with some of my new team mates and again with my old team mates from last year’s tests.
“I’m very happy with the team that has been selected. I think it’s a high calibre team with plenty of talent and I feel very lucky to be a part of it.
“I’m also looking forward to putting the knowledge I have learned during my stay in Australia into my own game to better my riding and play.
“I am eager to play against another country to learn how the other team plays and how they compare against us.”
The youngest of the local foursome, Jens will bring his exciting skills and enthusiasm to the South African Under-16s for the second successive year. He was unavailable for comment at the time of writing.