SUPER KG SIZZLES AT ACSA GAUTENG OPEN

Benoni, South Africa - Rising Limpopo star KG Montjane stepped up the heat in her semi-final match against on top-seed Sabine Ellerbrock from Germany and forced her way into the women’s singles final at the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open on Monday.

Kgothatso Montjane, the 4th seed from South Africa in action against Sabine Ellerbrock (GER) in the women’s semifinals at the Airports Company South Africa 2012 Gauteng Open being played at the Gauteng East Tennis Centre in Benoni.
Picture credit: Reg Caldecott


Montjane will fly the flag for South Africa alongside world number nine, Lucas Sithole, who made the final of the Mens Quads Singles on Sunday.
Montjane won the first set with ease, beating Ellerbrock 6-1 but the feisty German hit back to take the second 6-4.
But the South African turned up the pressure up on Ellerbrock in the third set and the world number five threw the towel in at 3-1 down.
“Playing Sabine Ellerbrock is like playing experience itself,” said Montjane. “She has been on the circuit for a long time and has a lot of experience. She used that today against me in the second set. It’s already tough to play an opponent who is injured, but then she also mixed up overhead and underhand serves. It caught me off guard and I had a tough time staying focussed. But in the third set I knew I had to forget about her injuries, get ruthless and I did what I set out to do.”
It was the first time Montjane beat the German since Ellerbrock won the SA Open title from her 12 months ago in a third set tie-break and the South African was thrilled about the result.
“I’m aiming to get well inside the world top 10 for the Paralympics, so getting past Sabine today means I’ll get a lot of extra points,” she said. “Now I just have to win on Tuesday and I’m definitely looking at world number nine or 10.”
Third seed Montjane expects a tough opponent in second seed Sharon Walraven. The Dutch player beat fifth seed Kanaka Domori in straight sets, 6-3 6-2, to make the final.
“I played Sharon six months ago in the United States,” she explained. However Montjane has an incredible record against top ten players on South African soil and feels “quietly confident” going into Tuesday’s final.
“Sharon also has a lot of experience and she will bring that tomorrow. But I’ve never lost against a top 10 player in South Africa. “I work hard every day to achieve on court and I’ve learned a lot playing the international circuit in the last 12 months.
“It’s great to be in another final at home and I intend to keep my record here at home in tact.”
In the Quads, top seeded Lucas Sithole enjoyed a day’s rest before his final on Tuesday.
The world number nine beat unseeded Azman Hasan of Malaysia 6-3 6-3 in the semi-finals on Sunday and will meet second seed Marco Innocenti in Tuesday’s final.
In the junior final, it will be a repeat of last week ACSA SA Open final between the two top seeds Thabang Lekhanyane and Mabel Mankgele both of South Africa. In last week tournament it was Lekhanyane who triumphed at Ellis Park.
South Africa’s last hope in the men’s singles, Evans Maripa, bowed out in his semi-final to second seed Ben Weekes of Australia.
Weekes beat the 21-year-old seventh seed 6-1 6-3 and will play top seed Takashi Sanada of Japan in the final. Sanada beat compatriot Yoshinobu Fujimoto the third seed 6-3 3-6 6-1.
It’s been a great two weeks for Maripa, ranked 47 on the world rankings, who was also a surprise semi-finalist in last week’s SA Open. When the new world ranking come out, up and coming Maripa will find himself at on all time high on the rankings which will stand him in good stead in the race for a spot at the London Paralympics.


MARIPA WHEELS HIMSELF INTO GAUTENG OPEN SEMI-FINALS

Benoni, South Africa - Rising Limpopo star Evans Maripa is through to the semi-finals of the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open in Benoni, marking his second successive semi-final in two weeks.
The 21-year-old “rallied himself” to a upset win over fourth seeded Daniel Rodrigues of Brazil 3-6 6-4 6-3 in a tough quarter final on Sunday.
Seeded seventh this week, Maripa hopes to go one better than last week’s ACSA SA Open when he comes up against second seeded Ben Weekes. The Australian needed less than an hour to beat another Brazilian, fifth seed Rafael Medeiros, in straight sets 6-1 6-1.
“I had to rally and be patient out there today,” said a delighted Maripa. “I like playing fast and I don’t like long rallies. Daniel tested my patience, especially in the first two sets. My coach told me to hang in there and put pressure on Daniel when it mattered. I did that in the final set and the game plan worked perfectly for me.”
Unfortunately luck was not on the side of Maripa’s doubles partner, Sydwell Mathonsi today. Mathonsi lost his quarter final to the tournament top seed Takashi Sanada of Japan.
The Japanese world number 10 beat Mathonsi 6-1 6-4 and will now play fellow countryman Youshinobu Fujimoto in Monday’s other semi-final.
In the women’s singles, South Africa’s KG Montjane was far too strong for seventh seeded Francisca Mardones of Chile. The fourth seed wrapped up her quarterfinal in straight sets, 6-0 6-3.
Lady luck could be on Montjane’s side as her scheduled semi-final opponent, ACSA SA Open champion and top seed Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany, appears to be injured.
The German was forced to serve underhand in her 6-1 6-1 quarterfinal match over Christine Schoenn of France and the tournament favourite battled at times in the match.
“I really struggled out there today,” Ellerbrock said. “My bicep injury was better, but I could not move backwards and so had to serve underarm. I am going to have medical treatment and see how it goes overnight. If things don’t improve, I may be forced to quit.”
Montjane, who will have to wait to see what happens in her semi-final, said she will focus purely on her own game and not on Ellerbrock’s injury.
“It’s been a year since I played Sabine and it is a bit of a grudge match,” Montjane said. “I had four match points against her at the SA Open and I let my nerves get to me and she won. I haven’t played her since, but I’ve seen her on the circuit. She always struggles with injuries but she always plays great tennis. So, if she plays tomorrow, I’ll be ruthless.
“I need to improve my world ranking after last week and my goal is to make the final. If that means picking out her weaknesses, so be it.”
In the other women’s semi-final, second seed Sharon Walvaren of Netherlands will come up against fifth seed Kanaka Domori of Japan.
In the Quads, Paralympic bound Lucas Sithole of South Africa is through to the final on Tuesday. The top seed beat unseeded Azman Hasan of Malaysia 6-3 6-3 to set up a final against second seed Marco Innocenti, who beat fellow Italian Antony Cotterill 7-5 6-3.


SOUTH AFRICA MAKE STRONG START AT WHEELCHAIR TENNIS INTERNATIONAL

Benoni, South Africa - Last week’s SA Open winner, Sabine Ellerbrock from Germany, may have to withdraw after today’s second round of the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open after a bicep injury flared up again in her match against Australian, Janel Manns.
This could be good news for South Africa’s leading Women’s Singles player, KG Montjane, who is on a direct collision course to meet the German in the semi-finals on Monday.
Although top seeded Ellerbrock won the match in straight sets 6-1 6-3, the world number five said she was in a lot of pain during the match.
“I suffered a bicep rupture three weeks ago and received treatment for it,” Ellerbrock said. “It was absolutely fine last week; didn’t give me any problems, but in the practice yesterday it flared up again. “I would like to continue playing, because I think I have a good chance to win and that will mean 200 important world ranking points, which could be crucial in the seeding for the Paralympics. But I also can’t risk further injury that will keep off the court for longer. It’s a tough position to be in.”
Ellerbrock received physiotherapy, but will only make a decision regarding her future in the tournament before her quarterfinal match against Christine Schoen of France on Sunday.
Meanwhile South Africa impressed on the second day of the tournament being played at the Gauteng East Tennis Centre on the shores of Benoni Lake, east of Johannesburg.
Spearheading the local challenge was women’s fourth seed KG Montjane, who made an early morning start and beat compatriot Rose van den Meer 6-1 6-1.
Montjane looked comfortable on court, despite her claim of “not being a morning person”, and the world number 13 dominated throughout the match.
In fact, Montjane has not lost a single match against a South African player since she began playing competitive tournament tennis in 2006 and plans to continue her dominance of South African wheelchair tennis this week.
“I was happy with my start to this week’s tournament,” she said. “I have yet to lose to a South African player and will work hard at keeping up my dominance.”
Montjane added that she hoped to do better in Benoni than the semi-final she reached at the SA Open in order to improve her world ranking and gain a better Paralympic seeding.
“I need to get higher on the world rankings. If I do that then I have less chance of meeting a top seed early in London. That will be important for me, as I really believe I can win a medal at the Paralympics for South Africa.”
Montjane and Ellerbrock will be joined by second seed Sharon Walraven of Netherlands and third seed Katharina Kruger, also of Germany, in tomorrow (Sunday’s) quarter-finals. The second and third seeds also enjoyed straight sets wins in round two.
In the men’s singles, sixth seed Sydwell Mathonsi of South Africa beat Italian Luca Spano 6-1 6-4 to earn his spot in the last eight.
Mathonsi will now meet top seed Takashi Sanada of Japan in the quarter finals, just a week after Sanada knocked him out in round one of the ACSA SA Open at Ellis Park. The South African will be seeking sweet revenge against the world number 10 ranked player, especially after a good straight sets result against Spano.
The only other seeded South African in the men’s singles, Evans Maripa, also won his second round match when he beat Zimbabwe champion Nyasha Mharakura, 6-3 6-1. The country’s number one ranked Mens Singles player will face fourth seed Daniel Rodrigues of Brazil in the quarter finals.
Meanwhile world number nine Quad Singles player, Lucas Sithole, cruised into the semi-final for a second successive week and will face unseeded Azman Hasan from Malaysia. The top seed here in Benoni, Sithole beat compatriot Bongani Dlamini in straight sets, 6-2 6-0.
Third round action starts from 09h00 at the Gauteng East Tennis Centre in Benoni.


FREEDOM DAY OPENS DOORS OF OPPORTUNITY FOR SOUTH AFRICAN WHEELCHAIR TENNIS STARS

Benoni, South Africa - Twenty five years ago, South African wheelchair tennis star Kgothatso Montjane would never have dreamed of competing in tennis at the highest level.
Today on Freedom Day, Montjane, affectionately known as “KG”, is playing on the international wheelchair tennis circuit and is ranked number one in South Africa and 13 in the world.
This weekend, Montjane is playing in the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open at the Gauteng East Tennis Centre in Benoni. Montjane is seeded fourth in the Women’s Singles and one of the favourites to go all the way in this Grade 2 International Tennis Federation tournament.
What happened 18 years ago today in our country has opened the doors of opportunity for players like Montjane, and her fellow countryman, Evans Maripa, Sydwell Mathonsi and Lucas Sithole.
The 25-year-old Polokwane player was born with a congenital birth defect. She started playing tennis six years ago and has since made a huge impact on the local and international circuit. She is widely regarded by her peers and young fans as a major inspiration. “I love tennis and love being part of the action at this level,” said Montjane. “It’s quite sad to realise that, had our country never become the democracy it is now, as a black player I may never have had this opportunity.”
Montjane will open up her campaign on Saturday against the winner of today’s first round match between South Africans Thando Thlatswayo and Rose Van Der Merwe.
If all goes to plan with her side of the draw, Montjane should meet seventh seed Francisca Mardones of Chile in the quarter finals, and top seed and last week’s Airports Company South Africa SA Open winner, Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany, in the semi-final. Montjane reached the last four at Ellis Park, but lost to top seed Marjolein Buis. A good showing in Benoni will almost certainly secure Montjane her spot in the London Paralympics later this year.
South Africa will be banking on the efforts of Sydwell Mathonsi and up and coming star, Evans Maripa in the Men’s Singles.
Mothonsi is seeded sixth while Maripa is a spot back in seventh. Both players were unseeded in last week’s ACSA SA Open, where Monthonsi was unlucky to draw top seed Takashi Sanada of Japan in the opening round. “This week I am seeded and it makes a big difference” said Mothonsi.
Evans, on the other hand, had the week of his life at Ellis Park. The 21-year-old Polokwane player upset two seeded players in reaching the semi-finals.
Like the ladies, all the men’s seeds enjoyed first round byes on Friday.
Lucas Sithole heads the South African challenge in the Quads. The Kwa-Zulu Natal triple amputee is ranked ninth in the world and is the top seed for this week’s action in Benoni. With no points to defend this week, Sithole is hoping to win the Benoni event and move even higher on the world rankings which will certainly secure his spot in London in August.


TOP WHEELCHAIR TENNIS FIELD ENTERED FOR THE AIRPORTS COMPANY SOUTH AFRICA GAUTENG OPEN

Benoni, South Africa - The Paralympics will be the focus, aim and goal of South Africa’s wheelchair tennis stars when the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open starts at the Gauteng East Tennis Complex in Benoni on Friday.
With the Paralympics cut off date being set for 21 May, this weekend’s Benoni Lake event promises to be exciting as local and international players will be putting in a last effort to do well so that they can be assured a spot in the London showdown.
Leading the South African challenge will be men’s singles players Evans Maripa and Sydwell Mathonsi, in the women’s singles; KG Montjane, and in the Quads; Lucas Sithole.
Maripa was a surprise semi-finalist last week at Ellis Park, and Mathonsi - who at the ACSA SA Open was unlucky to draw top seed Takashi Sanada of Japan in round 1 - will be hoping that a favourable draw in the ACSA Gauteng Open will enable him to reach the quarter finals or better this weekend.
In the women’s singles KG Montjane who is ranked 13 in the world, and who - like Evans - reached the last four in the Airports Company South Africa SA Open, poses a strong challenge to the top three seeds; Sabine Ellerbrock (Germany), Sharon Walraven (Netherlands) and Katherina Kruger (Germany). Montjane is knocking on the door of the top ten players of the world and it’s just a matter of time before the Limpopo born star cracks a top ten spot.
World number ten, Takashi Sanada of Japan is favourite for the men’s singles whilst Sabine Ellerbrock who successfully defended her ACSA SA Open title in Johannesburg on Wednesday is a clear favourite for the women’s title.
After her victory on Wednesday, Ellerbrock, the world number five, said that the reason the Airports Company South Africa SA Open and Gauteng Open draws so many top international players, is because it is so well-run and she would love to see it promoted to Super Series status.
“It’s just fantastic to come to South Africa and that is why so many of the world’s top players return year-on-year,” she said. “It really is like coming home for me, especially after a few weeks in the United States. Everyone here is extremely friendly, the standard of the tournaments are high and the atmosphere is fantastic. I am enjoying myself so much that I decided to stay for the Gauteng Open, as well, even if it’s a Grade 2 tournament and doesn’t carry as many world ranking points.”
ACSA’s Group Manager: Communications, Solomon Makgale says that they are proud to be associated with Wheelchair Tennis South Africa as their flagship CSI project. “Through our sponsorship efforts, Wheelchair Tennis South Africa has helped develop athletes who are able to compete at the highest levels, including international competition. This initiative will increase the public’s awareness of wheelchair tennis as a sport with global recognition. Our commitment to Wheelchair Tennis South Africa is on-going and we look forward to supporting the South African team, especially during the build-up to the 2012 London Paralympics.”


MCCARROL AND ELLERBROCK WIN DOUBLE TITLES AT ACSA SA OPEN

Johannesburg, South Africa – South Africa is proving to be a great hunting ground for British wheelchair tennis stars. On Wednesday Marc McCarrol seeded six won his first international title by capturing the men’s singles of the Airports Company South Africa SA Open at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. In the final, McCarrol upset second seeded fellow countryman Gordon Reid 4-6 6-2 6-3. The win catapulted McCarrol to number 13 on the world ranking list and he is now one spot behind Reid on the rankings making him the official British number 2.
A thrilled McCarrol said it was his first international final and was delighted with the win. “I was nervous going into the match and made a bunch of unforced errors in the first set but calmed myself and managed to improve my serve and returns which helped me close out the match and win my first title.”
McCarrol who ended the giant-killing run of South African Evans Maripa in yesterday’s semi-finals upset top seeded Takashi Sanada of Japan in the quarter finals. “South Africa is proving to be a great place for me. I’ve had some real good wins and in the final today, despite losing the first set, I felt that I played well. Gordon is a respected opponent, doubles partner and friend and he fought to the bitter end. I won after losing two match points proving how tough the final was. I am really happy with this win,” continued McCarrol.
McCarrol then teamed up with Reid to win the men’s doubles title. The top seeded Brits beat second seeded Yoshinobu Fujimoto and Takashi Sanada of Japan 6-1 6-4.
Defending champion in the women’s singles, Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany regained her title when she beat top seeded Marjolein Buis of Netherlands 6-4 2-6 6-2. Ellerbrock who has just jetted in from the USA said she felt at home in South Africa. “I just love playing in South Africa. It’s becoming like a second home. I had a lot of pressure with me as defending champion to win again so I could defend my points and maintain my world ranking of 5” she said. Ellerbrock then teamed up with Buis to win the doubles title.
Top seeded Quad player, Andrew Lapthorne of Great Britain gave his country a third title when he beat unseeded Boaz Kramer of Israel 6-3 7-6 to capture the Quad singles. The world number 4 lost only one set (vs Weinberg) in the semi-finals en route to lifting the title.
In the Junior event, it was an all-South African final with second seed Thabang Lekhanyane of Alexandra, Joburg causing a minor upset when she beat top seeded Mabel Mankgele of Limpopo 6-2 6-4.


CAPE TOWN TO HOST INAUGURAL WORLD STUDENT NETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Cape Town, South Africa - South Africa has been chosen to host the first ever World University Netball Championships (WUNC), to be held at the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town from July 2 to 7.

“This is a great honour for South Africa and will do much to develop the sport in this country,” said FISU Technical Chair: Netball, Helene Botha. “It will also enhance South Africa’s image as a preferred host of international sports events.”

The tournament will be held under the auspices of the International University Sports Federation (FISU), the biggest multi-code sports organisation after the International Olympic Committee. Twelve countries will take part, although all 163 FISU affiliated countries have been invited to enter. The final 12 will be decided by the International Federation of Netball Associations, IFNA.

The 12 teams will be divided into three pools, with the top two teams in each pool qualifying for the Elite Six. The cross-pool matches and quarter-finals will be played on one day, with the semifinals and final being played the next day. Countries tipped to be in the final group are Great Britain (ranked 3rd in the IFNA world netball rankings); Jamaica (ranked 4th); South Africa (ranked 6th); Fiji (ranked 7th); Barbados (ranked 9th); Northern Ireland (ranked 12th); Botswana (ranked 16th); Malaysia (ranked 22nd); Namibia (ranked 24th); USA; Zimbabwe; and Uganda.

The Good Hope Centre has been selected as the venue because it can accommodate two wooden court floors next to each other. It also has all the facilities required by IFNA and FISU, and has ample seating for spectators. The WUNC will be preceded by the University Sport South Africa (USSA) netball championships.

Andile Majeke President of USSA says that the WUNC is a great opportunity to show the world what South Africa is made of; “As the first National University Sport Federation to host this championship, we are indeed proud and excited to be the stage on which history will be written. Once again this is evidence that Africa can do all that can be done by any other continent. With all the support from local organisations, the Confederation of University and College Sports Associations (CUCSA) and the Federation of African University Sports (FASU), the world will have an experience of a life time.”

“Student netball is the backbone of South Africa’s provincial and national teams,” said Botha. “Netball is the most popular woman’s sport in South Africa – and globally – and hosting a tournament of this standard in South Africa will enable student players to experience international netball in their own backyard. Even those who are not playing will benefit from being involved in the organisation of the tournament.

“The tournament will also provide the community of Cape Town and the surrounding areas to experience netball at a very high level.”

Botha said coaches and teams from the 12 participating countries would also conduct coaching clinics in and around Cape Town, as part of USSA’s goal of developing sport at grassroots level.


GLOOMY DAY FOR SOUTH AFRICAN WHEELCHAIR TENNIS STARS AT ACSA SA OPEN

Johannesburg – As the dark skies hung over Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Tuesday, it was a gloomy day for South African Wheelchair Tennis players at the Airports Company South Africa SA Open. Our countries tennis stars had mixed fortunes on day four of the world ranking event.
Unseeded South African, Evans Maripa’s dream run came to a sad end in the semi-finals of the men’s singles. Twenty one year old Maripa has been enjoying the week of his life. In the rain interrupted event, Maripa upset fourth seed Yoshinobu Fujimoto of Japan 6-2 7-6 on Tuesday morning in the quarter finals before losing to six seed Marc McCarrol of Great Britain in the afternoon semi-finals. McCarrol beat Maripa 6-2 6-2. On Wednesday, McCarrol will play fellow countryman and second seed Gordon Reid who beat fifth seeded Takuya Miki of Japan 6-3 6-1 in his semi-final.
Maripa although disappointed after his loss said he had enjoyed a great week on court. “I don’t like losing but I was unseeded and reached the semi-finals and that means I have scored a bagful of world ranking points which will help me in my aims of qualifying for the Paralympics in London later this year” said Maripa.
In the women’s singles, top seed Marjolein Buis of Netherlands put out South African star, KG Montjane, seeded four 6-3 6-3. The South African started strongly racing to a 3-0 lead in the opening set but Buis fought back the level the set 3-3. Buis then broke the South African to win the set 6-3. In the second set Buis broke early to lead 5-0 but Montjane known for her fighting spirit made a premature come back to trail 3-5. The experience of Buis was too much for Montjane and the world’s fourth best player closed out the match 6-3 6-3. Buis seems to have Montjane’s number as the Dutch ace has beaten the South African in all four of their matches played.
Buis will play second seeded German, Sabine Ellerbrock in tomorrow’s (Wednesday) final. Ellerbrock beat third seeded Sharon Walraven also of the Netherlands 6-4 7-5 in a hard fought match that took 1 hour and 40 minutes.
“It wasn’t that Marjolein won the match, it was more that I lost the match” said Montjane following her loss. “I made too many unforced errors and although I played well at times in the match in order to beat the best you have to be consistently at your best. I’m learning from playing the best.” continued Montjane.
For Quad world number nine, Lucas Sithole it was an unfortunate day as he lost to unseeded Boaz Kramer of Israel 3-6 6-2 0-6 in his semi-final. Second seed Sithole, the highest ranked wheelchair tennis player on the world ranking , went to bed last night locked at set all with Boaz after rain had stopped play. It was unfortunate in the sense that Sithole, a notorious slow starter came out onto court today in cold and damp conditions which did not help matters and Sithole did not win a game losing the final set 6-0. Kramer will play top seeded Andrew Lapthorne of Great Britain in tomorrow’s (Wednesday) final. Lapthorne fought hard to beat fourth seeded Sharga Weinberg of Israel 2-6 6-1 6-4.
The junior final it will be an all South African affair with top seed Mabel Mankgele playing second seed Thabang Lekhanyane.
The finals will be played at 09h00 on Wednesday at Ellis Park Tennis Stadium in Johannesburg.


MONTJANE BEATS THE RAIN TO WIN THROUGH TO SEMI FINALS AT ACSA SA OPEN

Johannesburg – In a rain interrupted Monday, South African wheelchair tennis ace KG Montjane braved the weather and won through to the semi-finals of the women’s singles of the Airports Company South Africa SA Open being played at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
The fourth seeded Limpopo star overcame a slow start but had a strong finish when she beat fifth seed Katharina Kruger of Germany 6-4 6-0.
Montjane broke early in the first set and raced to a 4-1 lead. But Kruger then broke back and leveled the set at 4-4. Montjane regrouped and won eight games on the trot to win through to tomorrow (Tuesday’s) semi-final.
“I was really tight in the opening set, especially when I lost my 4-1 lead. I felt I had broken down mentally. But then I focused and put my mind to the task and got strong, Katharina got frustrated and I capitalized on her frustration” said Montjane.
In Tuesday’s semi-final, Montjane will come up against top seed Majolein Buis of Netherlands who beat six seed Jordanne Whiley of Great Britain 6-4 6-1. Montjane and Buis, the world number 4 have met three times before with Buis having won all three encounters.
The other semi-final will be contested by second seed Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany and third seed Sharon Walraven of Netherlands.
Rain played havoc with the tournament organizers all day. The start of the Quads singles semi-final was delayed two hours due to rain. Finally the players took to court and South African second seed Lucas Sithole and his unseeded semi-final opponent Boaz Kramer of Israel after two rain delays were locked at set all 3-6 6-2 when the rain fell again. Top seeded Andrew Lapthorne of Great Britain was in trouble against fourth seeded Shraga Weinberg of Israel in the second Quad semi-final. Weinberg won the opening set 6-2 but was down 0-3 in the second set when the rain came down and play was called off for the day.
None of the scheduled Men’s singles quarter-finals managed to go on court and tomorrow (Tuesday) play will start at 08h30 with all the Men’s singles quarterfinals from today (Monday) being scheduled first.


EVANS MARIPA SLOWLY SECURING HIS PARALYMPIC LONDON 2012 DREAM

Johannesburg – When South African wheelchair tennis star, Evans Maripa arrived at Ellis Park in Johannesburg for the Airports Company South Africa SA Open, he was quietly confident that he would have a good week. Maripa, unseeded from Limpopo after day two has found himself into the last eight of the Men’s singles of the world ranking tournament. On Sunday, Maripa followed up his upset win on Saturday over 8 seed Rafael Madeiros of Brazil with another straight set win over yet another Brazilian, Yamanitu Da Silva, winning 6-0 6-1. Maripa will now play fourth seeded Yoshinobu Fujimoto of Japan who beat South African Marshall Marsh 6-1 6-0. Maripa and Fujimoto last played each other in Polokwane in October last year which Fujimoto won in three close sets.
“I knew in order to do well I had to bring my A game into the SA Open. I’ve obviously brought my A game to Ellis Park and am so excited to be in the quarter finals” said Maripa following his win. With no points to defend, every round won here at Ellis Park by Maripa secures his Paralympic London 2012 dream.
Both top seeds in the Men’s singles, Sanada Takashi (Japan) and Gordon Reid (Great Britain) were comfortable second round winners on Sunday. Takashi beat Siposethu Kati (RSA) 6-1 6-0 whilst Reid beat Spano Luca (Italy) 6-2 6-0.
In the Women’s singles, all the top eight seeds have won through to the quarter finals including fourth seeded South African Kgothatso Montjane. Montjane beat Faizatul Thani of Malaysia 6-3 6-4.
Top women’s seed Marjolein Buis beat Luba Josevski of Australia 6-2 6-2 whilst second seed Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany beat Natalia Mayara of Brazil 6-1 6-2.
The quarter finals of the men’s and women’s singles will be played at 09h00 on Monday at Ellis Park Tennis Stadium.
In the Quads singles, one South African is through to Monday’s semi-final. Lucas Sithole, the second seed didn’t lose a game in his whitewash win over fellow South African David Mathebula. Sithole will now play Israel’s Boaz Kramer who upset third seeded Marco Innocenti of Italy 6-4 6-4. Top seed Andrew Lapthorne of Great Britain will face fourth seed Shraga Weinberg of Israel in the other Quad semi-final.
In the Junior draw, there will be an all-South African semi-final top seed Mabel Mankgele will play unseeded Tato Tsomolo and second seeded Thabang Lekhanyane will play third seeded Mariska Venter.


WHEELCHAIR TENNIS TOP SEEEDS WIN THROUGH ON DAY ONE AT ACSA SA OPEN

Johannesburg – All the top seeds in the Airports Company South Africa SA Open won through on day one of the country’s premier wheelchair tennis tournament being played at Ellis Park in the City of Joburg.
In the men’s division, Japanese top seed Sanada Takashi beat South African Sydwell Mathonsi 6-1 6-4. Mathonsi is one of the brightest prospects in our country and it was unlucky he drew the worlds tenth ranked player in the opening round. Second seeded Gordon Reid of Great Britain lost only two games when he beat Richard Engels of Australia 6-1 6-1.
In the women’s singles, the top seeds enjoyed first round byes including South African third seed Kgothatso Montjane who on Sunday will open up her campaign against Luba Josevski of Australia in round two.
In the Quads section, second seed and world number 9, Lucas Sithole of South Africa was a comfortable 6-2 6-0 first round winner against fellow countryman Fernando Gallant. “I enjoyed the match and it was a good solid start which will help my confidence for the week ahead” said Sithole after his victory. “I feel good about my game and I think it’s due to the good form I have brought back after my recent tour of the USA. But it’s just the start of the tournament and we have lots of tennis and tough matches ahead” continue Sithole. Sithole returned last week for a success run of three tournaments in the USA where he reached two semi-finals and a quarter final. Top seed in the Quads, Andrew Lapthorne needed under an hour to oust Nagaoka Takashi of Japan 6-1 6-0.
In the juniors there were first round wins for South African’s Alwanda Skhosana and Tato Tsomolo.


SOUTH AFRICA STOPPED BY TURKEY IN FINAL FED CUP HURDLE

Cairo, Egypt – It was a matter of “so close yet so far” for the South African Fed Cup team in Cairo, Egypt on Saturday as they failed at the last hurdle to gain promotion into the Euro/Africa Group 1 of Fed Cup in 2013.
Turkey beat South Africa 2-0 resulting in South Africa remaining in the Euro/Africa Group II next year.
In the final playoff tie against Turkey, Ilze Hattingh lost her first rubber of the week to Pemra Ozgen, 4-6 2-6 whilst Cagla Buyulkakcay came from a set down to beat Natalie Grandin 2-6 6-2 6-4.
Regardless of the loss, the week was a good one for John-Laffnie De Jager and his team which comprised of three debutants in Ilze Hattingh, Madrie Le Roux and Lyn Kiro plus the experienced Natalie Grandin who proved to be the driving force all week. “I am extremely proud of my girls. They came into the tournament unseeded then won three ties on the trot without losing a rubber and in the final playoff Tie fell to a powerful Turkey side” said De Jager. De Jager added that it was a great team effort and a lot was gained from the week. “This week was excellent experience for the new caps and Natalie was an incredible leader from the front. Natalie without doubt needs to be credited for her on-going commitment to tennis in South Africa, she plays with heart and is so proudly South African.”


SOUTH AFRICA WIN THROUGH TO FED CUP PLAY OFF

Cairo, Egypt – The South African Fed Cup team continued their winning run in Cairo, Egypt on today (Friday) when they beat Montenegro 3-0 to end tops in pool A. Tomorrow (Saturday) South Africa will play against Turkey to try and qualify for the Fed Cup Euro/Africa Group I in 2013. Turkey ended best of the pool B teams after the week long round robin tournaments.
Ilze Hattingh gave South Africa a winning start when she beat Vladica Babic 6-2 6-4 which was followed by a hard fought win by South African no. 2 Natalie Grandin who beat Danka Kovinic 6-4 7-5
With the tie decided, South African team Captain John-Laffnie De Jager teamed up Madrie Le Roux with fellow junior and new cap Lynn Kiro for the doubles rubber. Le Roux and Kiro made short work of Milica Sljukic and Vladica Babic beating the Montenegro team 6-1 6-1.
De Jager said the tie against Turkey tomorrow (Saturday) is going to be a tough challenge. “Turkey is a very solid team. It will be key for South Africa to win one of the two singles rubbers, because with world no. 24 doubles specialist Natalie Grandin in the side, South Africa always has a good chance in the doubles.”


SOUTH AFRICA UPSETS TOP SEEDS FINLAND IN FED CUP

Cairo, Egypt – South African Fed Cup captain, John-Laffnie De Jager stuck to his winning formula on day 2 of the Fed Cup round robin tournament played at the Golf El Solaimaneyah Club in Cairo, Egypt on Thursday.

De Jager and his unchanged team of Ilze Hattingh, Natalie Grandin and Madrie Le Roux who beat Denmark 3-0 yesterday (Wednesday), today (Thursday) upset top seeds Finland 3-0.

First up was 15 year old African Junior Champion Ilze Hattingh who scored a confident 6-2 6-1 win over Finland’s Johanna Hyoty. It was then the turn of the experienced Natalie Grandin who was never really bothered in beating Piia Suomalainen 6-4 6-3 to give South Africa the victory. Grandin then teamed up with birthday girl Madrie Le Roux to win the doubles rubber. Grandin and Le Roux beat Johanna Hyoty and Ella Leivo 6-0 6-1 to give South Africa their white wash win.

Grandin said that the team were delighted with the win over the favoured Fins and that the victory was especially sweet seeing that it was Madrie Le Roux‘s birthday. “The team is performing beyond expectations and I am so honoured and privileged to be playing for South Africa with our new Caps who, through their sterling performances, are proving to be a great asset for the future of tennis in South Africa.”

John-Laffnie De Jager was equally pleased with his team’s victory and hoped that the winning run would continue throughout the week. “We haven’t lost a tie yet and my team has made a perfect start but we realized that it is important to keep the intensity and put everything into the remaining matches. Tomorrow (Friday) we play Montenegro and we will go into that tie as prepared as we were for our previous two and try to pull off a third win in a row.

Tomorrow (Friday) South Africa play Montenegro in their final round robin pool A tie.


AIRPORTS COMPANY SOUTH AFRICA (ACSA) SA OPEN READY FOR TAKE OFF

Johannesburg, South Africa – The grand old lady of South African tennis, Ellis Park Tennis Stadium in the City of Joburg is gearing herself up for a bumper week of tennis.

Wheelchair Tennis South Africa are just three days away from hosting the Airports Company South Africa, SA Open, the country’s premier wheelchair tennis event which forms part of the international circuit. The tournament will be held from 21 – 25 April 2012. This Grade 1 tour event has attracted a top entry from overseas and will allow all the local players an opportunity of gaining all important world ranking points and a chance of qualifying for the London Paralympics in August.

Already confirmed as entered are South African’s top ranked men and women’s players Lucas Sithole (world ranked 9 in the Quads Division) and Kgothatso Montjane (world ranked 10 in the Women’s Division). They will be joined by international stars representing Australia, Great Britain, Italy, Scotland, Japan, Poland, Sri Lanka, Germany, Netherlands, France, Brazil, China, Malaysia and Israel.

Notable players that have entered include world number 4, Marjolein Buis and world number 9, Sharon Walraven both of the Netherlands in the women’s division. In the men’s division there will be three players ranked in the top 20 of the world namely Scotland’s Gordon Reid (12), Ben Weekes of Australia (15) and Japanese star, Yoshinobu Fujimoto (17).

In the Quad’s, Andrew Lapthorne of Great Britain is ranked no 4 and Maro Innocenti of Italy, ranked no 10 join Lucas Sithole all ranked in the world’s top 10.

“Ellis Park is a truly historic venue and will be a fitting wheelchair friendly host for the tournament” said Tournament Director Holger Losch. “The venue has played host to top ATP, WTA and ITF events including Davis and Fed Cup and now that our ACSA SA Open is being played at Ellis Park we can honestly say this “grand old lady” has hosted the best of all tennis events.” Losch continued by saying that preparations were well on track to host a truly memorable tournament. “We have been hard at work in making sure Ellis Park will be a warm and hospitable host. The courts are in good shape and the facilities have been well adapted for the players. After successfully hosting the World Wheelchair Tennis Championships last year, we feel in tune to host a great weeks tennis in the City of Gold. “

The tournament will have a Men’s, Women’s, Quads and Junior division each comprising of a singles and doubles draw. The tournament draw takes place on Friday at 18h00 at the Reef Hotel in Joburg with the opening round starting at 09h00 on Saturday morning. Round two is scheduled for Sunday, the quarter finals for Monday, semi-finals on Tuesday and the finals on Wednesday.


SOUTH AFRICA BRAVE THE STORM TO BEAT DENMARK IN FED CUP

Cairo, Egypt – The South African Fed Cup team scored an impressive 3-0 win over Denmark on Wednesday in their opening Tie of the Fed Cup Euro/Africa Group II tournament being played in Cairo Egypt.

South African Captain, John Laffnie De Jager described the win as a “dream start” to their tough pool A three tie round robin Fed Cup campaign and gave full credit to his team. “The conditions were real tough and the start of play was delayed by over two hours due to a massive sand storm. The clay was blowing all over the show but our team kept their composure and clinched the Tie and gave us a dream start here in Egypt.”

Fed Cup debutant, Ilze Hattingh gave South Africa a 1-0 lead when she upset Danish number 1, Mai Grage 7-6 (7-4) 5-7 6-0. The fifteen year old African Junior Champion was a class act on the clay and was never intimidated by her more experienced opponent. It was then the experienced Natalie Grandin who clinched the victory for South Africa with her 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 win over the Danish number 2, Karen Barbat. Grandin then returned to court and teamed up with junior Madrie le Roux to beat Mai Grage and Cecilie Melsted 7-5 6-3 to score a clean sweep for South Africa.

South Africa seen to have the Danish number. The two nations have met five times in Fed Cup competition with South Africa leading head to head 4-1 and all the South African victories being on clay.

South Africa now face Finland on Thursday.


KOTZE APPOINTED NATIONAL COACH UNTIL JUNE

Johannesburg, South Africa - Netball South Africa (NSA) announced on Tuesday that Elize Kotze would coach the SPAR National Netball Team until after the scheduled tour to Jamaica in June.

Head coach Elize Kotze and Captain Amanda Mynhardt at a press conference before their departure for the 2011 World Netball Championships in Singapore.

Picture by: Reg Caldecott

The announcement was made after a weekend training camp at which aspirant coaches worked with the national squad, and were put through their paces. Vice President NSA Blanche de la Guerre, said that this approach to appointing a coach was a first for Netball South Africa “We decided to take on a very transparent and widespread approach. Coaches were assessed on a number of levels including previous successes, coaching skills, and psychological testing. The panel consisted of five members, two external and three previous coaches of the South African national team.”

NSA President Mimi Mthethwa said the panel which evaluated the coaches had recommended Kotze as the most suitable. “However, Elize has a number of conditions that we are unable to meet at this stage, so we decided that we would appoint her to take the team to Jamaica, and then we would either advertise again for a national coach, or else use a headhunter,” said Mthethwa. She said Kotze’s conditions were not unreasonable, but NSA was unable to meet them at this stage. “But we are currently engaged in discussions with the Ministry of Sport in an attempt to improve conditions for netball,” she said. “We hope the outcome of the talks will be that we might be able to put netball on a more professional footing in future.”

Kotze was a member of a coaching panel appointed early last year, after the resignation of the previous coach, Carin Strauss. Kotze was named head coach for the World Championships in Singapore last July. South Africa finished fifth in the tournament after beating their Africa nemesis, Malawi, in the play-off for fifth and sixth place.

Kotze, who was a member of the South African team that won the silver medal at the World Championships in Birmingham in 1995, said she was keen to continue working with the team so that they could build on what had been achieved at the World Championships and in their tour to Australia last year. “We got to number five in the world at the world championships, and the logical next step is to aim for number four,” said Kotze.
“I sincerely believe we have the players, the talent and the potential to achieve this. But the top four countries – Australia, New Zealand, England and Jamaica –are professionals, and it is very difficult for an amateur team to compete on equal terms with them.”

Kotze said one of the problems facing the team was a lack of continuity. “We had the team for six months ahead of the World Championships, and we knew all the time what was happening with every single member of the squad. But they have to work or go back to their studies, and that continuity is lost.”


SOUTH AFRICAN TENNIS JUNIORS BEST IN AFRICA

South Africa retained the status of being the best junior tennis nation in Africa after dominating the African Junior Tennis Championship which ended in Cairo, Egypt over the past weekend.

The tournament which catered for the under 14 & under 16 age groups was played in conjunction with the under 18 African Junior Championships which was hosted in Potchefstroom last month.

South African Fed cup debutant Ilze Hattingh completed a unique quartable when she won the singles and doubles titles in both under 16 and under 18 age groups. Hattingh on Sunday defeated second seat Sandra Samir of Egypt 6-4 7-6(2) to win the under 16 girls singles title. Hattingh then teamed up with fellow countrywoman Theresa Van Zyl to win the girls under 16 doubles title. In March Hattingh won both the singles and doubles titles in the under 18 tournament.

In the boys under 14; singles top seed Calvin Jordaan from Cape Town captured the boys under 14 title when he came back from one set down to beat third seed Mohamed Aboulkassem of Egypt 2-6 7-5 6-3.

The dominance of Hattingh plus the singles victory by Jordaan as well as the doubles win in Potchefstroom by Wayne Montgomery and Matthew Rassouw (Under 18) gave team South Africa the required point standings to ensure that they were named the most successful tennis country on the continent.

The South African Fed Cup team under the captaincy of John-Laffnie De Jager who arrived in Cairo for this week‘s Fed Cup tournament there watched the South African Juniors’ victory. De Jager said that our juniors had performed well in Potchefstroom and Cairo tournaments which were encouraging for the future of tennis in South Africa. “The dominance of our juniors in the African Junior Championships is exciting for the development of tennis in our country. Our juniors dominated on hard and clay courts which gives hope that the future stars will be able to compete on any given surface which will stand them in good stead for their future professional tennis careers.


DEFENDING CHAMPIONS SOUTH AFRICA FAVOURITES TO REGAIN THEIR TITLE

Potchefstroom, South Africa - Africa’s top junior tennis players will do battle at the African Junior Championships to be hosted at the North West University, Potchefstroom Campus next week.

The tournament, played under the auspices of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and Confederation of African Tennis (CAT) will decide who the best under 18 boy and girl players are in Africa and which country emerges as the continental champions.

19 countries will be represented at the event which will be played from Monday 19 to Saturday 24 March 2012.

The countries represented are hosts South Africa, Algeria, Burundi, Benin, Botswana, Egypt, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Morocco, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tunisia and Zimbabwe.

South Africa are defending champions. This is the 35th edition of the African Junior Championships>. South Africa have won the title 18 times, the last being in Botswana last year.

“ What a golden opportunity it is for South Africa to host this prestigious event” said Ian Smith, CEO of The South African Tennis Association. “The tournament offers South African players additional opportunity to earn top grade world ranking points on their doorstep. We already have a healthy crop of junior players represented on the ITF World Rankings and this event will enable them to improve their positions which will assist them with their efforts for the remainder of the year” continued Smith.

The boys and girls will play in a singles and doubles tournament with the players being able to play with partners from other countries in the doubles. The tournament is a ITF world ranking event.

The South African team announced is;

Boys : Wayne Montgomery, Matthew Rossouw, Adriaan du Toit, Ronnie Myburgh and Christiaan vd Bergh
Girls : Lynn Kiro, Madrie le Roux, Ilse Hattingh, Theresa van Zyl, Jessica Simpson

Coaching the South African teams will be former South African Davis Cup players John Laffnie De Jager and Pietie Norval

As hosts, South Africa have been awarded four wild card spots in the boys and girls tournaments.

The wild cards are;

Boys: Lloyd Harris, Reuben Alberts, Clayton Gilbertson and Jan Willem Kleinhans
Girls: Janet Koch, Nelise Verster, Amy Olivier, Tamar Shahaf

The tournament has free entry and will be played each day from 09h00 at the tennis facility of the North West University Potchefstroom Campus with the final scheduled for Saturday 24 March.


KALMER CRUISES TO VICTORY

Cape Town, South Africa - Defending champion Rene Kalmer (Nedbank CGA) cruised to victory in the SPAR Women’s 10 km Challenge at the Greenpoint Stadium on Sunday morning.

Running in cool, overcast weather, Kalmer finished in 32.50, five seconds ahead of Nedbank AGN’s Rutendo Nyahora. Irvette van Blerk (Nedbank CGA) was third in 33.32.
Kalmer went into the lead from the start, and was in command throughout the race, although Nyahora was always close behind her. “Rutendo pushed me hard,” she acknowledged. “That was good, because I wanted to get the speed.“I was feeling good and I had a good run, although about seven kilometres was on cobblestones, and that was very uncomfortable underfoot.”

Kalmer said she did not feel any ill-effects from her victory in the 5000 metres at the South African championships in Port Elizabeth on Friday. “That was two days ago,” she laughed. “I’ve recovered from that. “I’m very happy with my win today – it is a good start to the SPAR Grand Prix series. I had to make a lot of sacrifices last year in my efforts to qualify for the Olympic Games this year, but now that I have qualified, I can focus more on the Grand Prix. I’m planning to run all five races – the prize of a motor car is a great motivator.” She said her victory on Sunday was a good confidence booster ahead of the London Marathon next Sunday, where she will be running as a pace maker for British athletes trying to qualify for the Olympic Games.

Nyahora said she was pleased with her effort, but was determined to beat Kalmer next time round. “I’ve been training hard for this race, and I ran a faster time than last year,” she said. “I liked the route, which was quite flat, although it was a bit windy at times. I was pleased to be so close to Rene, and I am going to try to beat her in Port Elizabeth.”

Van Blerk, who is the defending Grand Prix Champion, was not happy with her run. “I’ve got a lot of mileage in my legs and I could feel them all,” she said. “I just couldn’t get going and my legs felt very heavy. “The race was quite flat, and there was a lot of running on and off sidewalks. The cobbles didn’t help either.” Van Blerk will also be running the London Marathon next Sunday in an attempt to qualify for the Olympic Games.
“I hope this run will help me next week,’ she said. “It’s always good to get some speed under your belt ahead of a long race.”


TOP SOUTH AFRICAN WHEELCHAIR TENNIS STARS STOOD THEIR GROUND ON USA SOIL

Johannesburg, South Africa - Two of South Africa’s top wheelchair tennis stars; Lucas Sithole, ranked no. 11 in the world in the Quad’s division and Kgothatso Montjane ranked no. 10 in the Women’s division, just returned from a successful tour to the USA. They took part in three tournaments; the Cajun Classic, the Pensacola Open and the Florida Open.
Both Kgothatso and Lucas played with heart, tenacity, and guts. Although they did not break into single digits, they achieved significant personal goals, and further cemented their position as two of the top players in the world.
The Cajun Classic, an ITF Level 1 Event (21-25 March 2012) in Baton Rouge, USA saw impressive performances for Lucas Sithole, where he defeated the world no. 13 Shota Kawano (JPN) in the opening Quads singles round to set up a quarterfinal against Nick Taylor of the USA. A solid, focused performance from Sithole earned him a thrilling win of 6-2 6-3 over the world no. 5. The semifinals saw Sithole facing the 2nd seed Andrew Lapthorne (GBR). Lapthorne, presently no 4 in the world, is considered one of the tour’s fiercest competitors as he came from nowhere to be ranked in the top 5 in less than 2 years. Lapthorne vs. Sithole, the tour’s other player marked as talented and dangerous, were a match up which drew the crowds. Sadly, Lapthorne’s mobility and match experience at that level proved to be just too much for Sithole on the day, losing a closely contested battle 6-2 6-3.
The Pensacola Open, an ITF level 1 Event (30 March – 3 April) in Pensacola, USA saw Sithole on form. He secured a confident straight set win over Takahiro Koga (JPN) defeating him 6-0 6-2. The talented South African then faced the no. 1 ranked player in the world; Peter Norfolk (GBR) in the quarterfinals. Sithole played with confidence and the top seed Norfolk had to unpack all his big shots to ensure a win over the rising star. Sithole (RSA) lost 6-2 6-2. In the third and final event, the Florida Open, a Super Series Event (April 6-10, 2012) in Boca Raton, Florida, USA the world no. 11 Lucas Sithole (RSA) won a cliff hanger first round match against Mitsuteru Moroishi (JPN) 7-6 (4) 7-5. In the second round, Sithole had another lengthy battle to secure a glorious victory over the world no. 7 Anders Hard from Sweden 7-6 (3) 6-1 6-2 to set up a rematch in the quarterfinal against Peter Norfolk (GBR) world no.1. The quarterfinal was exciting and certainly did not fall short of drama; after an extended match; 5 hours of play and 4 rain delays Norfolk won 6-2 6-1.
Kgothatso Montjane, SA’s Golden Girl, also had a great tour, achieving many personal goals and reaffirming her belief she belongs in the top 6 in the world. Her tour started with a bang, where she faced Ju-Yeon Park (KOR) in the 2nd round of the Cajun Classic. A determined Kgothatso Montjane won the match 5-7 6-4 6-1 to set up a challenging quarterfinal against world no. 2 Aniek van Koot (NED). Once again Montjane (RSA) displayed shear tenacity and confidence not making it easy the world no 2, who narrowly won 7-6 (3) 7-5. Most notably, Montjane was the only player in the tournament to take more than a few games off the world no 2.
In the second week, the Pensacola Open, the women’s singles started with Kgothatso Montjane (RSA) progressing to the 2nd round after facing Dorrie Timmermans-van Hall (NED) who retired in the second set with Montjane leading 6-2 3-0. Montjane had a tough draw facing world no. 6 Annick Sevenans (BEL) in the second round. A stand out first set made the world sit up straight; Kgothatso Montjane took the set with ease, but Sevanans was quick to retaliate, taking the second 6-2. This set the stage for a mammoth third set battle. Montjane put up another tremendous fight, and displayed great character, Sevenans however took the match 2-6 6-2 7-5. In the third and final week, in the Florida Open, Montjane won her opening match defeating Henriett Koosz (AUT) in straight sets. In the 2nd round Kgothatso Montjane (RSA) again faced Annick Sevenans (BEL) world no. 6 for the second successive week hoping to this time turn the tables. The Belgium player showed to be the better player on the day winning 6-2 6-4.
Holger Losch, Director and Performance Coach said: “I am very proud and excited about the players’ performance. They both played good matches, displayed great spirit, and most importantly confirmed the belief they belong in the top players in the world. Both the players and I strongly believe that with a little more work, there is no reason they can’t beat players ranked as high as 1 and 2 in the world, and take up their rightful spots in the top 5.”
Participation in local and international tournaments such as these is made possible by the generous sponsorships offered by Airports Company South Africa, the official sponsor of the sport.
Other resources worth a visit include: www.tennis.co.za; or join our Facebook group: Wheelchair Tennis SA and follow us on Twitter: @WCTennis.


SOUTH AFRICA DRAW CANADA IN 2012 DAVIS CUP by BNP PARIBAS WORLD GROUP PLAY OFFS

• Home Tie for South Africa as Davis Cup World Group play-off Ties are announced
• South African Captain says that drawing Canada in Davis Cup play-off will be a tough challenge

London – South Africa have drawn top seeded Canada at home in the Davis Cup by BNP Baribas World Group play-offs to be played later this year. The Draw for the 2012 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group play-offs was held today at the ITF’s headquarters in London. The World Group play-offs will take place on 14-16 September alongside the World Group semifinals.
The winning nations in the World Group play-offs will qualify for the 2013 World Group, while the losing nations will compete in their respective Zone Group I competitions in 2013.
Seeds for the draw were based on the latest ITF Davis Cup Nations Ranking of 9 April.
The draw is as follows:
2012 World Group play-offs
Kazakhstan (s) (*) v Uzbekistan
Germany (s) v Australia
Japan (*) v Israel (s)
Belgium v Sweden (s)
South Africa (*) v Canada (s)
Brazil v Russia (s)
Italy (s) v Chile
Netherlands v Switzerland (s)

Nations with choice of ground are listed first
(s) denotes seeded nation
(*) denotes choice of ground determined by lot

John Laffnie De Jager, Captain of the South African team said that to draw Canada was a tough challenge for South Africa. “Other than the advantage of playing against Canada at home, drawing Canada is not great. They are so good in singles and doubles as they have Milos Raonic and Daniel Nestor in their side. Raonic is one of the up and coming stars on the professional tour ranked at number 25 and Nestor who is thirty nine years old and ranked number 3 on the world doubles ranking is arguably the greatest doubles player in the open era. So with a great singles and doubles line up and the fact that they enjoy playing at altitude, makes the draw tough against Canada.”
De Jager said that he was not sure where the team would prefer to play the Tie. “My team will discuss whether we should play Canada on high or low altitude and once we have made our preferred decision we will discuss venue possibilities with Tennis South Africa and come to a decision.”
Regardless of drawing Canada, De Jager said his team was up to the challenge. “We knew whoever we drew in the play-offs would be tough. My team and I are ready for the challenge. We are hungry and motivated after beating against all odds Slovenia this past weekend.”

Team South Africa consisting of Izak Van Der Merwe, Ruan Roelofse, Raven Klaasen and Jean Andersen upset Slovenia 4-1 at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Complex in Soweto over the Easter weekend to earn their play-off sport. This was despite the non-availability of the country’s top two players, Kevin Anderson and Rik De Voest. Tennis South Africa is negotiating with Anderson and De Voest to see if they are available for the September home Tie.


DEFENDING CHAMPION IN HIGH SPIRITS

Johannesburg, South Africa – Defending SPAR Grand Prix Champion Irvette Van Blerk was in high spirits today as she received her trophy for winning the 2011 SPAR Grand Prix. Being a two-time winner of the SPAR Grand Prix has made Van Blerk R120 000.00 richer and has stood her in good stead for all of her races.

Defending SPAR Grand Prix Champion Irvette Van Blerk was in high spirits today as she received her trophy for winning the 2011 SPAR Grand Prix.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott

“I love competing in the SPAR Women’s Challenges” said Van Blerk during a panel discussion at today’s launch of the 2012 Grand Prix, “they are great fun and a very good platform to try and improve my times in the 10km.” “The SPAR races have definitely been good preparation in my endeavor to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics.” Irvette will be competing in the London Marathon later this month in her attempt to qualify.


SPAR GRAND PRIX GETS EVEN BETTER

Johannesburg, South Africa - There is an exciting new incentive for runners taking part in the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge races this year – the winner of the annual SPAR Grand Prix will receive the keys to a brand new, just released car.

SA’s top athletes show their excitement at the new first prize for the SPAR Grand Prix.
From left: Ronel Thomas, Irvette Van Blerk, Marelise Retief, Mike Prentice Marketing Executive SPAR Group Ltd, and Rene Kalmer.
Picture Credit: Reg Caldecott

For the past five years, the top runners have competed for Grand Prix points, with the overall winner pocketing a hefty cash prize, but this year, she will receive a Nissan Micra Visia 1.2 to help her get to and from her training sessions.

The runner-up will receive R30 000 and the third-placed athlete R15 000. There are cash prizes for the top ten runners in the open category, and for the top three in the four age categories.

Runners earn Grand Prix points according to their positions in the five Challenge races, which are held in Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Bay, Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg. The top 20 runners in each race earn Grand Prix points, with the winner receiving 20 and the 20th placed runner one point.

An age category runner earns points by finishing in top five in her age group, with the overall age group winners taking home R3000. Runners can also earn bonus points by finishing the race in a faster time than the winning time in the particular race in the previous year. All runners who beat the 2011 overall winning time in the relevant age category of the corresponding race in 2012 will score five time incentive points.

“We are so excited about the way interest in the Grand Prix has grown every year,” said SPAR Group Marketing Executive Mike Prentice. “We believe the runners will be enthusiastic about the chance to win a new car to help them get around when they are not running.
SPAR sees the Women’s Challenge races, and the Grand Prix in particular, as one of our most important sponsorships. “We take pride in rewarding our country’s top athletes for their efforts on the road through our Grand Prix Series. And while the SPAR Women’s Challenge races are about the everyday woman, without the participation of our country’s elite athletes, the series would not have the prestige and credibility it has achieved,” he said.

The runners are also very enthusiastic about the Grand Prix, which is an added incentive for them to compete in as many races as their international commitments allow. Two-time winner Irvette van Blerk said the concept added an extra dimension to the competition.
“The thought of the prize certainly puts a smile on your face,” she laughed.
Rene Kalmer, who has also won the Grand Prix twice, said the thought of the ultimate prize was a great motivator on cold winter mornings.

“Irvette Van Blerk was the SPAR Grand Prix winner in 2011, finishing with a total of 126 points. Zintle Xiniwe was second with 89 with Charne Bosman third with 63 points. Comrades Marathon gold medalist Grace de Oliveira, Olga Howard, evergreen Sonja Laxton and Happiness Mkhize won the veteran, master, grandmaster and junior categories respectively.’’


GRANDIN TO LEAD SOUTH AFRICA FED CUP TEAM IN EGYPT

Johannesburg, South Africa – Experienced Natalie Grandin will spearhead the South African attack at the upcoming Fed Cup Europe / Africa Zone Group 2 tournament to be played at the Golf El Solaimaneyah Club in Cairo from April 18 to 21.
The balance of the team is Lyn Kiro, Madrie Le Roux, and Ilze Hattingh. The team is captained by John-Laffnie de Jager. It was Grandin, along with Chanel Simmonds, who secured the victory over Egypt last year after winning their respective singles matches in straight sets. South Africans were promoted after an overall 3-0 win in the play-off.
Grandin is focused on doubles play in which she is ranked at No 27 in the world but has a singles ranking of 782.
The tournament will be played on red clay and the other countries South Africa will be facing are Denmark, Finland. Georgia, Latvia, Montenegro, Norway and Turkey.
The eight countries will be divided in two pools and will against the others in their pool on a round robin basis. The winner of each pool will play-off against the runner-up in the other pool to determine which two teams will advance to Europe / Africa Zone Group I in 2013.
Nations in third place in each pool will play-off against nations in fourth place in other pool to determine which two nations will be relegated to Europe / Africa Zone Group III in 2013.
“I am excited for the young players in the team,” said De Jager. “They are our best juniors and still only 15 and 16 years old. This will be great for their tennis.
“With Natalie in the team they will have a great player to learn from. Natalie has been part of the Fed Cup team for many years and knows what it is to play for her country. She really has the gift to help and mentor young players. She has had a great 16 months on the WTA tour and her experience will be invaluable in Egypt.”
Two weeks ago, Ilze Hattingh won the prestigious African Junior Championships beating Madrie le Roux in the final. Hattingh and Le Roux then teamed up to win the doubles title.


SEEDS ANNOUNCED FOR 2012 DAVIS CUP by BNP PARIBAS WORLD GROUP PLAY-OFFS

London – The ITF has announced the seeds for the Draw for the 2012 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group play-offs. The Draw will take place on Wednesday 11 April at the ITF offices in London at 11:00 (10:00 GMT).
The eight seeded nations are: Canada, Germany, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Russia, Sweden and Switzerland. Seeds are based on the new ITF Davis Cup Nations Ranking of 9 April.
Each of the seeds will be drawn against one of the following unseeded nations: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Japan, Netherlands, South Africa and Uzbekistan.
The 2012 World Group play-offs will take place alongside the World Group semifinals on 14-16 September. The eight winning nations will contest the 2013 World Group.
The line-up for the World Group play-offs was confirmed after Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Israel, Netherlands, South Africa and Uzbekistan all won their Zone Group I second round ties on 6-8 April. They joined the losers from the 2012 World Group first round ties.
Davis Cup by BNP Paribas is the largest annual international team competition in sport with 123 nations entered in 2012. The title sponsor is BNP Paribas, the Official Bank of Davis Cup. International sponsors are HP (Official Technology Sponsor), Rolex (Official Timekeeper) Hugo Boss (Official Men’s Fashion Clothing Sponsor), Adecco (Official HR Sponsor) and NH Hoteles (Official Hotel). Wilson Sporting Goods (Official Ball) is an international partner. The 100th Davis Cup Final will take place on 16-18 November at the start of the ITF centenary celebrations in 2013. Follow all the action on www.daviscup.com, www.copadavis.com and www.twitter.com/daviscup.


IZAK VAN DER MERWE DRIVES SOUTH AFRICA INTO DAVIS CUP WORLD GROUP PLAY-OFFS

Johannesburg, South Africa - South Africa’s No1 Izak van der Merwe defeated his Slovenia counterpart Blaz Kavcic 7-6 (7/3), 6-4, 6-4 in Sunday’s opening singles tie in the Euro-Africa group one Davis Cup qualifier at the Arthur Ashe tennis complex, in Soweto.
Van der Merwe’s victory ensured that South Africa won the tie 3-1, after his singles win against Grega Zemlja on Friday, coupled with Saturday’s doubles win when he was partnered by Raven Klaasen.
Both Van der Merwe and Kavcic started off cautiously in windy conditions and neither managed to wrest the initiative as initial games went with service.
However, halfway through the first set Van der Merwe claimed the first break but Kavcic broke immediately in the next game and eventually a tiebreak was needed to separate the two.
Van der Merwe cranked up his booming serve in the tiebreak and literally blew Kavcic way, who judging by his facial expressions was going through soul-destroying times as the South African wrapped up the tiebreak 7-3.
Kavcic hung in bravely over the next two sets but Van der Merwe’s serve carried too much firepower. On top of it, a few line calls went against him in the third set, and that finally helped to extinguish any lingering hopes he may have had of sustaining Slovenia’s Davis Cup drive into the World Group play-offs in September.
With South Africa already winning the rubber, the outcome of the second reverse singles encounter between the country’s No 2s Ruan Roelofse and Nik Razborsek was of mere academic importance.
The Davis Cup World Group play-offs will take in 16 teams and will be staged on the weekend of 14-16 September.
Eight of the 16 teams will come from the first-round World Group losers Kazakhstan, Russia, Canada, Switzerland, Italy, Japan, Sweden and Germany.
The remaining eight will come the Group 1 countries, which play in three sections; Americas, Asia / Oceania and Europe / Africa.
Two teams from each of the Americas and Asia / Oceania sections, plus four from Europe / Africa will make up the eight teams.
By midday Sunday, Uzbekistan and Australia qualified as the Asia / Oceania teams.
South Africa, Netherlands and Israel were the teams from the Europe / Africa section to reach the play-offs.
The outstanding results of three other ties will determine who fills the final three play-offs places.
For the play-offs, eight of the 16 teams will be seeded, with their Davis Cup ranking the decisive criteria.
It’s very likely that given the composition of the play-off teams, that South Africa will secure a home tie yet again.
It will be the fourth time in the past decade that South Africa will be playing in the World Cup group play-offs.
South Africa enjoys the distinction of being one of the13 nations that have been crowned Davis Cup champions since USA won the inaugural competition in 1900.
In December 1974, South Africa won the title by default because their opponents India withdrew from the final.
About the ITF:
The ITF is the world governing body of tennis, responsible for the Rules of Tennis and maintaining the integrity of the sport. In addition to its administrative role, the ITF is the owner and international rights holder of the two largest annual international team competitions in sport, Davis Cup by BNP Paribas and Fed Cup by BNP Paribas. The ITF also organises the Olympic Tennis Event on behalf of the IOC. Through its Technical Department, the ITF closely monitors both equipment and technology, while its Officiating Department oversees the education and advancement of officials worldwide. The ITF organises over 900 weeks of men’s and women’s professional tournaments on the ITF Pro Circuit. Through its Tennis Development Department that oversees the development of tennis worldwide, the ITF manages the ITF Junior Circuit and Team Competitions for elite juniors as well as international tennis events and programmes for wheelchair and senior players. The ITF also manages the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme on behalf of the sport and is a partner in the Tennis Integrity Unit.

About Davis Cup:
Davis Cup by BNP Paribas is the largest annual international team competition in sport with 123 nations entered in 2012. The title sponsor is BNP Paribas, the Official Bank of Davis Cup. International sponsors are HP (Official Technology Sponsor), Rolex (Official Timekeeper) Hugo Boss (Official Men’s Fashion Clothing Sponsor), Adecco (Official HR Sponsor) and NH Hoteles (Official Hotel). Wilson Sporting Goods (Official Ball) is an international partner. The 100th Davis Cup Final will take place on 16-18 November at the start of the ITF centenary celebrations in 2013. Follow all the action on www.daviscup.com.


KLAASEN & VAN DER MERWE GIVE SOUTH AFRICA A 2-1 DAVIS CUP LEAD

Johannesburg, South Africa - South Africa overcame a first-set hiccup to defeat Slovenia 6-7(5) 7-6(4) 6-1 6-4 in Saturday’s Davis Cup doubles match at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Complex in Soweto.
The SA team of Raven Klaasen and Izak van der Merwe started off well enough against Blaz Kavcic and Grega Zemlja to run up a 5-2 first-set lead but then they lost their way and eventually surrendered the opening set 7-6 (5).
It would have been a hammer blow if the SA duo allowed the setback to prove overwhelming. Instead they showed great mental strength as they bravely soldiered on to regain the initiative when the second set got under way.
John-Laffnie de Jager said afterwards that the key to the win was his team’s ability to stay mentally in the game, after losing the first set.
“They showed superb mental strength after their game became sloppy at one stage late in the first set,” said De Jager. “The first-set loss didn’t cause them to lose confidence and I must say they always felt they were in the match.
“This win wasn’t pretty but it was vital going into the final day. We are now 2-1 up and that is a platform for Izak to win his match on Sunday morning.
“Hopefully, we won’t have to worry about the second singles match on Sunday, after Izak’s played his match.”
The SA side went through a testing period towards the end of the fourth set when they seemed to lack a killer punch and they spurned four match points at 5-3.
Klaasen, who was in brilliant form, especially at the net, where his lightning reflexes left Slovenians stranded, finally delivered the coup de grace as the South Africans signed off 40-0 on Van der Merwe’s in the 10th and final game.
Klaasen said afterwards that they could have been more clinical in trying to win the big points.
“We always felt we had the measure of our moments and together with our mental effort we were able to stay ahead of the Slovenians,” said Klaasen. “We worked patiently through the shaky patches and that was pretty tough out there under high altitude conditions.”
Van der Merwe said the doubles match gave him a great chance to play against his Sunday opponent Kavcic.
“I can go into Sunday’s singles match with a clean slate, having been on the winning side in singles and doubles,” said Van Heerden. “I know I will have to play at my best to beat Kavcic.”
The doubles win allows South Africa to go up 2-1 in the Euro-Africa Group 1 rubber.
With the reverse singles on Sunday, South Africa can emerge victorious in the tie if their No 1 Van der Merwe can win his clash with the Slovenia No 1 Kavcic.

About the ITF:
The ITF is the world governing body of tennis, responsible for the Rules of Tennis and maintaining the integrity of the sport. In addition to its administrative role, the ITF is the owner and international rights holder of the two largest annual international team competitions in sport, Davis Cup by BNP Paribas and Fed Cup by BNP Paribas. The ITF also organises the Olympic Tennis Event on behalf of the IOC. Through its Technical Department, the ITF closely monitors both equipment and technology, while its Officiating Department oversees the education and advancement of officials worldwide. The ITF organises over 900 weeks of men’s and women’s professional tournaments on the ITF Pro Circuit. Through its Tennis Development Department that oversees the development of tennis worldwide, the ITF manages the ITF Junior Circuit and Team Competitions for elite juniors as well as international tennis events and programmes for wheelchair and senior players. The ITF also manages the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme on behalf of the sport and is a partner in the Tennis Integrity Unit.

About Davis Cup:
Davis Cup by BNP Paribas is the largest annual international team competition in sport with 123 nations entered in 2012. The title sponsor is BNP Paribas, the Official Bank of Davis Cup. International sponsors are HP (Official Technology Sponsor), Rolex (Official Timekeeper) Hugo Boss (Official Men’s Fashion Clothing Sponsor), Adecco (Official HR Sponsor) and NH Hoteles (Official Hotel). Wilson Sporting Goods (Official Ball) is an international partner. The 100th Davis Cup Final will take place on 16-18 November at the start of the ITF centenary celebrations in 2013. Follow all the action on www.daviscup.com.


SOUTH AFRICA-SLOVENIA CRUNCH DAVIS CUP TIE FINELY POISED

Johannesburg, South Africa - Izak van der Merwe made heavy weather of his 6-1 3-6 6-3 6-4 win over Slovenia’s Grega Zemja on the opening day of the Davis Cup Group One Europe/Africa tie at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Complex in Soweto on Friday.
But the win by SA No 1 Van der Merwe ensured that the honours were shared at 1-all after the SA No 2 Ruan Roelofse was overwhelmed by the sense of occasion in earlier match against the Slovenia No 1 Blaz Kavcic, who in the end ran out a comfortable 6-7 (4) 6-1 6-1 6-3 winner.
The Davis Cup debutant Roelofse got the Group One Europe/Africa tie off to great start for South Africa when he clinched the first set, after he dropped serve in the opening game.
Roelofse’ cavalier approach after this setback took the Kavcic by surprise and he came a cropper in the sixth game when he dropped serve for a 3-all scoreline.
Thereafter, both players claimed their service games and in the first-set tiebreak Roelofse won convincingly 7-4.
But once Roelofse surrendered his opening service game in the second he was overcome by the occasion and never recovered. His service was particularly affected and he seldom regained his rhythm.
After the match the 379-world ranked Roelofse said after he tied up the first set he tried to force the pace of the match against Kavcic (109).
“I started out nervously but then I played well in the first set,” said Roelofse. “Once I won the first set I started rushing things, and my game never came together.
“But I was feeling good after the first set because I showed that I can play at this (Davis Cup) level.”
Kavcic said that the difference in their world rankings started showing as the match wore on.
“The big difference between us today was the world ranking because it started showing at the start of the second set,” said Kavcic. “I’ve been playing on clay for several weeks and so I needed the time to adjust. My world ranking has to do with consistency of performance whereas (Roelofse) still has a way to go to reach the 100-mark.
“It wasn’t about shots in this match, it was about experience to cope with the situation.”
In the second match Van der Merwe started out in great fashion behind a booming serve that looked capable of blowing his Solvenian opponent Zemja away.
However, he allowed Zemja back into the picture in the second set when he seemed to battle with the high altitude conditions in his service games.
He said afterwards that the margin between a good serve and hitting out suddenly became a problem but he composed himself to wrap up a successful ending.
“There were a few mental battles that I had to contend with, but I knew the key was to remain focused,” said Van der Merwe. “I managed to save a few break points by working on a point at a time, and then my confidence picked up. During this (second) set I hit some great serves but I kept missing the lines.
“Now I’m set on serving well in the doubles on Saturday.”
Both captains, John-Laffnie de Jager (South Africa) and Blaz Trupej (Slovenia), were happy with the 1-all stalemate at the end of the first day.
De Jager’s team of Van der Merwe and Raven Klaasen should have the edge against Kavcic and Zemja in Saturday’s doubles clash, given their superior world rankings, both as doubles players and as a doubles team.
“In Davis Cup we’ve learnt that rankings count for nothing. It’s what you do on court that counts,” said de Jager. “The doubles is going to be critical for us because of how well the Slovenians played in the singles.
“I’ve settled for Van der Merwe and Klaasen because they are our most experienced players and I expect them to get us the doubles match.”

About the ITF:
The ITF is the world governing body of tennis, responsible for the Rules of Tennis and maintaining the integrity of the sport. In addition to its administrative role, the ITF is the owner and international rights holder of the two largest annual international team competitions in sport, Davis Cup by BNP Paribas and Fed Cup by BNP Paribas. The ITF also organises the Olympic Tennis Event on behalf of the IOC. Through its Technical Department, the ITF closely monitors both equipment and technology, while its Officiating Department oversees the education and advancement of officials worldwide. The ITF organises over 900 weeks of men’s and women’s professional tournaments on the ITF Pro Circuit. Through its Tennis Development Department that oversees the development of tennis worldwide, the ITF manages the ITF Junior Circuit and Team Competitions for elite juniors as well as international tennis events and programmes for wheelchair and senior players. The ITF also manages the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme on behalf of the sport and is a partner in the Tennis Integrity Unit.

About Davis Cup:
Davis Cup by BNP Paribas is the largest annual international team competition in sport with 123 nations entered in 2012. The title sponsor is BNP Paribas, the Official Bank of Davis Cup. International sponsors are HP (Official Technology Sponsor), Rolex (Official Timekeeper) Hugo Boss (Official Men’s Fashion Clothing Sponsor), Adecco (Official HR Sponsor) and NH Hoteles (Official Hotel). Wilson Sporting Goods (Official Ball) is an international partner. The 100th Davis Cup Final will take place on 16-18 November at the start of the ITF centenary celebrations in 2013. Follow all the action on www.daviscup.com


SOUTH AFRICA RELYING ON ROELOFSE AS A TRUMP CARD

Johannesburg, South Africa – Ruan Roelofse is all set for his Davis Cup baptism of fire in Soweto on Friday morning, when he gets South Africa’s weekend campaign under way against Slovenia at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Complex in Soweto.
Good Friday 2012 will be etched on the mind of Roelofse for many years to come, as he’ll be realiZing a childhood dream of playing Davis Cup for South Africa.
The draw for the second round Group One Europe/Africa tie was made at the Apartheid Museum near Soweto on Thursday and the 22-year-old Roelofse’s name was drawn for the first singles rubber. It was the first time that a sports event has held at the famous museum.
In the past Roelofse has spoken about his dream of playing Davis Cup and chance has come much earlier than anticipated.
The absence of Kevin Anderson and Rik de Voest has earned Roelofse a squad call-up but things took a turn for the better on Thursday when he was surprisingly named ahead of Raven Klaasen as the team’s No 2. Roelofse slots in at a lowly 379 while Klaasen is placed just over a 100 places better at 273.
But there was some fighting talk from Davis Cup debutant when he faced the media.
“I will have to take care of myself in what will be a huge match for me and the team, especially because I’m first up,” said Roelofse. “I’ll have to do what I have to do and I’m ready for it.
“I don’t know much about Blaz Kavcic.”
Roelofse will be up against the
SA’s non-playing captain John-Laffnie de Jager said after a week’s training he felt Roelofse was the best option as the No 2. “I’ve came to the decision because Roelofse has been playing so well in recent months, and then at training this week he was really impressive,” said De Jager. “That’s why I selected Roelofse and I have confidence that he’ll do the business.”
Blaz Trupej, Slovenia’s captain said he was not surprised by the decision to play Roelofse. “I know what they’ve done at training in the past few days and so I’m not surprised that they’ve gone with Roelofse,” said Trujej.
Klaasen has been consigned to doubles duty as a partner for Izak van der Merwe, the SA No 1 singles player.
“I see this an opportunity to nail down the tie in the doubles match on Saturday,” said Klaasen. “Hopefully by the time we play the doubles it was be a critical moment this weekend so that we can sew up the result before the start of Sunday’s reverse singles.”
The playing programme
Friday singles (start 10am): Ruan Roelofse (RSA) v Blaz Kavcic (SLO), Izak van der Merwe (RSA) v Grega Zemja (SLO).
Saturday doubles (start 12 noon): Izak van der Merwe (RSA) and Raven Klaasen (RSA) v Blaz Kavcic (SLO) and Grega Zemja (SLO).
Sunday reverse singles (10am): Izak van der Merwe (RSA) v Blaz Kavcic (SLO), Ruan Roelofse (RSA) v Grega Zemja (SLO).
Teams
South Africa: Raven Klaasen, Ruan Roelofse and Izak van der Merwe. Reserve: Jean Anderson. Captain: John-Laffnie de Jager.
Slovenia: Blaz Kavcic and Grega Zemja. Reserves: Janez Semrajc and Nik Razborsek. Captain: Blaz Trupej.


SOUTH AFRICAN INTERNATIONAL WHEELCHAIR TENNIS EVENTS OF PARAMOUNT SIGNIFICANCE

Johannesburg, South Africa – With the qualification for this year’s Paralympics just three weeks away, this year’s international wheelchair tennis tournaments to be staged in Gauteng are of greater significance than ever before.
This year’s Paralympics take place in London from August 29 to September 9 and the qualification cut-off is May 21.

Caption: Wheelchair Tennis South Africa’s (WTSA) superstars (Fltr) Kgothatso (Kg) Montjane, Evans Maripa and Lucas Sithole preparing for a double-headed feast for fans. The Airports Company South African Open is being played at Ellis Park from 21 -25 April 2012 followed by the Airports Company South Africa Joburg Open in Ekurhuleni. The ACSA SA Open is a ITF Grade 1 tournament and International world top 10 players in all categories have entered for the event. The South African players will also use the opportunity to prepare for the Paralympic Games which will be taking place in London later in the year. Second from the right is Tournament Director, Holger Losch.

The two South African events, which are sanctioned by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and form part of the ITF World Wheelchair Tennis Tour, will take place back-to-back from April 21 to 25 and April 27 to May 1.
The first tournament, the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) South African Open, is a Grade 1 Tour event and will be played at Ellis Park. The second is the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) Joburg Open, and is a Grade 2 Tour event. That is to be played at the Gauteng East Tennis Complex in Benoni.
As a result of the proximity to the Paralympic cut-off, a large international and local entry is predicted.
“It’s a real honour for Wheelchair Tennis South Africa and our sponsor, ACSA, to be hosting these prestigious events,” said Tournament Director Holger Losch.
“One of our goals for 2013 is for South Africa to host a Wheelchair Super Series event. There are very few of them on the Tour and it will be a first for Africa.
“The success of the ACSA SA Open and ACSA Joburg Open will help us convince the ITF South Africa and Africa that we are ready to host a Super Series. This will also help our own players as they will be able to play at home and earn valuable world ranking points.”
The men’s and women’s champions of last year will be back to defend their titles and there will also be some new visitors to the tournament. Tadeusz Kruszelnicki from Poland won the men’s event last year while runner-up Ben Weekes loved South Africa and is excited to come back and compete in the event again.
Women’s world No 5, Sabine Ellerbrock, is the current defending champion and she could face an interesting showdown with world No 10, Kgothatso Montjane of South Africa. The South African will be looking to go one better this year after going down in last year’s final. However, she is currently in top form and is a strong contender for the title.
South Africa has some of the world’s best players and topping that list is Montjane who is currently ranked at No 10 in singles and No 14 in doubles. In fact, South Africa has 10 women ranked in the top 100. Other than Montjane, Celia du Toit is at No 30, Rosalea van der Meer at No 36, Mabel Mankgele is at No 70, Tsholofelo Sibanda at No 74, Siphokazi Fuma at No 91 and Thado Hlatswayo at No 93.
As far as the men are concerned Sydwell Mathonsi is ranked at No 37 in singles and 36 in doubles. Eliphas Maripa is ranked 52 in singles and at No 37 in doubles.
Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) continues to support Wheelchair Tennis in South Africa and is delighted to be hosting these two major events in Gauteng.
“The tournaments give a golden opportunity to our local talent especially in the year of the Paralympics where South Africa will be represented. We as Airports Company South Africa are honoured to be part of an initiative that has assisted in growing wheelchair tennis in the country. Through our contribution we continuously strive to better South African players thus ensuring that they are well equipped to participate in the best wheelchair tennis tournaments globally,” said ACSA’s Group Manager: Communications Solomon Makgale.

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