JAPANESE STAR SHINGO EXCITED ABOUT PLAYING IN SOUTH AFRICA.

Johannesburg, South Africa - Having Japanese wheelchair tennis star Shingo Kunieda travelling to South Africa next month to play in two tournaments in Gauteng, will be a major boost for the sport locally said Karen Losch, General Manager of Wheelchair Tennis South Africa.

Japanese, Shingo Kunieda with his eyes on the ball.


Losch added that Kunieda was an “inspirational world number one player with an impressive string of successes behind his name, and that his participation would “inspire local players and give the game in South Africa as well as both tournaments a major boost.

Kunieda last week confirmed his entry into next month’s Airports Company South Africa sponsored Gauteng Open and SA Open. Both tournaments form part of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour. The first tournament would be staged in Benoni from 3-7 April whilst the second would be held at the grand old lady of tennis, Ellis Park in Johannesburg from the 9-13 April.

Twenty nine year old Kunieda is the reigning Australian Open champion and arrives in the country unbeaten in 2013 and having won three titles this year (Sydney, Melbourne and Rotterdam). Kunieda is the gold medal winner from last year’s London Paralympics and current NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters title holder. Due to a tumor in his spinal cord from when he was 9, he is paralyzed in the lower half of his body. He started his Wheelchair Tennis career aged 11 and joined the international tour circuit at 17 years old. Eight years later aged 25 he became Japan’s first professional Wheelchair Tennis player and won single’s gold at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games as well double’s gold at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games.

Kunieda was honoured by the ITF as the World Wheelchair Tennis Champion from 2007 to 2010, the first player ever to have won the world title for four straight years.

Speaking from his home in Chiba, Japan, Kunieda said he was excited to be travelling to South Africa. “I am looking forward to playing my first South Africa tournament. I am hard at work preparing for the tournaments. I am playing well and I have great confidence and will try to get the titles.”

The Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open is a Grade 1 event with the Airports Company South Africa SA Open being the first Super Series event played in the country.


RESULTS OF SPAR WOMEN’S 10 KM CHALLENGE

Results of the SPAR Women’s 10 km Challenge run at the Cape Town Stadium in Green Point on Sunday

Open:
1 Rutendo Nyahora (Nedbank AGN) 33.10; 2 Mapaseka Makhanya (Transnet Engineering) 33.22; 3. Zintle Xiniwe (Maxed Elite) 33.40; 4 Rene Kalmer(Nedbank CGA) 33.50; 5. Irvette van Zyl (Nedbank CGA) 33.59; 6 Nolene Conrad (Nedbank CGA) 34.03; 7. Christine Kalmer (Nedbank CGA) 34.35; 8 Khana Mateyisi (Khayelitsha) 35.48; 9 Myrette Filmater (Nedbank CGA) 35.48; 10 Poppy Mlambo (Boxer AC) 36.11
Junior:
1. Annie Bothma 37.17; Ileana Dreyer 40.11; 3 Amy Abrahams 41.26
Veteran:
1 Janene Carey 37.59; 2 Linley Holmes 38.38; 3 Sheryl de Lange 40.07
Master:
1 Mariette Esterhuyse 41.36; 2 Annatjie Botes 41.43; 3 Grace de Oliveira 41.47
Grandmaster:
1 Sonja Laxton 44.57; 2 Helen du Plessis 48.47; 3 Marietha erbert 50.06


RUNAWAY VICTORY FOR NYAHORA

Cape Town, South Africa - Zimbabwean Rutendo Nyahora (Nedbank) stormed to victory in the SPAR Women’s 10 Km Challenge at the Cape Town Stadium in Greenpoint on Sunday.

Rutendo Nyahora (Nedbank AGN) wins the SPAR Women’s Challenge run in Cape Town on Sunday 17 March 2013.

The top 3 finishers in the SPAR Women’s Challenge run in Cape Town on Sunday 17 March 2013. From left to right: Mapaseka Makhanya (2nd), the winner Rutendo Nyahora and Zintle Xiniwe (3rd).
Pictures by Reg Caldecott


Mapaseka Makhanya of Transnet was second followed by Zintle Xiniwe (Maxed Elite).
It was a first time Challenge victory for Nyahora, who went into the lead at the start and stayed a good distance ahead of her rivals throughout the race.
“This is one of my best wins,” said Nyahora.
“It’s a great start to the year, and I think this is going to be my year.”
Nyahora, who finished second in Cape Town last year, said she had felt comfortable throughout the race.
“I thought it was going to be harder than it was,” she said.
“Normally, I look around and see where people like Rene (Kalmer) and Irvette (Van Zyl) are, but this time I decided to run my own race and not to worry about them. I told myself to just go, and I had a strong mind today.
“Mapaseka (Makhanya) was my target – she beat me about two weeks ago, and I was worried about her. So I just went ahead and didn’t look back.”
Makhanya, who was running the Cape Town leg of the Challenge for the first time, said she had not known what to expect, but she had found the route very easy. She moved into second position after five kilometres.
“I ran with Irvette for the first five kilometres, but then she fell back and I just went ahead. I liked the route – I didn’t even feel the hills,” she said.
Makhanya is scheduled to run in the World Cross Country championships in Poland next weekend.
Xiniwe said she was very pleased with her time.
“I don’t have much competition down here, so I am very pleased with the way I ran today,” she said.
Defending champion Rene Kalmer, running her first competitive race after a five-month lay-off because of an Achilles tendon injury, was fourth.
“I’m not disappointed. I’m very satisfied with my performance today,” she said. “I had a good run and it was great to be back on the road competing again. But Rutendo and the others must watch out – I’ll be back at my best in the next Challenge in Port Elizabeth in May.”
More than 21 000 runners took part in the 10k Challenge and the 5km Fun Run.


KALMER BACK AFTER INJURY LAY-OFF

• 2013 SPAR Challenge Series kicks off in Cape Town
• Defending SPAR Grand Prix Champions to hit Cape Town by storm
• Record entry expected at SPAR race in Cape Town

Cape Town, South Africa - Defending champion Rene Kalmer will be returning to competition on Sunday when she takes part in the annual SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge at Green Point Common.
Kalmer, who has been out of action for several months with an Achilles tendon injury which kept her out of the Johannesburg leg of the Challenge Series in October last year, says she will not be putting herself under any pressure in her first race back.

Last year’s race champion and reigning SPAR Grand Prix title holder Rene Kalmer crosses the finish line of last year’s SPAR Challenge in Cape Town. Kalmer will be in Cape Town Sunday to defend her title.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott


“The injury was more serious than I originally thought, and I am just very happy to be fit and back on the road again,” said the Olympic marathon runner.
“I’ll be running my heart out on Sunday, and I hope to be able to win, but I’m not going to put myself under pressure, just because I’m the defending champion.
“I just want to get back into the shape I was in last year, before I was injured.”
Last year, Kalmer cruised to victory over Rutendo Nyahora and Irvette van Zyl (formerly Van Blerk), who will both be running again this weekend. Kalmer, who first ran in the SPAR Challenger series in 1998, has been a regular ever competitor ever since, and has won more Challenge races than any other runner.
“Irvette is probably the one to look out for,” said Kalmer.
“She’s run a number of races this year and has been running very well, whereas I haven’t competed for several months.”
Kalmer, who represented South Africa in the Marathon at the Olympic Games in London last year, said her next big international challenge would be the Boston Marathon on April 15, where she will be competing as an elite runner.
“I’m very excited about that,” she said.
“It will be my first time in the Boston Marathon, which is one of the major marathons. I am enjoying running marathons – I prefer road running to running on the track, where you are under pressure from the clock all the time. Also, because I am not doing so much track running, I don’t have to be away from home for three months every year. It sounds very glamorous, but it can be very hard, competing week after week. With marathon running, you train for a race and then you can relax a bit,” said Kalmer.
Other top runners competing on Sunday include Kalmer’s sister, Christine, who is beginning to show signs of becoming a major force in road running, Zintle Xiniwe, Nolene Conrad and Cary-Ann Smith. Multiple Comrades Marathon gold medallist Grace de Oliveira and Sonja Laxton, who is South Africa’s most successful runner on the track as well as the road, will also be taking part. Great grandmaster Laxton will be running her 77th Challenge race. She is virtually unchallenged in her age category, having been beaten only once.
The Cape Town Challenge is the first in a series of five Challenge races, which are run in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth (May), Durban (June), Pretoria (August) and Johannesburg (October). The top runners compete for points on the SPAR Grand Prix ladder. The runner with the most points after the five races will win a Nissan Micra, while the runner-up will take home R30 000 and the third placed runner will receive R17 500.
Since its inception in 2007, Kalmer and Van Zyl have dominated the Grand Prix. Kalmer won it in 2007, 2009 and 2012, while Van Zyl won in 2010 and 2011. Poppy Mlambo won the Grand Prix in 2008.
“I’m definitely going to be trying hard to win another car,” laughed Kalmer.
“Luckily there are five races, so even if I don’t win on Sunday, there is plenty of time to come back.”

As of Wednesday, race organisers had confirmed they had over 16 430 entries for the race on Sunday and were on track to reaching a race entry record.


THREE WORLD NUMBER ONE PLAYERS SET FOR SOUTH AFRICA

Johannesburg, South Africa - Wheelchair Tennis in South Africa was given a major boost today with the news that some of the world’s top wheelchair tennis players including three world number one players had confirmed their entry into two major tournament to be hosted in the country next month.

Wheelchair Tennis world number one, Aniek van Koot of Netherlands.

The Quads Division world number one, David Wagner of the USA.
Pictures Credit: Reg Caldecott


The Airports Company South Africa sponsored Gauteng Open (3-7April) and SA Open (9-13 April) will have players representing thirteen countries including South Africa participating.

Confirmed for the men’s draw is the world’s top player, Shingo Kunieda of Japan. The 29 year old Japanese right handed star has an impressive 377-52 win loss record and won the Australian Open in Melbourne earlier this year. Kunieda is also the reigning NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters title holder and won Gold at the London Paralympics.

Joining Kunieda in the draw will be three other top 10 world ranked players in Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina (5), Masters runner up Gordon Reid of Great Britain (8) and French star Michael Jeremiasz (9). From a South African point of view, Evans Maripa and Leon Els both ranked in the world top 100 are the country’s biggest hopes.

In the woman’s draw, four top ten players have confirmed their entry including the world’s number one player Aniek van Koot of Netherlands who recently took over the top spot when legendary longstanding world champion, Esther Vergeer also from Netherlands announced her retirement from the game. Van Koot is the reigning Australian Open and NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters champion and won silver at the London Paralympics losing to Vergeer in the final. Other top ten entries are world number four, Jiske Griffion (Netherlands), number six Lucy Shuker (Great Britain) and South African ace KG Montjane and number ten.

In the Quads Division world number one, David Wagner of the USA has confirmed his entry with South Africa’s Lucas Sithole ranked number 7 likely to be Wagner’s strongest opposition. Canadian Sarah Hunter ranked one spot out of the top ten is also travelling to South Africa.

The Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open (Grade 1) will be played in Benoni and the Gauteng East Tennis Complex with the Airports Company South Africa SA Open (Super Series) being played at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg. Both tournaments form part of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour.


TENNIS SOUTH AFRICA VOICE SUPPORT FOR TENNIS ANTI-DOPING PROGRAMME TO INTRODUCE

Johannesburg, South Africa - The Tennis Anti-Doping Programme Working Group, comprised of representatives of the ITF, ATP, WTA and the Grand Slam tournaments met on 5 March 2013 as part of their regular review of the programme, and expressed unified support to implement an Athlete Biological Passport Programme from 2013. The Athlete Biological Passport provides an individual, electronic document for athletes in which profiles of biological markers of doping and results of doping tests are collated over a period of time that can be used to detect variances from an athlete’s established levels that might indicate doping.

The introduction of the Athlete Biological Passport will require the TADP to increase the number of blood tests every year. In addition, the Working Group also recommended an overall increase in the amount of testing, especially out-of competition testing, with additional funding provided by all the governing bodies in tennis and administered by the ITF.
The Tennis Anti-Doping Programme is a comprehensive and internationally recognised drug-testing programme that applies to all players events sanctioned by the ITF, ATP, and WTA, and at Grand Slam tournaments. Players are tested for substances prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency and, upon a finding that an Anti-Doping Rule Violation has been committed, sanctions are imposed in accordance with the requirements of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme and World Anti-Doping Code. More background information on the Programme, sanctions, tennis statistics and related information can be found at www.itftennis.com/antidoping.
Tennis South Africa (TSA) Chief Executive Office, Ian Smith said TSA fully supported this initiative. “Tennis South Africa compliments the ITF, WTA and ATP for being world leaders in this very important issue in international sport. The South Africa Drug and anti-doping testing unit has always been welcome to do random testing of our athletes during our events. Tennis South Africa will give full support and co-operation to this initiative.”

STATEMENTS FROM TENNIS GOVERNING BODIES

“The Grand Slam tournaments have taken an active role in the sport’s anti-doping efforts since the inception of the programme and continue to make this a priority every year,” said Bill Babcock, Director, Grand Slam Committee. “We are proud to work with the other governing bodies as part of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme which we believe is essential to ensure that tennis remains a clean sport for the future.”

“The WTA is proud of its long-standing efforts in anti-doping and believes that it is in the best interests of our sport to adopt the Athlete Biological Passport and to increase both blood and out-of-competition testing,” said Stacey Allaster, CEO, WTA.

“The ATP has always rigorously supported the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme and believes that the move toward the Athlete Biological Passport is the appropriate step for tennis at this time,” said Brad Drewett, Executive Chairman and President, ATP. “The players have been clear that they support increased investment in anti-doping and we feel that this is the most effective way to show the world that tennis is a clean sport.”

“The implementation of the Athlete Biological Passport is an important step in the evolution of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme as it provides us with a great tool in the fight against doping in our sport,” said ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti. “We also hope to have increased support from the National Anti-Doping Agencies around the world who need to do their part if we are to win this battle and make our programme more effective. Our thanks to the Grand Slam tournaments, the ATP and WTA who have recognised the need to increase the investment of tennis in anti-doping and to the players who asked for more testing, especially blood testing, over the next few years.”


SOUTH AFRICAN PLAYERS TO BENEFIT FROM HOME DOUBLE HEADER

Johannesburg, South Africa - Last week, South Africa’s top wheelchair tennis player, Kgothatso Montjane was ecstatic. The world number 10 ranked player showed great delight after hearing that Wheelchair Tennis South Africa would be hosting two major tournaments in her beloved country.

South Africa’s top woman wheelchair tennis player KG Montjane will be in action in South Africa at the Gauteng Open and South African Open sponsored by Airports Company South Africa in April.
Pictures Credit: Reg Caldecott


The International Tennis Federation confirmed that they had sanctioned South Africa to host to two of the most important tournaments on the wheelchair tennis calendar – the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open and the Airports Company South Africa SA Open in April.

For Montjane, affectionately known as “KG on the circuit, this is a dream come true. “It’s great that we can compete at the highest level at home with our friends and fans watching us and giving support in conditions we are accustomed to travel all around the world to compete at the top level is expensive and exhausting so to play at home is a real bonus.

The ACSA Gauteng Open is one of the 13 Grade 1 events on the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour and will be staged in Benoni from April 3 to 7. The tournament will be an important warm up tournament for the Airports Company South African SA Open, which is one of only six Super Series events on the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour. The ACSA SA Open will be played at Ellis Park from April 9 to 13.

Other than Montjane, a host of other South African players will benefit from the events. In the men’s section, Evans Maripa is the country’s top hope with up and coming Leon Els seen as the possible “dark horse of the tournament. World number 7, Lucas Sithole is expected to do the country proud in the Quads division and Gift Lekhanyane of Johannesburg will go into both events as our top ranked junior.

This will be the first time a Super Series tournament will be staged on the African continent. The other five are played in Australia, Japan, France, Britain and the USA.

Wheelchair Tennis South Africa have made incredible strides since their humble beginnings in 2002. The Association hosted their first international tournament back in 2004 and then proved to the world that they could host the very best when they managed and promoted the prestigious ITF World Team Cup in Pretoria two years ago.

With the help of their sponsors, Airports Company South Africa, Wheelchair Tennis South Africa were able to negotiate to host these upcoming tournaments which form a major part of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour.

Karen Losch, General Manager of Wheelchair Tennis South Africa said by hosting tournaments of this nature, they would be able to inspire future players and use the tournaments to boost the development of the game in the country. “Our structures are sound, secure and working said Losch. “We are recognised a leader in the development of wheelchair tennis around the world and the impressive crop of talent that has unfolded over the past ten years is proof that South Africa is capable of competing at the highest level in the sport. “Now our players, who have developed from humble beginning and are making names for themselves on the international scene have the opportunity in their own back yard of competing for glory, honour and all important world ranking points and on top of it all, they can gain important experience which will hold them in good stead for their future careers.


SOUTH AFRICA CELEBRATES WORLD WHEELCHAIR TENNIS DAY

Johannesburg, South Africa - Over eighty (80) wheelchair tennis players from three provinces in South Africa took to the tennis courts in celebration of the annual International Tennis Federation (ITF) World Tennis Day on Monday (4 March) in an effort to promote able-bodied and wheelchair tennis and increase participation among young players around the globe.

World Tennis Day celebrated in Gauteng, Limpopo and the Western Cape centered on grassroots level camps and tournaments. Throughout the month of March, Wheelchair Tennis South Africa will be rolling out 12 Regional Camps across the 46 centres in 9 provinces to support World Tennis Day with their own grassroots and centre activities to attract new participants to the sport.

Wheelchair Tennis South Africa and Airports Company South Africa Partnership:
The Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) is the official sponsor of Wheelchair Tennis South Africa and the sport of wheelchair tennis. Wheelchair Tennis South Africa is Airports Company South Africa’s Flagship CSI project, where through the partnership are offering weekly programmes to over 450 player at 45 plus schools and centres, host 30 plus regional camps and clinics, and 6 international events annually. WTSA and Airports Company South Africa are making a real difference in the lives of individuals and communities.

For more information please contact Siyabulela Nkachela 0826793772 or email siya@tennis.co.za or please visit: www.tennis.co.za

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