SOUTH AFRICA CELEBRATES WHEELCHAIR TENNIS AT ABILITY CHALLENGE

Johannesburg, South Africa - The much anticipated Ability Challenge, in which top players and celebrities will pit themselves against South Africa’s wheelchair superstars, like Lucas Sithole, South African number one and world number two quad player, KG Montjane, South Africa’s top female wheelchair player, and Evans Maripa, top-ranked South African male player is set for Tuesday 8 April 2014.

From L-R: Afrikaans rapper Jack Parow with South African wheelchair tennis star and world number 27 male player, Leon Els at the 2012 Ability Challenge.

From L-R is the South African number 1 and world number 2 quads player, Lucas Sithole with E-TV’s Craz-E presenter Zola Hashatsi at the 2012 Ability Challenge.
Pictures by: Reg Caldecott


The Ability Challenge sponsored by Airports Company of South Africa and hosted by Wheelchair Tennis South Africa (WTSA) will be staged at the Ithembilihe Lsen School in Primrose, Germiston between 09h30 and 12h00.

There will be four teams in the challenge battling for title honours. Each team will consist of a celebrity, a wheelchair tennis player, and two able bodied players.

This is the third Ability challenge, historically linked to Disability Day but now associated with the upcoming Airports Company South Africa wheelchair tennis series of tournament; the Gauteng Open (23-27 April, Benoni Lake) and SA Open (29 April-3 May, Ellis Park, Johannesburg). Both tournaments have attracted a top international and local entry and are part of the ITF Wheelchair Tennis Tour.

Celebrities who have already confirmed their participation are as follows:

5FM DJ’s:
• Fresh
KB
• Milkshake
• Nicole Da Silva

Craze-e presenters:
• Lerato Kgalamono
• Mpho Sebeng
• Chanley Wong
• Ntokozo Molefe
• Zola Hashatsi
DJ Mo Flava (Club 808 on etv)

SuperSport presenter:
• Robert Marawa

Members of South Africa’s Fed Cup team will also be attending the Challenge.

“Disabled sport is globally becoming more recognized and Airports Company South Africa have earmarked wheelchair tennis as the disability code they are committed to supporting. “We are very excited by the idea of exposing more people to wheelchair tennis and to our top wheelchair players. We believe many more people will come to appreciate the skills and performances of these players by watching them in action at Ithembilihe Lsen School” said Unathi Batyashe of Airports Company South Africa.

WTSA General Manager Karen Losch said that although it would have been preferable to have held the Ability Challenge on World Tennis Day, WTSA was very excited about the concept. “The achievements of our wheelchair players have made South Africa so proud, and so it seems only fitting that we should showcase them at one of our wheelchair development hubs. We hope people will turn out in numbers on April 8 to join in the fun, be inspired and entertained and celebrate our wheelchair superstars,” she said.

There is no entry fee for public to watch the Ability Challenge. All are welcome and invited to join a day of music, fun and sporting excellence.


TOP CLASS ENTRY FOR WHEELCHAIR TENNIS SERIES

Johannesburg, South Africa - The best of the best wheelchair tennis stars have confirmed their entries for the upcoming Airports Company South Africa series to be played in Benoni and Johannesburg next month.

No less than 23 of the world’s top ten ranked players have entered the series representing seventeen countries. These include two world number one players, Sabine Ellerbrock (Germany) in the women’s singles and
David Wagner (USA) in the Quads.

Both back to back tournaments forms part of the prestigious International Tennis Federation (ITF) NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour and other than prize money, the players will be battling on court for all important world ranking points. The first tournament, the Grade 1 Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open will be played from 23-27 April at the Gauteng East Tennis Complex in Benoni Lake . The second event is the Airports Company South Africa SA Open, one of six Super Series events which will be played from 29 April – 2 May at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg.

Each tournament will host a men’s, women’s, quads and juniors event.

Top players entered include in the men’s event world number 2 Stephane Houdet of France. Houdet is closing in on top ranked men’s player Shingo Kuneida of Japan who Houdet beat in five finals last year. Houdet’s five titles in 2013 include Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open. Houdet is the defending Airports Company South Africa SA Open champion.
Houdet’s stiffest competition should come from world number 3 Gordon Reid of Great Britain. Reid lost to Houdet in last year’s Airports Company South Africa SA Open final and won gold at the London Paralympics.
South Africa’s top ranked men’s player, Evan Maripa ranked 15 in the world will be South Africa’s best hope in the men’s singles.

In the women’s events world champion Sabine Ellerbrock who won the Australian Open in January of this year, will be strongly challenged by world numbers 4 and 5 Aniek Van Koot and Marjolein Buis both of the Netherlands. Van Koot was last year’s world number 1 and is the defending US Open champion where she beat Ellerbrock in the final. Buis is the defending Airports Company South Africa SA Open champion. The local hopes for the women’s title will rest on KG Montjane who is ranked no 7 in the world.

South African quad star Lucas Sithole, ranked 2 in the world will be the biggest competition to the world’s top quad player David Wagner in the quads event. Wagner who won the Australian Open earlier this year over Sithole lost to the South African in the final of last year’s US Open.

Andrew Lapthorne of Great Britain, ranked 3 in world quad’s will be a player both Wagner and Sithole will have to watch carefully in the draw. Lapthorne beat Sithole in the Ellis Park final last year.

The junior event will be dominated by South African players who are in any event dominating on the world rankings. The entry is headed by world number 4 Thato Tsomole of Hartebeesport, North West Province with fellow South African’s Sean-Liam de Hilster and Thando Hlatswayo being his strongest opposition.

As a bonus to the series, both tournaments will be hosting a mixed event which is new to world wheelchair tennis. The aim of hosting the mixed event is to assist the ITF in preparation for the first ever mixed wheelchair tennis event being played at the next Paralympics in Brazil.


MONTJANE WINS THE DOUBLES TITLE AT THE CAJUN CLASSIC USA

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA - South Africa’s top women’s wheelchair tennis star, Kgothatso Montjane added another title to her name when she won the doubles event at the 25th annual Cajun Classic Wheelchair Tennis Tournament, an ITF Grade 1 event that took place from 19-23 March 2014 at the Lamar Tennis Centre in Baton Rouge, LA, USA.

Kgothatso Montjane, South Africa’s no.1 women’s wheelchair tennis player, ranked no.7 in the world together with Jordanne Whiley (GBR) after winning the women’s doubles at the Cajun Classic tournament in Baton Rouge, USA..
Picture by: William Greiner


Top seeds Kgothatso Montjane and doubles partner Jordanne Whiley (GBR) had comfortable wins over their opponents to reach the semi-finals where they faced the fourth seed duo of Jiske Griffioen (NED) and Fernado Mardones (CHI), defeating them 7-5, 6-0. Montjane and Whiley were playing their 2nd event together after winning the USTA US Open Super Series last year September 2013.

The women’s doubles final between Montjane and Whiley versus Ellerbrock (GER) and Shuker (GBR) proved to be the match of the tournament, with Montjane and Whiley eventually claiming the title 7-6(3), 3-6, 11-9. Montjane and Whiley proved yet again they are a doubles combination to be reckoned with.

In the open singles event Kgothatso Montjane reached the quarter finals where she lost to Marjolein Buis (NED) 6-1, 3-6, 6-2. South Africa’s no.1 men’s player, Evans Maripa won his first match against Larry Keeter (USA) 6-1, 6-0 to face world no 8 Takuya Miki (JPN). Maripa played focused tennis and showed why he is considered one of the most talented players on the tour. After a slow start he took Miki to a close three set match, eventually losing 6-0, 6-7(2), 7-5.

Montjane says, “I am happy with the doubles win and have seen where I need to concentrate on in my singles game. I look forward to the Pensacola Open in a few days.”

Through the support from Airports Company South Africa, Montjane and Maripa will be taking part in the Pensacola Open 26-30 March 2014 after which they will return to South Africa to prepare for the two events we are hosting – the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open 23-27 April 2014, and the Airports Company South Africa SA Open 29 April–3 May 2014.

SA Sports Awards Coach of the Year 2013; Holger Losch said: “I am elated and proud of Kg’s doubles win. Kg and Evans are taking away as much as they can from these tournaments, in preparation for the upcoming Super Series in South Africa.”

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.

For more information, please contact Bianca Morkel Tel: 083 386 4002 or Siyabulela Nkachela 082 679 3772 or email Bianca on pr@tennis.co.za or Siya on siya@tennis.co.za. Other resources worth a visit include: www.tennis.co.za; or join our Facebook page and group: Wheelchair Tennis SA and follow us on Twitter: @WCTennis.


ARMSTRONG RETURNS TO SOUTH AFRICA AS DAVIS CUP REFEREE

Johannesburg, South Africa - Gerry Armstrong takes every opportunity he can to visit South Africa. It therefore comes as no surprise to find this highly experienced official will be back in the country next month as the Referee and International Tennis Federation (ITF) representative for the Davis Cup tie, South Africa vs Lithuania.

Gerry Armstrong
Photo credit: Gerry Armstrong


The tie will be played at Irene Country Club outside Pretoria from April 4 to 6.

The chair umpires for the Euro Africa Group 2 second round tie will be Mxolisi Matyolo (Vosloorus) and Ivan Bridges (Cape Town). Matyolo worked the lines at the 2008 ATP World Tour Masters in London and the 2012 Paralympics, and was a chair umpire in the Davis Cup Africa Zone in Morocco. Bridges who started his officiating career in 1996 is, like Mxolisi, a white badge official and this will be his first time in the chair for a Davis Cup tie.

South Africa’s Iain Smith will reprise his role as Tournament Director while Mpho Makhoba (Atteridgeville) has been named as chief of umpires.

In 2009 the All England Club appointed Armstrong as assistant referee to Wimbledon referee Andrew Jarrett. Armstrong said he was honoured to have been appointed to this position and regarded it as “a feather in my cap”. “Being a referee at Wimbledon is certainly a career highlight as the Tournament has been part of my life for nearly 40 years.”

For the past five years, Armstrong has been the Referee of the year-end ATP World Tour Finals which he says has been “a great experience and always a fantastic end to the Tennis year.”

Armstrong is no stranger to South Africa and was a chair umpire at the 1995 SA Open at Westridge Park. He returned to the same venue in 1996 as tournament referee for the SAA Tennis Open and then in 1998 he was appointed ATP Supervisor of the SAA Tennis Open in East London. Prior to that, Armstrong was tournament referee for the Davis Cup tie between South Africa and Poland in Polokwane. Armstrong then returned as Supervisor for the three ATP SA Opens staged at Montecasino from 2009 – 2011 which he claims were “exceptionally well run Tour events,” which he personally would “love to see professional events such as these back on the Tour calendar.”

Armstrong spent some 10 years on the tennis tour before taking up umpiring. His first Wimbledon as an official was in 1973, and in 1990 he was hired by the ATP Tour as a professional official.

His most memorable match as umpire was the final of the Rogers Masters Series in Montreal, Canada between world number one Roger Federer and rising star at the time Novak Djokovic. Djokovic beat Federer 7-6 (7-2) 2-6 7-6 (7-2). One of his best moments as tournament supervisor was at the Chennai Open in India in January of 2008 where he witnessed the semifinal match between world number two Rafael Nadal and Carlos Moya. The match lasted 235 minutes and 234 points were played during the match, which was won by Nadal 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (10-8) 7-6 (7-21).

“Both Rafa and Carlos were so competitive that day. The match went on forever and the tennis played was at the highest level. As supervisor I was conscious of the importance of my presence throughout the match at court side. This gave peace of mind to the players to be able to focus on the match knowing I was there to make sure that both the chair umpire and referee made the right decisions throughout.”

Armstrong said he was looking forward to coming down to South Africa as “it feels like coming home for me.”

DAVIS CUP TICKETS

Davis Cup South Africa vs. Lithuania Tickets will cost R40.00 and all tickets will be for unreserved seating.
There will be safe and secure parking for R20.00 per vehicle available at the Irene Country Club throughout the Tie.

Advanced ticket sales can be made by calling Annette Terry at the Tennis South Africa offices between 08h30 and 13h00 daily on 011 442 0500 or emailing requests to juniors@tennissa.co.za. Deposits for ticket purchases need to be made in to the TSA banking account. TSA tickets can be collected at the TSA offices at The Wanderers Cricket Stadium and special arrangements for ticket collections at the Gauteng North Tennis Association offices in Groenkloof, Pretoria can also be made.


SOUTH AFRICA FAIL TO DEFEND AFRICAN JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS TITLE

Nairobi, Kenya - South Africa failed in its bid to defend their African Junior Championships (AJC) tennis title this past weekend in Kenya. Egypt won the coveted title for the second time in the history of the championships. South Africa, who were vying for their 18th title in 22 years ended second in the overall team standings.

Thongoana at the prize giving ceremony accepting the boys under 16 runner up trophy. South Africa came in second place after Egypt and Morocco took the third place.


Going into the Under 14 & Under 16 event with a substantial points deficit from the Under 18 event played in February in Casablanca it was always going to be tough task for team South Africa to retain the title.

However as a consolation to second placed South Africa, Richard Thongoana of Johannesburg won the under 16 boys title when, after a bad start he pushed fourth seeded Youssef Hossam from Egypt to the limit to a 6-1 5-7 7-5 winning result. Thongoana played as a first year Under 16 player and can be very proud of his result against an older and far more experienced opponent.

The Team Trophy was awarded to the nation who accumulated the highest number of points based on the best six singles results and six best individual doubles results of each team. The top teams were placed as follows:

  1. Egypt
  2. South Africa
  3. Morocco

The final results were as follows:

Singles
Finals
Boys

Under 14
3-Ismael Saadi (Mar) bt 4-Soufiane Elmesbahi (Mar) 6-3 5-7 6-1

Under 16
4-Youssef Hossam (Egy) bt 1-Richard Thongoana (RSA) 6-1 5-7 7-5

Girls
Under 14
7-Sada Nahimana (Bdi) bt 3-Khaled Hala (Egy) 6-1 6-2

Under 16
3-Chiraz Bechri (Tun) bt 1-Al Hussein Lamis (Egy) 6-2 6-2

Doubles
Finals
Boys

Under 14
2-Eduardo Morias (Ang)/Nyathi Motlojoa (Les) bt 3-Philip Henning/Christian Worst (RSA) 6-4 3-6 10-2

Under 16
1-Youssef Hossam/Sherif Makhlouf (Egy) bt 4-Tadiwa Chinamo/Julius Mutetwa (Zim) 6-3 1-6 10-7

Girls
Under 14
3-Yasmine Bengebara/Diae El Jardi (Mar) bt Corin de Waal/Maja Gledic (RSA) 6-2 3-6 10-4

Under 16
1-Ghita Benhadi/Zainab Elhouari (Mar) bt 2-Lee Barnard/Zani Barnard (RSA) 4-6 6-4 10-5


LITHUANIA NAME BEST POSSIBLE SQUAD TO FACE SOUTH AFRICA IN DAVIS CUP

Johannesburg, South Africa - Lithuania have announced their best possible squad to face South Africa in their crucial Europe/Africa Zone Group 2 Round 2 Davis Cup Tie by BNP Paribas.

The Tie to be played from 4-6 April will be staged at the Irene Country Club in Centurion, outside Pretoria, on a medium to fast outdoor hard court.

Lithuania’s non-playing captain Rimvydas Mugevicius named Lithuania’s four best possible players to travel to South Africa. Mugevicius’s team is as follows:

Ricardas Berankis (singles 144; doubles 436)
Laurynas Grigelis (singles 244; doubles 542)
Lukas Mugevicius (singles 973; doubles 969)
Mantas Bugailiskis (singles 1542)

The same Lithuanian team defeated Norway 5-0 in Norway in round 1 in February.
South Africa and Lithuania meet for the first time in the history of the competition with the victor progressing to a promotion play-off and the chance to advance to Europe Africa Zone Group I.
South Africa are trying to bounce straight back having been relegated last year, while Lithuania have never been higher than Group 2 in the 20 years they have competed in Davis Cup.
The South African squad announced last week is as follows:

Rik De Voest (singles 190; doubles 385)
Dean O’Brien (singles 517; doubles 455)
Ruan Roelofse (singles 749; doubles 271)
Jean Andersen (singles 861; doubles 1292 )
Raven Klaasen (doubles 30 )
Captain: John Laffnie de Jager

South African Davis Cup team Captain John-Laffnie de Jager said “We have lots of respect for the Lithuanian team. Berankis is a very good player with lots of experience and with Grigelis they have a solid singles line up. They are both very good Davis Cup players and we look forward to hosting them in South Africa next month.”

Davis Cup South Africa vs. Lithuania Tickets will cost R40.00 and all tickets will be for unreserved seating.There will be safe and secure parking for R20.00 per vehicle available at the Irene Country Club throughout the Tie.

Advanced ticket sales can be made by calling Annette Terry at the Tennis South Africa offices between 08h30 and 13h00 daily on 011 442 0500 or emailing requests to juniors@tennissa.co.za. Deposits for ticket purchases need to be made into the TSA banking account. TSA tickets can be collected at the TSA offices at The Wanderers Cricket Stadium and special arrangements for ticket collections at the Gauteng North Tennis Association offices in Groenkloof, Pretoria can also be made.


SOUTH AFRICAN FED CUP TEAM ANNOUNCED

Johannesburg, South Africa - Fed Cup Captain, Earl Grainger announced his South African Fed Cup team on Friday to play in the Euro Africa Group 2 tournament in Lithuania from 16 to 19 April, 2014.

After consultation with his advisors, Allan Karam and Natalie Grandin, the team announced is;

Chanel Simmonds (singles 214; 256 doubles)
Madrie le Roux (singles 605; 676 doubles)
Natasha Fourouclas (singles 656; doubles 1237)
Natalie Grandin (singles 758; 110 doubles)

Grainger said that he had spoken to South Africa’s top ranked player, Chani Scheepers and although Scheepers had committed to being part of the Fed Cup squad, she was not availbale for the Fed Cup team in April. “Chani told me that she had a lot of world ranking points to defend in April and in order to maintain and improve her ranking she would not be availbale. Unfortunately the Fed Cup in Euro Africa Group 2 is played over a full week and clashes with a tournament in Malaysia and the qualifying of the Porche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart. Both these tournaments are also clay court events and Chani would be in full clay court preparation at that stage.”

The Fed Cup will be played on indoor hard court at the Siauliai Tennis School in Siauliai, Lithuania.

Grainger said he was pleased with his team regardless. “I am happy with the players selected. We have some experience in Chanel and Natalie and in form up and coming players in Madrie and Natasha who both have won titles recently on the Futures circuit.”
The week long tournament will be played on a Round-robin basis which will consist of two pools of four teams. The winner of Pool A will play-off against the runner-up of Pool B and the winner of Pool B will play-off against the runner up of Pool A to determine which two nations will advance to Europe/Africa Zone Group I in 2015. The nation in 3rd place in Pool A will play-off against the nation in 4th place in Pool B and the nation in 3rd place in Pool B will play-off against the nation in 4th place in Pool A to determine which two nations will be relegated to Europe/Africa Zone Group III in 2015. Two teams will be promoted and two relegated at the end of the tournament.
TEAM NOMINATIONS
Bosnia-Herzegovina: Jasmina Tinjic, Anita Husaric, Dea Herdzelas. Captain: Vojin Sukalo.
Egypt: Mayar Sherif, Ola Abou Zekry, Magy Aziz, Sandra Samir. Captain: Khaled Farouk.
Finland: Piia Suomalainen, Ella Leivo, Johanna Hyoty. Playing Captain: Emma Laine.
Georgia: Sofia Shapatava, Oksana Kalashnikova, Ekaterine Gorgodze, Sofia Kvatsabaia. Captain: Margalita Chakhnashvili.
Liechtenstein: Stephanie Vogt, Kathinka Von Deichmann, Lynn Zund, Sandra Hinterberger. Captain: Daniel Kieber.
Lithuania: Lina Stanciute, Akvile Parazinskaite, Justina Mikulskyte, Agne Cepelyte. Captain: Edita Liachoviciute.
Montenegro: Nina Kalezic, Tamara Bojanic, Nikoleta Bulatovic, Danka Kovinic. Captain: Ivan Nikolic.
South Africa: Chanel Simmonds, Madrie Le Roux, Natasha Fourouclas, Natalie Grandin. Captain: Earl Grainger.


PRESTIGIOUS HONOUR FOR SOUTH AFRICAN DAVIS CUP CAPTAIN

Johannesburg, South Africa - Tennis South Africa (TSA) have congratulated their Davis Cup captain, John-Laffnie de Jager who has been chosen as the first South African President of the Global Professional Tennis Association (GPTCA).

John-Laffnie de Jager

Picture by: Reg Caldecott


The GPTCA is certified by the ATP World Tour and is made up out of professional tennis coaches who coach on the ATP Tour.

John-Laffnie de Jager, recently re-appointed as South African Davis Cup captain, joins the ranks of Magnus Norman (Coach of Stan Wawrinka) Ivan Ljubicic (Coach of Milos Roanic) Patrick Mouratoglou (Coach of Serena Williams) as well as various other top coaches. Toni Nadal, Coach and Uncle of Rafael Nadal, sits on the Board of the GPTCA.

Gavin Crookes, acting CEO of Tennis South Africa said “TSA congratulates John-Laffnie on being chosen as the President of the Global Professional Tennis Coach Association (GPTCA). TSA looks forward to working with John-Laffnie to augment and to contribute to TSA’s International Tennis Federation aligned national coaching programme.”

The main goal of the GPTCA is to expose local coaches to international trends through workshops, sharing what is currently happening at the highest level of tennis.

De Jager coaches two of the top doubles teams in the world: Polish duo Marcin Matkowski and Mariusz Fyrstenburg as well as the Dutch/Romanian team of Julian Rojer and Horia Tecau. All four players have played in the prestigious year-end ATP Masters.

During July/August De Jager will once again be Coaching the Springfield Lasers, participating in the World Team Tennis (WTT) event started by Billie-Jean King. De Jager has been selected as WTT Coach of the Year on 3 previous occasions.

De Jager reached a career-high team ranking of 4 in the world as a doubles player and played in 45 Grand Slams, including two Finals and five Semi-Finals, as well as the Semi-Final of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

From 4-6 April, De Jager will be captaining the South African Davis Cup team who take on Lithuania at the Irene Country Club outside Pretoria.

Davis Cup South Africa vs. Lithuania Tickets will cost R40.00 and all tickets will be for unreserved seating.
There will be safe and secure parking for R20.00 per vehicle available at the Irene Country Club throughout the Tie.

Advanced ticket sales can be made by calling Annette Terry at the Tennis South Africa offices between 08h30 and 13h00 daily on 011 442 0500 or emailing requests to juniors@tennissa.co.za. Deposits for ticket purchases need to be made in to the TSA banking account. TSA tickets can be collected at the TSA offices at The Wanderers Cricket Stadium and special arrangements for ticket collections at the Gauteng North Tennis Association offices in Groenkloof, Pretoria can also be made.


MONTJANE AND MARIPA READY TO CHIP AND CHARGE AT THE CAJUN CLASSICUSA

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA - Two of South Africa’s top wheelchair tennis stars Kgothatso Montjane and Evans Maripa have left for the USA to compete in the 25th annual Cajun Classic Wheelchair Tennis Tournament. This ITF Grade 1 event will be taking place from 19-23 March 2014 at the Lamar Tennis Centre in Baton Rouge, LA, USA.

World number 7 women’s wheelchair tennis player Kgothatso Montjane in action at last years’ Airports Company South Africa SA Open played at Ellis Park Tennis Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa.

South African number 1 and world number 15 men’s wheelchair tennis player Evans Maripa in action at last years’ Airports Company South Africa SA Open at Ellis Park Tennis Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Pictures credit: Reg Caldecott


Kgothatso Montjane, currently ranked world no.7, is positive, upbeat and looking forward to competing in this event. Montjane says, “I have been working hard on my game, and look forward to testing it against the worlds’ best before the Airports Company South Africa SA Open in April.” Evans Maripa, another young and talented SA player, has also put in the hours and is determined to climb the ranking ladder and enter the top 10 players in the world in 2014. Maripa says, “I am going to use the opportunity I have been given by Airports Company South Africa to train, compete and hopefully move into the top 10 players in the world during 2014. I have the game, the support, and now the belief.”

Both Montjane and Maripa will also be taking part in the Pensacola Open 26-30 March after which they will return to South Africa to prepare for the two events we are hosting here – the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open 23-27 April, and the Airports Company South Africa SA Open 29 April – 3 May.

SA Sports Awards coach of the year Holger Losch said, “The two tournaments in the USA give our players an opportunity for match practice prior to them competing in the two international tournaments we are hosting in South Africa in April. We can see how they fair against their international rivals, and then return home to sharpen and focus. We wish both Montjane and Maripa all the best, and invite you to follow them on the Wheelchair Tennis Twitter and Facebook pages.”

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.

For more information, please contact Bianca Morkel Tel: 083 386 4002 or Siyabulela Nkachela 082 679 3772 or email Bianca on pr@tennis.co.za or Siya on siya@tennis.co.za. Other resources worth a visit include: www.tennis.co.za; or join our Facebook page and group: Wheelchair Tennis SA and follow us on Twitter: @WCTennis.


NEW LAUREUS CELEBRITY SPORT AMBASSADOR PLEDGES TO EMPOWER THE YOUTH

Pretoria – Laureus Sport for Good Foundation Trust South Africa announced the inclusion of netball star, Zanele Mdodana, in their elite group of sports star ambassadors at a media conference held at the Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) head office today. Mdodana also participated in coaching youngsters from the Laureus ‘Sport for All’ programme in Atteridgeville, who were hosted by MBSA at their 2014 Employee Volunteer Week activities.

Zanele Mdodana confirms her commitment to youth development through sport, as the latest celebrity ambassador of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation Trust South Africa. She is supported by Morné du Plessis, Chairman of the Trust, and Ntambi Ravele, Laureus Trustee.

Zanele Mdodana shares her netball skills with a group of youngsters from the Laureus Sport for All project in Atteridgeville, who participated in the Mercedes-Benz South Africa Employee Volunteer Week.


Laureus has a long and distinguished history of using the power of sport to nurture the young South African leaders of tomorrow. Morné du Plessis, Chairman of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation Trust South Africa, says: “The passion and dedication of the Laureus ambassadors is a major driver of the success of our social upliftment programmes. We thank Zanele for accepting the nomination to join our ambassadors, and look forward to a long and successful association with her.”

Joining du Plessis at the media conference in welcoming Mdodana to the fold were fellow Laureus ambassadors mountaineer Deshun Deysel, former rugby international and radio talk show host John Robbie and paralympian Natalie du Toit.

Mdodana is a valued addition to the ambassador group and has established herself as one of the top notch sports coordinators at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. Having played netball at the Commonwealth Games for the SPAR Proteas team, and in contention for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in July this year, Zanele is a role model for girls in South Africa. Now one of the senior players in the team, Mdodana leads from the front and has been captain and vice-captain of the SPAR Proteas.

Mdodana has great influence with young people, thanks to her impressive achievements. She urges young girls to prioritise their education, keep participating in sport and to strive to achieve their dreams and goals.

It takes hard work to achieve anything worthwhile and you really need to persevere. It’s very important to get an education and I’d like to encourage every young person to make sure that they give their best in the classroom. This philosophy is something I will pursue as an Ambassador for Laureus,” she says.

The Laureus Sport for Good Foundation Trust South Africa supports 15 sports-based community programmes nationally. Since its inception, the Foundation has raised more than R80 million for projects which have helped to improve the lives of more than 78,000 young people.

Netball South Africa (@netball_sa; facebook.com/netballsa) president Mimi Mthethwa welcomed the accolade for Mdodana saying she deserved it for commitment and service to the national team over several years.

“Zanele is a wonderful role model and leader and will certainly appeal to sports people across boundaries. We are delighted that she has been chosen to be an ambassador for such a prestigious organisation and we know that she will fly the Netball SA flag high in carrying out her duties,” said Mthethwa. “Netball reaches every level of society and this award is an important recognition for all women in the sport that enriches so many lives every day.”

MBSA, as a caring corporate citizen with more than 60 years in South Africa, has been a long-term donor to Laureus South Africa. The company supports the Laureus “Sport for All” project in Tshwane (Atteridgeville), the Buffalo City Soccer School project in East London where the company has its production plant, as well as the Youth Empowerment through Sport (YES) programme.

MBSA Corporate Affairs Divisional manager, Mayur Bhana explains that the company shares the Laureus goal of inspiring the youth of South Africa. “Young people need role-models who can inspire them and show them the path to success. The Laureus ambassadors are uniquely placed to achieve this.” “Sport is a wonderful medium through which life-skills can be taught to young people,” he adds.

The longevity of MBSA’s support for Laureus attests to the worth of the initiative, and goes to the heart of the company’s philosophy of participating in community development schemes that make a sustainable and meaningful impact.


MEMORABLE DAVIS CUP TIE AWAITS RIK DE VOEST

Johannesburg, South Africa - South African tennis star, Rik De Voest says that “every time you represent your country is special, but this Tie will be extra special.”

Rik de Voest

Picture by: Reg Caldecott


De Voest was named by Davis Cup Captain, John-Laffnie De Jager in his squad for the all-important Euro Africa Group 2 Tie against Lithuania from the 4-6 April. The upcoming Tie will be a special occasion for 33 year old De Voest. “This Tie against Lithuania will be additionally unique and memorable for me as it will be my 20th official Tie for South Africa.”

Reaching a milestone of playing 20 ties for South Africa, De Voest will receive a prestigious Davis Cup commitment award from the International Tennis Federation. Only three other players from South Africa have ever been eligible for this award (Frew McMillian 28 ties over 11 years; Wayne Ferreira 25 ties over 13 years and Cliff Drysdale 24 ties over 7 years).

De Voest, who started playing tennis at the age of 6 concentrated on the game when he was 14 years old. Ironically his first introduction to the game was at the Irene Country Club just outside Pretoria where the Tie in April will be played. “I am looking forward to the upcoming Tie and celebrating the special occasion at Irene Country Club, which was instrumental in my upbringing,” said De Voest.

De Voest made his Davis Cup debut in 2002 at the Groenkloof Stadium in Pretoria vs Hungary. In the 19 Ties De Voest has played, he has played 44 rubbers of which he has won 26.

Presently ranked 186 in singles and 368 in doubles, De Voest reached a career high singles ranking of 110 (21/8/2006) and doubles ranking high of 39 (6/4/2009). It’s on the doubles court that De Voest has excelled, winning two ATP titles (2007 Beijing with Fisher and 2009 Dubai with Tursunov).De Voest with Fisher reached the 2009 ATP SA Open doubles final at Montecasino. On the Challenger circuit, De Voest has won 37 doubles titles which stands as a record number of titles won by a player. De Voest has earned over $1 350 000.00 prize money since turning professional in 1999.

Earlier this month, De Voest’s Canadian wife Carolyn gave birth to their first born; a baby boy named Morgan in Vancouver, Canada. “It is really hard for me to leave my newborn son and normally I would not, however, this Tie against Lithuania has significant importance for me on both a personal and professional level.”

De Voest says that representing South Africa in Davis Cup over the past 12 years is his greatest sporting moment. “I look forward as always to representing South Africa again, and hope to do the team and country proud. Each and every time I put on the green and gold it’s an incredibly humbling and proud feeling.”


SUPERSTAR SITHOLE EYES SOUTH AFRICAN OPEN TITLE

Johannesburg, South Africa - Lucas Sithole is a genuine superstar – the South African number one quadriplegic tennis player made history last year when he won the US Open title to become the first African in 40 years to win a Grand Slam. The world number two quad player is hard at work preparing for next month’s Airport Company South Africa Autumn tournament series to be hosted in Gauteng. For the first time since that memorable title win in New York, Sithole will be playing at the highest level on home soil and is excited and optimistic about his chances.

Lucas Sithole the defending US Open champion from South Africa with the winning trophy after beating America’s David Wagner in the 2013 quads final played in New York.
Photo by Takea Tanuma


Tragedy hit Sithole when he was 12 years old. He lost both legs and his right arm when he fell under a train – a setback that would overwhelm most people, but he says going to school with other disabled children helped him to come to terms with what had happened to him.

In 2005, he was invited to a wheelchair tennis camp, when the sport was launched in South Africa. Sithole took to tennis like a duck to water, and the following year, he represented South Africa for the first time. Although he was badly beaten in his first outing, he has gone from strength to strength since then. He is ranked second in the world and has two Super Series titles and a Grand Slam title against his name. Earlier this year, he reached the final of the Australian Open in Melbourne, losing to arch rival, world number one, David Wagner.

Sithole – known to his rivals as “Twister” – has made history in many ways, including becoming the first disabled sportsman to be nominated as Sports Star of the Year at the SA Sports Awards last year. He wants to carry on making history, and he has his eyes on a medal at the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. However, his immediate aim is to regain his South African Open title.

Two wheelchair tennis tournaments are to be held next month. The first is the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open, to be played at the Gauteng East Tennis Centre at Benoni Lake from April 23 to 27. It is a grade one event, and one of only 13 such tournaments in the world.

Top international players are expected to participate, in preparation for the even more prestigious Airports Company South Africa SA Open at Ellis Park from April 20 to May 3. The Airports Company South Africa SA Open has Super Series status and is one of only six such tournaments. The others are played in Australia, France, Japan, Britain and the United States.

Sithole will be a major draw-card at the tournaments, and he is hoping South Africans will turn out in their numbers to support him and the other South Africans taking part. “I am looking forward to the two tournaments,” he said. “It is always good to play at home in our conditions and in front of our fans. “I believe my game has improved since last year’s tournament, and I hope to do better this year, and lift the title.”


NEW HOPE FOR WOMEN’S TENNIS IN SOUTH AFRICA

Johannesburg, South Africa - Earl Grainger, the newly appointed Fed Cup captain is on a clear and dedicated mission to improve the women’s game in South Africa. In what has been a long overdue announcement, Grainger together with Tennis South Africa announced a complete overhaul of the Fed Cup system in the country.

A Fed Cup squad comprising of 15 of the country’s top senior and junior players has been confirmed for 2014 and for the first time in years it includes South Africa’s highest ranked women’s singles player Chani Scheepers. Scheepers last made herself available for Fed Cup duty in 2005.

Grainger said that he had long discussions with Scheepers who was very excited by the new plans. “Chani assured me that she is totally committed to South African tennis. We spoke about her not being available for Fed Cup in the past and we discussed the future. Chani wants to help us in every possible way and I was delighted that she agreed to be part of the Fed Cup squad” said Grainger.

Twelve of the fifteen squad members were announced Monday, and are as follows: Chani Scheepers; Chanel Simmonds; Natasha Fourouclas; Madrie Le Roux; Natalie Grandin; Ilze Hattingh; Michelle Sammons; Lynn Kiro; Zani Barnard; Lee Barnard; Theresa Van Zyl; and Janet Koch.

There will be three other players added to the squad shortly.

The players in the squad were selected according to world rankings and participation on the WTA Tour. Juniors with potential were also considered and players that supported the TSA tournament programme were given added consideration.

Grainger said that he would announce his Fed Cup team on Friday to play in the Euro Africa Group 2 tournament in Lithuania from 16 to 19 April. “I will be monitoring the players, their progress and their schedules at all times said Grainger. “I will also be at all major local and international tournaments to watch the players compete and be on hand at these events to offer them advice.”

Tennis South Africa also confirmed that two consultants would work with Grainger on the Fed Cup project. The consultants were named as seasoned doubles specialist Natalie Grandin of Durban and leading coach Allan Karam of Pretoria. Grandin and Karam would be on hand not only to advise Grainger but also to work with the players in the squad.

Karam said that the aim was to build for the future. “Let’s not be fooled, there is plenty of talent in our country. All we need to do is identify players, nurture and develop their skills and look at long term success for our country.” “I am optimistic about this new look Fed Cup project. As long as we give the girls every opportunity available to enable them to progress and develop, this added support will for sure assist them in becoming successful professional players which will in turn be good for our Fed Cup hopes.” Karam warned that the road ahead would be a big challenge. “It’s not going to be easy but Earl has some really great and positive vision and Natalie and I look forward to the challenge.”

Grandin shares a similar view to Karam, and is feeling positive about her involvement with the project; “I am and have always been happy to help Tennis South Africa. I think this is a great idea and I am sure that with all my years of experience playing in the Fed Cup team, and on the pro tour, I will be able to help South Africa move up to Group 1. The team definitely has enough talent to move up and be a strong contender in years to come.”

Free of charge training squads for the players are planned to be held at least four times a year where the players in the squad will be given top class technical, physical and mental training to prepare them for the professional tour.

“Hard dedicated work will enable the girls to earn a place in the squad. My plan is to give the girls something that they have never experienced before and after each squad session I really want the girls to have gained enormously from the technical, physical and mental sessions we will offer them” said Grainger. However Grainger warned that the girls would have to work hard and win matches to keep their spots in the squad. “I need a hard working bunch of players that are totally committed to their game, to Tennis South Africa and the country as a whole. If they are not committed and show signs of poor performance they will stand a chance of losing their spot in the squad.”

The first squad session will be held from 9 – 12 April at the Bedfordview Tennis Club.


JUNIORS TENNIS CAMP BOOSTS DEVELOPMENT

Pretoria, South Africa – Tennis South Africa (TSA) joined forces with the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to host a juniors camp for players in the under 12 and under 14 age groups from the 7th to the 9th of March. The joint initiative between TSA and the ITF took place at the High Performance Centre in Pretoria. The aim of the camp was to assess physical, mental and technical ability of junior players and it to introduces strategy and tactic skills.

The Camp, which was led by Riaan Kruger (ITF Development Officer for Southern Africa) assisted by local professional coaches like Allan Karam, Bridget Visee and Terrey Schweitzer.
Top Israeli coach Ronen Moralli who was also present at the camp was very positive about the camp and said that “South Africa has very good coaches that can do a lot for the country, and does not need a lot of help from overseas”.

Players that took part in the camp were:
Under 12 Girls: Lara van der Merwe (NW), Delien Kleinhans (FS), Anique Engelbrecht (GC), Makayla Conlin Loubser (WP), Rochelle Pienaar (Bol), Abner Dickson (GC), Tali Zara Sulcas (WP), Ntokozo Zungu (GC).
Under 12 Boys: Khololwam Montsi (GN), Damien Nezar (SWD), Sam Jamieson (Bor), Andreas Peter Scott (GC), Matthew Bryan Brown (GC), Connor Kruger (GN), Zamaan Ali Kassim Moledina (KZN).
Under 14 Girls: Corin de Waal (WP), Margo Landman (GN),Maya Gledic (GC), Kaylin Bouwer (EP), Angela Georgieva (GC), Linge Steenkamp (FS).
Under 14 Boys: Phillip Henning (FS), Christiaan Worst (GN), Lleyton Cronje (GN), Joubert Klopper (FS), William Wilson (GN), Marno Marthinus Stander (WP), Robbie Owen Arends (WP), Thando Van Rouendal Longwe-Smit (WP).


INTERNATIONAL TENNIS RETURNS TO SUN CITY

Johannesburg, South Africa - Tennis South Africa (TSA) confirmed on Thursday that three consecutive weeks of international tennis will be played at Sun City in the North West Province during May and June this year.

The three back to back men’s and women’s tournaments will boast a total prize money purse of R650 000.00.

The tournament dates are as follows;

Week 1: Qualifying: 24/25 May
Main Draw: 26 to 31 May

Week 2: Qualifying: 31 May/1 June
Main Draw: 2 to 7 June

Week 3: Qualifying: 7/8 June
Main Draw: 9 to 13 June

Each week holds a $10,000 Men and $10, 000 Women’s event on the international tennis calendar, and players will earn world ranking points from the tournaments. Each week there will be a 64 qualifying draw, a 32 singles main draw and a 16 doubles main draw for both events.

Hardy Botha, Tournament Director from the series promoters; Egalite Promotions said that Sun City was the perfect venue to host the series. “Over the years, Sun City has played host to some top international tennis events including the award winning ATP SA Open in 1994, as well as the 2000, 2002 and 2003 Nike Junior Tour International Masters. The resort has everything the players need in one location. Coupled with good weather conditions, Sun City at that time of year has very scenic and beautiful surrounds. It promises to be a great three weeks of tennis.”

Gavin Crookes, Vice President of Tennis South Africa said that TSA believed that hosting Futures was the best way forward to develop local players for the international circuit. “The importance of our country hosting Futures events cannot be stressed enough. Futures are the entry level for aspiring professional players, and local hopefuls will have the opportunity of playing for important world ranking points in their own backyard at a fraction of the cost of playing abroad.”

Crookes also said that the level of tennis at Futures level was always impressive. “The Futures players are hungry to prove themselves and success at Sun City will help them enter into or improve their world rankings. Inevitably, as a result, the battles on court are fierce and give rise to some really world class tennis being played.”


KEVIN ANDERSON ENDS WAWRINKA’S PERFECT SEASON

Indian Wells, USA - South Africa’s Kevin Anderson put an end to Stan Wawrinka’s perfect season as he defeated the Australian Open champion 7-6 (1) 4-6 6-1 in the fourth round of the ATP Indian Wells Masters late Wednesday afternoon.

The in-form Anderson, who entered Indian Wells at a career-high No. 18 ranking following back-to-back hard-court finals in Delray Beach and Acapulco, recorded his 150th match win and his first in four matches against Wawrinka. This was Anderson’s fifth career win against a top 10 player.

Seeded 17 Anderson needed 2 hours 19 minutes to upset third seeded Wawrinka and move into his second straight quarter finals in Indian Wells.

“My game plan coming out was to be aggressive. I played Stan a few times, the most recent in Shanghai where I lost in a close match and I knew just being quite aggressive and not giving him too much rhythm from the back was the way to go” said Anderson.

Wawrinka did not face a break point through his first two matches this past week, but lost serve four times against Anderson. The 28-year-old Swiss had forced a decisive set after battling from down an early break in the second, but then lost the opening service game of the third and was broken again at love in the fifth game.

In the quarter finals, Anderson will face four-time champion Roger Federer. The two have met once before, last year at the ATP Masters in Paris which Federer won 6-4 6-4.
The 27 year old South African knocked out another former champion, Lleyton Hewitt, in his second round opener.

Anderson said Federer would be a big a tough task but he was ready for the challenge. “Roger is going to be tough and sort of speaks for himself. There is not too much I can add from that. I have to come out and focus on Friday and just do what I have been doing. I feel like I have been playing good tennis, and I’m going to definitely continue that Friday.”

This is the third career ATP Masters 1000 quarter final berth for the Anderson (2013 ATP Masters 1000 Indian Wells; 2011 ATP Masters 1000 Miami).

Neville Godwin, Anderson’s coach said he was very happy with the way his charge played. “Kev played really well! He stayed patient but yet played aggressive. Kevin served great in the third set and kept his nerve really well despite the disappointment of losing the second set.”


TOP WHEELCHAIR TENNIS TOURNAMENTS FOR SOUTH AFRICA

South African wheelchair tennis players are making a name for themselves around the world and as a result, two major wheelchair tournaments are to be staged in South Africa next month.

World number 2 quad player Lucas Sithole in action at last years’ Airports Company South Africa SA W
World number 2 quad player Lucas Sithole in action at last years’ Airports Company South Africa SA W

Defending mens champion Stephane Houdet the second seed from France with the trophy after beating Gordon Reid (GBR) in the last years’ men’s final of the Airports Company South Africa SA Open, a part of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour, which was played at the Ellis Park Tennis Complex in Johannesburg.

Marjolein Buis the defending women champion from the Netherlands with the trophy after beating Kgothatso Montjane (RSA) in the 2013 women’s final of the Airports Company South Africa SA Open, a part of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour, played at the Ellis Park Tennis Complex in Johannesburg.


US Open quad player Lucas Sithole, who was runner-up in the Australian Open in January, is a genuine super star, ranked second in the world, behind David Wagner of the United States, who beat him in Melbourne. South African number one female player Kgothatso Montjane (affectionately known as KG) is ranked seventh in the world, while Evans Maripa is the world number 15.

It is because of the achievements of these and other South African players as well as the excellent administration of Wheelchair Tennis South Africa that South Africa has been awarded two important tournaments by the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

The Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open, to be played at the Gauteng East Tennis Centre at Benoni Lake from April 23 to 27. It is a grade one event, and one of only 13 such tournaments in the world.
Top international players are expected to participate, in preparation for the even more prestigious Airports Company South Africa SA Open at Ellis Park from April 29 to May 3. The Airports Company South Africa SA Open has Super Series status and is one of only six such tournaments. The others are played in Australia, France, Japan, Britain and the United States.

“It is a tremendous honour to be awarded such an important tournament,” said Wheelchair Tennis South Africa (WTSA) general manager Karen Losch.
“It is evidence that South Africa has been recognized as one of the powerhouses of wheelchair tennis. We expect stars from around the world to come to South Africa for the tournaments, and we hope the people of Gauteng will come in their numbers to support our players.”

Both tournaments will have draws of 32 for singles and 16 for doubles in the men’s event, 24 and 12 in the women’s event, and the junior and quads events will have draws of 16 and eight.
As part of WTSA’s outreach programme, stars from wheelchair and able-bodied tennis will conduct a special clinic for schools on April 30.


SOUTH AFRICA NAME DAVIS CUP TEAM FOR UPCOMING TIE

Johannesburg, South Africa - South African Davis Cup Captain, John Laffnie De Jager has named his best possible side for the upcoming Tie against Lithuania.
The Tie will be played at the popular Irene Country Club, in Centurion, Tshwane from Friday 4 to Sunday 6 April, 2014. The surface will be medium to fast paced hard court.

Soweto Open 2013 (Jean Andersen)

Soweto Open 2013 (Dean O’Brien)

SA vs Monaco (Rik de Voest)

SA vs Slovenia tie (Ruan Roelofse)

SA vs Monaco (Raven Klaasen)


With five of his first choice players not available, including world number 18 Kevin Anderson, the South African Captain has had to make some tough decisions in deciding who will wear the green and gold in this all-important Tie. De Jager named his team as Rik De Voest, Dean O’Brien, Jean Andersen, Ruan Roelofse and Raven Klaasen.

De Jager said that he was happy with the team. “It is a pity that Nik Scholtz is not available due to college commitments, but we are fortunate that Jean Andersen is back from injury and Dean O’Brien is also back in the team.” O’Brien made his Davis Cup debut against Russia last year. This will be the first time O’Brien will play for his country at this level at home. “I couldn’t have been more excited when I heard from John-Laffnie that I had been selected to play another Davis Cup Tie for South Africa. Playing for my country is on the top of my list for achievements every year, and to play at home is going to be an incredible experience.”

O’Brien warned that Lithuania were a strong side. “Lithuania has a very strong team, we will need to prepare well and be ready to battle. This is an important Tie for us to take another step towards Group 1 and I am excited to help South Africa reach that goal.”

Another welcome return to the Davis Cup team is Jean Andersen who has been struggling of late with injuries. Andersen, from Pretoria, has been nominated twice for Davis Cup duty and made his debut for his county against Poland away in Poland last year. “I am extremely proud and honoured to be selected to play for my country. It has always been a big deal for me to play for my South Africa and I am excited for next month’s Tie. It is a welcoming bonus that it is in my home city” said Andersen.

An additional bonus to the team announcement is the veteran Davis Cup stalwart, Rik De Voest whose wife Carolyn gave birth to their first born, a baby boy in Vancouver, Canada only last week. De Voest had previously told De Jager that he would consider playing in the Tie, depending on the birth of the baby. De Voest is very much at home on the Irene Country Club courts as he began his tennis career there.

South African doubles star, Raven Klaasen who was part of the victorious team that beat Monaco 3-2 last month, will once again spear-head the doubles challenge. Klaasen who reached the finals of this year’s Australian Open doubles will be playing his tenth Tie for South Africa. “It’s an honour to be chosen again to play Davis Cup for South Africa. I think the support we received for the last Tie at Irene Country Club has really taken the Davis Cup experience to another level! I look forward to once again doing my part to ensure a South African victory. I’m very excited about our team but have no illusions about the challenge the Lithuanians will bring! It will be a good fight!” said Klaasen.

Ruan Roelofse has been a loyal supporter of the South Africa team since his first call up in 2012 against Slovenia. Ruan has been nominated four times to play for his country and is “really happy” to once again be wearing the green and gold. Roelofse said his body and game felt good and he was excited for the challenge of Davis Cup. “It is always an honour representing my country. I am looking forward to playing at Irene Country Club again. It was an amazing atmosphere and setup there in February, and I’m sure it will be even better this time.”

The tie against Lithuania is a must win situation for South Africa to have any chance of regaining their spot in Group 1. Lithuania and South Africa are meeting for the first time. The winner will play against the winner of the Finland vs Bosnia-Herzegovina clash in September for a place in Group 1. Lithuania have yet to name their team.

SA TEAM
(Current world rankings)

Raven Klaasen (30 doubles); Rik De Voest (186 singles, 386 doubles); Dean O’Brien (510 singles, 443 doubles); Jean Andersen (853 singles, 1287 doubles), Ruan Roelofse (746 singles, 268 doubles).

TICKET SALES

Tickets will cost R40.00 and all tickets will be for unreserved seating.
There will be safe and secure parking for R20.00 per vehicle available at the Irene Country Club throughout the Tie.

Advanced ticket sales can be made by calling Annette Terry at the Tennis South Africa offices between 08h30 and 13h00 daily on 011 442 0500 or emailing requests to juniors@tennissa.co.za. Deposits for ticket purchases need to be made in to the TSA banking account. TSA tickets can be collected at the TSA offices at The Wanderers Cricket Stadium and special arrangements for ticket collections at the Gauteng North Tennis Association offices in Groenkloof, Pretoria can also be made.


TOP SOUTH AFRICAN JUNIOR TENNIS TEAM NAMED FOR AFRICAN JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS

Tennis South Africa today named their best possible Under 14 and Under 16 players available to represent the country at the African Junior Championships.

The African Junior Championships will be played in Nairobi, Kenya from 17 - 22 March 2014.

The team has been announced as follows:

Girls Under 14
Corin de Waal (WP)
Maja Gledic (GC) (replaced Zoe Kruger (GN) who withdrew because of injury)

Boys Under 14
Phillip Henning (FS)
Christiaan Worst (GN)

Girls Under 16
Zani Barnard (GN)
Lee Barnard (GN)

Boys Under 16
Calvin Jordaan (WP)
Richard Thongoane (GC)

The team will be departing for Kenya today (Monday) to first participate in a warm-up tournament from 12 - 16 March prior to the African Junior Championships.

The team will be hoping to go one step better than their last African Junior Championships played last year in Kenya where they finished second behind Morocco.


TENNIS SOUTH AFRICA NAME CONSULTANTS TO DAVIS CUP CAPTAIN

Johannesburg, South Africa - Tennis South Africa have named two leading consultants to assist South African Davis Cup captain, John-Laffnie De Jager in selecting his future Davis Cup teams.

The consultants will sit with the captain at intervals throughout the year and discuss the performances of the country’s top players on the international circuit, and together debate the selection of players for Davis Cup.

Former professional players, Robbie Koenig (Kwa-Zulu Natal) and Michael De Jongh (Gauteng North) were named as the consultants by the national tennis body.

Koenig played on the ATP World Tour from 1992 to 2003 and reached a singles ranking high of 262 and doubles ranking high of 28. Ironically, Koenig partnered John-Laffnie De Jager for a number of seasons as a professional, with the two reaching the semi-finals of the 1998 US Open. Koenig won five career doubles titles and was a finalist on 6 occasions. Koenig also represented South Africa in Davis Cup in 2003 (vs Portugal and Poland).

Today Koenig tours the ATP tour as the voice of tennis and is one of the world’s leading television commentators working for the ATP at all their major events.

Koenig said that he was happy to assist TSA and the Davis Cup captain in this advisory role. “With me being involved in high level international tennis on a weekly basis, I’ll be able to provide both with plenty of insight. John-Laffnie is very experienced in his role and I’ll be there to discuss any issues relating to Davis Cup should he so require.”

De Jongh played professional tennis but made his name as a leading coach on the professional circuit coaching the likes of Martina Navratilova, Mary Pierce and Amanda Coetzer. De Jongh has been active in tennis as a TSA board member and television commentator, after retiring as a touring coach.

Speaking on behalf of TSA, Vice-President Gavin Crookes said “Tennis South Africa’s decision to appoint consultants of the ilk of Robbie Koenig and Michael De Jong to assist and advise John-Laffnie on the Davis Cup Team and Programme is a recognition of the substantial contribution of both experience and knowledge that South Africa’s former international players can bring to tennis in South Africa. Furthermore, it also provides our Davis Cup captain with an important and objective sounding board that he is able to use and draw upon in his (and Tennis South Africa’s) quest to achieve South Africa’s goal of returning to the World Group Division of this team competition.”


DAVIS CUP TICKETS GO ON SALE

Johannesburg, South Africa - Tennis South Africa (TSA) announced on Wednesday 5th March that tickets for next month’s Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Euro/Africa Zone Group 2, South Africa v Luthuania would go on sale at 08H30 on Monday, 10 March 2014. The Tie will be hosted by Irene Country Club from 4-6 April, 2014 and staged on a new Davis Cup Championship hard court stadium in the gardens of the Country Club.

Tickets will cost R40.00 and all tickets will be for unreserved seating.

Advanced ticket sales can be made by calling Annette Terry at the Tennis South Africa offices between 08h30 and 13h00 daily on 011 442 0500 or emailing requests to juniors@tennissa.co.za. Deposits for ticket purchases need to be made in to the TSA banking account. TSA tickets can be collected at the TSA offices at The Wanderers Cricket Stadium and special arrangements for ticket collections at the Gauteng North Tennis Association offices in Groenkloof, Pretoria can also be made.

During match days, tickets can be collected from the Will Call ticket collection at the Irene Country Club. All tickets sold on match days will be on a cash only basis.

TSA also announced that they have set aside 400 tickets per day for block bookings which can be made by schools in bundles of 10 or 20 tickets.

There will be safe and secure parking for R20.00 per vehicle available at the Irene Country Club throughout the Tie.

The Tie will be played on Friday 4th April (09h45 – Opening Ceremony followed by two 5-set singles matches), Saturday 5th April (12h00 – one doubles match best of 5 sets) and Sunday 6th April 2014 (10h00 – two reverse 5-set singles matches).

Craig Herbst, Chairman of the tennis section of Irene Country Club said that due to the limited seating capacity of the specially constructed stadium at the Country Club only a limited amount of tickets would be available to the public. “We are in the process of building enough basic seating for around 900 spectators.”

“Both South Africa and Lithuania will be going all out to win the Tie that will enable them to enhance their chances of qualifying for Group 1. The stakes are high for both teams and this should bring about top class tennis. With limited seats available and a feast of tennis and entertainment on the menu that weekend I would encourage people to book their tickets early to avoid disappointment” said Herbst.


KEVIN ANDERSON TAKES POSITIVES FROM FINAL LOSS

Acapulco, Mexico - When fifth seeded Kevin Anderson took to court late Saturday with his fourth seeded Bulgarian opponent, Grigor Dimitrov in the final of the ATP Mexico tournament in Acapulco, the South African knew he was in for a real battle.

Kevin Anderson runner up at the ATP Abierto Mexicano Telcel with the winner Grigor Dimitrov with tournament organizers during the prize giving ceremony.

Pictures by: ATP Abierto Mexicano Telcel


Although Anderson was playing his second consecutive final (reached the final of Delray Beach last week) both he and Dimitrov were contesting their first ATP 500 final.

Anderson was going for his third (Johannesburg 2011 ; Delray Beach 2012) ATP tile whilst Dimitrov was going for title number two (Stockholm 2013).

Unlucky number three for Kevin as Dimitrov came back from a break down in the third set to beat Anderson 7-6 (1) 3-6 7-6 (5).

Dimitrov had an incredible week beating Ernests Gulbis and upsetting second seed Andy Murray en route to the final. As a result, 22 year old Dimitrov will move up from 28 to a projected 16 in the ATP rankings tomorrow (Monday).

As a consolation to Anderson it is projected that he will rise to an all-time world ranking of 17 when the new ATP ranking are released Monday.

Anderson said he was disappointed he could not lift the title but takes a lot of positives from a good weeks tennis. “I really enjoyed the week here in Acapulco. There were so many positives from the week and tennis is a difficult sport, you have some disappointing loses like today, I certainly had my chances, but I must not get down on myself, I must move on and take the positives with me.”

Anderson said that things could be much different had he played a better final set tie-breaker. “If I had won those two crucial points at 5-5 in the final set breaker it would be a different story. I tried to play aggressive from the baseline but Grigor was calm, cool and collective and played the final set breaker smart. I had my chances, Grigor had his chances and he took advantage, I didn’t. He is a worthy winner.”

But not was all lost for Anderson in Mexico. Anderson teamed up with his good friend, Matthew Ebden of Australia to win the doubles title. Anderson and Ebden, unseeded beat Feliciano Lopez (Spain) and Max Mirnyi (Belarus) 6-3 6-3 in the final.


KEVIN ANDERSON HOPING TO MAKE IT A DOUBLE IN MEXICO

Acapulco, Mexico - South African tennis ace Kevin Anderson is through to the final of the ATP Abierto Mexicano Telcel event in Acapulco, Mexico.

Kevin Anderson in action during the semi-finals in Acapulco, Mexico on Friday.
Picture by: ATP Abierto Mexicano Telcel


The fifth seeded South African, ranked 21 in world tennis beat unseeded Alexandr Dolgopolov of the Ukraine 6-1 5-7 6-4 in Friday’s semi-final. Dolgopolov is ranked 38 in the world.

In doing so, Anderson became the first South African to reach back to back finals since Wayne Ferreira in 1995. In October 1995, Ferreira won ATP titles in Ostrava (bt. Washington) and Llyon (bt. Sampras).

Anderson reached the final of the Delray Beach event last week.

The Mexican tournament is one of 11 ATP World Tour 500 series tournaments which has this year switched to blue hard courts after being staged for the past 20 years on clay. The hard surface suits the big Anderson game and no doubt Anderson has capitalised on the switch, which is helping his serve in particular.

Neville Godwin, Andersons coach said that Kevin had made a great mental effort on court on Friday. “Kevin really came out mentally strong into his semi. Especially after he beat top seed David Ferrer by default! You get a few chances and Kevin has taken them so far. Kevin served great and was able to be aggressive against Dolgopolov, a potentially tricky opponent who had reached the final in Argentina last week.”

Godwin said that Anderson was serving well enough to win the title. “In my opinion, Kevin has the best serve, especially his first serve, on the Tour presently and on the hard courts here its playing to his advantage and will be a huge weapon and asset going into Saturday’s final.”

In the final to be played Saturday evening 21h00, Anderson will face fifth seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria. Dimitrov upset second seeded Brit Andy Murray 4-6 7-6 (5) 7-6 (3) in his semi-final.

Anderson and Dimitrov have played each other on four previous occasions with Dimitrov leading Anderson 3-1 head to head. Dimitrov beat Anderson three times on grass but Anderson beat the Bulgarian on hard courts which will give him added confidence going into the final in Acapulco.

Anderson also reached the doubles final with good friend Matthew Ebden of Australia. Anderson and Ebden, unseeded beat local Mexican heroes Cesar Ramitez and Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela 6-3 4-6 13-11 in Friday’s semi-final. Anderson and Ebden will play Feliciano Lopez (Spain) and Max Mirnyi (Belarus) in the final.

Anderson and South African born Ebden grew up as juniors before Ebden relocated from his native South Africa with his parents to Australia at the age of 15 yrs.

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