WHY LUCAS SITHOLE IS WORLD NUMBERMATERIAL

Johannesburg, South Africa – Lucas Sithole fell under a train at the age of 12, losing both his legs and half of his right arm. And that’s exactly why in the world of quadriplegic wheelchair tennis, he is considered one of the lucky ones.
Sithole is ranked second in the world in the quads division, and this year has his sights set on unseating American world number one David Wagner, who has been the most dominant quads player for over a decade and is the South African’s biggest challenge in this week’s
Airports Company South Africa SA Open at Ellis Park.
But it’s because of the nature of his disability that Sithole has a very good chance of doing so.
“Lucas had no spinal cord injury, like most quads players. He is an amputee, so this gives him quite an advantage,” says Canadian Sarah Hunter, herself one of the top wheelchair tennis players in the world and a close friend of Wagner’s.
“Most of us had spinal cord injuries. This means we have limited functionality in our hands, our wrists and our arms. And we’re missing certain abdominal muscles as well. But a player like Lucas has full arm and upper body function, so this makes him much stronger.”
Apart from his greater strength, one of the key benefits of this is that Sithole can change his grip during play, where most quads players have to strap the racquet to their hands and have a fixed grip for the entire match.
Another key difference is that quads players with spinal cord injuries have largely lost their capacity to sweat. During a physical sport such as tennis, this becomes a slippery slope for them in terms of hydration during a match.
“Sweat cools the body down, and we don’t have that. So playing in the heat is really a challenge for us,” says Hunter. “That’s why most quads matches are scheduled first up or late in the day. Hydration is also a challenge because we have to hydrate, but can’t drink too much. The whole preparation of taping your racquet to your hand takes times, so you don’t want to be going to the toilet during a match. We can’t drink too much, and need drinks with salt so we can retain water. But this also becomes a balancing act.”
These differences between Sithole and Wagner are seen in their styles of play. Wagner does not have as much raw strength, so relies on a silky touch and an incredible on-court strategy.
“David has such great touch. He eats, breathes and sleeps the strategy of tennis. He watches players like Federer and Nadal just to see their strategy and how they build a point,” says Hunter.
But with no legs, Sithole has his own challenges of balance in his wheelchair. He has two waterbottles that he straps to the front of his wheelchair to make up for the lack of forward weight.
“It just shows you that while we all might look the same, there are some very big differences,” says Hunter.
But in the mind of Sithole, the biggest difference is the 962 points that separate him and Wagner on the rankings.
And that’s something he plans to change as soon as he can.


SOUTH AFRICAN STARS THROUGH TO QUARTERS IN ACSA SA OPEN

Johannesburg, South Africa - South Africa’s Lucas Sithole and Kgothatso Montjane both made it through to the quarterfinals of the Airports Company South Africa SA Open at Ellis Park on Wednesday, and on a day when 300 children were shown the skills of the world’s best wheelchair tennis players.
Sithole is through to the quads quarterfinals after a comfortable 6-0 6-1 victory over Swede Petter Edstrom, while Montjane progressed to the women’s singles quarterfinals with a 6-2 6-4 victory over Mariska Venter.
It was the perfect result for the children who attended a development clinic at this Super Series event on the International Tennis Federation’s Wheelchair Tennis Tour. And it reflected the desire of both Sithole and Montjane to make an impression in front of their home crowd this week.
“This is one of the biggest tournaments for me, and I want to use it to attack that number one spot,” said world number two Sithole, who again seems on course to meet world number one David Wagner in the quads final.
Wagner beat him in the final of last week’s Gauteng Open on this Airports Company South Africa series, and the American progressed easily on Wednesday with a 6-2 6-1 victory over South Africa’s Bongani Dlamini.
“I took a lot from last week and which I worked on in this match. Moving my opponent around the court was one of them,” said Sithole.
Both Sithole and Wagner will have a new threat to deal with this week in Britain’s Andrew Lapthorne, the winner of this title for the past two years. Lapthorne is also through to the quarters following a 6-1 6-1 victory over Israel’s Itay Erinlib.
“I’ve won this event the last two years and I just seem to love it. My game seems to suit the altitude and the courts here. The first match is always tough and you don’t know how you’re going to play, so it’s always good to get it out of the way quite quickly and move on to the next one,” he said.
The adjustment to the high altitude in Johannesburg was an initial concern for many of the top seeds.
“It’s about adapting the way you play and playing higher balls and hitting with more spin,” said Lapthorne.
It was a factor that ensured Montjane had to work a little harder than she would’ve liked in her women’s singles match against Venter.
“It’s always important to get the job done so I’m glad I could pull it through. But the higher altitude means you need to be careful. The balls wear out quickly so you lose that grip on the ball, and I struggled with that control. It takes one game like this to figure it out, but the conditions are different so I think you need to ready for anything from any player,” she said.
World number one Sabine Ellerbrock echoed these sentiments after her 6-1 6-0 victory over South African Pauline Helouin.
“The balls are bouncing higher here so you have to get used to that. But I feel good and I’m prepared for the quarterfinals,” she said of a women’s singles draw that has been boosted with the addition of two more world top 10 players this week in Aniek van Koot and Marjolein Buis of The Netherlands. Both also won on Wednesday.
“As the number one seed you are always under pressure to win. I just need to relax and enjoy myself out there. The quarters are nearly all top 10 players, so I expect a few tough matches coming up.”
In the men’s singles, last week’s Gauteng Open champion and world number two Stephane Houdet led the charge into the quarterfinals with a 6-0 6-1 victory over Lhaj Boukartach.


MARIPA TARGETS WORLD TOP 10 SPOT IN 2014

Johannesburg, South Africa – It’s been a tough past few days for South African wheelchair tennis star Evans Maripa, but he’s emerged from it more determined than ever to make an impact this year.

Evans Maripa

Picture by: Reg Caldecott


Maripa was knocked out in the first round of the Airports Company South Africa SA Open at the Ellis Park Tennis Stadium this week. He was beaten by world number three Gordon Reid of Britain. But it was always going to be a tough encounter for Maripa, coming days after his mother passed away.
“Personally it’s been tough. I lost my mom a week ago and I haven’t really trained very well. I arrived late for this tournament and then tried to get some last-minute training in before my first-round match, but I need time to get my rhythm going,” said Maripa.
But Maripa left Ellis Park confident that he could still become a force in the men’s singles of international wheelchair tennis this year.
The 23-year-old is currently ranked a career high 14th in the world, but says he believes he can break into the top 10 this year.
“I’m confident I can break into the world top 10. It all comes down to the hard work I’ve been putting in. I know I can do it,” said Maripa.
“My biggest goal this year is to play my first Grand Slam in the US Open in September.”


SPAR GRAND PRIX WIDE OPEN

Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa - The Port Elizabeth leg of the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge series at Pollock Beach on Saturday is likely to be a cracker, with some of South Africa’s top road runners battling it out for top spot.

Runners to watch include the winner of the Cape Town leg, Diana-Lebo Phalula, who changed coaches recently and appears to have taken on a new lease of life. Phalula won the Two Oceans Half Marathon on April 19, 0.23 seconds ahead of defending champion Rene Kalmer. They are both running on Saturday and the struggle for dominance in the race could result in a fast time.

Kalmer came a disappointing seventh in Cape Town, just a week after competing in the world half marathon championships in Copenhagen, but she will be going all out to reclaim her title as queen of the road. She did not run last year, because of international commitments, but she has described Port Elizabeth as her favourite race.

But Phalula and Kalmer will have plenty of opposition. Nedbank have entered a strong team, which includes Ethiopian Hunduma Gumeda, Zimbabwean Rutenda Nyahora, and former Grand Prix winner Irvette van Zyl.

Boxer also have a strong contingent with last year’s Grand Prix winner, Mapaseka Makhanya, as well as Nolene Conrad, Christine Kalmer and Janene Carey.

While all the runners will be aiming for top spot and the generous prize money on offer, the South Africans will also be trying to earn valuable Grand Prix points. The Grand Prix rewards the top runners competing in the five Challenge races, which are held around South Africa. The winner will receive a car and the runner-up R30 000. There are also prizes on offer to the top runners in the various age categories.

Kalmer has won the Grand Prix on three occasions, and Van Zyl has won it twice. Phalula has made it known that she intends to maintain her lead at the top of the leaderboard and walk away with the keys to a brand new Nissan Micra, but all the top runners will be going all out to ensure that she doesn’t have it all her own way.

Phalula is currently at the top of the leaderboard with 30 points, followed by Conrad, with 18. Makhanya is in third position, with 16 points. However, with four races still to go, the Grand Prix is wide open.


WORLD WHEELCHAIR TENNIS STARS SHINE IN ACSA SA OPEN

Johannesburg, South Africa - The Airports Company South Africa wheelchair tennis series continues with the SA Open at the Ellis Park Tennis Stadium this week, with three world number ones and at least 16 world top 10 players in action.

The Super Series event forms part of the International Tennis Federation’s Wheelchair Tennis Tour, and is one of the top six wheelchair tennis tournaments in the world.
And most of the top seeds had no trouble getting through Tuesday’s first round.

French men’s singles top seed and world number two Stephane Houdet beat countryman David Dalmasso 6-1 6-0 as he goes in search of back-to-back titles after winning last week’s Gauteng Open.

And South Africa’s Gift Lekhanyane produced a major upset when the former South African top-ranked junior and now 250 in the world beat world number 69 Wolfgang Stieg of Austria 6-4 7-5.

But South Africa’s top two ranked players in the men’s singles faced a tough opening draw and were both knocked out on Tuesday.
South African number one Evans Maripa was beaten 6-1 6-3 by world number three Gordon Reid of Great Britain, while Leon Els went down 6-1 6-0 to Japan’s Takashi Sanada.
But this week was always going to be a challenge for Maripa, whose mother passed away last week.
“Personally it’s been tough. I lost my mom a week ago and I haven’t really trained very well. I arrived late yesterday and then tried to get some training in early before my first-round match, but I need time to get my rhythm going,” said Maripa.

Reid, meanwhile, was delighted with his start after losing in the quarterfinals of last week’s Gauteng Open.
“Evans can be a really dangerous player, so I’m happy to come out with that score and play a little bit better than I did last week. But I also realise it was difficult for Evans because he’s had a few personal issues in the last few days. It was always going to be tough for him to play.”
Houdet will again be the biggest threat in the men’s singles. But the French Grand Slam champion is wary of the effect the altitude will have on play this week.
“The conditions were tough because I didn’t expect the balls to fly that much,” he said after his victory over Dalmasso. “It was hard to control the ball at altitude, so my aim was to just keep the ball in court. I think you’ll see some tough matches because they may only come down to serve and return, and not many rallies because of the altitude.”

In the other men’s singles matches, seventh seed Tom Egberink of The Netherlands is through after his 6-0 6-0 victory over South Africa’s Tshepo Makwela; fifth seed Nicolas Peifer beat South Africa’s Mayenzeke Gwija 6-0 6-0; Takuya Miki beat countryman Yoshinobu Fujimoto 6-3 6-2; and fourth seed Frederic Cattaneo beat South Africa’s Frank Ramokoatsi 6-1 6-1.

On Wednesday, the top seeds in the women’s singles will be in action, including world number one Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany and South Africa’s Kgothatso Montjane.
The quads will also get their campaign underway on Wednesday, with American world number one David Wagner and South Africa’s world number two Lucas Sithole in action.

Tuesday’s opening ceremony was attended by several diplomatic officials; the Deputy Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu; and the main sponsor.
“We started this journey of supporting wheelchair tennis 10 years ago, when there were less than 10 players. Now we have almost 500 players in 50 centres around South Africa. As a sponsor this gives us a great sense of fulfilment,” said Ndiphiwe Ntuli, Airports Company South Africa Senior Manager.


SCHOOLS TO BENEFIT FROM AIRPORTS COMPANY SOUTH AFRICA WHEELCHAIR TENNIS SERIES

Johannesburg, South Africa - Schools are set to benefit from the on-going international wheelchair tennis series of tournaments sponsored by Airports Company South Africa.

Wheelchair Tennis South Africa (WTSA) announced that on Wednesday 30 April 2014, a schools clinic would be held at 15h00 at the Ellis Park Tennis Arena during the Airports Company South Africa SA Open.

WTSA in partnership with the City of Joburg have invited children from schools around Johannesburg to be part of the clinic. These include learners from Midrand, Newtown, Soweto and Southrand.

Wheelchair Tennis coaches as well as top local and international players participating in the tournament will take to the court with the learners as well as children from the local community with the aim of introduceing the juniors to wheelchair tennis, and promote tennis as a game for all.

Around 300 children with disabilities and able-bodied children are expected to be hosted by WTSA and Airports Company South Africa for an afternoon of fun.

“We are proud to have contributed to the talents of Wheelchair Tennis Champions like Lucas Sithole, KG Montjane and Evans Maripa. This coaching clinic is part of our on-going national programme to nurture South African talent and produce future champions,” said Unathi Batyashe-Fillis, Airports Company South Africa spokesperson.

Karen Losch, General Manager of WTSA said “We will not only take the participating juniors through their paces on the tennis court, but will have other fun activities for them to enjoy such as a jumping castle, and face painting. We want those that join in and fall in love with the game.”

WTSA extends an invitation to all juniors under 16 years who live in the Ellis Park precinct or can get to Ellis Park by Ria Via, Taxi or transport, to join the event, learn new skills and have a fun-filled afternoon.

“Wheelchair Tennis enthusiasts are encouraged to come early to see some of the best wheelchair tennis players in the world in action” said Losch. “You will be inspired to go onto court and produce the best you can.”


SEEDS AND DRAW ANNOUNCED FOR THE AIRPORTS COMPANY SOUTH AFRICA SA OPEN

Johannesburg, South Africa - The seeds and draw for this week’s Airports Company South Africa SA Open, part of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Wheelchair Tennis Tour were announced on Monday. The tournament, a super series event, will be staged in Johannesburg at the Ellis Park Tennis Stadium from Tuesday 29 April with the finals scheduled for Saturday 3 May.

Play is scheduled to start at 09h00 each day but subject to change. There is no entrance fee and safe and secure parking is available.

Spearheading the South African challenge in the men’s singles will be Evans Maripa, the country’s top world ranked player (world ranked 14) who was unlucky not to be seeded for the tournament. Maripa did not have “ lady luck” on his side when the draw was done Monday. Maripa will face second seed Gordon Reid of Great Britain in his opener.

KG Montane is seeded four for the women’s event. Montjane a runner up on Sunday at the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open has a bye in round one and will wait in round two for the winner of the all South African clash between Mariska Venter vs Siphokazi Fuma. Montjane is seeded to meet second seed Aniek Van Koot of Netherlands in the semifinals.

Lucas Sithole, the world number two Quad player is seeded second behind world number one, David Wagner of the USA. Sithole has a bye in round one and will play Petter Edstrom of Sweden in round two. Edstrom also received a first round bye.

In the men’s singles, top seed Stephane Houdet of France will play compatriot David Dalmasso in round one and is seeded to meet Miki Takuya of Japan, the third seed in the semifinals

Women’s world number one and top seed, Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany will enjoy a first round bye and if all goes according to plan should meet Van Koot in Saturday’s final. Ellerbrock can look forward to a strong semifinal challenge in third seed and defending champion Marjolein Buis of Netherlands should the seedings go according to plan.

David Wagner, this year’s Australian Open champion and winner of the Gauteng Open against Sithole on Sunday has a first round bye and will meet the winner of the all South African clash, Bongani Dlamini vs Steven Kekai in the second round.

The Seeds are as follows;

MEN

1 Stephane Houdet FRA (2 World Ranking)
2 Gordon Reid GBR (3)
3 Takuya Miki JAP (8)
4 Nicolas Peifer FRA (9)
5 Frederic Cattaneo FRA (10)
6 Satoshi Saida JPN (12)
7 Tom Egberink NED (13)
8 Takashi Sanada JAP (11)

WOMEN

1 Sabine Ellerbrock GER (1 World Ranking)
2 Aniek van Koot NED (4)
3 Marjolein Buis NED (6)
4 Kgothatso Montjane RSA (7)
5 Lucy Shuker GBR (8)
6 Katharina Kruger GER (10)
7 Charlotte Famin FRA (15)
8 Francisca Mardones CHILE (17)

QUADS

1 David Wagner USA (1 World Ranking)
2 Lucas Sithole RSA (2)
3 Andrew Lapthorne GBR (3)
4 Jamie Burdekin GBR (4)
5 Sarah Hunter CAN (6)
6 Antony Cotterill GBR (7)
7 Greg Hasterok USA (9)
8 David Buck USA (14)

JUNIORS - BOYS

1 Thato Tsomole RSA (4 World Ranking)
2 Sean-Liam De Hilster RSA (12)

JUNIORS - GIRLS

1 Viktoriia Lvova RUS (1 World Ranking)
2 Mariska Venter RSA 2
3 Thando Hlatshwayo RSA (4)
4 Dudu Mokokonyane RSA (9)


MONTJANE, SITHOLE FOCUSED ON SOUTH AFRICAN OPEN GLORY

Benoni, South Africa - South Africa’s Kgothatso Montjane and Lucas Sithole head into this week’s Airports Company South Africa SA Open more determined than ever to claim a home victory after their losses in the finals of the Gauteng Open on Sunday.
The country’s two wheelchair tennis stars celebrated Freedom Day by both making it through to their respective quads and women’s singles finals in the Gauteng Open.
But Montjane was beaten 4-6 6-2 6-2 by German world number one Sabine Ellerbrock, while Sithole lost 6-2 6-1 to American world number one David Wagner.
Yet the greater significance of their achievement on a historic Sunday for South Africa was not lost on Montjane.
“I always think of what Madiba did for our country and how things have changed. It means a lot that we can live together and I appreciate those who fought for it, delivered it and made peace. Today we can all live together as South Africans because of that,” she said.
And Sithole was further proof of this as he went straight from the Gauteng East Tennis Centre to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to receive the Order of Ikhamanga Bronze from President Jacob Zuma in recognition of his outstanding achievements in wheelchair tennis, which included becoming the first African to win the US Open in 2013.
“I’m very honoured to receive this award on Freedom Day. It’s a very special moment for me,” he said.
It was another windy day on court in the finals, and the experience of the world number ones proved key.
Montjane looked poised for an upset when she took the first set off Ellerbrock. But the German, who was nursing an arm injury, brought a more aggressive game to the final two sets.
“I knew it was going to be a tough match. It was great to take the first set but Sabine came back hard in the second and I made a lot of mistakes. There are a lot of things to take from this tournament and I’m leaving here with a lot of confidence for next week’s Airports Company South Africa SA Open,” she said.
It was an emotional victory for Ellerbrock, who won her first ITF title in South Africa and was also on the winning women’s doubles team in the Gauteng Open. “I’m proud of what I’ve achieved and I’m looking forward to the SA Open. We’ll have two more top 10 players in the draw there, so you’ll need a bit of luck as well.”
Sithole was also optimistic of turning the lessons of his defeat into a successful campaign in the SA Open. “It’s a learning curve for me and I’ve seen what I need to work on for next week’s SA Open.”
Wagner will also remain in the country for the SA Open as he goes in search of back-to-back titles.
“I’ve had a gameplan for these two weeks and it’s worked out so far. I obviously want to win the SA Open as well, but most importantly I want to play the best tennis I can every time I get onto the court.”
French Grand Slam champion and men’s world number two Stephane Houdet is also hunting a double.
Houdet won the Gauteng Open men’s singles title with a 6-2 6-2 victory over Japan’s Takashi Sanada in a week where he also celebrated a doubles triumph. And he’ll be defending his SA Open title at Ellis Park.


SOUTH AFRICAN WHEELCHAIR TENNIS STARS THROUGH TO FINALS OF ACSA GAUTENG OPEN

Benoni, South Africa - South Africa’s wheelchair tennis stars Lucas Sithole and Kgothatso Montjane are both through to their respective finals in the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open at the Gauteng East Tennis Centre. And both will face world number ones in Sunday’s finals.
“I think it’s huge for wheelchair tennis in South Africa for two South Africans to reach the finals. For both of us it’s great because we’ve put a lot of work into this,” said Montjane.
But Sithole was hardly impressed with his 7-5 7-5 quads semi-final victory over Canadian Sarah Hunter, where he also had to overcome a faulty wheelchair.
“This was my worst game ever. I really performed badly and I need to improve because I’m playing the world number one next,” said Sithole. “My chair broke down on me in the second set. It broke down on the left hand side where I mostly balance so that means I couldn’t chase too much and had to play the balls closest to me. But I got through it.”
Sithole is up against world number one David Wagner in the quads final. The American played his best tennis of the week to overpower Britain’s Jamie Burdekin 6-1 6-0.
“The conditions were a little bit weird. It was windy, which it hasn’t been all week. That took some getting used to – the fast court, elevation and then wind. That combination of all three really means you have to be on top of your game,” said Wagner.
Wagner took plenty of lessons from the last time he met Burdekin in the Cajun Classic final in March, which the Brit won.
“I knew playing against Jamie wasn’t going to be easy. It’s always a tough match with him. But I was able to talk to one of our United States Tennis Association (USTA) coaches the night before the match, and we spoke about a strategy for me. I had a different gameplan this time and fortunately it worked.”
In the women’s singles, South Africa’s Montjane beat Britain’s Lucy Shuker 7-5 6-1 to set up a final with world number one Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany.
“I’m very happy because it wasn’t easy,” said Montjane. “The weather was tricky and I struggled to get into the game. I’ve played Sabine a few times and she’s a tough opponent, but you never know what will happen on the day in a final.”
Ellerbrock is struggling with an arm injury, which hampered her in her 7-5 6-2 semi-final victory over fellow German Katherina Kruger.
“It’s not an excuse and it’s an old problem, but it was difficult for me to play some shots. I hope the physios can fix it because they are really good here,” she said.
The men’s singles final will see top seeded Frenchman Stephane Houdet up against Japan’s Takashi Sanada.
Houdet put to rest a previous defeat by Takuya Miki in January’s semi-final of the Sydney International Open to beat the Japanese player 6-4 6-3. “I was thinking about our last match where I lost really badly to Miki, so I was focused on just taking it a game at a time,” said the experienced Grand Slam champion.
“I had a good strategy in the wind to keep the ball high. I was 3-1 down in the first set and then something broke in his chair. I fought back to 4-all and then it was a different Miki and it felt easier for me. You need to be smart with the wind.”
In the other semi-final Sanada ended the dream run of determined Frenchman Nicolas Peifer, whom he beat 4-6 6-4 6-2.
“Nicolas is a very strong player so I had to limit my mistakes. My confidence is also much better this year because I’ve made a change in racquet, wheelchair and my training and technique. So it’s all helped to make me a better player,” said Sanada.
The quads doubles final on Saturday saw Wagner and Hunter beat Greg Hasterok and Antony Cotterill 6-3 6-1.
Sunday’s women’s doubles final will see Ellberbrock and Shuker against Charlotte Famin and Kruger.


TOP BRIT FALLS, BUT SOUTH AFRICA’S MONTJANE INTO SEMIS OF ACSA GAUTENG OPEN

Benoni, South Africa - Britain’s Gordon Reid was the biggest name to fall in the quarterfinals of the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open on Friday, while South Africa’s Kgothatso Montjane remains on track to defending her title.
The second-seeded Reid, ranked third in the world in the men’s singles, was beaten 6-4 6-4 by world number 10 Nicolas Peifer of France at the Gauteng East Tennis Centre.
When asked what went wrong in the match, Reid simply said, “Everything”. While Reid admits his own game was way below par, he couldn’t quite understand how Peifer managed to beat him playing equally scrappy tennis on the day.
“Pretty much everything was wrong with my game, but I don’t feel he played particularly well to beat me. I struggled with the altitude and the ball flying off the racquet. That made me a bit hesitant out there,” said Reid.
And even Peifer wasn’t sure how he managed to win this one.
“It was a good win, but a strange one,” said Peifer. “I don’t think either one of us really played our best tennis. There was no rhythm to the match and a lot of unforced errors on both of our parts.”
Both players had very low first serve percentages, but it cost Reid the most. “I lost my serve early in both sets, which meant I was never really able to get in front.”
It was clearly a major victory for Peifer and his plans to break into the top seven in the world, which qualifies him for the Grand Slams.
Peifer will next face Japan’s Takashi Sanada, who beat Frenchman Frederic Cattaneo 6-2 6-7 6-4.
It was largely a day of first set struggles for the top seeds.
South Africa’s Montjane came up against France’s Charlotte Famin for the first time in her career, and was initially rattled by her opponent’s game.
“It was a tough start. I saw her come to the net so much and it confused me because she was very quick,” she said of her fight to win the first set 7-5.
“I’ve never played her before so it was a matter of me just staying back and watching her game a bit. I took my time and focused on each point. After figuring out her style I was able to play my own game. When I put pressure on her she started to make a lot of mistakes, and I came back strong in the second set,” she said, taking the set 6-2 for the win.
Montjane comes up against Britain’s third-seeded Lucy Shuker in the semis.
World number one and top women’s singles seed Sabine Ellerbrock also seemed out of sorts in her 6-4 6-1 victory over Francisca Mardones.
“I really struggled to get my rhythm going. Only when we were 4-all in the first set did I start to feel like I was getting in the match a bit,” she said. Ellerbrock has also struggled with the faster game at altitude. “It’s hard because your timing has to be really good and you have to hit the ball early. But it’s the same for everyone.”
Ellerbrock now faces fellow German Katherina Kruger.
French men’s singles top seed Stephane Houdet also had to pull himself back from a near first-set defeat in his quarterfinal against Tom Egberink of The Netherlands.
Down 5-4 in the first set, Houdet fought back to win it 7-5 and then took the second set 6-0.
“I wasn’t focused enough, but when I was 5-4 down that got my focus back. I was watching the other courts and thinking about the scores. So being down was good to get my focus back,” said Houdet.
The Frenchman will need his focus early on in the semi-finals, where he faces Japan’s Takuya Miki, who beat France’s David Dalmasso 6-3 6-1. The last time the two met was in the semi-finals of the Australian Open in January, which Miki won 6-1 6-2.
“It will be a tough match,” Miki said of their looming semi-final. “You can’t afford to make any mistakes against Stephane.”
In the quads doubles, the strong pairing of American David Wagner and Canadian Sarah Hunter overpowered Lucas Sithole and Jamie Burdekin 6-1 6-2 to reach the final, where they will face Greg Hasterok and Antony Cotterill.
Houdet and Frederic Cattaneo are through to the men’s double final after beating Leon Els and Gordon Reid 6-2 6-3, setting up a clash with Egberink and Peifer after their 6-2 7-5 6-2 victory over Japan’s Miki and Sanada.
The women’s doubles still has a strong South African presence. Rosalea van der Meer and Mariska Venter face a tough semi-final against Ellerbrock and Shuker, while Montjane and Chile’s Mardones take on Germany’s Kruger and Famin of France.


THE COUNTRIES CAPITAL GETS JUNIOR TENNIS FEVER

Pretoria, South Africa – Tennis fever has hit the countries capital as over 350 tennis players from across the country arrive in Pretoria, Tshwane to participate in the Dunlop Sportsmans Warehouse which takes place from Saturday 26 – Tuesday 29 April 2014. The finals will be played at the Groenkloof Tennis Stadium on Tuesday 29 April 2014.
The annual tournament, one of Gauteng North’s premier tennis events has one of the strongest line-up of players entered for the 2014 event.
Boys and girls in the under 10, 12, 14, 16 age categories will compete in singles and doubles events in different tennis clubs throughout greater Pretoria as well as at Gauteng North Tennis Association’s headquarters in Groenkloof. There will also be a men and women’s event for players over the age of 16 years.
The under 10 age group and the women’s open group will be hosted by Lynnwood Tennis Club. The boys under 12, girls under 14 and the men’s open matches will take place at University of Pretoria with the boys under 14 at Groenkloof Stadium. Groenkloof will also host the girls under 12 and the boys under 16 with the girls under 16 age group being hosted by Belgrave Tennis Club.
President of Gauteng North Tennis, Clark Coetzee said that the Dunlop Sportsmans Warehouse tournament played a major role in the development of tennis in the Province and South Africa. “We pride ourselves at Gauteng North in hosting top class junior tennis events and the tournament give our local players a great opportunity close to home to earn all important national ranking points which helps them develop as aspiring players.”


SOUTH AFRICAN STARS ON TRACK IN ACSA GAUTENG OPEN

Benoni, South Africa - South Africa’s Lucas Sithole and Kgothatso Montjane led the charge of the top seeds into their respective semi-finals and quarterfinals of the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open on Thursday.
Second seed and South African quads favourite Sithole set up a semi-final clash with Canadian fourth seed Sarah Hunter after beating Queen Nlapo 6-0 6-0 at the Gauteng East Tennis Centre.
Canadian Hunter overcame a shock 5-7 first set loss against American Mark McLean to eventually win 6-3 6-0.
“Sarah is a good player with a lot of experience. She’ll give me a tough test, which is what I want for this tournament to get me ready for next week’s Airports Company South Africa SA Open,” said Sithole.
“But I’m happy with how I’ve come through these two matches and retained my focus and concentration in them. I think I’m building well for next week. By the end of this week I want all my weapons in one bag so I’m ready for the war next week,” he said.
At the top end of the quads draw, top seed and world number one David Wagner continued to work off the jetlag with a 6-0 6-0 victory over Britain’s Antony Cotterill to also progress.
“I still feel a bit tired from the flight over but it was a good second round for me. Antony is a good player so I knew I had to play my best tennis against him. You’ve just got to do your best on the day and leave it out there. That’s my focus with each match.”
Wagner next comes up against his first major challenge of the tournament in Britain’s Jamie Burdekin, who beat him in the final of the Cajun Classic last month.
In the women’s singles, South African second seed Montjane played her first match of the week on Thursday, and moved straight into the quarterfinals with a 6-0 6-1 victory over Siphokazi Fuma.
“It wasn’t a tough match but I took a lot out of it in terms of what I want to still work on. And I know I’ve got some tough matches coming up. I’ve got a lot of points to defend these next two weeks for my world ranking, which puts the pressure on me, so I’m just focused on doing the best I can,” she said.
Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany emerged from her “green island” of the tennis court as calm and composed as you would expect from the world number one singles star.
After a first-round bye, the top-seeded German secured her place in the quarterfinals with a 6-1- 6-1 victory over South Africa’s Rosalea van der Meer.
“It was a good start, but there’s always something to work on,” said the reigning Australian Open champion.
The most immediate concern for Ellerbrock was getting used to the altitude, and an outdoor environment for someone who plays most of her tennis indoors in Germany.
“It’s tough to get the rhythm here because the courts are fast at altitude. I was an able-bodied player before, so my mobility on court is something I’m always very aware of,” she said.
Ellerbrock’s serve also took some time to warm up. But overall there wasn’t too much to trouble her.
“I know there is always pressure if you are the first seed, but I try not to focus too much on that pressure. I enjoy myself on court. I call it my green island and I make sure I enjoy every second of it while I’m out there.”
Men’ singles top seed Stephane Houdet of France beat Poland’s Kamil Fabisiak 6-0 6-0 to also make the quarters. “It was another good match for me. My opponent has improved a lot since we last faced each other and I needed my best game out there. I had to be focused on every point.”
Houdet faces sixth seed Tom Egberink of The Netherlands in the quarters. “Tom is a good player with a very good serve, so that will be a tough match,” said the Frenchman.
Men’s singles second seed Gordon Reid and third seed Takuya Miki also both progressed.


SOUTH AFRICA POISED TO BECOME A WORLD FORCE IN WHEELCHAIR TENNIS

Benoni, South Africa - German wheelchair tennis star and world number one Sabine Ellerbrock believes the future of the global sport could well lie in South Africa and the talent coming from these shores.

Germany’s Sabine Ellerbrock, women’s world number 1 participates in the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open staged at Gauteng East Tennis Complex in Benoni.
Pictures credit: Reg Caldecott


Ellerbrock is in South Africa as part of a strong local and international field competing in this week’s Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open in Benoni and next week’s Airports Company South Africa SA Open at Ellis Park.
And she has been astounded by the popularity of and support for wheelchair tennis in South Africa.
“When I compare the growth of wheelchair tennis in South Africa with Germany, which is a big country, it’s incredible. Compared with South Africa, Germany is actually a developing country in terms of wheelchair tennis,” she said.
“Here there are so many players and they have such great support. Wheelchair tennis is even broadcast on television in South Africa. It’s fantastic. I’m sure South Africa will have a lot of good players in the future.”
South Africa already has two major international stars in quads competitor Lucas Sithole and womens champion Kgothatso Montjane.
Sithole made history late last year when he became the first African to win a Quads Grand Slam, beating world number one David Wagner for the US Open title.
Sithole is ranked second in the world behind Wagner, while Montjane is ranked seventh in the world.
“If you look at Lucas and Kgothatso, they are amongst the best in the world, and I think you’ll see more stars coming from here in the future,” said Ellerbrock.

Live scoring available on www.tennissa.co.za


TOP SEEDS CRUISE INTO SECOND ROUND OF ACSA GAUTENG OPEN

Benoni, South Africa - It was a comfortable opening day for the top seeds in the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open wheelchair tennis tournament at the Gauteng East Tennis Centre on Wednesday as they all moved easily through their first round matches.
In fact, amongst the top two men’s seeds in the singles and the quads they only dropped one game between the four of them. The leading women had it even easier as they all enjoyed first round byes, including defending champion Kgothatso Montjane of South Africa and world number one Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany.

Leon Els of South Africa in action against Simbongile Gobongo (RSA) in the men’s singles during day 1 of the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open at Gauteng East Tennis Centre on April 23, 2014 in Benoni, South Africa.

World number 2 and second seed Lucas Sithole of South Africa in action against Steven Kekae (RSA) in the quads division during day 1 of the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open at Gauteng East Tennis Centre on April 23, 2014 in Benoni, South Africa.

  • World number 1 and top seed David Wagner of the USA in action against Petter Edstrom (SWE) in the quads division during day 1 of the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open at Gauteng East Tennis Centre on April 23, 2014 in Benoni, South Africa
    Pictures credit: Reg Caldecott

On a cool day in Benoni, world number one and 2013 Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open quads champion David Wagner hardly broke a sweat as he beat Sweden’s Petter Edstrom 6-0 6-0.
Wagner flew into South Africa on the back of victories in three of his last four tournaments, including the Australian Open.
“I felt good out there and I’m looking forward to moving on in the tournament,” said Wagner. “It’s always hard to get that first one under your belt. You always want to play well, and I felt I did that. But the great thing about tennis is that I feel like I can still improve. There are some things I still need to work on in my game. But it’s early in the tournament so hopefully they’ll come around”.
“I’m feeling good and I’m playing good tennis. I feel ready to compete at the highest level that I can, and that’s all I hope for every time I step onto the court.”
His toughest opponent in the quads draw this week, South African Lucas Sithole, also enjoyed an easy start to his tournament when he beat countryman Steven Kekae 6-0 6-0.
“It was a good start. I just need to work on keeping my focus. When you play a match like that you need to stay focused out there and keep doing your job. There is still a lot of tennis to come so I need to be sharp and prepared for it,” he said.

In the men’s singles, South African top seed Leon Els took only 44 minutes to beat Simbongile Gobongo 6-0 6-0.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better start. It was nice and relaxed and I could focus on the things I wanted to achieve,” he said.
Els is looking forward to a big performance this week and in next week’s Airports Company South Africa SA Open.
“These are two big events for me. I’ve trained for six days a week and two to four hours a day for this so I’m feeling as prepared as I can be.”
But he’ll need to put Wednesday’s match behind him as quickly as possible, as on Thursday he faces third seed and world number eight Takuya Miki of Japan.
“The draw this week wasn’t too kind to me. There’s no real expectation on me in that match, so in that sense all the pressure is on him, which is something I have on my side. So I’m just going to go for it.”

Frenchman Stephane Houdet, the top seed in the men’s singles and winner of the French and US Open last year, eased into the second round with a 6-1 6-0 victory over South African Similo Basi, while second seed Gordon Reid of Britain beat South Africa’s Frank Ramokoatsi 6-0 6-0.


TOP SEEDS CRUISE INTO SECOND ROUND OF ACSA GAUTENG OPEN

DS CRUISE INTO SECOND ROUND OF ACSA GAUTENG OPEN

Benoni, South Africa - It was a comfortable opening day for the top seeds in the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open wheelchair tennis tournament at the Gauteng East Tennis Centre on Wednesday as they all moved easily through their first round matches.
In fact, amongst the top two men’s seeds in the singles and the quads they only dropped one game between the four of them. The leading women had it even easier as they all enjoyed first round byes, including defending champion Kgothatso Montjane of South Africa and world number one Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany.

On a cool day in Benoni, world number one and 2013 Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open quads champion David Wagner hardly broke a sweat as he beat Sweden’s Petter Edstrom 6-0 6-0.
Wagner flew into South Africa on the back of victories in three of his last four tournaments, including the Australian Open.
“I felt good out there and I’m looking forward to moving on in the tournament,” said Wagner. “It’s always hard to get that first one under your belt. You always want to play well, and I felt I did that. But the great thing about tennis is that I feel like I can still improve. There are some things I still need to work on in my game. But it’s early in the tournament so hopefully they’ll come around”.
“I’m feeling good and I’m playing good tennis. I feel ready to compete at the highest level that I can, and that’s all I hope for every time I step onto the court.”
His toughest opponent in the quads draw this week, South African Lucas Sithole, also enjoyed an easy start to his tournament when he beat countryman Steven Kekae 6-0 6-0.
“It was a good start. I just need to work on keeping my focus. When you play a match like that you need to stay focused out there and keep doing your job. There is still a lot of tennis to come so I need to be sharp and prepared for it,” he said.

In the men’s singles, South African top seed Leon Els took only 44 minutes to beat Simbongile Gobongo 6-0 6-0.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better start. It was nice and relaxed and I could focus on the things I wanted to achieve,” he said.
Els is looking forward to a big performance this week and in next week’s Airports Company South Africa SA Open.
“These are two big events for me. I’ve trained for six days a week and two to four hours a day for this so I’m feeling as prepared as I can be.”
But he’ll need to put Wednesday’s match behind him as quickly as possible, as on Thursday he faces third seed and world number eight Takuya Miki of Japan.
“The draw this week wasn’t too kind to me. There’s no real expectation on me in that match, so in that sense all the pressure is on him, which is something I have on my side. So I’m just going to go for it.”

Frenchman Stephane Houdet, the top seed in the men’s singles and winner of the French and US Open last year, eased into the second round with a 6-1 6-0 victory over South African Similo Basi, while second seed Gordon Reid of Britain beat South Africa’s Frank Ramokoatsi 6-0 6-0.


INTERNATIONAL WHEELCHAIR TENNIS DRAW ANNOUNCED

Benoni, South Africa - South African players received a favorable draw when the official draw procedures for the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open were concluded Tuesday. The draw which took place at the tournament venue, the Gauteng East Tennis Complex in Benoni was managed by tournament referee Mxolisi Matyolo. World number 8 women’s player, Lucy Shuker of Great Britain and Russian star, Viktoria Lvova assisted with the draw.

The draw for the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open was concluded on Tuesday at the Gauteng East Tennis Complex in Benoni. The tournament forms part of the international ITF Wheelchair Tennis Tour and will be played in Benoni from 23-17 April 2014. Pictured at the draw are from left Tournament Referee Mxolisi Matyolo, Lucy Shuker of Great Britain the world number 8 women’s player and Viktoria Lvova of Russia.
Pictures credit: BLD Communications


The top men’s seed is Stephane Houdet of France and he should meet arch rival Gordon Reid of Great Britain, seeded two in the men’s final. Houdet opens up against Similo Basi of South Africa whilst Reid plays another local, Frank Ramokoatsi.
With South Africa’s top men’s player Evans Maripa having to withdraw from the tournament due to the sudden death of his mother, South African hopes in the men’s singles will rest on Leon Els and Patrick Selepe and thirteen other players who make up the 32 strong draw.

South Africa’s top women KG Montjane has been seeded two for the event and if all goes according to plan, will meet top seeded Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany in the Finals. However before Montjane can claim her spot on the finals on Saturday she has a possible semifinal clash with third seed Lucy Shuker of Great Britain.
Montjane, the defending champion said that the next two weeks were important. “I won this tournament last year so I have a bag full of points to defend. I feel prepared and ready for the week and I am confident of doing myself and my country proud.”

Second seeded Lucas Sithole from KwaZulu Natal will play compatriot Steven Kekae of Mamelodi, Pretoria in round 1 of the quads draw. Sithole is seeded to meet fourth seed Sarah Hunter of Great Britain in the semifinals. Top seed in the quads and world number one, David Wagner of the USA meets Swede Petter Edstrom in round one.
Should Wagner and Sithole make the final it promises to be a blockbuster. Sithole beat Wagner to capture his first Grand Slam title at the US Open late last year but Wagner got sweet revenge when he beat Sithole in the final of this year’s Australian Open in January.

Play will start at 09h00 on Wednesday 23 April with the finals scheduled to start from 09h00 on Saturday 27 April.


SEEDS ANNOUNCED FOR THE AIRPORTS COMPANY SOUTH AFRICA GAUTENG OPEN

EVANS MARIPA TO MISS FIRST LEG OF WHHELCHAIR TENNIS SWING

Johannesburg, South Africa - The seeds for the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open, part of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Wheelchair Tennis Tour were announced on Monday. The tournament, a Grade 1 event, will be staged in Benoni at the Gauteng East Tennis Complex from Wednesday 23 April with the finals scheduled for Sunday 27 April.

A notable absence from the seeding list is South Africa’s top men’s wheelchair tennis player Evans Maripa who will miss the first tournament due to the sad passing of his mother. Maripa’s mother Maria passed away suddenly on Friday 18 April from an illness.

Karen Losch, General Manager of Wheelchair Tennis South Africa said that thoughts and prayers were with Evans and his loved ones at this sad time. “Evans and his family are in our prayers and we can only imagine how difficult this time is for Evans and his family. Knowing Evans, he will be back strong and positive when the Airports Company South Africa SA Open is played as he will want to do well for his late mother” continued Losch.

Losch confirmed that a host of international players had already jetted into the country for the South African swing of the ITF Wheelchair Tennis Tour including world number 1 and 5 quad players, David Wagner (USA) and Jamie Burdekin (GBR) as well as world number 8 women’s player Lucy Shuker (GBR).

The official draw of the tournament will be held at 16h00 on Tuesday, 22 April.
Play is scheduled to start at 09h00 each day but subject to change. There is no entrance fee and safe and secure parking is available.

The Seeds are as follows;

MEN

1 Stephane Houdet FRA (2 World Ranking)
2 Gordon Reid GBR (3)
3 Takuya Miki JAP (8)
4 Nicolas Peifer FRA (9)
5 Frederic Cattaneo FRA (10)
6 Takashi Sanada JAP (13)
7 Tom Egberink NED (12)
8 Ronald Vink NED (19)

WOMEN

1 Sabine Ellerbrock GER (1 World Ranking)
2 Kgothatso Montjane RSA (7)
3 Lucy Shuker GBR (8)
4 Katharina Kruger GER (10)
5 Charlotte Famin FRA (16)
6 Francisca Mardones CHILE (17)
7 Liudmila Bubnova RUS (25)
8 Pauline Helouin FRA (32)

QUADS

1 David Wagner USA (1 World Ranking)
2 Lucas Sithole RSA (2)
3 Jamie Burdekin GBR (5)
4 Sarah Hunter CAN (6)
5 Greg Hasterok USA (7)
6 Antony Cotterill GBR (8)
7 David Buck USA (16)
8 Marc McLean USA (26)

JUNIORS - BOYS

1 Thato Tsomole RSA (5 World Ranking)
2 Xolelani Nyandeni RSA (8)
3 Sean-Liam De Hilster RSA (11)
4 Bonga Mbhele RSA (15)
5 Alwande Skosana RSA (23)
6 Tiisetso Motaung RSA (30)
7 Alfred Gaje RSA (43)
8 Zenani Mncedi RSA (45)

JUNIORS - GIRLS

1 Mariska Venter RSA (1 World Ranking)
2 Viktoriia Lvova RUS (2)
3 Thando Hlatshwayo RSA (3)
4 Dudu Mokokonyane RSA (9)


SOUTH AFRICAN JUNIORS NAMED FOR INTERNATIONAL TENNIS TEAM

• Lloyd Harris and Theresa van Zyl named for International 18 & Under ITF/GSDF Team to Italy

South African junior tennis stars Lloyd Harris (Western Province) and Theresa van Zyl (Northern Cape) have been named for an ITF/GSDF Touring team which will compete in a series of junior tournaments during 25 April – 25 May 2014. The team is part of the ITF Development Programme, which is financed by the ITF and the Grand Slam® Development Fund (GSDF).

Lloyd Harris
Picture by: EJ Langer

Theresa van Zyl
Picture by: Reg Caldecott


The Team will be coached by South African Riaan Kruger, and the tournaments will include.

The tournament schedule that Harris and Van Zyl will be participating in is as follows:

DATE TOURNAMENT


28 April – 4 May Torneo Int’l Under 18 Salsomaggiore, Italy (G2)
6 – 11 May Int’l Juniors Tournament Citta Di Prato, Italy (G2)
12 – 17 May Torneo Int’l Citta Di Santa Croce, Italy (G1)
19 – 25 May Trofeo Bonfiglio, Milan, Italy (GA)

During the period 1986 – 2013 over US$ 87 million has been invested by the ITF and the Grand Slam® nations in tennis development activities in 150 countries worldwide. In 2013, US$ 4.10 million was spent on the Development Programme with US$ 2.47 million being invested by the ITF and the balance of US$ 1.63 million contributed by the Grand Slam nations to the Grand Slam Development Fund.

With the aim of raising the level of tennis worldwide and increasing the number of countries competing in mainstream international tennis, the Development Programme includes a broad range of initiatives in less developed countries ranging from the grass roots to Grand Slams. Activities include ITF/GSDF touring teams, funding for junior and professional tournaments, training centres, coaches education, the supply of tennis equipment and the ITF Junior Tennis Initiative – a 14 & under player development programme, which encompasses Tennis10s (School Tennis Initiative) and Performance Tennis Initiative programmes.

Special emphasis has been placed on junior tennis where regional tournament circuits have been developed and teams of young players compete outside their own region. In 2013, 26 regional circuits were supported by the Development Programme providing much needed competition for the best players at 18, 16, 14, 13 and 12 & under age groups across the globe (Central America & Caribbean, South America, Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia and Pacific Oceania).

Players who perform well at these regional circuits are invited to join an international touring team. The ITF/GSDF touring team programme aims to facilitate the transition of talented players through regional and international competitions and onto the professional ranks. In 2013, there were 23 ITF/GSDF Touring Teams involving 155 players from 63 different countries. Former ITF/GSDF Touring Team members include: Gustavo Kuerten (Brazil), Nicolas Massu (Chile), Nicolas Lapentti (Ecuador), Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi (India), Angelique Widjaja (Indonesia), Eleni Daniilidou (Greece), Younes El Aynaoui (Morocco), Paradorn Srichaphan (Thailand), Cara Black (Zimbabwe), Jarkko Nieminen (Finland), Florin Mergea (Romania), Marcos Baghdatis (Cyprus), Kateryna Bondarenko (Ukraine), Viktoria Azarenka (Belarus), Uladzimir Ignatik (Belarus), Ricardas Berankis (Lithuania) and Li Na (China).

GSDF Travel grants are also awarded to talented players from developing nations for a specific programme of tournaments. In 2013, 32 players from 16 countries benefited from grants to play in events outside their country. In addition prize-money grants are awarded to assist developing nations with the hosting of entry-level professional events for men and women, to help provide competitive opportunities throughout the world. In 2013, the GSDF provided grants for eight weeks of Men’s professional events and nine weeks of ITF Women’s Circuit Events.

Coaches education continues to be a priority for the Development Programme and with more and more ITF member nations keen to put in place their own coaches certification programme, the ITF’s role is to help them become self-sufficient by helping to run courses, assessing coaches, selecting future course tutors and making sure the latest coaching information is easily accessible to them. To-date more than 80 countries worldwide are using the ITF’s recommended Level 1 and Level 2 syllabi as part of their own programme.

In 2013, 48 coaches courses were held (national and regional). The ITF’s coach education flagship event, the 18th ITF Worldwide Coaches Conference by BNP Paribas, was held in Cancun, Mexico November 2013. The biennial event attracted more than 800 coaches from 85 countries. All of the keynote presentations from the Worldwide Coaches Conference will be available on the iCoach website in order to allow coaches who were unable to attend the Conference to benefit from the expertise and knowledge of many of the world’s leading experts in high performance player development.

The ITF Equipment Distribution Programme provides tennis equipment and educational materials to approved national programmes. During 2013 approximately 3,410 rackets, 1,500 mini-tennis bats, 95,880 balls as well as nets and strings were distributed to more than 80 countries worldwide.

The implementation of many of the tennis development initiatives relies on the work of the 10 ITF Development Officers who are ‘out in the field’ advising and assisting National Associations on their activities. They each spend an average of 25 weeks on the road working with National Associations, players and coaches in more than 100 countries to develop the game:

Amine Ben Makhlouf Development Officer, West and Central Africa
Riaan Kruger Development Officer, Southern Africa
Thierry Ntwali Development Officer, East Africa
Cecilia Ancalmo Development Officer, Central America
John Goede Development Officer, Caribbean
Miguel Miranda Development Officer, South America
Hrvoje Zmajic Development Officer, Europe
Darran Wrighton Development Officer, Pacific Oceania
Suresh Menon Development Officer, Asia
Amir Borghei Development Officer, West Asia

Francesco Ricci Bitti, President of the International Tennis Federation commented:

We are delighted to be able to direct these funds specifically towards the development of competitive tennis and deeply appreciate that the Grand Slam nations are in a position to support our programme. It is fitting that these great tournaments, which are showcases of our sport and provide stability for the professional game, are able to help by some tangible means to extend the competitive frontiers of tennis.”

For further information on the ITF Development Programme and the Grand Slam Development Fund, visit www.itftennis.com


SENIORS TENNISTEAMS READY FOR ITF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

Johannesburg, South Africa – The South African seniors teams to participate in the ITF Seniors World Championships in Palm Beach, Florida, USA are ready for action.

The team tournament will be played from 21-26 April, 2014. The team tournament will be followed by the individual event to be played from 27 April-4 May, 2014.

“This is the 6th time I have had the privilege of representing South Africa in World Senior Tennis” said Anmarie Lotz of Gauteng North who is in the 50+ Maria Esther Bueno Cup on the eve of the teams departure. “Not only does competing in said events give one the opportunity to compete at an international level, one renews friendships with players from other countries. After completing the day’s matches, we socialise together, partying, dancing….just not so much that we cannot perform on court the following day!”

The 34th ITF Seniors World Championships forms part of the international senior ranking circuit and will host singles, doubles and mixed doubles events in the Men’s and Women’s 35-55 age groups.

The tournaments will be played on Har-Tru (green clay) courts at the PGA National Resort & Spa, Ballenisles Country Club, Mirasol Country Club, City of Palm Beach Gardens Tennis Centre, Boca Grove, Polo Club, Woodfield Country Club and Boca West Country Club.

“By participating in the World Team championships, one also has the privilege to travel to different countries. Playing on different surfaces, is another challenge and we have to adjust our game to clay – a surface we are not used to. We are looking forward to playing on the green/grey clay at our venues in Miami, Florida. And then after completion of the World Championships, we will explore the wonders of Florida and Disneyworld.” Added Lotz.

The South African team selected is as follows;

MEN
35+ ITALIA CUP





Dawie Eybers (GN)
Dale Buckett (GN) Captain
Brendan Zackey (GC)
Johannes van der Westhuizen (GN)

40+ TONY TRABERT CUP

Bruce Young (KZN)
Robbie Sulcas (WP)
Marco Petersen (GC) Captain

45+ DUBLER CUP

Johan Conrade (GN)
Charl Muntingh (GN)
Eugene Beneke (GN) Captain

50+ FRED PERRY CUP

Marcus Esterhuizen (NWP) Captain
Michael Beverley (GN)
Stephen Hansen (Bol)

55+ AUSTRIA CUP

Adam Myburgh (GC)
Duard Botha (GC) Captain
Archie Rudman (Bol)

WOMEN
35+ SUZANNE LENGLEN CUP

Lisa van der Riet (GN) Captain
Jacqui Boyd (WP)

40+ YOUNG CUP

Tracey Bulmer (GC)
Sally Estcourt (WP) Captain
Di Gascoyne (EP)

45+ MARGARET COURT CUP

Lettica Venter (KZN) Captain
Zaida Beukes (WP)
Maretha Sauer (Bol)

50+ MARIA ESTHER BUENO CUP

Ronel Louw (GN) Captain
Melvena Conradie (GN)
Anmarie Lotz (GN)

55+ MAUREEN CONNOLLY CUP




Elna Botha (GC)
Jeanette Robert (KZN)
Jennifer Cerff (WP)
Alma Goosen (Bol) Captain








16 MEN AND 15 WOMEN: TOTAL 31


SOUTH AFRICA GETFAVOURIBLEDRAW IN FED CUP

• South African Fed Cup team feel well prepared for this week’s challenge

Siauliai, Lithuania - The South African Fed Cup team were given a favourable draw for this week’s Euro Africa Group 2 tournament to be played in Siauliai, Lithuania from 16th to 19th April.

The draw was conducted on Tuesday and South Africa were drawn into Pool B together with seeded Georgia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and Egypt.

In the other pool, Pool A, Montenegro are seeded and have Finland, Lithuania and Liechtenstein in their pool.

The tournament to be played on hard court will be contested on a round-robin basis in each pool 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 Euro/Africa Group 1 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 Euro/Africa Zone Group 3 in 2015.

So after the weeks competition on Saturday 19 April, two countries will be promoted and two countries will be relegated.

South African captain, Earl Grainger said the draw was “favourable” for South Africa but warned that the competition was tough. “Actually in this type of competition there is no good draw. Each draw is tough as you have a grueling three days of round-robin competition where every rubber played in each tie is important. We have prepared well, are happy with the conditions and my team are ready to give their very best for the country. Hopefully come Sunday we will gain promotion to Group 1 which is our aim and objective.”

The South African team is as follows; Chanel Simmonds, Madrie Le Roux, Natasha Fourouclas, Natalie Grandin and Captain Earl Grainger.

South Africa open their campaign on Wednesday 16 April against Bosnia and Herzegovina and the order of play for each day of the completion will be determined at the end of play each day before the following day.


WILSON SERVE UP ANOTHER WINNER

Johannesburg, South Africa – After the great success of the inaugural Wilson R100 000 Challenge in 2013, the leading tennis manufacturer Wilson have announced that they will once again host the open tennis tournament this year.

The Wilson R100 000 Challenge will be played over two weekends at the German Club north of the City of Joburg from 15–18 and 23-15 May 2014.

“Following the great success and positive response from the tennis community to our first Wilson Challenge last year, we have decided to continue with the sponsorship and host a bigger and better event this year” said brothers Brad and Brett Summers, Directors of The Golf Racket, who are the distributors of Wilson products throughout South Africa.

The tournament will have eight individual divisions namely an Open Men and Women’s event, Seniors 45 + Men and Women’s event, Seniors 55 + Men and Women’s event as well as a boys and girls 14 and under event. Each event will have singles and doubles draws.

Prize money will be paid from the quarter finals with the Men’s Open singles winner receiving R20 000 and the Women’s Open singles winner R7 000. The junior recipients will get vouchers to the value of the allocated prize money as the rules of tennis do not allow juniors to receive money.

In the Open division of the singles finals for men and women a bonus of R3000 for men and R1500 for women will be paid as a bonus should the finalists be playing with a Wilson racket which should also have the trademark “W” logo on it.

The sponsors will have the rights to 4 wild card nominations into the Open tournament and the tournament will be run under the auspices of Tennis South Africa (TSA).

Newly appointed President of TSA, Gavin Crookes said he was grateful to Wilson for the initiative. “Tennis is going through some exciting changes in the country. Wilson over the years have worked hand in hand with TSA in the overall promotion and development of the game in South Africa. A tournament like this brings all the different age groups of players together at one venue to play competitively against each other but socialize off court as one big tennis family proving that tennis is after all the game of a lifetime” said Crookes.

To enter visit www.tennissa.co.za. For enquiries please contact Lorna Krog on 011-616-0309 or The Golf Racket on 011-807-5362.


SOUTH AFRICAN SUPER STARS BACK FOR MAJOR WHEELCHAIR TENNIS TOURNAMENTS

Johannesburg, South Africa - South Africa’s top wheelchair tennis players, Kgothatso ‘KG’ Montjane and Evans Maripa have arrived back in the country feeling motivated after good performances on the recent USA wheelchair tennis tournament swing. Both are back to prepare for two important international tournaments on home soil.
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.

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 by: Reg Caldecott


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.

Montjane, South Africa’s number one and world number seven female wheelchair player, is fresh from her triumph in the Cajun Classic Wheelchair tournament in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she and her British partner Jordan Whiley won the women’s doubles title, beating Sabine Ellerbrock and Lucy Shuker 7-6, 3-6, 11-9. Montjane and Whiley, who are becoming a very potent force in women’s doubles, went on to win the title in Pensacola, Florida, where they had walkovers in the semifinal and the final.
She will be going all out to impose herself on both tournaments and make people aware of the importance of wheelchair tennis.
“I want to encourage other people with disabilities to play wheelchair tennis because it’s given me a new life and a healthy sense of well-being. You don’t have to be a champion to play wheelchair tennis. It shows people with disabilities that we can be active and lead good lives.”

Maripa, South Africa men’s number one has also been competing on the international circuit and is eager to do well in Benoni and Johannesburg. Maripa, who is a double amputee as a result of a birth defect, was inspired by Montjane to take up wheelchair tennis, and within two years, he won gold at the Asia Pacific Youth Para Games in Tokyo.




Top players from around the world will be coming to South Africa for the two tournaments and the standard of play is expected to be very high.


KLAASEN & ANDERSEN PROVE A POINT & WIN A POINT FOR SOUTH AFRICA

Johannesburg, South Africa - After a shaky start, South African doubles team Jean Andersen and Raven Klaasen came from a set down to beat their Lithuanian opponents on Saturday to give South Africa a 2-1 lead going into Sunday’s reverse singles at the Davis Cup, Euro/Africa second round, Group 2 tie being played at the Irene Country Club.

Raven Klaasen, team captain John-Laffnie de Jager and Jean Andersen celebrate after beating Lithuania during the Doubles match of the Davis Cup tie between South Africa and Lithuania at the Irene Country Club.
Doubles4a: Raven Klaasen (Front) and Jean Andersen of South Africa in action during the Doubles match of the Davis Cup tie between South Africa and Lithuania at the Irene Country Club on Saturday.

Rik de Voest South African Davis Cup star with his International Tennis Federation (ITF) award presented to De Voest for his 20th tie for his country. Presenting the award were ITF Representative Gerry Armstrong (far left) and newly appointed Tennis South Africa President and vice president Gavin Crookes and Riaad Davids (right of De Voest).

Photo credit: Reg Caldecott


Andersen and Klaasen beat Ricardas Berankis and Laurynas Grigelis the top two Lithuanian players 3-6 6-3 6-3 7-6 (5) in a 2 hour 36 minute thriller.

Making a tentative start, Klaasen and Andersen playing together for the first time as a team lost serve in in the second game of the opening set. Lithuania broke the Andersen serve but Andersen did say on Friday his serve was not working the way he wanted. South Africa found themselves 3-0 down and Lithuania held on to the opening set 6-3.

John Laffnie de Jager, the South African team captain then regrouped with Andersen and Klaasen and the South African’s made a solid start in the second set to lead 3-0. The momentum continued and the South African’s were able to win the set 6-3 and level with their opponents.

“I told Jean and Raven to stay focused and keep playing at a high intensity. At altitude putting pressure on the Lithuanian’s I know they will crack and my boys did a good job in keeping to the game plan, staying focused and playing at the highest level possible” said De Jager.

South Africa continued their good form into the third set which they also won 6-3.

The fourth set went with serve and in the eleventh game, the longest game of the rubber, both teams had their chances to break serve. South Africa saved break 3 breakpoints with brilliant returns by Klaasen and solid net interceptions by Andersen. The set went into the tie-breaker which South Africa won 7-5 giving them the all-important second point.

“That was real tense. Jean and I were so nervous and after losing that first set we knew we had to put in the bigger effort to win the match. The big thing was we put the first set behind us, started from scratch and build the winning momentum” said Klaasen.

De Jager said that going into Saturday with a 2-1 lead would help both singles players. “It helps Rik and Jean on Sunday. Rik de Voest is first out and his game against the Lithuanian number one, Berankis won’t be easy. Berankis has settled well into the altitude, is making a good come back from injury and should soon be back in the world’s top 100 so it’s going to be tough for Rik.”

“But De Voest has shown true South African colours over the 20 ties he has played for South Africa and if ever there was a player with a good chance of “taming the Berankis tiger” its Rik” continued De Jager.

So on Sunday in the reverse singles starting at 10h00, in the battle of number one players, Rik de Voest will play Ricardas Berankis followed by the battle of the number two players, Jean Anderson vs Laurynas Grigelis.
This will be the first time that each player in both rubbers will be playing each other.

Meanwhile, before play on Saturday, Rik De Voest was presented with a special International Tennis Federation (ITF) commitment award. Presented by ITF representative at the Irene Country Club, Gerry Armstrong, De Voest was presented with a trophy for his 20th Davis Cup tie for South Africa. De Voest joins an elite group of only four players (Cliff Drysdale, Frew McMillan and Wayne Ferreira) who have played 20 or more ties for their country. De Voest said it was a special moment for him to receive the award at his home club during his last tie for the country. “Davis Cup has always been a priority on my schedule and to wear the green and gold and walk onto court representing South Africa must rate right up there as a highlight in my career.”

Tickets can be purchased on site at the Irene Country Club from 10h00 through to 15h00 daily leading up to the Tie and from 08h30 during the Tie.

The playing program;

Sunday reverse singles (10h00): Rik De Voest (RSA) vs. Ricardas Berankis (Ltu) followed by Jean Andersen (RSA) vs. Laurynas Grigelis (Ltu).


SOUTH AFRICAN FED CUP SQUAD READY FOR ACTION

Johannesburg, South Africa - For the past three days, the South African Fed Cup squad have been hard at work on the courts of the Bedfordview Country Club east of Johannesburg. Under the watchful eye of newly appointed coach, Earl Grainger the nine strong squad impressed at their open media session during their on-court training and drilling programme.

The South African Fed Cup team (from left to right) Natalie Grandin, team captain Earl Grainger, Natasha Fourouclas and Madrie le Roux with Tennis South Africa President, Gavin Crookes.

The South African Fed Cup squad (from left to right) Team captain Earl Grainger, Natasha Fourouclas, Natalie Grandin, Madrie le Roux, Katie Poluta, Janet Koch, Ilze Hattingh, Lee Barnard, Zani Barnard, Michelle Sammons and Assistant coach Allan Karam at a training camp being held at the Bedfordview Country Club ahead of their Euro Africa Group 2 tournament in Lithuania from 16 to 19 April.
Photo by: Reg Caldecott


This was the first ever Fed Cup squad training camp hosted by Tennis South Africa (TSA). The initiative was conceptualized by Earl Grainger who hosted an intense camp assisted by his advisors; former WTA professional Natalie Grandin and professional coach Alan Karam.

Newly appointed President of TSA, Gavin Crookes said Grainger needed to be congratulated for “driving” the programme. “Earl showed passion about taking the women’s game to new levels in the country during his Fed Cup interview and his vision really caught our eye. I have been very impressed with what has been going on here at Bedfordview and firmly believe Earl has got us on the right track.”

Grainger said that he was grateful to TSA for the opportunity. “I am honoured to be working with the best players in the country and driving women’s tennis in South Africa.” Grainger said that women’s tennis had taken a “back seat” over the past few years and he saw it as his job to “take these great players and talent and bring it to the forefront.”

It is planned to have similar camps at least 5 to 8 times a year. Grainger believes that when the players stay and train together they can learn from each other and learn from their experiences. “I’m looking for players with great work ethic, passion and who want to get better” said Grainger. “We have to crawl before we walk, and walk before we run but we have the talent to do that. We have some great juniors and seniors, they just need to be led the right way” said Grainger.

Grainger warned that he was serious about success. “If you are a good worker you will like me, then if not, you won’t like me.”

One of the main aspects of the camps was not only working on the technical and physical side of the players games but also the mental side. “The mental side is definitely the most important side at this professional level, and we are going to attack that – and we have brought in professionals to help us with that.” A deal on the mental aspect has been struck by Grainger with Champion Academy, who specialise in growing healthy champions, run by former professional player sisters, Toni and Rikki Gaddie.

Grainger also confirmed that former CNN sports anchor Graeme Joffe and international motivational speaker Sherie Eilertson would be meeting with the squad at their official squad hotel, Emperors Palace on Friday.

Crookes then presented Grainger with his national blazer as coach and team players Natalie Grandin, Madrie le Roux and Natasha Fourouclas with their national blazers.

“Well done to the team members, we look forward to a great result as you travel to Lithuania and represent your country. Our hearts and wishes are with you” said Crookes.

The team will depart on 12 April for their Fed Cup Euro/Africa Group 2 tournament from 16-19 April, 2014 in Lithuania.

The South African team is: Chanel Simmonds, Madrie le Roux, Natasha Fourouclas and Natalie Grandin.
The Fed Cup squad is: Chani Scheepers, Chanel Simmonds, Natasha Fourouclas, Madrie Le Roux, Natalie Grandin, Ilze Hattingh, Michelle Sammons, Lynn Kiro, Katie Poluta, Zani Barnard, Lee Barnard, Theresa Van Zyl, and Janet Koch.


PHALULA LEADS SPAR GRAND PRIX FOR THE FIRST TIME

South Africa - There’s a new name at the top of the 2014 SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge Grand Prix leaderboard.

Diana-Lebo Phalula in action during the first leg of the SPAR Grand Prix, run in Green Point in Cape Town on Sunday 6 April.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott


Diana-Lebo Phalula (Maxed-Elite) has taken the first step towards claiming the keys to the Nissan Micra on offer to the winner of the SPAR Grand Prix after all five Challenge races have been run.

Phalula dominated the Cape Town race on Sunday and romped to victory in 33.03 minutes. Because her time was faster than last year’s winning time, she claimed an extra 10 points, and tops the leaderboard with 30 points. “I’m certainly hoping to run in all five races,” said Phalula in a post-race press conference. “I would love to win a car – that would certainly be very useful. I’m very motivated and I feel I am running well.”

The Grand Prix rewards the top runners competing in the five Challenge races, which are held around South Africa. The winner will receive a car, and the runner-up R30 000. There are also prizes on offer to the top runners in the various age categories. Only South Africans are eligible for Grand Prix points.

Second on the leaderboard, with 18 points, is Nolene Conrad (Boxer), who finished the race in third place, behind Ethiopian Nedbank runner Hunduma Gemeda. 2013 Grand Prix champion Mapaseka Makhanya (Boxer), who came fifth, is in third position, with 16 points.

Modern Athlete’s Rene Kalmer, who has won the SPAR Grand Prix three times, is in fifth position, with 13 points, one behind her sister Christine (Boxer), who finished just ahead of her in the Cape Town race. The other multiple Grand Prix winner, Irvette van Zyl, did not compete in Cape Town because of an injury.

With four runners in the top 10, Boxer has taken the early lead in the club competition, with 68 points. Nedbank is in second place, with 43, followed by Maxed Elite with 30.


JUNIORS GIVE GREAT HOPE TO SOUTH AFRICAN TENNIS

Bloemfontein, South Africa - The new President of Tennis South Africa (TSA) was encouraged about the future of the game in the country after attending the finals of the South African Junior National Championships in Bloemfontein.

The third-seeded Francois Kellerman from Western Province in action against Musawenkosi Mpondi (KZN) at Monday’s South African Junior National Championships finals played at the Free State Tennis Stadium in Bloemfontein. Kellerman beat unseeded Mpondi 7-5 4-6 7-5 to win the boys under 18 title.

Top-seeded Katie Poluta from Western Province in action on Monday at the South African Junior National Championships played at the Free State Tennis Stadium in Bloemfontein. In the girls under 18 finals, Poluta beat second seed Marli van Heerden 6-1 7-6 (5).

Pictures by: JJ Vorster


Gavin Crookes from Kwa-Zulu Natal, appointed on Saturday as the new President of TSA, said that he was impressed by the standard of play during Monday’s finals. “After attending the Davis Cup in Gauteng I travelled down to Manguang to present the prizes at the National Champs. The standard of play was exceptional and gives me great hope for the future of tennis in the country.”

Crookes said that the future Davis and Fed Cup stars were on court during the finals in Manguang. “It’s vital for the future success of our Davis Cup and Fed Cup chances to ensure that we have a good crop of junior players coming through the ranks. The finals in Bloemfontein showcased the cream of our junior talent and I really am encouraged in what I saw” said Crookes.

Junior Davis Cup team member, Francois Kellerman clinched the boys under 18 title. Kellerman, seeded three from Western Province needed over three hours to beat unseeded Musa Mpondi of Kwa-Zulu Natal 7-5 4-6 7-5. Mpondi who won the under 14 National Championships three years ago had a brilliant week beating 3 seeded players en route to the finals. Mpondi led 5-1 in the opening set but just wasn’t able to close it in his favour. Although Mpondi captured the second set 6-4 it was Kellerman who kept the edge in the third set.

The girls under 18 title was won by top seed Katie Poluta of Cape Town who beat second seed Marli Van Heerden of South West Districts 6-1 7-6 (5).

In the under 16 age group, two Capetonians fought for honours in the boys finals. Seeded one and two respectively, JD Malan was too good on the day for Calvin Jordaan who won 7-5 6-1.
Lee Barnard of Gauteng North, seeded three beat fourth seeded Mila Hartig also of Gauteng North 6-4 6-2 in the girls under 16 final.

Mathew Johnson, another Capetonian, captured the boys under 14 title by upsetting third seed Philip Henning of Free State 6-3 1-6 6-4. It was Johnson’s first major title win. Johnson, seeded 3, who had beaten Henning early this year, was composed throughout and regards his win over Henning in Bloemfontein as a highlight in his career. “Philip is a great player and won the 2012 and 2013 National Championship titles, so beating him in his own back yard was something special” said Johnson.

Top seed Corin De Waal of Boland won the girls under 14 title when she came back from a first set deficit to beat second seed Kaylin Bouwer of Eastern Province 4-6 6-6 6-0.

In the under 12 age group, the boys title went to Charl Morgan of Gauteng Central and the girls title to rising star Lara van der Merwe of North West Province.


SOUTH AFRICA CELEBRATES WHEELCHAIR TENNIS AT ABILITY CHALLENGE

Johannesburg, South Africa - The much anticipated Ability Challenge, in which top players and celebrities pitted 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 ended up a great success on Tuesday 8 April 2014.

Former ATP professional and Davis Cup player, Jeff Coetzee helps South African Fed Cup player Natasha Fourouclas into a wheelchair for the Ability Challenge sponsored by Airports Company of South Africa, hosted by Wheelchair Tennis South Africa (WTSA) and staged at the iThembelihe Lsen school in Primrose, Germiston on Tuesday 8 April 2014.
Able14: Top South African womens wheelchair tennis player KG Montjane and South African Fed Cup player, Natalie Grandin of team “Power of 5a” shake hands after winning a point in the Ability Challenge sponsored by Airports Company of South Africa, hosted by Wheelchair Tennis South Africa (WTSA) and staged at the iThembelihe Lsen school in Primrose, Germiston on Tuesday 8 April 2014.
Pictures by: Reg Caldecott


The Ability Challenge sponsored by Airports Company of South Africa and hosted by Wheelchair Tennis South Africa (WTSA) was staged at the iThembelihe Lsen school in Primrose, Germiston. The iThembelihe Lsen school is one of the development schools earmarked by Wheelchair Tennis South Africa to introduce and develop the game.

TV and radio anchor, Robert Marawa hosted the day as MC and a festive vibe of music, dance and top class tennis entertained the four hundred strong crowd which included former First Lady, Zanele Mbeki.

Four teams, namely “Expresso Brews”, “e-Flava”, “Power of 5” and “Ten-Spiration” battled for title honours in the challenge. Each team consisted of a celebrity, a wheelchair tennis player, and two able bodied players.

The winning team was “Ten-Spiration” the SABC Morning Live team who had anchor Vaylen Kirtley, wheelchair tennis star Leon Els, Danie Visser former world number one doubles player and tennis professional Michelle Sammons as part of their team. “Ten-Spiration” beat the team of Expresso Brews ( Adrian Hogan - presenter, Holger Losch – professional coach, Evans Maripa and professional player Madrie Le Roux 4-3 in the thrilling final.
Morning Live presenter, Vaylen Kirtley said she was happy to have won the title with her team and was honoured to be part of the event. “What a great initiative and hats off to Airports Company South Africa and Wheelchair Tennis South Africa for putting the challenge together. This sets the tone for the forthcoming Gauteng and SA Open events which are sure to be a great success.”

This was 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.

South African Davis Cup captain, John-Laffnie de Jager, part of the “Power of 5” team said he felt honoured to be part of such a special day. “Wheelchair tennis in our country is a shining example of what a sporting code needs to do to encourage interest and participation. The atmosphere was unbelievable and what great fun was had by all. I’ll be back if invited again.”

DJ Milkshake of the “Power of 5” team said he had a TOTAL blast! “that was really wicked, what a cool day and I am real blessed to be part of it! Damn just a pity my team didn’t smack it.”

Former ATP professional and Davis Cup player, Jeff Coetzee part of the “e Flava” team said that he was inspired by the challenge. “Tennis is such a fun loving sport, the game of a life time and the game of love. Today we had tons of fun, saw players and fans of all ages and everyone just loved the day. This is so good for the game .. what tennis needs is more Ability Challenges.”

Members of South Africa’s Fed Cup, Natalie Grandin, Madrie Le Roux, Natasha Fourouclas and Michelle Sammons also participated in 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 were excited and delighted to have exposed more people to wheelchair tennis and to our top wheelchair players at the Ability Challenge. We believe through the event more people appreciated the skills and performances of these players by watching them in action at iThembelihe Lsen School” said Unathi Batyashe of Airports Company South Africa.

Photo Captions:
Able1:
Able3: Top South African quad player Lucas Sithole and tennis professional Natasha Fourouclas of team “e-Flava” give each other a “high 5” after winning a point in the Ability Challenge sponsored by Airports Company of South Africa, hosted by Wheelchair Tennis South Africa (WTSA) and staged at the iThembelihe Lsen school in Primrose, Germiston on Tuesday 8 April 2014.
Able4: Top South African mens wheelchair tennis player Evans Maripa and tennis professional Madrie le Roux of team “Expresso Brews” give each other a “high 5” after winning a point in the Ability Challenge sponsored by Airports Company of South Africa, hosted by Wheelchair Tennis South Africa (WTSA) and staged at the iThembelihe Lsen school in Primrose, Germiston on Tuesday 8 April 2014.
Able19:


PHALULA STORMS TO VICTORY IN SPAR WOMEN’S 10KM CHALLENGE

Green Point, Cape Town - Diana-Lebo Phalula (Maxed Elite) stormed to victory in the Cape Town SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge at Green Point on Sunday morning, ahead of Ethiopian Hunduma Gemeda (Nedbank) and Nolene Conrad (Boxer).

Top three runners; (l-r) Nolene Conrad, Diana-Lebo Phalula and Hunduma Gemeda, at the SPAR Women’s Challenge in Cape Town on Sunday.
Pictures by: Reg Caldecott


Phalula finished in 33.03 minutes, nine seconds ahead of Gemeda. Conrad’s time – a personal best – was 33.28. Last year’s winner, Rutendo Nyahora (Nedbank), was fourth, in 33.30.

Mapaseka Makhanya, last year’s Grand Prix winner, came fifth and the other Ethiopian runner, Tadesse Shankule, was sixth. Rene Kalmer, who has won more Challenge titles than any other runner, was edged into eighth place by her sister Christine, who came seventh.

The top runners ran in a bunch for the first four kilometres of the race before Phalula started pulling away. “My legs were feeling light and I wanted to move,” said Phalula. “I knew I was going to win,” she smiled. “I came here to do my own thing, and I wasn’t worrying about anyone else.”

Phalula said she had recently changed coaches, and was now training with Michael Seme. “The change has worked for me. I have been getting a lot more mileage on the road, and I am now super-motivated. I will try to run all five races and I am planning on podium finishes in all of them.”

Gemeda, who flew into Cape Town from Addis Ababa on Saturday, said she was happy with her run, and she planned to take part in all five Challenge races.

Conrad said she had tried to stay with the leading runners from the start, but fell behind. However, she made her move at about six kilometres and settled happily into third place. “It was my best result in Cape Town,” she said. “I think it helps to train at altitude and then race at sea level.”

Rene Kalmer, who ran in the world half marathon championships in Copenhagen last weekend, said she was a bit disappointed with her run. “I think I still had the half marathon in my legs, and I found the going tough this morning. But I’ll be back,” she laughed.

More than 22 000 runners took part in the10km Challenge and the five km Fun Run on a hot sunny day, with very little wind.


LITHUANIA HAVE THE UPPER HAND ON SOUTH AFRICA IN DAVIS CUP

Centurion, South Africa - Lithuania pulled out all the stops when they beat South Africa 3-2 in their Euro Africa Group 2 second round Davis Cup Tie on Sunday.

Rik de Voest the South African number one in action against Lithuanias Ricardas Berankis at the Euro/Africa Group 2 round 2 Davis Cup Tie staged at the Irene Country Club outside Pretoria. Berankis beat De Voest 6-2 6-4 5-7 7-5. The rubber was De Voests last for South Africa in his 20th Tie played for his country.

Ruan Roelofse of South Africa in action against Laurynas Grigelis of Lithuania on Sunday at the Euro/Africa Group 2 Second round Davis Cup Tie played at the Irene Country Club outside Pretoria. Grigelis beat Roelofse 7-6 (5) 3-6 7-6 (3) 6-4 to clinch a 3-2 victory for Lithuania over the home side.

Photo by: Lucas Janse van Vuuren


Not even the enthusiastic crowds at the Irene Country Club could cheer their home side to victory. Lithuania came out on Sunday a better team and proved their worth.

South Africa came in Sunday 2-1 up against the visitors after Jean Andersen and Raven Klaasen won the doubles rubber on Saturday.

In the opening rubber on Sunday, the teams two number ones took to court and it was Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania who beat homeboy Rik de Voest 6-2 6-4 5-7 7-5 in a 3 hour 30 minute thriller. Berankis showed his class on court and worked De Voest hard for the victory. Last year May, Berankis was ranked 67 in world tennis but slipped to his present ranking of 143 due to injury.
De Voest put in a big fight, in what was his last Davis Cup rubber for his country. Playing in his 20th tie, De Voest announced at the commencement of the tie that this tie would be his last as the veteran 33 year old will be retiring from the game this year.

“Berankis was the quality player out there today. Walking onto court I really felt emotional knowing that this was my last match for my country. But with the unbelievable support from the crowd, I was able to put my nerves behind me and focus on the task, unfortunately the win wasn’t to be and Ricardas was just too good and solid today” said De Voest.

De Voest had a big chance in the tenth game of the fourth set when he held three break points. “Things may have been different if I had broken in that tenth game” admitted De Voest.

After the Berankis victory, the tie was levelled at 2-2. South African captain, John-Laffnie de Jager then did a tactical move and named Ruan Roelofse for the final rubber instead of originally nominated Jean Andersen.

Roelofse, aged 24 from Durbanville outside Cape Town turned professional in 2010. Although he has limited Davis Cup experience (4 x ties), has a big game which his captain felt could upset the rhythm of the Lithuanians.

Unfortunately it did not go well for Roelofse, and although the 1.9 m tall player built like a rugby prop, put in a gallant effort, he went down to Laurynas Grigelis 6-7 (5) 6-3 6-7 (3) 4-6 in just over three hours.

Roelofse certainly had his chances. He was up a break in the third set at 4-2 and had he capitalized on that advantage, it could have been a different ball game.

“Yes I had my chances and when I look back it upsets me I didn’t take them. But overall I felt I played a good game and did myself and South Africa proud” said Roelofse.

A disappointed De Jager said that all credit should go to Lithuania for coming to South Africa and taming the altitude and putting up a real good show. “The Lithuanian’s must be applauded for their effort. It is never easy playing away from home but they arrived early, worked hard and adapted well by the time the tie started.”
De Jager was full of praise for his team. “My team and squad overall gave their best and put in a real good week. I am proud of them. Now we need to regroup and work hard for 2015.”

South Africa remain in the Euro/Africa Group 2 for 2015.


Jean Andersen (RSA) lost to Ricardas Berankis (Ltu) 3-6 6-7 (2) 3-6.

Centurion, South Africa - The Lithuanian Davis Cup team made a dream start to their Euro/Africa Group 2 Tie vs South Africa on Friday.

Jean Andersen of South Africa in action against Ricardas Berankis during the Opening singles rubber of the Davis Cup tie between South Africa and Lithuania at the Irene Country Club on April 04, 2014.

Picture by: Reg Caldecott


The visitors, playing at the Irene Country Club outside Pretoria won the opening rubber when their top ranked player, Ricardas Berankis beat South African number two, Jean Andersen 6-3 7-6 (2) 6-3.

The rubber lasted exactly 2 hours in cloudy and cool perfect tennis conditions.

Andersen felt he lost to a “class” player on Friday. “Ricardas is a class act. The guy returned well and put me under pressure. He hit his backhand compact and low which worked well on the altitude and he knows how to step up and win the big points.”

Andersen certainly had his chances in both the first and second set. He started well breaking Berankis early to lead 2-0 and had chances to lead 3-0 but was broken back. Berankis won four games on the trot to lead 4-2 then held serve to take the set. In the second set Andersen led 5-3 after breaking Berankis at 3-3.

“I played a few loose points at 5-3 and Berankis capitalized on that, I really had my chances. I felt also I didn’t serve well which has a big impact on my chances especially on altitude. I was certainly hoping for a better result.”

Berankis was delighted to have pulled off the win. “Our team came early because of the altitude and I really felt prepared going into today’s rubber. I am not playing my best tennis but I am happy with the way I played out there today” he said.

Rik de Voest (RSA) beat Laurynas Grigelis (Ltu) 7-6 (5) 7-6 (3) 2-6 7-6 (4)

Veteran South African Davis Cup player, Rik de Voest delighted team South Africa and the home fans when he leveled the tie with Lithuania beating Laurynas Grigelis 7-6 (5) 7-6 (3) 2-6 7-6 (4). It was a tough battle over 3 hours 3 minutes and three well played tie-breakers won by De Voest made the difference. “All week I have been winning the practise tie-breakers so when a set went into the breaker I thought back on the practise week which gave me the added confidence to execute each one.” De Voest said that his second serve let him down. “I wasn’t happy with my second serve and felt that’s where Grigelis won a lot of points. It’s something I will work on for Sunday.”

Grigelis said he was disappointed with the loss. “I came into the match feeling well prepared, fit and ready. I really didn’t serve well and served a lot of double faults which is not a good thing especially at altitude. But overall, I played fine but could of played better.” Grigelis admitted that had he won the fourth set things could have been different. Grigelis was 3-5 down in the fourth set but broke back and won two games in a row to level at 5-5. Both players held serve to force the tie-breaker. “Rik was looking tired and I know that had I won that fourth set breaker I would have been in with a real chance. My body was up to it, I could even play a few more sets right now so had I won the fourth I think I would have had the advantage.”

Lithuanian captain, Rimvydas Mugevicius said that he was a happy man going into Saturday at 1-1 with South Africa. “I am pleased with the way my players played. Berankis is getting better each day he is here and isn’t at his best so expect the best to still come from my number one. I was also happy with the way Grigelis played even though he lost today. Rik is a tough opponent and Laurynas but up a real good show.”

John-Laffnie De Jager, the South African captain was also satisfied with the 1-1 score line after the first day. “I’ll take 1-1 and know that we have a real good chance in the doubles on Saturday. The doubles rubber is crucial and we favourites at taking it. Raven and Jean are still my preferred combination and I think they have the best chance. Jean is feeling good after the singles and having played first has had enough time to recover.”

De Jager said that it was clear that the more pressure his players put on their Lithuanian opponents, the better chance they had of a win. “Although the Lithuanians are seemingly getting used to the conditions they are not enjoying the pressure being put on them so we’ll apply as much pressure as possible to get the wins and points we need.”

Tickets can be purchased on site at the Irene Country Club from 10h00 through to 15h00 daily leading up to the Tie and from 08h30 during the Tie.

The playing program;

Saturday doubles (start 12h00): Raven Klaasen and Jean Andersen (RSA) vs. Ricardas Berankis and Layryas Grigelis (Ltu)
Sunday reverse singles (10h00): Rik De Voest (RSA) vs. Ricardas Berankis (Ltu) followed by Jean Andersen (RSA) vs. Layryas Grigelis (Ltu).


CITY OF TSHWANE TO HOST 25TH SUPER SENIORS TENNIS INTERPROVINCIAL EVENT

Johannesburg, South Africa - South African senior tennis players will be doing battle against each other in Pretoria at the upcoming 25th Super Seniors Interprovincial tournament.

Tennis South Africa will be hosting the Super Seniors Interprovincial tournament for the 60-75+ age group which will be held in the nation’s capital at the Groenkloof Tennis Stadium from 6th to the 12th April 2014. This special occasion will be commemorated with a Gala Dinner which will be attended by a number of the original players who participated in the inaugural event in 1990.

The seniors’ event will comprise of seven categories namely the 60 A CUP, 60 B CUP, 60 & 65 SHIELD, 65 CUP, 70 A CUP, 70 B CUP, 70 MEN.

Over 250 senior players and 40 teams have entered the annual event.

The Super Seniors Interprovincial event will be a preparatory event for players who will represent South Africa in the World Team Championships to be held in Florida, USA, from the 21st to the 26th April 2014.


DEAN O’BRIEN NOT NAMED IN SOUTH AFRICAN DAVIS CUP FINAL FOUR

Johannesburg, South Africa – In a surprise move, South African Davis Cup captain, John-Laffnie de Jager named Jean Andersen in his final four players ahead of higher ranked Dean O’Brien for this weekend’s crucial Davis Cup Tie against Lithuania. Andersen has not been playing on the tour due to an injury for the last 9 months. This tie will be his first competitive outing since injury. Andersen is also ranked some 347 places behind O’Brien on the world rankings.

Davis Cup players Rik de Voest (RSA), Jean Andersen(RSA), Laurynas Grigelis (Ltu) and Ricardas Berankis (Ltu) are shown around the milking sheds after the Official draw for the Davis Cup tie between South Africa and Lithuania at the Irene Dairy Farm on April 03, 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa

The South African team from left to right Ruan Roelofse, Rik de Voest, team captain John-Laffnie de Jager, Raven Klaasen and Jean Andersen during the Official draw for the Davis Cup tie between South Africa and Lithuania at the Irene Dairy Farm on April 03, 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa.

Pictures by: Reg Caldecott


De Jager defended his decision by saying he had taken a lot into consideration before choosing Andersen. “When I select my final four players, the rankings are not considered. I look at the form of the players during the week, the match up options against the opposition, how the players will suit the conditions and a number of other aspects. I also get the opinions of the senior players and taking all this into consideration I make my choice.”
De Jager added that Andersen against Poland last year was the best performing player at number two. “Jean came out of a previous injury and beat a player ranked in the world’s top 200. Jean also was our countries second highest ranked doubles player and played number two in the Davis Cup team performing well. Jean has a big game well suited for the altitude and capable of giving the Lithuanian players a hard time.”
For the first time in 15 ties, veteran South African Davis Cup star, Rik De Voest will not get South Africa’s weekend campaign under way. De Voest inevitably is drawn first when the official draw is done. But on Thursday, Irene Dairy Farmer, John Sonmazi drew fellow South African Jean Andersen out the milk pale and Andersen will go out first on Friday at the Irene Country Club outside Pretoria. Andersen will play Lithuanian number one Ricardas Berankis in the opening rubber which will be followed by South African number one Rik de Voest vs Lithuanian number two Layryas Grigelis.
This will be the 45th time that 33 year old De Voest will step onto court in the green and gold in his 20th and last tie for South Africa.
“This is going to be a special weekend as always when I am playing for my country” said De Voest. “It’s the greatest honour and I feel privileged to have been able to represent South Africa in 20 ties. I decided that this tie will be my last for my country and its fitting that it’s at my home club here in Irene. I am super excited, and hope that I will do everyone proud on court.”
De Voest warned that the opponents Lithuania were going to be a big challenge. “The top two Lithuanian players are top competitors. Both are ranked higher than any South African and their top player Berankis was ranked as high as 67 in the world last year and beat Tommy Haas and David Nalbandian amongst others. The Lithuanian team have arrived in the country early to adapt to the altitude and watching them in practice they seem to be settling well to the conditions. I expect this weekend to be a real battle.”
The draw for the second round Group Two Europe/Africa tie was made at the charming Irene Dairy Farm, a first for Davis Cup around the world. Staged in the Dairy Farm’s barn amongst bales of hay and livestock, Referee Gerry Armstrong conducted procedures after which both teams were invited to milk some of the Holstein farm cows. The historical Irene Farm dates back to 1881 and is South Africa’s only farm that producers certified milk. The farm is a great community success story being a city farm within an urban area.
As expected, Klaasen has been consigned to doubles duty and will partner Jean Andersen.
“I am looking forward to this tie. Playing for South Africa is such an honour. I am playing the best tennis of my life and hopefully we can win the important doubles point for the team on Saturday,” said Klaasen.
Meanwhile Tennis South Africa announced that there would be live streaming of the tie for each and every rubber played. To view the live streaming go to www.streamit360.tv

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 Tennis South Africa offices between 08h30 and 16h00 week days 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.

Tickets can also be purchased on site at the Irene Country Club from Thursday 27 March 2014 from 10h00 through to 15h00 daily leading up to the Tie and from 08h30 during the Tie.

The playing program;
Friday opening ceremony (start 09h30)
Friday singles (start 10h00): Jean Andersen (RSA) vs Ricards Berankis (Ltu) followed by Rik De Voest (RSA) vs. Layryas Grigelis (Ltu),
Saturday doubles (start 12h00): Raven Klaasen and Jean Andersen (RSA) vs. Ricardas Berankis and Layryas Grigelis (Ltu)
Sunday reverse singles (10h00): Rik De Voest (RSA) vs. Ricardas Berankis (Ltu) followed by Jean Andersen (RSA) vs. Layryas Grigelis (Ltu).
Teams
South Africa: Rik De Voest, Jean Andersen, Ruan Roelofse, Raven Klaasen Captain: John-Laffnie de Jager.
Lithuania: Ricardas Berankis, Laurynas Grigelis, Lukas Mugevicius, Mantas Bugailiskis Captain: Rimvydas Mugevicius


RIK DE VOEST TO PLAY LAST DAVIS CUP TIE FOR SOUTH AFRICA

Centurion, South Africa - South African stalwart Davis Cup player, Rik De Voest announced at the Irene Country Club on Tuesday that the upcoming Davis Cup tie against Lithuania would be his last for his country.

At the pre-draw media conference held at the club, 33 year old De Voest confirmed that after 15 years as a professional, the tie to be played this weekend from 4-6 April would be his last outing in the green and gold. “This is my 20th Davis Cup tie I will be playing for my country and its fitting here at my home club in Irene, I play that tie and call time on my Davis Cup duties. It’s been a memorable journey and I am very proud in what I have achieved” said De Voest.
De Voest also confirmed that he would retire from professional tennis in the next few months but had to meet some on court obligations before hanging up his racket.

“My wife Carolyn (a Canadian) has just given birth to our first child Morgan and my life has changed. I am now a family man with new goals, objectives and priorities and my last tournament will be in my new home city, Vancouver, Canada” said De Voest.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) announced that they would be presenting De Voest with a special Davis Cup award this coming Saturday (5 April) of the tie commemorating his 20th tie. De Voest will be one of only four South African players to have played 20 or more ties for their country. The other South African players to have achieved this are Cliff Drysdale, Frew McMillan and Wayne Ferreira.

Meanwhile South African captain John-Laffnie de Jager said that his team was well prepared for the tie. De Jager could not confirm who would be his second singles player. “I have told all the boys that the second spot is up for grabs and whoever performs best this week will be able to fill that spot” said De Jager.

De Jager has until Thursday to name his final four players out of his five man squad. De Voest and doubles specialist Raven Klaasen are given choices but the remaining two spots will be filled by Dean O’Brien, Jean Andersen or Ruan Roelofse.

Lithuanian captain Rimvydas Mugevicius said his team were adapting well to the altitude and were hitting the ball better each day.

Ricardos Berankis the top ranked Lithuanian player said that he was pleasantly surprised at how well the court was playing and he was feeling quite confident after two days of practice. “This tie is going to be a tough one” said Berankis. “South Africa have a good team with lots of experience. I don’t know the players that well but we have a few more days to watch them in action and strategise accordingly.”

With only four players at his disposal, the Lithuanian captain said that he had very little choice but would only decide Thursday who to play in the doubles. He is expected to play Berankis and his second highest ranked player in the Laurynas Grigelis singles but he could be forced to use both Berankis and Grigelis in the doubles as well as his third and fourth players Lukas Mugevicius and Mantas Bugailiskis are “young with very little Davis Cup experience.”

The official draw for the tie will take place on Thursday morning at the Irene Dairy Farm at 10h00 where both captains will name their four players and their singles line up and doubles teams. International acclaimed tennis referee and umpire Gerry Armstrong of England will officiate the draw.

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 Tennis South Africa offices between 08h30 and 16h00 week days 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.

Tickets can also be purchased on site at the Irene Country Club from Thursday 27 March 2014 from 10h00 through to 15h00 daily leading up to the Tie and from 08h30 during the Tie.


TOP TENNIS JUNIORS INVADE MANGAUNG

Bloemfontein, South Africa - The cream of South African junior tennis have started arriving in the Free State capital, Mangaung for the upcoming South African Junior Nationals.

The country’s premier junior tennis event will be contested under four age groups namely the under 12, 14, 16 and 18 at four premier Bloemfontein venues.

Over 400 juniors have entered the five day event to be played from 3-7 April, 2014.

The players will play in singles and doubles events in each of the age groups.

The under 12 age group will play at Grey and Eunice schools with the under 14 playing at the University of Free State courts. The Free State Stadium will host the boys and girls under 16 with the under 18 age group doing battle at Muddplein Tennis Club. All the finals on Monday the 7 April 2014 will be played at the main venue, The Free State Tennis Stadium.

Acting Tennis South Africa CEO Gavin Crookes said that the tournament formed an important part of the development of tennis in South Africa. “We at TSA take the development of tennis very seriously and see it as the future success of our sport. When you get 430 of the country’s top junior players together in one city at one time you enable the players to battle amongst the best and off court have good social fun which is an important part of the growth of the players and the game.”

Crookes said that Bloemfontein was the perfect venue for the big event. “We have over the years chosen Bloemfontein to host the Junior national due to the fact that they have lots of courts in fabulous conditions, great tennis venues and an abundance of affordable accommodation.”

It is estimated that over R1.1 million Rand will be injected into the Mangaung economy through them hosting the tournament.


SPAR GRAND PRIX TIME AGAIN

Cape Town, South Africa - It’s that time of the year again, when South Africa’s elite road runners get ready for the first race in 2014 SPAR Women’s 10km Grand Prix – the Cape Town Challenge at Green Point on Sunday April 6.

The top three runners from the 2013 Cape Town race. Mapaseka Makhanya (2nd place), Rutendo Nyahora (winner) and Zintle Xiniwe (3rd place). The race took place in Green Point on 17th March 2013.


The winner of the annual Grand Prix is the runner who has accumulated the most points in the five SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge races, which are held at venues around the country. For the third year, the winner will take possession of a brand new Nissan Micra. The runner-up will receive R30 000 and the third placed athlete will win R17 500. There are cash prizes for the top 15 athletes, and there are also prizes for the different age categories.

Rene Kalmer and Mapaseka Makhanya were the first two runners to win the car, but Kalmer is the most successful Grand Prix runner so far, having won the title three times. Irvette van Zyl has won twice, and Poppy Mlambo has one Grand Prix title to her name.

Makhanya, formerly better known as a track runner, dominated the Grand Prix in 2013, winning the Durban and Pretoria races, finishing second in Cape Town, third in Port Elizabeth and 13th in Johannesburg, for a total of 105 points. Rene Kalmer finished second, with 92 points and her sister Christine took third place, with 77.

With the exception of Van Zyl, who is injured, they will all be in action in Cape Town on Sunday, but there are plenty of other runners who will be going all out to ensure that they don’t have things their own way again.

Last year’s Cape Town winner, Zimbabwean Rutendo Nyahora, is determined to defend her title, but she will have stiff opposition from two Ethiopian runners, Tadesse Shankutie and Hunduma Gemeda, who will be running in the Nedbank colours. However, because the Grand Prix is limited to South African nationals, none of these runners will be eligible to claim Grand Prix points.

Other runners who will be vying for the top spots include Jenna Challenor, Zintle Xiniwe, Myrette Filmalter, Catherine Skosana and Anna Moeketsi.

One runner who will be missing from the Cape Town race is the evergreen Grandmaster Sonja Laxton, who is still recovering from a horrific accident late last year, when she suffered multiple fractures after being struck by a car. Laxton, who completed her 80th SPAR Challenge in the Johannesburg race in October, is making tremendous progress with her rehabilitation, and can be expected to be back on the road before the end of the year.

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