SEEDS & WILDCARDS ANNOUNCED FOR WILSON R100 000 CHALLENGE

Johannesburg, South Africa - The seeds and wild cards for this week’s Wilson R100 000 Challenge were announced today (Wednesday).

Men’s Open top seed Brandon Laubser of Gauteng East.

Women’s Open top seed Madrie le Roux of Gauteng North.

Picture credit: BLD Communications


The tournament, will be played at the German Country Club, Paulshof north of the City of Johannesburg from 1-5 May 2015 with the finals being played on Tuesday 5 April.

Brandon Laubser of Gauteng East headlines the men’s singles ranking of the 128 men’s draw. The seventeen year old is South Africa’s second highest ranked world junior (126) and recently reached the singles quarterfinals of the African Junior Championships and won the doubles title there with fellow South African Lloyd Harris. Laubser is seeded to meet Benjamin Janse van Rensburg of Gauteng Central in the final. Third seed is Reinhardt Trollip of Pretoria with Terence Petersen of Johannesburg seeded four.

South African Fed Cup player, Madrie Le Roux is the women’s singles top seed in the 32 women’s draw. Le Roux who is ranked 797 in world tennis should meet second seeded Nicole Dzenga of Gauteng East in the final. Le Roux who recently took a break from the game is back at her best and has been ranked as high as 543 in the world (June 2014). Up and coming junior Margo Landmann of Free State is seeded three with Tayla Van Eck of Gauteng Central seeded four.

The top boys singles player is Kent Joubert of Gauteng East with Cara O’Flaherty of Gauteng Central heading the girls singles seeding list. The boys singles draw has 32 players whilst the girls singles draw 16 players.

The wild-cards have been announced as follows;
Women’s Singles: Helga Jeske (GN)
Girls Singles: Mbali Langa (GC)

The seeds are as follows;
Boys 14
1. Kent Joubert (GE)
2. Andrew Freel (GE)
3. Victor Putter (GN)
4. Benedict Kohler (KZN)
5. James Desmet (GC)
6. Liam Day (GE)
7. Alec Beckley (GE)
8. Brandon Charge (GE)

Girls 14
1. Cara O’Flaherty (GC)
2. Chelsea Dzenga (GN)
3. Mia Dittberner (GN)
4. Ruth Moore (GC)

Women’s Open
1. Madrie le Roux (GN)
2. Nicole Dzenga (GE)
3. Margo Landmann (FS)
4. Tayla Van Eck (GC)
5. Julie Mansour (GC)
6. Tracey Bulmer (GC)
7. Robyn Bulmer (GC)
8. Angela Georgieva (GC)

Men’s Open
1. Brandon Laubser (GE)
2. Benjamin Janse Van Rensburg (GC)
3. Reinhardt Trollip (GN)
4. Cameron Petersen (GC)
5. Marnich Hattingh (GN)
6. Johannes Myburgh (GN)
7. Juan-Louis Van Antwerpen (GC)
8. Kyle Gerber (GN)


WILSON READY TO SERVE UP ANOTHER ACE

Johannesburg, South Africa – After two years of successfully hosting the Wilson R100 000 Challenge, leading tennis manufacturer Wilson have confirmed this year’s tournament to be played once again at the German Club north of the City of Johannesburg from 1-5 May 2015. Play will start each day at 09h00 with the finals scheduled for noon on Tuesday 5 May.

“Following the great success and positive response from the tennis community to our first two Wilson Challenge events over the past two years, 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 four divisions namely an Men’s and Women’s open event as well as a boys and girls 14 and under event. Each event will have singles and doubles draws.

Entries for the holiday weekend tournament have closed and tournament organisers are pleased with the number of players entered.

“We have received an impressive entry which is a clear indication of the importance and need of these types of tournaments in the country” said Brad Summers.

Prize money will be paid from the quarter finals.

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). The tournament wild cards and seeds will be announced tomorrow (Wednesday).

President and Acting Chief Executive of Tennis South Africa (TSA), Gavin Crookes said he was grateful to Wilson for the initiative. “Tennis is going through some challenging yet exciting changes in the country. Wilson over the years have partnered with TSA in the overall promotion and development of the game in South Africa. A tournament like this brings all the junior and senior 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.


NETBALL SA STAGE AFRICAN TOURNAMENT TO FIGHT XENOPHOBIA

Netball South Africa will dedicate the 2015 Diamond Challenge international series to the victims of xenophobic violence, in what it hopes will be a symbol of peace and reconciliation.

Launched in 2012, the Diamond Challenge is a tournament that pits Africa’s strongest netball nations against each other and serves as a platform for the development of netball in Africa.

Netball SA president Mimi Mthethwa said the federation would like the 2015 Diamond Challenge, which takes place in Durban where the xenophobic violence first erupted earlier this month, to serve as a symbol of peace and unity. The tournament, which runs from June 14 to 18, will feature the national teams of Uganda, Zambia and Malawi each of which has sizeable expatriate communities living in South Africa.

“As Netball South Africa we want to send out a strong message to South Africa and the world that we stand by our African brothers and sisters. We want the world to know that we in the sports community and general populace deplore the senseless acts of violence and displacement of extremely vulnerable communities,” said Mthethwa.

“As the umbrella body for the sport that represents nearly two million active participants we call on all South Africans to take a stand against hatred and discrimination and to end the bloodshed,” she said. “We implore individuals and communities to seek peaceful means of resolving underlying issues and differences.”

“We have always been proud to host our African sisters and compete against them in the spirit of camaraderie and friendship. We want this message of sisterhood and indeed brotherhood to echo loud and clear throughout our various communities destroyed by the violence against foreign nationals,” said Mthethwa. “We hope that in its own small way netball can play a part in the healing process.”

Malawi and South Africa are expected to revive their ongoing rivalry which has seen the two countries battle neck and neck for the top ranking on the continent and the world. The two nations will again lock horns at the 2015 Netball World Cup in Sydney from 7 to 16 August, as they have been seeded in the same pool.

The last Diamond Challenge was held in October 2013 in Port Elizabeth and featured both Zimbabwe and Zambia.


Netball SA Dedicates Diamond Challenge to Fight Against Xenophobia


South African wheelchair tennis ace Marshall Marsh attains a degree in Human Movement Science

Wednesday, 22 April 2015, Johannesburg, South Africa. – South African wheelchair tennis ace Marshall Marsh ranked 7 in South Africa and in the top 200 globally in the men’s division has obtained a degree in Human Movement Science at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU).
Marsh, aged 26, who hails from Port Elizabeth crossed the stage on Monday during the graduation ceremony and emerged to be the University’s first disabled student (double amputee) to receive a degree in Human Movement Science.

As a two-month old baby he lost not only his mother in a tragic house fire but his legs were so badly burnt, they were amputated. However, what could been seen as pure tragedy, opened up a world of opportunity for Marshall. Last year Marshall Marsh was ranked 59 in the world but due to his studies he was not available to participate in most tournaments.
“I am the first graduate in my family and I am grateful that God has spared my grandmother to see this day, she can see how all her sacrifice has paid off,” says Marshall.
His grandmother, Margaret, who was a domestic worker at the time, quit her job to raise Marshall and his older brother Marvin, who were left orphaned by the fire.
Marshall had a full bursary to study Human Movement Science at the University and praises the institution, particularly the Disability Unit, for all the help he received throughout his period of study.
In 2006 Marshall attended Northern Lights School in Cotswold where he participated in numerous sports like powerlifting, wheelchair basketball and swimming. Teacher and tennis coach Eugene Stallenberg saw his potential and encouraged him to try out for wheelchair tennis.
“I fell in love with wheelchair tennis because of the opportunities it gave me. I’ve travelled to Korea, Sri Lanka, Russia, England and the Netherlands – countries I would never have visited otherwise,” says the Uitenhage resident.
“I am very competitive and now with more time on my hands I will be able to work towards my goal of being number one.”
Marshall currently trains for at least two and a half hours, six days a week to compete in the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.
“It’s been a great experience training Marshall, I appreciate his compassion for others, his outlook on life is inspiring, it is not easy being a disabled person in South Africa but Marshall is something special, NMMU can be proud,” says, his coach for the last five years, Hennie De Klerk.
Hennie accredited Marshall’s tennis success to NMMU’s tennis court upgrade which is now completely wheelchair friendly.
“From the toilets to the entrance gates we have had an R1m upgrade,” says Hennie.
Marshall and Hennie also run two to four wheelchair tennis clinics annually, where 20-30 high school pupils are coached.
Marshall even met his wife Janine “on the court”, her cousin who also plays wheelchair tennis introduced them. They have two children four-year old Jamie-Lee and 5-month-old Janay.
“I want to train disabled people to become physically fit, I’d like to teach them how to play wheelchair tennis too. I want to show them it can be done,” says Marshall.
Wheelchair Tennis South Africa Director and performance coach, Holger Losch expressed his excitement, “Just ecstatic. As a coach I have seen Marshall play tennis, to see him reach his ultimate dream and all his hard work pay off, is just amazing. We could not be more proud of everything he has done”, said Losch.


NEW FACES IN SPAR PROTEAS NETBALL TEAM

Pretoria, South Africa - Mari-Lena Joubert, Rochelle Lawson and Lauren-Lee Christians have all taken a big step up in their netball careers – the three youngsters have all been selected for the SPAR Protea team representing South Africa at the European championships in Belfast, Northern Ireland, next month.

“We are eager to try out young upcoming players that have represented South Africa in our junior teams (SPAR Baby Proteas and Fast 5 Netball Series), and see how ready they are for senior international competition,” said Netball South Africa (NSA) Director of Selectors, Christine du Preez.

“It is very exciting that there are so many young as well as experienced players fighting for places in the national team.
“The Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League starts next month, and the top players have five weekends of really hard netball to show us what they can do. With the forthcoming Diamond Challenge scheduled for the last weekend of June, we will still open opportunity for other players as part of the top twelve that the coach would like to test; these could include the twelve that is going to Ireland and/or other new faces if need be.

“After we have seen everyone in action in Northern Ireland, the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League and the Diamond Challenge, we will have a very good idea of who to select for the World Cup in Sydney in August,” said Du Preez.

She said three players, Maryka Holtzhausen, Phumza Maweni and Bongiwe Msomi, were all currently playing in the Super Netball League in England. They would return to South Africa at the end of April, in time to prepare for the European Championships.

“They are really living the netball dream,” she said.
“They are playing netball every day, and playing at a very high level. We are all looking forward to seeing what they have learnt from the experience. They should all come back even better than before they left. Bongi and Phumza have both been named Player of the Match in different matches, which shows that they are really doing well.”

The other teams taking part in the European Championships are England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Trinidad and Tobago. England are ranked third in the world, and the Proteas coaching staff are excited about measuring South Africa’s progress against one of the top countries ahead of the World Cup.

Head coach Bennie Saayman said the tournament would enable the coaching staff to see what aspects of play needed the most work.

SPAR South African Protea team is as follows: Erin Burger, Lauren-Lee Christians, Maryka Holtzhausen, Mari- Lena Joubert, Rochelle Lawson, Phumza Maweni, Zanele Mdodana, Bongiwe Msomi, Nothando Mthembu, Melissa Myburgh, Adele Niemand, Lenize Potgieter.

NSA has joined forces with the many people and organisations that have spoken out against the recent outbreak of xenophobia in South Africa, and has adopted the slogan: “Netball South Africa condemns violence and any actions linked to xenophobia”.


TWISTER TAKES WAGNER BY STORM

Johannesburg, South Africa – South Africa’s Lucas “Twister” Sithole was the coolest customer on centre court at Ellis Park Tennis Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday as he closed out a three-set victory against world number one David Wagner at the Airports Company South Africa SA Open quad singles final.

Lucas Sithole of South Africa in action against David Wagner of USA in the quads final during day 5 of the Airports Company South Africa SA Open at Ellis Park Tennis Complex on Saturday.

Lucas Sithole of South Africa with the trophy after he defeated David Wagner of USA in the quads final during day 5 of the Airports Company South Africa SA Open at Ellis Park Tennis Complex Saturday.

Wfinal1: Jiske Griffioen of the Netherlands with the trophy after winning against Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany in the women’s final during day 5 of the Airports Company South Africa SA Open at Ellis Park Tennis Complex on Saturday.

Picture credit: Reg Caldecott


Just a week after losing the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open final in Benoni to the American, Sithole came back from set down to upset the defending champion 3-6 6-3 6-3.
The upsets continued as Frenchman Nicolas Peifer dethroned two-time winner and compatriot Stephane Houdet in the men’s singles title clash 5-7 6-2 6-1, while world number three and first seed Jiske Griffioen from the Netherlands rallied from one set down to defeat Sabine Ellerbrock from Germany 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-1 for the women’s singles title.
Sithole lost to Wagner in two successive finals at Ellis Park in 2013 and 2014, but he levelled a warning at Wagner when he beat world number three Andy Lapthorne from Great Britain in the semi-final on Friday.
Wagner controlled the first set, but Sithole rebounded in the second and dominated the third.
“I made a very sloppy start in the first set,” Sithole said. “He pushed me to the corner on my back hand and I couldn’t get any rhythm going.
“He broke me at an early stage and I lost important points, but I started playing my own game in the second set and things started to happen. I had a little talk to myself in the toilet break after the second set and then I came out to win the match.”
Sithole broke Wagner’s serve in the opening game of the final set and then held serve until the ninth game, when he broke Wagner again to win the decider.
It was a huge breakthrough for Sithole, who also beat Wagner for the 2013 US Open title and the Super Series Japan Open in May last year.
“These two victories in the semi-final and final means that my coach (Holger Losch) and I are on the right track with my training and strategies,” he said.
“I am excited about the future and I am hungry for more victories. I am really thankful to Airports Company South Africa for giving us two tournaments here at home and for everything they do for the development of wheelchair tennis.
“I saw a lot of kids out there and I hope I have inspired them to reach for greater heights. It doesn’t matter where you come from or who you are – with hard work, dedication and a team like Wheelchair Tennis South Africa on your side, you can achieve anything you set your mind to.”
Peifer, also coming off a final loss in last week’s Gauteng Open final, was almost clinical in his destruction of Houdet.
The world number two battled to win the opening set, but Peifer levelled the match in the second and broke Houdet in the third game of the final set. He won the next five games on the trot to march to victory.
“South Africa has been good for me,” the world number six said. “I’ve had two really great weeks and leaving with a Super Series win is a huge bonus for me.”
Griffioen who won the Australian Open in January and moved one step closer to reeling in world number one Yui Kamiji with her first Super Series victory this season.
“I really struggled with the altitude when I came here two years ago,” the champion said.
“I really wanted to come back and see how I would do this time and I think it went really well.”
Griffioen is staying in South Africa for another week before her return to the Netherlands.
“It’s been a really fantastic week at the Airports Company South Africa SA Open and I am going to take a little holiday in Cape Town and enjoy a little more of the South African hospitality.”
Airports Company South Africa acting spokesperson Colin Naidoo said: “We are proud to play a major role in bringing two world class Wheelchair Tennis tournaments to our shores and giving wheelchair tennis players an opportunity to showcase their exceptional talent.
“In addition to that, events of this nature trigger much-needed awareness about the sport. We look forward to continuing our long-standing partnership with Wheelchair Tennis South Africa and elevating the sport to new heights.
Airports Company South Africa congratulates Lucas Sithole, Jiske Griffioen and Nicolas Peifer with their victories. We have been particularly impressed by the level of sportsmanship and competitiveness shown by all participants in this tournament.”


DAVID VS MZANSI’S GOLIATH IN SA OPEN FINAL

Johannesburg, South Africa - Lucas Sithole had the South African wheelchair tennis fans dancing on centre court after he defeated British world number three Andy Lapthorne in a three-set humdinger in the quad singles semi-final at the Airports Company South Africa SA Open on Friday.
Sithole won 3-6 6-3 6-4 and will face defending champion and world number one David Wagner for a second successive week in Saturday’s final.
Sithole will go up against Wagner for a third straight year after the American dispatched unseeded Ymanitu Silva in straight sets 6-0 6-1.
The South African had just one message for his fans: “This time the trophy stays in Mzansi.”
“I learned a lot from my loss to David at the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open last week,” said Sithole, who last beat Wagner for the 2013 US Open title and trails 16-6 in head-to-head.
“My coach (Holger Losch) and I analysed the match and identified what went wrong in the final.
“We’ve worked hard at correcting the mistakes and plan new strategies. It worked well against Andy, so I am bringing the same positive energy to the match against David.”
After losing the first set, Sithole showed grit and determination to win the second and level the match.
The South African broke serve twice early in the final set to take a 5-1 lead, but Lapthorne did not exit quietly.
The Brit held serve in the notorious seventh game, broke the cramping Sithole serve after five deuces in the eighth game and held serve again to win the ninth game.
Sithole regrouped in the 10th game to lead 40-15 and broke through for victory with an ace on his eighth match point to clinch the final set 6-4.
“My nerves got to me in the final set and Andy pounced; he is a really fierce competitor and he attacked when I showed my nerves,” Sithole said.
“He kept swinging, but at the same time played it safe while I waited for my nerves to settle. I came at him in the final game. I knew I could take it, but I had to give myself a chance to get my confidence up.”
Mens singles defending champion Stephane Houdet is targeting a hat-trick of Airports Company South Africa SA Open titles and is relishing an all-French final against Nicolas Peifer.
The French world number two was nervous to tackle last week’s Gauteng Open champion and his regular doubles partner Joachin Gerard from Belgium in the semi-finals, but clinched the match 7-5 7-6(3).
“I have only been using my new chair for two weeks and Joachim is in great form, so I was a little worried,” Houdet said. “I lost seven straight points to him at the start of the first set, but then I moved well back from the base line and I was able to rally for the win.
“I’ve never lost at this centre court, so hopefully my luck will hold out again tomorrow.”
Peifer defeated unseeded Takashi Sanada from Japan in three sets 2-6 6-2 6-4.
A week after she beat South Africa’s KG Montjane for the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open title, Marjolein Buis from the Netherlands bowed out to country women Jiske Griffioen in the women’s singles semi-finals.
The world number three and tournament favourite clinched the match 6-2 4-6 6-3 and will meet second seed Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany in the final.
Ellerbrock, who is nursing a rotator cuff injury, showed no sign of discomfort as she whipped eighth-seed Kaitlyn Verfuerth 6-1 6-1 to make her second successive final.
“I don’t feel any pressure at all,” the German world number four said.
“I wanted to make the semi-finals to defend my world ranking points and I’ve done that. I feel quite relaxed about the final and I’ll just play my game and see where it takes me.”

The finals of the Airports Company SA Open will be played from 09h00 on Saturday at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. Entry is free with safe and secure parking.


FEAST OF WHEELCHAIR TENNIS ACTION ON SUPERSPORT

Johannesburg, South Africa – The finals of the Airports Company South Africa SA Open, one of the world’s top wheelchair tennis tournament will be shown live on SuperSport this Saturday 18 April.

The finals will be shown from 09h00 – 13h50 on SuperSport Select South Africa live from the Ellis Park Tennis Stadium in Johannesburg.

Commentators for the finals will be former wheelchair tennis ace Kevin Smith and Pietie Norval, a former ATP Tour player, South African Davis Cup player and silver medalist in the doubles with Wayne Ferreira at the Barcelona Olympic Games.

Highlights of the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open, held in Benoni leading up to the SA Open, will premiere on SuperSport SS8 at 19h30 on 6 May.

SuperSport also confirmed that the highlights of the SA Open will premiere on SuperSport SS8 at 19h30, Wednesday 13 May.

The Gauteng Open and SA Open sponsored by Airports Company South Africa are part of the UNIQLO World Tour with the Airports Company South Africa SA Open being a Super Series event, one of only six events of its status on the tour. Most of the world’s top wheelchair tennis players travelled to South Africa for the series.


SITHOLE PARTIES WHILE MONTJANE EXITS AT ELLIS PARK

Johannesburg, South Africa - Despite losing the opening set to unseeded Itay Erenlib, South Africa’s Lucas Sithole danced his way to victory in the quad singles quarter-finals of the Airports Company South Africa SA Open at Ellis Park Tennis Stadium on Thursday.
The world number four lost the first set, but rallied to beat the unheralded Israeli 4-6 6-4 6-1.
“I told myself I needed to join the party; I also needed to dance,” smiled Sithole, who was thrilled to give South Africans something to cheer about after compatriot Kgothatso ‘KG’ Montjane was beaten 3-6 2-6 by Dutch third seed Marjolein Buis in the women’s singles quarter-finals.
“I never played Itay before, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I took it too easy on him in the first set, but he went all-out against me. I pushed him to his back-hand, because he doesn’t have a reverse back-hand, but he hit some really good, unexpected shots.
“He forced me to start playing defensively, so going into the second set, I started playing my own game. He broke back when I led 3-1, but I managed to regroup, gain control and win the set.”
Sithole said he went straight back to basics in the final set.
“I wasn’t worried at any stage, because I knew what I was doing wrong,” Sithole said.
“I stayed relaxed. I didn’t chase and I didn’t push hard. I just kept hitting the ball away from him, because I didn’t want to waste any more energy and I won the set quickly.”
Sithole will play second seed Andy Lapthorne from England, who defeated fellow Brit and sixth seed Anthony Cotterill in straight sets 6-4 6-3.
Unseeded Ymanitu Silva from Brazil toppled fourth seed Jamie Burdekin from Great Britain 6-1 6-4 and the Brazilian will go up against top seed David Wagner, who advanced straight to the semis after fellow American Greg Hasterok withdrew from the quarter-finals due to illness.
Lapthorne beat Sithole for the Airports Company South Africa SA Open title in 2013 and the South African is savouring the opportunity to return the favour.
“I lost the 2013 final to Andy and the 2014 final to David, so I am going all out to pull it through this year,” Sithole said.
“Losing against David in the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open final last week was a really good lesson. I made mistakes and I learned what I needed to fix.
“I’ve been working on some things in the last two matches this week and I will implement everything my coach and I have been practicing into the semi-final against Lapthorne on Friday.”
Katherina Kruger and Sabine Ellerbrock will go head-to-head in an all-German semi-final on the one side of the draw, while first-seed Jiske Griffioen will face last week’s Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open champion Buis.
Griffioen defeated sixth-seed Francisca Mardones from Chile in 6-2 6-1, second-seed Ellerbrock dispatched Charlotte Famin from France 6-1 6-2, but fourth-seed Kruger had a tough time getting past eighth-seed Kaitlyn Verfuerth.
The American won the opener 6-4, but Kruger took the second 6-4 and won the final set 6-2.
Meanwhile Takashi Sanada put on a masterclass performance in the men’s singles quarter-finals to topple second seed Gustavo Fernandez.
The sixth-seed from Japan whipped the Argentinean 6-3 6-2 and will meet Nicolas Peifer from France in the semi-final after the fourth-seed Frenchman defeated seventh-seed Tom Egberink from the Netherlands in straight sets 6-2 6-2.
First seed and defending champion Stephane Houdet downed eighth-seed Stefan Olsson from Sweden 6-2 6-4 to strengthen his bid for a third consecutive title at Ellis Park.
The world number two will have a chance to turn the tables on last week’s Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open winner Joachim Gerard when they meet in the semi-finals.
Gerard, seeded third in the Super Series event, defeated fifth-seed Maikel Scheffers from the Netherlands 6-2 7-5.


MONTJANE GEARED FOR GRUDGE MATCH

Johannesburg, South Africa - Kgothatso ‘KG’ Montjane is hungry and driven to face Marjolein Buis from the Netherlands in the women’s singles quarter-finals of the Airports Company South Africa SA Open at Ellis Park Tennis Stadium on Thursday.

The Deputy Minister of Sport, Gert Oosthuizen paid a visit to Ellis Park Tennis Stadium in Johannesburg to give support to the players participating in the Airports Company South Africa SA Open on Wednesday.


As soon as the world number nine trounced Viktoria Lvova from Russia in straight sets 6-1 6-3 in the second round, Montjane declared herself ready to take on Buis, who defeated her for the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open title on Sunday.
“It’s not an easy thing to admit, but I was not in that final match on Sunday,” Montjane said.
“I played some of the best tennis leading up to that final, but then my true form didn’t show up. I fought back in both sets, but when you look at the statistics, you could see I lost the match on unforced errors.
“I think I was too negative, unfocussed and impatient. You can’t challenge someone like Marjolein like that. She moves very well and she has great mobility. She is very strong mentally and all those things make her a dangerous opponent.
“You have to be very sharp, patient and focussed when you play her and I was none of those things on Sunday. But I am in a very positive frame of mind after taking a day off on Monday to see the physiotherapist. I’m feeling very strong physically and mentally. I’m ready for the fight.”
It was smooth sailing for the rest of the seeds on day two of the Super Series event.
Dutch first seed Jiske Griffioen downed Miho Nijo from Japan 6-1 6-1, second seed Sabine Ellerbrock from Germany defeated Thando Hlatshwayo 6-0 6-1 and Buis, seeded third, whipped Nokwanda Hlongwane 6-0 6-0.
Germany’s Katherina Kruger (4), Francisca Mardones (6) from Chile, Charlotte Famin (7) from France and American Kaitlyn Verfuerth also advanced to the quarter-finals.

Lucas Sithole was the only South African left standing in the quads singles after compatriots Bongani Dlamini and Stephen Kekai crashed on Wednesday.
The world number three easily disposed of unseeded Frenchman Stephane Erishman 6-1 6-1 and Sithole has a game plan for his quarterfinal clash against Itay Erenlib from Israel, who defeated eighth seeded Dlamini 6-2 6-4.
“I’ve never played him, but I watched Itay’s match against Bongani,” Sithole said.
“I have a good strategy. He likes to stay on the base line, so I need to force him into the corners. I had a good practise session with Erishman and nice workout in the doubles, so I am ready to battle him.”
Former champion Andy Lapthorne downed unseeded Kekai 6-1 6-0 and the world number three will now face fellow Brit Anthony Cotterill.
Cotterill, the sixth seed defeated Frenchman Virgil Silva in straight sets 6-0 6-0.
“I won this in 2013, so of course I want to get back in the winner’s circle and there are a lot of world ranking points on offer this week,” Lapthorne said. “It’s always tough when you have to play your room-mate and doubles partner, but we’ve had to do this before.”
World number one and defending champion David Wagner, Englishman Jamie Burdekin and American Greg Hasterok - seeded fourth and fifth respectively - also advanced.

Frenchman Stephane Houdet pulled through a tough two-setter to keep his bid for a third successive men’s singles title on track. The top seed beat the unseeded Spaniard Daniel Caverzachi 6-4 6-4.
Houdet will face eighth seed Stefan Olsson from Sweden in the quarter-final.
Meanwhile Dutchman Tom Egberink proved too experienced for South Africa’s Leon Els and the seventh seed won the match 6-1 6-1.
Egberink will go up against fourth seed Nicolas Peifer from France, while reigning Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open champion Joachim Gerard from Belgium (3), second seed Gustavo Fernandez from Argentina, Dutchman Maikel Scheffers (5) and Takashi Sanada from Japan (6) all advanced to join the quarter-final action on Thursday.


SMARTER MARIPA TARGETS TOP 10 BREAKTHROUGH

Johannesburg, South Africa - South Africa’s Evans Maripa believes all that stands between him and a top 10 world ranking is a good dose of self-confidence and being more “street smart”.
The world number 13 was frustrated by his first round loss to fourth seed Nicolas Peifer from France in the Mens Singles at the Airports Company South Africa SA Open on Tuesday, but turned animated when looking ahead to the rest of the season.
“I lost the match against Peifer because I beat myself; I was my own worst enemy out there,” the 23-year-old stated with brutal honesty after he lost 6-0 6-4 to the French world number six.
“Yes, it was a tough draw to face the fourth seed in the first round, but I love the challenge of drawing seeds, because it tests you and you learn from every match.
“I went in with a lot of confidence, but I was all over the place in the first set. I was over hitting every ball that came my way and got so flustered that I could not get onto scoreboard. I started the second set much the same, but I pulled myself together.
“I was 5-1 down, but I fought back to 5-4. I didn’t use the opportunity, though, to force the match into a third set. I only have myself to blame for the loss. If I can start matches the way I played in that second set, I will start beating the seeds.”
Maripa earned high praise from first seed Stephane Houdet from France when he forced Dutchman Maikel Scheffers into a third set during their second round clash at the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open last week.
“Evans is undoubtedly the strongest player on the Mens Singles circuit right now,” said Houdet, who is on track for a hat-trick of titles at Ellis park Tennis Stadium this week.
“I think it’s just a matter of time before he breaks into the top 10; he just needs a bit more experience against the top seeds to play a little smarter and he will knock down the door.”
And smarts are exactly what Maripa is hunting this year.
“I know I move really well and I have a lot more shots in my arsenal right now, but I just need to get smart about how I use my strengths,” Maripa said.
“I get into my own head and I make stupid mistakes. I need to learn how to overcome that. If I can get stronger mentally, I will start winning and break into the top 10.
“Experience gives you that confidence and those smarts. That’s why I like testing myself against these guys that have been inside the top 10 for years. I learned a lot from the match against Scheffers and again from playing Peifer, so it’s never a complete loss.”
Acting spokesperson for Airports Company South Africa Colin Naidoo said Maripa is undoubtedly a future star to watch.
“Evans has grown in leaps and bounds over the last few years as a wheelchair tennis player and Airports Company South Africa is proud to have been part of his progress and success,” Naidoo said.
Maripa and Frenchman Frederick Cattaneo reached the quarter-finals of the Mens Doubles in the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open last week and the duo will combine once again in the pursuit of success this week.
“I will follow the Mens Singles action and try to learn as much as possible from the top seeds to try and improve our chances,” Maripa said. “It would be a fantastic way to finish two great weeks at home with a title.”


SOUTH AFRICAN’S SITHOLE AND MONTJANE SEEDED FOR AIRPORTS COMPANY SOUTH AFRICA SA OPEN

Johannesburg, South Africa - South African Wheelchair tennis aces Lucas Sithole and Kgothatso (KG) Montjane have both been seeded in their respective divisions for this week’s Airports Company South Africa SA Open to be played at Ellis Park, Johannesburg from the 14 to 18 April.

Sithole has been seeded third in the quads division behind top seeded world number one David Wagner of the USA and second seed Andy Lapthorne of Great Britain. Sithole should meet Lapthorne in Friday’s semi-final if all goes according to plan.

Montjane has been seeded five in the women’s singles. Jiske Griffioen of Netherlands, the world number three is the women’s singles top seed followed by Sabine Ellerbrock of German with the winner of last week’s Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open, Marjolein Buis also of Netherlands seeded three. Katherine Kruger of Germany is the fourth seed.
Montjane is seeded to meet Buis in this week’s quarterfinals, a repeat of Sunday’s Gauteng Open final which Buis won 6-4 6-1.

The only other South African seeded in the tournament is Bongani Dlamini of KwaZulu-Natal who has been seeded eighth in the quads division. Dlamini is seeded to meet compatriot Sithole in the last eight.

World number two Stephane Houdet of France has been named the top seed in the men’s singles with Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina seeded to meet Houdet in the final.
Last week’s Gauteng Open winner Joachim Gerard Belgium is the third men’s seed with Michael Nicolas Peifer of France seeded four.

The draw for the tournament was conducted on Monday afternoon by tournament referee Mxolisi Matyolo with Australian men’s singles player Ben Weeks and Russian women’s singles star, Lludmila Bubnova in attendance.

Being seeded, Sithole and Montjane have first round byes and will not play on the opening day tomorrow (Tuesday) and will get their campaign underway on Wednesday. However South Africa’s top ranked men’s singles player Evans Maripa will be in action on Tuesday. In a tough opening round, Maripa faces in form Nicolas Peifer who was runner up on Sunday to Joachim Gerard in the Gauteng Open final.

Play starts at 09h00 tomorrow (Tuesday) at the Ellis Park Tennis Stadium in Johannesburg.

The seeds announced are as follows;

Men
1-Stephane Houdet (Fra)
2-Gustavo Fernandez (Arg)
3-Joachim Gerard (Bel)
4-Nicolas Peifer (Fra)
5-Maikel Scheffers (Ned)
6-Takashi Sanada (Jpn)
7-Tom Egberink (Ned)
8-Stefan Olsson (Swe)

Women
1-Jiske Griffioen (Ned)
2-Sabine Ellerbrock (Ger)
3-Marjolein Buis (Ned)
4-Katharina Kruger (Ger)
5-Kgothatso Montjane (RSA)
6-Francisca Mardones (Chi)
7-Charlotte Famin (Fra)
8-Kaitlyn Verfuerth (USA)

Quads
1-David Wagner (USA)
2-Andy Lapthorne (GBR)
3-Lucas Sithole (RSA)
4-Jamie Burdekin (GBR)
5-Greg Hasterok (USA)
6-Antony Cotterill (GBR)
7-Anders Hard (Swe)
8-Bomgani Dlamini (RSA)


WAGNER, BUIS SPOIL SOUTH AFRICA’S PARTY

Benoni, South Africa – American David Wagner took his third, Dutch player Marjolein Buis her second and Joachim Gerard from Belgium his first victory on South African soil, while the country’s top wheelchair tennis aces Kgothatso ‘KG’ Montjane and Lucas Sithole came up short in the finals of the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open on Sunday.

David Wagner, the top seed of the USA with his trophy after beating Lucas Sithole of South Africa in the quads final during day 5 of the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open at the Gauteng East Tennis Complex on Sunday.

Marjoelein Buis, the second seed from the Netherlands with her trophy after beating Kgothatso Montjane South Africa in the women’s final during day 5 of the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open at the Gauteng East Tennis Complex on Sunday.

Kgothatso Montjane of South Africa with doubles partner Marjoelein Buis of Netherlands with their trophies after beating Sabine Ellerbrock and Katherina Kruger Germany 6-0 6-2 in the women doubles final of the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open at the Gauteng East Tennis Complex on Sunday.

Picture credit: Reg Caldecott


World number one Wagner beat world number four Sithole 6-3 6-1 to claim his third successive quad singles title at the Gauteng East Tennis Centre in Benoni.
The American immediately blamed the fantastic South African hospitality for Sithole’s loss.
“Wheelchair Tennis South Africa hosted this incredible ‘Shisa Nyama Braai’ on Saturday night,” Wagner explained.
“I could eat meat for breakfast, lunch and supper, so it was paradise for me. It was the best beef, lamb, chicken and sausage I’ve had in years. All that meat was just the ticket to inspire my victory.
“On a serious note, though, I feel fortunate that I was able to pull that one out.
“Lucas is a world-class player and a wonderful strong champion in our division. He is always going to test you, like he did in the final, no matter who you are. I know he took some time out last year, so he will need a few matches to get back to form, but he improved in every match this week.
“He will be a strong contender in the Airports Company South Africa SA Open next week.”
World number six Buis defeated Montjane 6-4 6-1 in the women’s singles final.
The former Airports Company South Africa SA Open champion was delighted with her performance, but admitted that Montjane had her worried in the opening set.
“I was having trouble returning KG’s serve and I wasn’t putting any pressure on her in the first set and she broke me twice,” Buis said.
“I got more aggressive and build a 5-3 lead, but I didn’t use my two breakpoints at 5-4. Luckily, I managed to claim the set on my own serve. That gave me a lot of confidence going into the second set and I was able to play with more flow.
“I feel like I am at the top of the game right now. There are a lot of strong players coming to the Airports Company South Africa SA Open next week and I believe I can challenge again.”
Montjane did not leave empty-handed, though.
Just an hour after her singles final loss, the South African partnered Buis to victory in the women’s doubles final. The pair whipped Sabine Ellerbrock and Katherina Kruger from Germany 6-0 6-2.
Gerard took just 52 minutes to beat Frenchman Nicolas Peifer 6-2 6-1 for the men’s singles title.
“It was a little strange to play Nicolas, because we have been friends for 13 years and we are roommates this week, but you just have to get on with the job,” the world number five said.
“I think the key to my win was that I made very few mistakes; I only had five errors in total, but Nicolas was also protecting a back injury and that helped me, as well. I’m really excited for the Airports Company South Africa SA Open after this win and hopefully I can make it two in a row next week.”
The lanky world number five was very pleased with his decision to visit South Africa this year.
“I completed my studies at the end of 2013, so last year was the first time that I started to compete internationally,” the 26-year-old said.
“I heard many really good things about the tournaments in South Africa and decided that I must come and check it out. The venue this week is one of the best I’ve seen and the facilities were great. It was fantastic to be walking distance to the hotel. I felt really at home here because of the hard balls and the altitude and I settled in quickly.
“I’m happy to report that everything I’ve heard is the truth.”
The Airports Company South Africa SA Open, an International Tennis Federation (ITF) Super Series event, will be contested at the country’s premier tennis venue, Ellis Park Tennis Stadium, from April 14 to April 18.


GIANT-KILLER MONTJANE THROUGH TO FINAL

Benoni, South Africa – On a day of major upsets, South Africa’s Kgothatso ‘KG’ Montjane toppled first seed Sabine Ellerbrock to join compatriot Lucas Sithole in the Sunday’s finals at the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open, while Frenchman Nicolas Peifer and Joachim Gerard from Belgium dispatched the top two seeds in the men’s singles semi-finals in Benoni.

Kgothatso Montjane, the 4th seed of South Africa celebrates after beating Sabine Ellerbrock Germany in the women’s semi-finals during day 4 of the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open at the Gauteng East Tennis Complex on April 11, 2015 in Benoni on Saturday.

Joachim Gerard, the 3rd seed of Belgium in action against Stephane Houdet of France in the men’s semi-finals during day 4 of the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open at the Gauteng East Tennis Complex on April 11, 2015 in Benoni South Africa.

Nicolas Peifer, the 4th seed of France in action against Gustavo Fernandez Argentina in the men’s semi-finals during day 4 of the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open at the Gauteng East Tennis Complex on Saturday.


After 12 losses to the world number four, Montjane found the strategy and mental aptitude to ditch the underdog tag and handed the defending champion her marching orders in dramatic style at the Gauteng East Tennis Centre.
The world number nine fought back from 3-1 down in the first set to win five games in a row to take the set 6-3 and then held her nerve to defeat the German in a second set tie break 7-6 (3) to book her place in Sunday’s final.
The South African will face world number six Marjolein Buis in the final after the Dutch second-seed whipped Charlotte Famin from France in straight sets 6-0 6-2.
Montjane, the champion in 2012 and 2013, was thrilled to line up her third title challenge in this event.
“Beating Sabine gets a massive monkey off my back,” Montjane said.
“After losing to her in the quarter-finals of the Cajun Classic last month, I took a long look at why she always beats me. I changed my strategy for this match and I am happy that it paid off, because it gives me a lot of confidence against Marjolein.
“They both move really well and always force me on the defensive, so I attacked with a lot of long shots and I used the altitude to pepper her with high shots and she struggled to return them.
“Mostly, I didn’t let her distract me and that pulled it. Even when I got tight in the second set, I just kept focused. She is a real fighter and I wasn’t surprised when she fought from 1-4 down to level the set. That’s the way she plays, but I never allowed her to take control.”
Meanwhile Joachim Gerard and Nicolas Peifer delivered more shocks on the day.
Gerard got the better of his regular double’s partner, Frenchman Stephane Houdet, in his debut in the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open. The 26-year-old dispatched the number one seed and defending champion 7-5 6-3.
Peifer shocked second seed Gustavo Fernandez from Argentina in straight sets 6-4 6-1.
Gerard will be the favourite heading into the 20th head-to-head clash against Peifer, having beaten the Frenchman 14 times in 19 previous encounters.
On Friday, Montjane was court side to cheer on world number four Sithole, who won his quad singles semi-final against fourth-seed Anthony Cotterill from Great Britain.
Not surprisingly, Sithole returned the favour and added his voice to the chorus of local fans who cheered Montjane on to victory.
“Now we are both just one match away from winning our first tournaments of the year,” said Sithole, who will go head-to-head with world number one and defending champion David Wagner from the United States.
“We will both face tough opponents, but it is fantastic to have two South Africans in the finals. Win or lose, this is an IITF Grade 1 UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour tournament, so we both will earn good points for making the finals.
“That will definitely boost both our world rankings and it gives us great confidence ahead of the Super Series Airports Company South Africa SA Open next week.”
The men’s singles final will start at 09h00, followed by the women’s singles and quad singles finals.


PREPARATIONS FOR WORLD CUP START IN STELLENBOSCH NEXT WEEK

Pretoria, South Africa - The Spar national netball team is to meet at the Stellenbosch Sports Centre for an intensive training camp from Monday to Saturday next week.

South Africa has been invited to participate in the European Netball Championships in Belfast, Northern Ireland, from May 11 to 18. The other countries taking part are England, Northern Ireland, Trinidad and Tobago, Scotland and Wales. England are ranked third in the world, behind Australia and New Zealand, and head coach Benny Saayman is excited about the prospect of gauging South Africa’s strengths against one of the top teams ahead of the Netball World Cup in Sydney, Australia, in August.

“The other teams are also quite strong, so we will be able to see where we stand and what we still need to do,” said Saayman.
“It is very important to us to play against strong opposition, because we will meet both Australia and New Zealand at the World Cup.”

She said the training camp would be used to hone the players’ basic skills before giving them game time.
“We’ll break it down to different aspects of the game and work on those until they are second nature,” she said.
“Once we’ve done that we can start playing again.”

The squad will also spend time with Dr Sherylle Calder, who is renowned for the success of her specialised Eye Gym, which helped England and South Africa to win the Rugby World Cup in 2003 and 2007 respectively. The eye training helps players react faster to situations on court.
Three players, national captain Maryke Holtzhausen, Bongiwe Msomi and Phumza Maweni are currently playing Super League netball in England. Saayman said that if they were selected for the squad for the tournament in Ireland, they would join the rest of the squad at the pre-departure training camp from May 4 to 8.


MONTJANE AND SITHOLE GEARED FOR WEEKEND SHOWDOWNS

Benoni, South Africa – South Africa’s top ranked Kgothatso ‘KG’ Montjane and Lucas Sithole remain on course for repeat success after both players came through the third day of the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open with flying colours on Friday.
Sithole, the world number four and South Africa’s number one ranked quad singles player, met with little resistance from fourth-seed Anthony Cotterill and comfortably beat the Brit 6-0 6-3 to make Sunday’s final.

Kgothatso Montjane, the 4th seed of South Africa in action against Kaitlyn Verfuerth (USA) in the women’s quarterfinals during day 3 of the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open at the Gauteng East Tennis Complex on April 10, 2015 in Benoni South Africa on Friday.

Lucas Sithole, the number 2 seed of South Africa in action against Anthony Cotterill (GBR) in the quads semi-finals during day 3 of the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open at the Gauteng East Tennis Complex on April 10, 2015 in Benoni South Africa.

Picture credit: Reg Caldecott


The South African will play defending champion David Wagner, who didn’t have to hit a single shot to reach the final after fellow American Greg Hasterok from America withdrew with a forearm injury.
Sithole is geared up for his 27th head-to-head clash with the world number one.
“I beat David for the US Open title in 2013, so I’m definitely not intimidated by him,” a confident Sithole said. “I was a little rusty coming into the tournament, but the match against Anthony today went exactly to plan. I feel fit and well prepared for Sunday.”
Montjane was 5-3 down in the first set but mounted a fabulous comeback in her women’s singles quarter-final against Kaitlyn Verfuerth to defeat the American 7-6(4) 6-0.
“Kaitlyn dominated the first set because I played too defensively, but I dug in and I turned things around,” Montjane said.
“I got really aggressive in the second set and didn’t give her a chance to play to her strengths. That’s exactly how I plan to play on Saturday.”
Montjane will go up against defending champion and first seed Sabine Ellerbrock from Germany ,who defeated fifth seed Francisca Mardones from Chile 6-4 6-3.
The South African won the prestigious ITF1 UNQLO International Wheelchair Tour event in 2012 and 2013, but was beaten by Ellerbrock in the final last year.
In fact, the pair have gone head-to-head 13 times and the German has beaten Montjane in six quarter-finals, five semi-finals and in the final round of the 2011 Airports Company South Africa SA Open.
Just two weeks ago, Ellerbrock ousted Montjane in the Cajun Open quarter-final, but the world number nine does not see herself as the underdog.
Montjane believes she is fitter, sharper and mentally much stronger and she is fired up for the match.
“I know exactly where I went wrong against Sabine in America,” Montjane said. “I was struggling with my serve and I left a lot of shots short. She nailed me on it, but my serve is working well and I am really focused. This time around, I am ready for her.
“I need to win the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open to boost my world ranking points and that is really motivating me to push myself even harder.”
Second seed Marjolein Buis from the Netherlands beat eighth seed Miho Nijo 7-5 6-2 and will meet sixth seed Charlotte Famin, who caused the first upset of the event when she toppled Germany’s Katherina Kruger in three sets 6-7(4), 6-0 6-4.
Doubles partners Stephane Houdet from France and Joachim Gerard from Belgium will put their friendship aside when they battle it out in the first Mens Singles semi-final.
Houdet, the number one seed and defending champion, defeated sixth seed Takashi Sanada from Japan 4-6 6-4 6-1, while Gerard dispatched eighth-seed Stefan Olsson from Sweden 6-3 6-3.
Frenchman Nicolas Peifer, seeded fourth, will meet second seed Gustavo Fernandez from Argentina in the second semi-final.
Peifer advanced when he defeated seventh-seed Tom Egberink from the Netherlands 6-3 6-4, while Fernandez bounced back from a 5-7 loss in the first set to beat the fifth seed 6-2 6-2.
The womens singles semi-finals start at 09h00, followed by the mens singles finals.


MONTJANE AND SITHOLE HOLD COURSE AS MARIPA EXITS

Benoni, South Africa - Former world number one Maikel Scheffers from the Netherlands crushed South African hopes with a straight set victory over Evans Maripa in the second round of the Mens Singles of the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open in Benoni on Thursday.
Maripa, the country’s number one ranked player, bowed out to the fifth seed 7-6 (5) 6-4 on a day when the seeds dominated events at the Gauteng East Tennis Centre.

Evans Maripa of South Africa in action against Maikel Scheffers Netherlands in the second round of the men’s singles during day 2 of the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open at the Gauteng East Tennis Complex on Thursday.

Kgothatso Montjane, the 4th seed of South Africa in action against Thando Hlatswayo also of South Africa in the first round of the women’s singles during day 2 of the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open at the Gauteng East Tennis Complex on Thursday.
Pictures credit: Reg Caldecott


Despite the loss, the 24-year-old Maripa was remarkably upbeat about his performance.
“I lost 6-0 6-1 to Maikel in the Pensacola Open in the United States in March, so I am very excited that I pushed him to a tie break and stayed with him in the second set,” Maripa said.
“I’m playing much better and every time you go up against a top player like Maikel, it adds to your level of experience. I know I lost the match because I lost focus and I put myself under too much pressure. Instead of trying so hard, I need to turn the pressure into positive energy. I feel good about my performance, though, and now I just want to focus on the doubles.”
Scheffers was surprised at the marked improvement Maripa showed since their last encounter.
“I think Evans is close to a breakthrough,” Scheffers said. “He played some fantastic long shots on his back hand and was very aggressive. He really took me by surprise this morning. I didn’t play at my absolute best, but he was a formidable opponent.
“With a bit more experience, he is going to become a world class player and tough to beat.”
Scheffers will face Argentinean Gustavo Fernandez in the quarter-finals, whom he has beaten five times in eight encounters. The number two seed defeated Frenchman Frederick Cattaneo 6-4 6-4.
Defending champion and first seed Stephane Houdet from France beat Takuya Miki from Japan 6-4 6-4 to join Joachim Gerard from Belgium (3), Frenchman Nicolas Peifer (4), Takashi Sanada from Japan (6), Dutchman Tom Egberink (7) and Swede Stefan Olsson (8) in the quarter-finals.
With Maripa out of race for glory, it will be up to 2013 Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open champions, KG Montjane and Lucas Sithole, to fly the flag for South Africa.
Montjane barely had time to break a sweat to win her 52-minute match against fellow South African Thando Hlatshwayo 6-1 6-0.
Seeded fourth, the world number nine is on the same side of the draw as Germany’s Sabine Ellerbrock and is destined to meet the defending champion and first seed in the semi-final.
Montjane will face American Kaitlyn Verfuerth in the quarter-finals, who needed three sets to get past Ludmila Bubnova from Russia 6-4 1-6 6-1.
“I beat Kaitlyn in three sets at the Cajun Open last month, so it’s great that I play her again,” said Montjane “It will be good to have a tough match to prepare for Sabine. She beat me in straight sets after I made the quarter-finals in Baton Rouge, but I am definitely in better shape now.
“A solid performance against Kaitlyn will be a good for the confidence.”
In addition to Ellerbrock, who defeated Mariska Venter 6-3 6-0, Dutch player Marjolein Buis (2), Germany’s Katherina Kruger (3), Chilean Francisca Mardones (5), Charlotte Famin from France (6) and Miho Nijo from Japan, seeded eighth, also advanced to the quarter-finals.
In the Quad Division, world number one David Wagner will go head-to-head with Greg Hasterok, the third seed, in an all-American semi-final.
Sithole, the second seed, scored a straight set victory against compatriot Queen Nlapo (6-0 6-0) to set up a clash with fourth-seeded Anthony Cotterill from Great Britain.
World number four Sithole has an unbeaten record of eight victories against the Brit since their first tussle in 2010, while Hasterok has never beaten Wagner in 11 previous contests.
Wagner dispatched Anders Hard from Sweden 6-2 6-0, Hasterok won in straight sets against Thomas Huguernin 7-5 6-2, but Cotterill had a real fight on his hands to defeat Itay Erenlib from Israel.
The American won the first set 7-5 (2), lost the second 5-7 and claimed the final set 6-3 for victory.
Play starts at 09h00.


HEADSTART FOR MAPASEKA MAKHANYA

Johannesburg, South Africa - The ebullient Mapaseka Makhanya (Nedbank) has given herself a head start in the chase for SPAR Women’s Challenge Grand Prix points.

Mapaseka Makhanya (Left), Rene Kalmer: Rene Kalmer (Middle), Rutendo Nyahora: Rutendo Nyahora (Right), Lebogang Phalula: Lebogang Phalula (Back)
Picture credit: Reg Caldecott


Makhanya, who won the Grand Prix title in 2013, amassed 30 points in the Cape Town Challenge last month, winning the race in record time to pick up 30 valuable Grand Prix points – 20 for winning and 10 for her record time.
The Cape Town Challenge race is the first in the five race Challenge series, in which South Africa’s elite roadrunners compete for the Grand Prix title. The runner with the most points after all five races this year will walk away with a whopping R150 000.

Her nearest rival is Lebogang Phalula of Transnet, who has 18 points after finishing third in the Cape Town race. Rutendo Nyahora, who came second in Cape Town, is not eligible for Grand Prix points, because she is not a South African citizen.

Last year’s Grand Prix winner, Phalula’s twin sister Diana-Lebo, did not compete in Cape Town because she was representing South Africa at the world cross-country championships in China.

Three-times Grand Prix winner, Rene Kalmer, finished fourth in Cape Town, and has 17 points, while her sister Christine, has 16 points after finishing in fifth place.

Although Makhanya has a head start, she will be aware that she will have to fight for every point. A week after her victory in Cape Town, Lebogang Phalula beat her to the finishing post in the Two Oceans Half Marathon, while Lebogang’s twin sister Diana-Lebo finished in third place.

Competition in the remaining four Challenge races is likely to be stiff, with the Phalula and Kalmer sisters all determined not to allow Makhanya to have things all her own way.

2015 is an important year for all the top runners, who are either trying to qualify for the world athletics championships in Beijing in August, or for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next year.

“We’re all very grateful to SPAR for these wonderful races and for the Grand Prix,” said Makhanya.

“I think we all enjoy running against the best in the country in these women’s races. It is a wonderful feeling to cross the finishing line first, and know that it’s all about you, and not to be surrounded by men who want to run with you,” she said.

“I definitely want to reclaim my title in October, and I’ll be running as many Challenge races as I can.”
The second race takes place in Port Elizabeth on Saturday May 9.


TOP SEEDS DOMINATE AT AIRPORTS COMPANY SOUTH AFRICA GAUTENG OPEN

Benoni, South Africa - , 8 April 2015 – South Africa’s top wheelchair tennis aces Evans Maripa and Lucas Sithole cleared the first hurdle in the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open in Benoni on Tuesday.
Both South African Paralympian’s claimed straight set victories in the first round at the Gauteng East Tennis Centre, while Men’s defending champion Stephane Houdet from France and 2014 Quad winner David Wagner from the United States also enjoyed success on the first day of the UNQLO International Wheelchair Tour event.

Stephane Houdet, the top seed of France in action against Ricky Molier Netherlands in the first round of the men’s singles during day 1 of the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open at the Gauteng East Tennis Complex on Wednesday.

Sithole11: Lucas Sithole, the second seed of South Africa in action against Ymanitu Silva of Brazil in the first round of the quads singles during day 1 of the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open at the Gauteng East Tennis Complex on Wednesday.
Pictures credit: Reg Caldecott


Maripa defeated compatriot Patrick Selepe 6-2 6-0 in the Men’s Singles, while Sithole beat Ymanitu Silva from Brazil 7-5 6-1.
World number four Sithole was made to work in the first set, but the South African controlled the second set and sent the Brazilian packing.
“I was a little tight at the start, but I loosened up in the second set and found rhythm and pace,” said the 2013 champion, who is targeting repeat success in Benoni.
“I had some personal stuff going on and didn’t compete in as many international events last year. I slipped from second to fourth in rankings because I didn’t defend my points.
“My aim this year is to get back up the rankings and the chase starts this week.”

Houdet, who is testing a new chair, dispatched Dutch player Ricky Molier 6-1 6-0 and was equally pleased to get his title defence off to a positive start.
“I am happy that the new chair performed very well,” said the top seed.
“This chair has been years in a making. It is a carbon-fibre chair that allows me to stand on my knees and that puts me in a similar position to when I was playing able-bodied tennis.
“I have a lot more movement. It is early, though, and it will be interesting to see how the chair and I hold up against the top seeds later this week.”
World number one Wagner only arrived in South Africa late on Tuesday, but showed no signs of jet lag as he romped to a 6-1 6-0 victory against Sebastian Jance from France in the Quad Singles.

Meanwhile former top SA juniors Mariska Venter and Thando Hlatshwayo celebrated successful debuts in the Women’s Singles.
Hlatshwayo defeated Nomo-Afrika Gxumisa 6-1 6-0, while Venter won by the same margin against Tsholofele Sibanda.
Both rookies will face formidable opponents in the second round, but the prospect of battling two former champions did little to diminish their confidence.
Hlatshwayo will play 2013 champion and world number nine KG Montjane, while Verwey goes head-to-head with top seed Sabine Ellerbrock from Germany, the winner in 2014.
“We will probably both get beaten, but just don’t expect us to play like losers,” Hlatshwayo said.
“This is a great opportunity for Mariska and me to get experience against world class players. We are going to make the most of this chance.”

Verwey held the number one spot in the World Junior Girls Ranking last year and is currently ranked 40th in the ITF Wheelchair Tennis Womens World Ranking.
“This is a real chance to test ourselves and to gain experience,” the 18-year-old Ermelo player said.
“The matches will show our strengths, but also highlight our weaknesses. Thando and I will be competing internationally in May and I think it is really good to see what works doesn’t work well, so we can concentrate on these aspects before we leave.”
All the doubles matches had to be moved to Thursday morning after a heavy deluge forced organisers to suspend play at 14h45.


TOP JUNIOR TENNIS ACTION CONTINUES IN BLOEMFONTEIN

Johannesburg, South Africa - Top junior tennis action continues in Bloemfontein with the Dunlop Free State Challenge being played from 8 to 11 April.
Following the success of the South African National Junior Tennis Championships also in Bloemfontein this past week, most of the Nationals players have opted to stay in Mangaung for the Dunlop Free State Challenge.

Free State Tennis, hosts of the tournament said that five venues would be used in the greater Bloemfontein area to play the tournament, with the Free State Tennis Stadium being the main site.
The other venues are; University of Free State, Grey College, Eunice High School and Mudd Plein Tennis Club. The Dunlop Free State Challenge is a premier tournament on the national junior tennis calendar and forms part of the elite KeyHealth Series.

The seeds for the tournament were announced as follows;

Boys
12 and under (University of Free State)

1-Tatenda Mutetwa (GE)
2-Andreas Scott (GC)
3-Tinashe Taruberekera (GC)
4-William Zulch (Bol)
5-Nikolai Hensberg (Bor)
6-Johann Coetzee (GN)
7-Evert Van Schalkwyk (GC)
8-Josh Cronje (GC)

14 and under (Grey College and Eunice High School)

1-Joubert Klopper (FS)
2-Charl Morgan (GC)
3-Dylan Smith (Bor)
4-Pierre Malan (WP)
5-Nyathi Motlojoa (FS)
6-Andrew Freel (GE)
7-Kent Joubert (GE)
8-Codie Van Schalkwyk (GC)

16 and under (Free State Stadium)

1-Jandre’ Lessing (EP)
2-Bertus Kruger (GC)
3-Cameron Petersen (GC)
4-Freddie Van Der Merwe (WP)
5-Philip Henning (FS)
6-Matthew Johnson (WP)
7-Heinrich Willemse (EP)
8-Christian Van Der Wath (EP)

Men (Mudd Plein Tennis Club)

1-Nikolai Manchev (KZN)
2-Juan-Louis Van Antwerpen (GC)
3-Ebenhaeser Von Gericke (FS)
4-Jake Weatherhead (GN)
5-Raul Stevens (GN)
6-Aj Nortje (GC)
7-Steele Greyling (WP)
8-Dane Mechali (GC)

Girls
12 and under (University of Free State)

1-Gizelle Naude (FS)
2-Maria Mostert (FS)
3-Alta Brink (Bol)
4-Maretha Burger (Bol)

14 and under (Grey College and Eunice High School)

1-Evangeline Du Toit (Bol)
2-Bianca Wolmarans (Bol)
3-Carmen Fichardt (FS)
4-Lara Van Der Merwe (NWP)
5-Makayla Loubser (WP)
6-Myah Petchey (WP)
7-Sasha Taruberekera (GC)
8-Tali Sulcas (WP)

16 and under (Free State Stadium)

1-Maja Gledic (GC)
2-Anesipho Mgcawu (GC)
3-Megan Lombardi (Bol)
4-Samantha Muller (GC)
5-Nadia Van Heerden (GE)
6-Anja Lubbe (NC)
7-Lize-Alet Morkel (Bol)
8-Naima Sagar (GC)

Women (Mudd Plein Tennis Club)

1-Nadine De Villiers (GC)
2-Mila Hartig (GN)
3-Nicole Petchey (WP)
4-Maxine Bateman (KZN)
5-Amelie Boy (KZN)
6-Tracey Bulmer (GC)
7-Morgan Dickason (Bol)
8-Casandra Metzer (GE)


SITHOLE AND MONTJANE SEEDED FOR AIRPORTS COMPANY SOUTH AFRICA GAUTENG OPEN

Johannesburg, South Africa - South African Wheelchair tennis aces Lucas Sithole and Kgothatso (KG) Montjane have both been seeded in the top four of their respective divisions for this week’s Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open to be played in Benoni from the 8 to 12 April.

Sithole has been seeded second in the quads division behind top seeded world number one David Wagner of the USA who Sithole should meet in Sundays final if all goes according to plan.

Montjane has been seeded four in the women’s singles. Sabine Ellabrooke of Germany is the top seed in the women’s singles followed by Marjolein Buis of Netherlands with Katherine Kruger of Germany seeded three.

The only other South African seeded in the tournament is Bongani Dlamini of KwaZulu-Natal who has been seeded sixth in the quads division.

World number two Stephane Houdet of France has been named the top seed in the men’s singles with Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina seeded to meet Houdet in the final.
Joachim Gerard Belgium is the third men’s seed with Michael Nicolas Peifer of France seeded four.

The draw for the tournament was conducted on Tuesday afternoon by tournament referee Mxolisi Matyolo with South African top men’s singles player Evans Maripa and Amir Levi of Israel in attendance.

Being seeded, Sithole and Montjane will not play on the opening day tomorrow (Wednesday) and will get their campaign underway on Thursday. However Maripa will be in action on Wednesday.

Play starts at 09h00 tomorrow (Wednesday) at the Gauteng East Tennis Complex in Benoni Lake.

The seeds announced are as follows;

Men
1-Stephane Houdet (Fra)
2-Gustavo Fernandez (Arg)
3-Joachim Gerard (Bel)
4-Nicolas Peifer (Fra)
5-Maikel Scheffers (Ned)
6-Takashi Sanada (Jpn)
7-Tom Egberink (Ned)
8-Stefan Olsson (Swe)

Women
1-Sabine Ellerbrock (Ger)
2-Marjolein Buis (Ned)
3-Katharina Kruger (Ger)
4-Kgothatso Montjane (RSA)
5-Francisca Mardones (Chi)
6-Charlotte Famin (Fra)
7-Kaitlyn Verfuerth (USA)
8-Miho Nijo (Jpn)

Quads
1-David Wagner (USA)
2-Lucas Sithole (RSA)
3-Greg Hasterok (USA)
4-Antony Cotterill (GBR)
5-Anders Hard (Swe)
6-Bomgani Dlamini (RSA)
7-Ymanitu Silva (Bra)
8-Itay Erenlib (Isr)


SOUTH AFRICAN PLAYERS READY FOR INTERNATIONAL CHALLENGE

Johannesburg, South Africa - Playing a tournament at home in front of your own fans is always an advantage. For South African wheelchair tennis stars Lucas Sithole, Evans Maripa and Kgothatso (KG) Montjane the two upcoming wheelchair tennis tournaments will give the local players a definite advantage and a chance to earn valuable points to improve their respective international world rankings.

This week the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open will be staged at the Gauteng East Tennis Complex in Benoni from 8 to 12 April this will be followed by the Airport Company South Africa SA Open hosted by the “grand old lady” of South African tennis, Ellis Park Johannesburg 14 to 18 April.

Evans Maripa of Limpopo, South Africa’s number 1 ranked player will be hoping to improve his current world ranking of 12 after both tournaments. Maripa who did not play in Benoni last year and lost in the first round in Johannesburg last year has been hard at work preparing for the events.

For Montjane also from Limpopo the opportunity of improving her world ranking is a priority to enable her to qualify for the majors this year. The South African number 1 women’s player has seen her ranking slip slightly to number 9 over the past year from her highest ever ranking of 5 (June 2013).

In 2014 Montjane did well to reach the final where she was beaten by the favoured Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany. A Week later Montjane made it as far as the semi-finals of the Super Series Airports Company South Africa SA Open. Without doubt South Africa’s number one quad player Lucas Sithole of KwaZulu-Natal will need to overcome a struggling past few months in order to reach the final or better so that Sithole can regain his position in the top 3 of the world rankings (quote from Sithole)

In Benoni Sithole will be comforted by the fact that world number three Andrew Lapthorn of Great Britain will not be in the draw. It is likely as a result that Sithole will be seeded 2 behind world number David Wagner, which should give him a chance of reaching the final there. However Lapthorn has entered the Airports Company South Africa SA Open the following week which will make Sitholes challenge for the title at Ellis Park more difficult. However Sithole has beaten both Wagner and Lapthorn in the past 3 years and if he finds his true form he should have a shot at taking the titles in both weeks.

Other than Maripa Montjane and Sithole, there will be a host of other south Africans playing both tournaments which is why wheelchair tennis south Africa decided on hosting both events to give the game a boost and it’s players opportunities.

Airports Company South Africa acting spokesperson Colin Naidoo says: “We are excited that, through these tournaments, we can give our local players an opportunity to test themselves against some of the world’s best players and possibly improve their global rankings. Obviously the first prize would be for a South African player to lift the trophy at the end of each tournament. Evans Maripa, Kgothatso Montjane and Lucas Sithole stand a chance to do so. Airports Company South Africa wishes them and the rest of the participants in the tournaments all the best.”


TOP TENNIS ACTION ON FINALS DAY IN MANGUANG

Bloemfontein, South Africa - Despite a chilly autumn Bloemfontein morning top tennis was on show when the finals of the South African Junior Championships were completed at the Free State Stadium on Easter Monday. Tournament Referee, Ephraim Motsiane was relieved to have clear skies and welcomed the sunshine on finals day after rain delayed play most of the week forcing consolation matches to be canceled and rescheduling to take place.

In the under 18 age group Gauteng Central dominated, with second seed Michael Copeland winning the boys title whilst Nadine De Villiers of captured the girls title.
Second seed Copeland of Johannesburg upset top seed Nikolai Manchev of Kwa-Zulu Natal 6-2 6-2 in his final. A “nervous” Manchev made far too may unforced errors and was a shadow of the player that got him into Monday’s final. Copeland was for to consistent which pressurized Manchev into the unforced errors.
Top seeded Nadine De Villiers of Northcliff beat second seeded Lindsay Truscott of Gauteng North 6-3 6-4 in her final.

In the under 16 age group, Damon Kesaris gave Kwa-Zulu Natal their second title when he ended the giant killing run of Jordan Sauer of Pretoria. Kesaris whitewashed Sauer 6-0 6-0 in a dominating 52 minutes. The Amamzintoti 16 year old “cruised” into the final without losing a set in four matches played and lost only eleven games throughout the week.

The girls under 16 title went to Pretoria’s Mila Hartig the second seed who lost only one game when she trounced Nicole Petchey of Western Province 6-0 6-1. Petchey was suffering from an injured toe and influenza but gave credit to her victor. “Mila played well and was on top all the time. I was excited about reaching the final but today was just not my day, I didn’t feel great on court and struggled with my ankle but it’s no excuse, credit to Mila for taking the title” said Petchey following her loss.

Three Free State players qualified for the under 14 finals giving the host province a chance of a double age group title. Top seed hometown favourite, Philip Henning continued to impress and overcame a first set scare to beat second seed Justin Liebenberg 7-5 6-3 to win his fourth national title in the past four years played (2 x under 12 and 2 x under 14). Henning, winner of the African Masters in Egypt last October is one of the brightest prospects in South African tennis, lost only nine games in reaching the final and looks well on course to deliver on his potential. The Henning win assured the host province of two titles.
“Going into the final I knew I had a good chance but towards the end of the first set felt a little bit “tight” which allowed Justin back into the set” said Henning. Henning was up a break and 5-3 when Liebenberg broke back to level the set at 5-5. Henning promptly again back and held serve to win the set. Liebenberg started well in the send set breaking early and taking a 2-0 lead. But then Henning found his grove and went up 4-2 and held on for victory. “It was tough out there and Justin played well. I feel good having being challenged but feel better having prevailed” said Henning.
In the all Free State girls under 14 final, unseeded Delien Kleinhans completed the week of her young tennis career upsetting seven seed Carmen Fichardt 6-3 6-2 in the final. Kleinhans upset two seeded players en route to the final. The win was especially impressive for Kleinhans considering she is playing in her first year and an under 14 player being a year younger than most of her opponents.

Top seeds Kholo Montsi of Gauteng North and Makayla Loubser of Western Province won the boys and girls under 12 titles. Montsi was a comfortable 6-2 6-2 winner over sixth seeded Damien Nezar of Eden whilst Loubser beat second seed Emmare Weatherhead of Gauteng North 6-1 4-6 7-6 (0) in the only three set final played on Monday.

The under 10 titles went to Marshall Hullet of Kwa-Zulu Natal and Naledi Manyube of Eden.

Clark Coetzee, Tennis South Africa Board member who conducted the prize giving said that the high standard of tennis on display in Bloemfontein was a good sign for the future of tennis in the country. “I was impressed with how well the players played this week and how they conducted themselves throughout the tournament. This is good for tennis in our country and judging from the standard of play on offer I am excited and positive about the future of the game for our country.”


DEPUTY MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT GIVES THUMBS UP TO INTERNATIONAL WHEELCHAIR TENNIS SERIES

Johannesburg, South Africa - Deputy Minister of Social Development, Honorable Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, has given her “thumbs up” to the upcoming international wheelchair tennis events to be hosted by Wheelchair Tennis South Africa and sponsored by Airports Company South Africa.

Deputy Minister of Social Development, Honorable Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu.

Picture credit: Reg Caldecott


This week some of the world’s top wheelchair tennis players will jet into the country for the South African swing of the international UNIQLO wheelchair tennis world tour. Two back to back tournaments, The Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open (8-12 April) and Airports Company South Africa SA Open (14-18 April) will be played in Benoni and Johannesburg respectively.

Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu also congratulated Wheelchair Tennis South Africa on securing the rights to host both tournaments and thanked Airports Company South Africa for their continued support to wheelchair tennis and people with disabilities in South Africa.


A TRIP TO NEW YORK FOR WHEELCHAIR TENNISGREATEST FANS

Thursday, 02 April 2015, Johannesburg, South Africa. – While the world’s top wheelchair tennis players will be battling to better their rankings at the Airports Company South Africa SA Open in Johannesburg this month, somewhere at the venue will be a panel of judges waiting to give fans a trip of a lifetime.

Wheelchair Tennis South Africa, in conjunction with Airports Company South Africa, is giving two “ Greatest Fans” an opportunity to travel with South African tennis stars to the US Open in New York in September. All they need to do to stand a chance of winning is to dress in a real Airports Company South Africa SA Open style and support the players. Do not worry, that is easy. Fans are encouraged to come out in their numbers wearing “stand-out” sporting gear to express their enthusiasm and support for the highly anticipated Airports Company South Africa SA Open, to be staged at Ellis Park Tennis Stadium from April 14-18.

Two “Greatest Fans” will need to gear up and show off their funky, creative clothing and dedication towards the tournament and that will win them the competition. They will be known as the country’s best wheelchair tennis supporters.

In order to enter the competition, entrants must dial 1201529# and follow the prompts. For more information please visit www.tennis.co.za.

The tournament events will consist of Men singles and doubles, Women singles and doubles, Quads singles and doubles and Boys and Girls (juniors) singles event and a Mixed doubles event.

“Airports Company South Africa wishes to encourage fellow South Africans to participate in this initiative and raise the awareness of wheelchair tennis. We are proud of the journey we have travelled with Wheelchair Tennis South Africa in developing the sport. By rewarding supporters of the sport with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the “Greatest Fans” Competition adds an exciting flavour to this relationship. This is a token of appreciation for the support South Africans, from all walks of life, have shown wheelchair tennis.” Says Colin Naidoo, Acting Spokesperson of Airports Company South Africa.


YOURE NEVER TOO OLD TO BE THE BEST IN THE WORLD

Johannesburg, South Africa - At 41 years of age, world top ranked wheelchair tennis player, David Wagner says “you’re never too old to be the best in the world.”

David Wagner of the USA.

Picture credit: Reg Caldecott


Speaking to the South African media from his home in California, USA on Wednesday, Wagner said he was looking forward to travelling to South Africa next week to play in the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open (Benoni 8-12 April) followed by the Airports Company South Africa SA Open (Johannesburg 14-18 April).

Wagner, the defending champion at both events said so long as he is healthy and competitive he will continue to play the game he loves and work at being the best in world wheelchair tennis.

In August of 1995 Wagner lost his ability to walk as a result of an accident in the surf off the coast of Redondo, California. The result of the accident was a broken net which damaged his spinal cord. Prior to the accident, David was a collegiate level tennis player and upon becoming paralyzed, doctors had little hope that he would ever walk again let alone play tennis. But in rehab he gained back the love for tennis and started to train again.

“I was not going to give up. I knew that I was strong enough to make a go of it so I put my best into training after the accident and go all out 1005 to be the best I could be despite being in a wheelchair” said Wagner.

Wagner’s efforts paid off, he turned professional and now travels all over the world doing what he loves, playing tennis. His schedule is demanding, playing between 15-20 tournaments annually plus the Grand Slam events and Paralympic Games. In total since turning professional Wagner has won 35 singles titles, 23 doubles titles including 14 Grand Slam titles. Wagner competed in the Paralympic Games in Athens (2004), Beijing (2008) and London (2012) winning 3 Golds, 2 Silver and 1 Bronze medals in singles and doubles.

“I enjoy training, the competition and travel and everything that comes with it” said Wagner. “I always try and play my best and drive myself to be the best I can be and put in my best effort. My love for wheelchair tennis is so great and travelling the world, winning titles and giving back to the game will hopefully inspire other wheelchair tennis players around the world.”

Wagner had full praise for Wheelchair Tennis South Africa and their sponsors Airports Company South Africa. “South Africa knows what wheelchair tennis is all about. They are doing a phenomenal job promoting the game. It’s incredible to believe that in such a short time of their existence they have over 500 players involved in wheelchair tennis. This obviously illustrates that their development programmes are on song and they have professional people running the game. The future in South Africa is bright for men and women players in wheelchairs.”

South Africa has become a good hunting ground for Wagner. “I always enjoy my time in South Africa, who put on great well organised events and have great weather complimenting their tournaments.”

Wagner said that South African Lucas Sithole would remain one of his biggest threats to defending both titles. “Lucas is a great player and champion. We have played each other a number of times and had good matches. Depending on the draw we could face each other again and I know if we play each other we will both put in our best.”

Wagner rebuked the idea that Sithole’s form over the past two years had dropped . “I don’t think Luca’s game had dropped in standard, I just think that all the quad players have stepped up their respective games and the draws are more competitive especially as the Rio Paralympics are approaching. Lucas is and will remain a major contender on the tour.”

Wagner said he was hard at work preparing for the South African swing of the world UNIQLO wheelchair tennis tour. “I played in the Pensacola Open and Cajun Classic as part of my preparation for South Africa. I have also been training with my coaches and feel strong and fit and feel 100% percent ready for South Africa.”

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