SA’S LUCAS SITHOLE WINS AUSTRALIAN OPEN DOUBLES TITLE

Thursday, 28 January 2016, Melbourne, Australia. – South Africa’s Lucas Sithole has won the wheelchair tennis quad doubles title at the Australian Open tennis tournament on Thursday in Melbourne. Sithole and partner American former world no.1 David Wagner turned back the clock to serve past second seeds Andy Lapthorne (GBR) and Dylan Alcott (AUS) 6-1 6-3 in an 1 hour battle at Melbourne Park.

Lucas Sithole
Picture credit: Tennis Australia


It is Sithole’s first Grand Slam doubles title.
“I enjoyed the match very much. It was great to play with David Wagner, it was our first match together and it was easy to play with him. I am extremely excited for taking the doubles title and again winning against Andy Lapthorne today”, said an excited Sithole.
After losing to Wagner in his opener on Wednesday, the South African world no.3 survived a three-setter test against Britain’s Andy Lapthorne in the quads singles, edging out the Brit 2-6 6-1 6-0 to keep his dream of securing a singles title alive .
The country’s top women player Kgothatso Montjane, put up a fight on Wednesday against Aniek van Koot of the Netherlands in the women’s singles, but the Dutch player snatched a 7-6 7-5 win to knock out the world no.8.
Montjane suffered another loss on Thursday after she joined forces with German partner Sabine Ellerbrock and went down 6-4 7-5 against second seeds Marjolein Buis and Yui Kamiji in the first round of the women doubles competition.


2016 – The Year of Possibilities for Netball

PRETORIA; Netball South Africa has dubbed 2016 the “Year of Possibilities” with a number of high profile developments that will drive netball towards its goal of becoming a fully professional code and the pinnacle of elite women’s sport.

Among the most significant developments are the expansion of the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League; the introduction of an international four nations tournament and the enhancing of their relationship with top international coach Australian Norma Plummer to consult on coaching in the country.

“We are very proud of where we’ve come from over the last three years during which we have taken massive strides in raising the public and media profile of the sport both on and off the court,” said Netball SA president Mimi Mthethwa. “We want to continue that growth in 2016 and beyond as we continue towards our goal of creating a fully professional women’s sport.”

In 2016, Mthethwa says domestic netball’s most significant competition, the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League will be both bigger and more entertaining as it moves from its Gauteng base, where it was staged for the past two years, to two different cities. In addition the tournament will also feature 10 teams in one division this year instead of two divisions and will run over the course of eight weeks instead of the five weeks of the previous two years.

The BFNPL will be played in two different venues instead of one. The first three weeks see the tightly-contested BFNPL taking place at the Heartfelt Arena in Tshwane, the venue that helped NSA launch the successful Diamond Challenge in 2012. The following five weeks, inclusive of semi-finals and finals see the teams battling it out in Durban.

“We want to be seen to be moving towards fulfilling our objective of taking the BFNPL to all provinces by 2018. We hope this will be possible in the ever-growing partnership and support we receive from government. Each province has been encouraged to ensure that they build an indoor facility for this purpose.

“The BFNPL has been an incredible success since its launch in 2014, setting a new standard for high performance netball in the country as well as gaining us significant increases in media and public attention,” said Mthethwa. “We’ve always wanted it to be a fully national tournament. 2016 therefore gives us the opportunity to pilot moving the BFNPL between two provinces as a start. We are confident that this will also attract more spectators and interest”.

Internationally, the inaugural Four Nations (SANZEA) tournament will see South Africa locking horns with New Zealand, England and Australia in August this year. The importance of regular international fixtures outside of Netball World Cup and Commonwealth Games is recognised by the participating nations, who are united in their goal of developing a high profile and regular international competition.

New Zealand and Australia will host the inaugural event in 2016, with the competition moving to South Africa and England, who will host the matches in early 2017.

Mthethwa said: “These are exciting times for South African netball as we are in the process of developing the most prestigious annual tournament to compliment the quadrennial Netball World Cup. The competition will be fierce and our Proteas will only improve in the company of such illustrious opponents .”

NSA will also focus on their preparations ahead of the African Qualifiers that will be held in Botswana later in the year in the hope to qualify for the U/21 World Championships that will also be hosted in Botswana next year.

Australian coach Norma Plummer will continue to assist the SPAR Proteas but her role will be enhanced to include her working with coaches across the country. Netball SA will also introduce an U/17 category at the annual SPAR National Championships, to assist in identifying talented young players at an early age.

Mthethwa said the federation’s vision for netball goes way beyond winning games and she hopes that the sport can turn professional and open more opportunities for officials.

“We want to see the BFNPL become professional, more technical officials of colour achieving top merits in order to become internationally accredited and for more coaches to religiously work with Norma Plummer starting from February,” the president said. “We are very committed to achieving the targets that we have set for ourselves and we have signed an MOU for with the Minister of Sport on the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) project that seeks to address issues of transformation.

“We are encouraged to work even harder on issues of ensuring good governance in running Netball SA. The recent reports presented by sports research firm BMI on different surveys done with sports federations put us in a very good space when we hear that the private sector is beginning to notice the hard work we do.

Mthethwa said that the findings indicating that there was growing interest among corporates to start investigating the potential of netball as a marketing and sponsorship vehicle was promising. “We just have to ensure that we are all focussed on one goal; proving to all that as women in sport we deserve to be given an opportunity,” she said. “We are always open to advice and constructive criticism because we realize that we still have a lot to learn in running the sport as a business.”

Lessons and setbacks were encountered last year and Netball SA has had their fair share of challenges.

“Not being able to get players as frequently as we would’ve liked in preparation for the World Cup was challenging and is hard to improve on. Also finding a suitable cost efficient facility for our competitions is still the biggest challenge as it means using funds meant for development on securing venues for our elite competitions,” Mthethwa said.
Netball SA has dubbed 2016 “The year of possibilities” and they will be doing what they possibly can to get fans involved in their matches. Apart from SuperSport broadcasting the games live and SABC Radio’s live match broadcasts, Netball SA will continue to prioritise its online presence and use their social media platforms to engage with fans.


SOUTH AFRICAN FED CUP TEAM ANNOUNCED

Pretoria, South Africa - Tennis South Africa (TSA) announced their strongest possible Fed Cup team for the upcoming Fed Cup Euro/Africa Zone Group 1 tie to be staged in Eilat, Israel from 3-6 February 2015.

Ilze Hattingh

Madrie Le Roux

Chanel Simmonds

Ilze Hattingh

Earl Grainger

Picture credit: BLD Communications


The team announced is; Chanel Simmonds, Ilze Hattingh, Madrie le Roux and Michelle Sammons with Earl Grainger as Captain.

South Africa will be competing in Europe/Africa Zone Group 1 for the first time since 2006 after winning promotion from Europe/Africa Zone Group 2 in Tallinn, Estonia last year.

South Africa will face the hosts Israel as well as Sweden, Portugal, Ukraine, Great Britain, Georgia, Croatia, Estonia, Turkey, Hungary, Belgium, Bulgaria and Latvia in the round-robin competition to be played at the Municipal Tennis Centre.

“It is going to be an enormous challenge competing in Group I,” said Grainger. “However I am confident the girls will do very well, we will be fighting all the way to keep the South African flag flying high.”

South African team rankings (singles/doubles);

Chanel Simmonds; Singles 318, Doubles 299
Ilze Hattingh; Singles 671, Doubles 428
Madri Le Roux; Singles 707, Doubles 583
Michelle Sammons; Singles - , Doubles 318


TEAM SOUTH AFRICA DOMINATE SOUTHERN AFRICAN JUNIOR TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS

• South African tennis juniors dominate in zonal championships

Pretoria, South Africa - South Africa dominated the International Tennis Federation Southern African Junior Championships Zonal which ended at the University of Pretoria Sports Grounds on Saturday.

Of the thirteen titles up for grabs after the weeklong event, team South Africa won twelve titles. The only title South Africa failed to capture was the Boys under 14 doubles which was won by Mauritius beating South Africa in the final.
The hosts made a clean sweep in the singles winning the boys and girls titles in the under 12, 14 and 16 age groups.

The boys singles winners were Phillip Henning (FS) under 16, Carl Roothman (Bol) under 14 and Devon Badenhorst (GN) under 12. The girls singles winners were Kaylin Bouwer (EP) under 16, Delien Kleynhans (FS) under 14 and Gabriella Broadfoot (GN) under 12.
The eleven titles secured the hosts the overall team trophy.

Ten countries were represented at the Zonal Championships which included Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Mozambique, Mauritius, Namibia plus South Africa.
South Africa will now represent the Southern African Zone in the African Junior Championships to be played at the same venue from 8 – 18 March 2016.

“ This was one of our best performances in years at the zonal championships which indicates that junior tennis in South Africa is healthy and our youth development programmes are on track” said Gavin Crookes President and Acting CEO of TSA. “ We need as the controlling body of the game to capitalise on this result so that we can produce more top world ranked junior players which will help us develop future Kevin Anderson success stories. TSA have this as a priority and are working hard at giving the junior players of our country bigger opportunities” added Crookes.


SOUTH AFRICA WELL REPRESENTED ON COURT AT THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN THIS YEAR

Johannesburg, South Africa - Other than South African tennis stars Kevin Anderson and Raven Klaasen flying the Rainbow nation flag at the first Grand Slam of 2016, three South African tennis officials will be representing the country in Melbourne at the Australian Open which starts next week.

George Phiri

Iain Smith

Pieter Hoeksma

Picture credit: Tennis South Africa

Tennis South Africa’s (TSA) Technical Manager Ian Smith, Africa’s highest ranked tennis official who heads the officiating programme at TSA is presently in Melbourne to do Review Officiating duty there.
“Being appointed to officiate at the Australian Open is a big responsibility, but an appointment that is very much appreciated and an honour to accept. Working any of the Grand Slams even once is an accomplishment as being part of the games is a wonderful experience and a privilege” said Smith

Smith is joined by three other South African officials, all Pretoria based, namely George Phiri, Charles Mehlape and Pieter Hoeksma who will have line and chair umpiring duties for the Grand Slam. Mehlape who has been based in Australia for a number of years, was nominated through the Tennis Australian officiating system but recently moved back to South Africa.

Phiri said; “Tennis Officiating is my first love and passion and to officiate in the game at the highest level is a true honour for me.”

“Only after arriving at the Australian Open site for my seventh Australian Open I realized once again how privileged I am to be part of this amazing event. After so many years I still get goosebumps when walking on court and always a little nervous for those close calls. I’m really looking forward to the next three weeks of awesome tennis experiences” beamed Hoeksma.

Tennis South African President and acting Chief Executive Officer, Gavin Crookes said; “My best wishes go the four officials all the best as they head to Melbourne to work at the opening Grand Slam of 2016. I know they will do themselves, South Africa and the game proud”
The Australian Open takes place in Australia Melbourne from 18 to 31 January 2016

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