MONTJANE SECURES SECOND US DOUBLES TITLE.

St. Louis, USA. – South African women’s leading wheelchair tennis ace Kgothatso Montjane claimed her own slice of history at the weekend with partner Macarena Cabrillana, streaking to her second US Open doubles crown at St. Louis in America.

Kgothatso Montjane
Picture credit: Reg Caldecott


The South African-Chilean duo downed Dana Mathewson (USA) and Lucy Shuker (GBR) with a stunning 6-2 4-6 6-4 win to record their major doubles title in team debut.

The 30-year-old Montjane is hitting her stride in the history books, with the Limpopo native still the first and old woman from South Africa to lift the US Open doubles trophy and her fifth International Tennis Federation (ITF) Super Series title.

I can’t explain with words what this win means to me, I was hoping to make it a double and win the singles title but I am very happy with what I have achieved”, said Montjane.

In the singles event, the world number nine cruised through to the last four without dropping a set but was outplayed by Britain’s Lucy Shuker 6-3 7-6(6).

Meanwhile, in the quads event, South African world number three Lucas Sithole was overpowered and prevented from collecting his first US Open Super Series title by American former world number one David Wagner. Sithole was eliminated in the finals on Sunday by the defending champion Wagner 7-6(4) 6-4.

In the men’s tournament, Evans Maripa faced a tough quarter-final round challenge when he went up against former world number one Japanese Shingo Kunieda. The world number 17 Maripa fought but could not match Kunieda’s fantastic form losing 6-4 6-2.

Wheelchair Tennis South Africa (WTSA) General Manager Karen Losch said: “As it is one of our aims at WTSA to develop champions, we are very proud of the achievements of our athletes and we continue to give them support. We are delighted that they have already taken a further step into the sport and in doing so have become role models for future generations.”


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.


SITHOLE CLINCH THIRD KOREA OPEN TITLE

Saturday, 06 June 2015, Seoul, Korea Republic. – South Africa’s Lucas Sithole, the world no.4 quad player, claimed his third Korea Open title, an ITF 1 Series tournament on Saturday with a 6-2 6-1 clean sweep against fourth-seeded Great Britain’s Anthony Cotterill.

After a successful prestigious BNP Paribas World Team in Turkey, it was a short rest for the country’s champion. Sithole started off well with a strong performance eliminating Kyu-Seung Kim 6-0 6-3 in the opening round. It was a mentally strong Sithole who destroyed Anders Hard in straight sets 6-1 6-0 to make his way to the semifinal round. The 28 year old Kwa-Zulu Natal ace was made to work hard for his games yesterday to dispatch Japan’s Shota Kawano in straight sets 6-4 6-2.
“I came to Seoul to win and the only way I could achieve that was to stay focused and stick to my game plan. I am very delighted for my third title here in Korea.” An unstoppable Sithole was in devastating form in the finals defeating Cotterill 6-2 6-1 to lift the 2015 Korea Open quads singles title.

In the women’s tournament, the country’s top player Kgothatso ‘KG’ Montjane withdrew before her final match on Saturday morning with a severe throat infection. Montjane was to play top-seeded Lucy Shuker of Great Britain. Despite the illness, Montjane fought hard to book a spot in the final round against Francisca Mardones of Chile and prevailed with 3-6 6-2 6-1.

South African top mens player Evans Maripa crashed out in the quarterfinal round. The 25-year-old Maripa, seeded 3 in the tournament pressed and fought but ultimately failed to escape the Korea Open quarterfinal round against 7th seed Ben Weekes. Weekes eliminated Maripa in three sets 3-6 7-6 6-1 to book a place in the semi-final round.

The players will now get rested before the start of the Daegu Open, another ITF 1 series event from 9-13 June in Daegu, Korea Republic.

Wheelchair Tennis South Africa Director and performance coach Holger Losch says, “Our players have been working very hard, and it is so good to see them reaping the rewards. We are thrilled to see Lucas Sithole claiming another title. It was unfortunate that KG Montjane couldn’t play due to illness, but despite that she performed extremely well. Participation in local and international tournaments is made possible by a munificent support by Airports Company South Africa, the official sponsor of the sport”, said Losch.


STRONG PERFORMANCE BY SOUTH AFRICA AT BNP PARIBAS WORLD TEAM CUP

Tuesday, 02 June 2015, Johannesburg, South Africa. – South Africa’s wheelchair tennis teams delivered a strong performance at the BNP Paribas World Team Cup in Turkey over the weekend, with Evans Maripa going undefeated in the men’s singles.

The South African men’s team which comprised of Evans Maripa, Leon Els, Marshall Marsh competed in the World Group II division where they finished in the second position after they lost to Spain (ESP) on Saturday’s penultimate day of the 2015 BNP Paribas World Team Cup.

The team went on to face USA in the promotion/relegation tie match where they fought hard for a place in the World Group I, the highest level of competition in the game, which features the top 12 nations in the world. Maripa tried to put South Africa ahead when he dismantled Jon Rydberg, romping to a 6-3 2-6 6-0 victory, but the Americas levelled the tie when Steve Baldwin outplayed Marshall Marsh 6-1 7-6(2) and clinched the deciding doubles match clash to beat South Africa 2-1.

Former US Open champion Lucas Sithole together with Bongani Dlamini and Danny Mohlamonyane represented the country in the quads division where they showed good form, eliminating Great Britain 3-0 on the opening day of the event but were downed by Israel and Italy. The team clinched fifth position with a decisive 2-1 over Canada in the 5/6th place play-off.

The women’s team of Kgothatso Montjane, Mariska Venter and Thando Hlatshwayo could not quite match the depth of some of the top nations and finished eighth in the open women’s division. It was the first time both Venter and Hlatshwayo participated in the open women event at the World Team Cup .

Wheelchair Tennis South Africa director Holger Losch was very thrilled by the team’s performance. “It is always such an honour for the players to represent their country especially giving the new players an opportunity to play in the premier event on the wheelchair tennis calendar”. Said Losch
“We achieved the results we expected, and are elated that the up and coming players rose to the challenge, and held their own in both the singles and the doubles events. Our teams gave it all - they played with pride, passion and commitment knowing they are not only playing for themselves, but for a team, and a country”, Losch added.

Evans Maripa, Leon Els, Kgothatso Montjane, Mariska Venter, Thando Hlatshwayo, Lucas Sithole, and Bongani Dlamini have now headed to Korea for the Korea Open, the ITF 1 series event starting today which will be followed by the Daegu Open, also a grade 1 tournament from 09 to 13 June and ITF 2 Busan Open which will also be staged in Korea from 15 June - 18 June.


MARIPA AND MONTJANE WINS ISRAEL OPEN DOUBLES TITLES

Friday, 22 May 2015, Ramat Hasharon, Israel. – It was a good day in the office for South Africa’s wheelchair tennis legends Kgothatso ‘KG’ Montjane and Evans Maripa at the Israel Open on Thursday, the ITF 2 series event staged at Ramat Hasharon, Israel.

Kg Montjane

Evans Maripa


The country’s no.1 men’s player Maripa brought his Israel Open challenge to a triumphant end when he joined forces with Marc McCarroll of the Great Britain to win the men’s doubles title. Top seeds Maripa and McCarroll clinched their first title together after a thrilling 4-6 6-4 10-7 victory over second seeds Martin Legner (AUT) and Ricky Molier (NED) to claim the title.
The 24 year old crashed out of the men’s singles draw when he was eliminated by unseeded Dutchman Rick Molier in the semi-final round. Molier took the match 7-5 6-2 to down Maripa and setup a final clash against top seed Stefan Olsson.
The country’s top ace KG Montjane and doubles partner Katharina Kruger of Germany; seeded 2 in the tournament secured the women doubles title against Netherlands’ Marjolein Buis and Michaela Spaanstra on Thursday. The pair lost the first set, but rallied to beat the Dutch top seeds 2-6 6-2 10-6 to attest the title.
In the womens singles event Montjane reached the semi-final round where she bowed out to top seed Marjolein Buis of the Netherlands. The world no.6 clinched the match 6-2 5-7 6-4 and will meet second seed Katharina Kruger of Germany in the final.
Wheelchair Tennis South Africa director Holger Losch says, “Evans Maripa and KG Montjane have made leaps and bounds over the years in the game and we are proud of their achievements in Israel. We hope that they will continue their winning streak next week in Turkey” said Losch.
Both Montjane and Maripa move on to Turkey for the prestigious 2015 BNP Paribus World Team Cup to be staged at Club Ali Bey Manavgat, Antalya from 25-31 May. They will join the three South African teams which comprises of Leon Els, Marshall Marsh (men), Mariska Venter, Thando Hlatshwayo (women) and Lucas Sithole, Bongani Dlamini, Danny Mohlamonyane (quads).


SUPERSTAR SITHOLE WIN DOUBLES TITLE IN JAPAN

Friday, 15 May 2015, Lizuka, Japan. – South African wheelchair tennis champ Lucas Sithole and doubles partner Dylan Alcott (AUS) seeded 2 caused a major upset on Friday as they toppled America’s defending champions and top seeds, David Wagner and Greg Hasterok 7-5 6-2 in the final round of the 2015 Japan Open, the third Super Series event on the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour 2015.This is the first time that Sithole and Alcott managed to defeat Wagner in a doubles final at any international event and it is the second Super Series doubles title for both Alcott and Sithole for the 2015 season.

Lucas Sithole
Lucas Sithole

Picture credits: Reg Caldecott


In the Quads Singles event Alcott ended the title defence of South Africa’s world No. 4 Lucas Sithole as the Australian second seed continued his first visit to the Japan Open with a 6-2 6-2 victory in the semi-final round on Thursday. Despite having played each other yesterday, the duo joined forces to face the top seeds and emerged victorious.
Sithole thanked the game sponsor for his win. “Dreams like these are made possible with the continued support from Airports Company South Africa, who have invested a great deal of time, effort and financial resources in South African Wheelchair Tennis” said Sithole following his win. “I was hoping to take the singles title again but I am excited that my partner Dylan and I were able to clinch the doubles title” Sithole continued.
The world no.4 quads player is now off to represent the country in the prestigious 2015 BNP Paribas World Team Cup in Turkey from 25-31 May. Sithole will be joined by Kgothatso Montjane, Evans Maripa, Leon Els, Mariska Venter, Bongani Dlamini, Marshall Marsh, Thando Hlatshwayo and Danny Mohlamonyane in the International Tennis Federation (ITF)’s flagship wheelchair tennis team event.


LUCAS SITHOLE TO DEFEND HIS TITLE AT JAPAN OPEN

Wednesday, 06 May 2015, Johannesburg, South Africa. – Top South African quads player Lucas Sithole is prepared to fight in his bid to defend his title at the Japan Open. Sithole will jet-off to Japan this weekend to play in the Japan Open, an International Tennis Federation (ITF) Super Series event part of the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour to be staged at Lizuka, Japan, from 12-17 May 2015.

In last year’s Japan Open, Sithole ended world no.1 David Wagner’s sequence of seven successive Japan Open titles when the world No. 4 clinched his first Japan Open tittle.

The country’s top player says the Airports Company South Africa SA Open victory gave him more confidence going into the tournament. “Last year’s Japan Open win and the recent title at the Airports Company South Africa SA Open gave me more confidence that I can do it. Thanks to the support of Airports Company South Africa, I am well prepared and will be looking to retain the title” said Sithole.

Sithole recorded his first Super Series title of the year when he toppled Wagner in last month’s Airports Company South Africa SA Open final as the 28-year-old fought back to prevail 3-6 6-3 6-3. Sithole will battle familiar faces such as world no.1 David Wagner for this year’s line-up, which also includes top 10 world ranked quads players such as Australian Dylan Alcott, ranked 2 globally, Brit’s Jamie Burdekin and Greg Hasterok.

Sithole will be the only player representing South Africa at the tournament which will have Men singles and doubles, Women singles and doubles, Quads singles and doubles.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.”


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.”


WILCARDS ANNOUNCED FOR THE SOUTH AFRICAN JUNIOR TENNIS NATIONALS

Bloemfontein, South Africa - The wildcards for this week’s South African Junior Tennis Nationals were announced Tuesday by Tennis South Africa (TSA).
The tournament, will be played in Bloemfontein from Wednesday 1 April with the finals being played on Monday 6 April 2015.

The wildcards are as follows;
Boys

12 and under
Justin Van Der Merwe (GN)
Jordan Gancho (GE)

14 and under
Kevin Dlamini (GC)
Chia-Wen Liu (WP)

16 and under
CJ Klopper (KZN)
James Roelofse (Bol)

18 and under
Dylan Smit (GE)
Siseko Ngubela (GC)

Girls

12 and under
Mbali Langa (GC)
Amukelani Mokone (GC)

14 and under
Hannah Plageman (KZN)
Tayla Kruger (GN)

16 and under
Cassandra Boltman (GN)
Chanelle Oosthuizen (GN)


MONTJANE, MARIPA RETURN FROM THE US FOR HOME TOURNAMENTS

Tuesday, 31 March 2015, Johannesburg, South Africa. – South Africa’s top wheelchair tennis athletes Kgothatso ‘KG’ Montjane and Evans Maripa return today from a two-tournament tour in the US. Both Montjane and Maripa recently competed in the Pensacola and Cajun Classic Open. The highlights included world number 9 women’s player, Montjane reaching the quarterfinals in both tournaments. She lost to the third seed Marjolein Buis of the Netherlands 4-6 1-6 in the 12th Annual Pensacola Open and in the Cajun Classic Open, Montjane was eliminated in the quarterfinal round by world number 4 Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany 4-6 4-6.

Kgothatso Montjane

Evans Maripa
Picture credits: Reg Caldecott


The SA No.1 man’s player, Maripa was also knocked out in the quarterfinal round of the ITF 1 Pensacola Open event by world no.7 Maikel Scheffers. Scheffers who was the runner-up in the men singles event eliminated Maripa 6-0 6-1. In the Cajun Classic Open – an ITF 1 event - Maripa was taken out by Belgium’s Joachim Gerard, 6-0 6-0.

Although a disappointing performance for both Montjane and Maripa, they were not knocked out by their rivals but players who hold top world ranking positions. South Africa’s no.1 player, the 25 year old Maripa went on to play the doubles with partner Marc McCarroll (UK) in the Cajun Classic Open and reached the semi-finals but lost to second seed Michael Jeremiasz and Nicolas Peifer 0-6 3-6.

The two ITF 1 events were warm-up tournaments for Montjane and Maripa in preparation for next month’s two top-flight domestic tournaments, starting with the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open which will take place from 8-12 April at Benoni Tennis Club.
Following the ITF 1 event, they will participate in the highly anticipated Airports Company South Africa SA Open – Super Series event to be staged at Ellis Park Tennis Stadium from April 14-18.

Montjane said both tournaments were very important to them going into home events next month where they hope to perform well. “Despite the results, it was good to play few competitive matches before home tournaments and we look forward to some great action at home.”


TOP INTERNATIONAL PLAYERS HEADING FOR SOUTH AFRICA

Johannesburg, South Africa - Good news for tennis fans is that amongst the world’s best wheelchair tennis players have entered the upcoming Airports Company South Africa international series.

David Wagner of the USA.


Wheelchair Tennis South Africa confirmed today that no less than nineteen top ten world ranked players had entered the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open (8-12 April) and Airports Company South Africa African Open (14-18 April). This includes world number one Quad player, David Wagner of the USA.
Both tournaments form part of the UNIQLO world tour with the Gauteng Open a Grade 1 and SA Open a Super Series graded event. Eighteen nations including hosts South Africa will be represented in the back to back events.

The top ratings of the two tournaments to be played in Benoni and Johannesburg respectively offer valuable world ranking points which will help the players not only with their individual world ranking but also assist them qualify for the major wheelchair tennis events including the Grand Slams.

In the men’s singles eight of the top ten players have entered with flamboyant Frenchman Stephane Houdet ranked two heading the list. Other notable names in the men’s draw are popular world number four, Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina and fifth ranked Joachim Gerard of Germany.

Houdet has won an impressive 32 singles and 60 doubles titles including 13 Grand Slam crowns. The 44 year old was also the world number one in June of 2012. Last year Houdet beat Brit Gordon Reid to win the title in Johannesburg. Reid will be absent from this year’s line-up.

South Africa’s best chance in the men’s singles will be rising star Evans Maripa of Limpopo, ranked 12 in the world. Maripa is at his career high world ranking and is hoping for a good showing in Benoni and Johannesburg to break into the world’s top ten.

In the women’s singles only four of the world’s top 10 will not be making the trip to South Africa. World number three player Jiske Griffioen of The Netherlands will spearhead the challenge. Former world number one Van Koot who reached the semifinals of this year’s Australian Open and the defending champion of the Airports Company South Africa SA Open unfortunately withdrew from her trip to South Africa on Tuesday due to injury. Kgothatso (KG) Montjane, South Africa’s top world ranked women player, will be posing a strong challenge to the top players. Ranked just inside the top ten at number nine, Montjane has beaten most of the players ranked above her at one stage in her career.

Once again there will be much interest in the Quad division where three of the world’s top four players will be in action. World number one and defending champion, David Wagner of the USA will be looking to continue his domination of the Quad’s division but as always will be strongly challenged by third ranked Andrew Lapthorne of Great Britain and South Africa’s own Lucas Sithole. Fourth ranked Sithole has been Wagner’s biggest rival since 2012 and beat Wagner to win the 2013 US Open title. But Wagner since becoming world number one in 2003 has dominated the Quads division of the game having lost only 9 matches in 44 matches played and has won every major title on offer.

KG Montjane said that it was a real honour to participate in this tournament once again. “One of the biggest challenges facing the sport is lack of publicity. We are grateful that Airports Company South Africa is on board and has placed a huge role in not only providing a platform for us to showcase our talent but to also create wider interest in the sport. The cooperation between Airports Company South Africa and Wheelchair Tennis South Africa has taken the sport to a new level”.


SITHOLE LEADS POWER5 TO ABILITY CHALLENGE VICTORY

Johannesburg. – Former US Open champion Lucas Sithole was full of praise for the organisers and sponsors of the Wheelchair Tennis Ability Challenge, after carrying his Power5 team to victory at O.R. Tambo International on Wednesday.

The winners of the 2015 Ability Challenge Power5 team, (From L-R) Lucas Sithole, Kris Reddy, the General Manager at OR Tambo International Airport, Pietie Norval, Themba Tshabalala and Eunice Khoza lift the trophy at the fourth edition of the Wheelchair Tennis Ability Challenge on Wednesday, 11 March 2015 at O.R. Tambo International Airport.
Picture by: Eugene Le Roux


Sithole joined Themba Tshabalala, Pietie Norval and Eunice Khoza as they lifted the trophy at the fourth edition of the annual event, in the build-up to the Airports Company South Africa SA Open at Ellis Park next month.
“This was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed it,” Sithole said.
“It gave people another opportunity to try wheelchair tennis and it helped give the players a bit more confidence ahead of the Airports Company South Africa SA Open.
“Holding this sort of event gives the sport a lot of exposure and we can see it growing every year, which is great for wheelchair tennis.”
The tournament, played in a Pro Set format, involved four teams each including a wheelchair tennis player, an able-bodied player, a celebrity and an Airports Company South Africa employee.
The Sport@10 squad (Thomas Mambo, Paul Anderson, Kgothatso Montjane, Aletta Ngozo) secured a 4-1 win over 702 Talkers (Udo Carelse, Leon Els, Natalie Grandin, Nomzamo Yawathi) in the first round, while the Power5 team bagged a 6-4 victory over Morning Live (Vaylen Kirtley, Jared Robinson, Evans Maripa, Sonto Masina).
Power5 went on to beat Sport@10 6-4 in a thrilling final.
Norval, a former professional able-bodied player who won the French Open mixed doubles title in 1999 and the men’s doubles silver medal at the 1992 Olympic Games, believed events like the Wheelchair Tennis Ability Challenge were crucial in building the sport.
“Getting a chance to be in a wheelchair, it shows you how hard it is for these players to move around and I have a tremendous amount of respect for them,” Norval said.
“Having Airports Company South Africa sponsoring wheelchair tennis for so many years and creating awareness like this is great for the sport of tennis in general, not just wheelchair tennis.”
Kris Reddy, the General Manager at OR Tambo International Airport, hoped the partnership between Airports Company South Africa and Wheelchair Tennis South Africa (WTSA) would continue to grow.
“It is a privilege for Airports Company South Africa to be associated with Wheelchair Tennis South Africa,” Reddy said.
“We support mobility and we wish to grow this partnership into the future as the sport continues to gain momentum.”


WHEELCHAIR TENNIS STARS OFF TO BNP PARIBAS WORLD TEAM CUP AFRICAN QUALIFICATION

Tuesday, 24 February 2015, Johannesburg, South Africa. - Wheelchair Tennis South Africa has named two teams to represent the nation in the upcoming BNP Paribas World Team Cup African Qualification tournament in Nairobi, Kenya.

The country will be represented by six players in the men’s and women’s divisions at the international event, which takes place from February 26 to March 1.The qualifying event will be played in a round robin format.

South Africa are set to face hosts Kenya, Ghana, Egypt, Morocco, Mauritius and Tanzania, with all seven teams looking to earn qualification into the BNP Paribas World Team Cup that will be held at Club Alibey Manavgat, in Turkey, from May 25 to 31. The BNP Paribas World Team Cup, which celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2015, is the ITF’s flagship wheelchair tennis event, often referred to as the Davis Cup and Fed Cup of wheelchair tennis.

South Africa’s top-ranked player in the men’s division, world No 15 Evans Maripa, will spearhead the men’s squad. Maripa, who won the Queensland Open earlier this year, will team up with Leon Els, and Sean de Hilster.

World No 9 Kgothatso ‘KG’ Montjane, the country’s top-ranked women’s player, will lead the women’s side. Montjane, who also won the Queensland Open in Brisbane last month, will be joined by Mariska Venter and Thando Hlatshwayo.

Wheelchair Tennis South Africa general manager Karen Losch was delighted that the young players in the squad would get a chance to gain valuable international experience.
“Participation in international tournaments such as the BNP Paribas World Team Cup is very important to the growth and development of our upcoming stars.” Losch said.

Wheelchair Tennis South Africa and Airports Company South Africa Partnership:
The Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) is the official sponsor of Wheelchair Tennis South Africa and the sport of wheelchair tennis. Airports Company South Africa has contributed no less than R26-million to date and has committed to a continued investment in the sport as its flagship Corporate Social Investment programme.


SOUTH AFRICANS KEEP HEADS UP IN THE SUN CITY FUTURES

Sun City, South Africa – The men’s and women’s top seeds won their opening rounds of the Sun City Futures 1 in North West Province on Tuesday.

Third seed South African Michelle Sammons in action in the first round of the women’s Sun City Futures 1 on Monday. Sammons beat Anais Isart of Spain 6-2 6-0 on Tuesday.

Sixth seed South African Ruan Roelofse powers his way through to the second round in the men’s Sun City Futures 1 in Sun City. Roelofse beat unseeded South African Lance Cohen 6-4 7-6 (6) on Tuesday.

Pictures by: BLD Communications


In the men’s singles, tournament favourite Fritz Wolmerans of South Africa had little trouble and needed less than an hour to beat fellow South African Reinhardt Trollip 6-2 6-0. Tall and strong Wolmerans used his big serve to full effect in dominating throughout.
Meanwhile men’s sixth seed, Ruan Roelofse also of South Africa had a tougher first round against countryman Lance Cohen who he overcame with a final score of 6-4 7-6 (6). “I played very well considering the conditions. As Much as I thought I was used to the conditions, today they felt harsh making it tough on myself” said Roelofse following victory.
“I always feel more support when playing at home more than pressure, also I feel that having played and won the Wilson R 100 000 Challenge last week has given me some advantage as I had some really tough games last week that put me in positions you cannot recreate in practice.”
Other South African men to win through to round two on Tuesday were second seed Tucker Vorster, eighth seeded Damon Gooch and wild card Benjamin Janse Van Rensburg.

Augusto Laranja of Brazil seeded seven lost only two games in beating local Johannes Mybugh 6-1 6-1 and now meets Zimbabwean Benjamin Lock in round two.

In the women’s singles, top seeded South African Madrie Le Roux had to come from behind and pull out all the stops in her 1-6 6-3 6-4 win over current under 18 National Junior Champion, Katie Poluta.

Third seeded Michelle Sammons kept the Rainbow nation flag flying high with an easy win over unseeded Anais Isart of Spain 6-2 6-0. “I had a bit of a struggle at first but found my range, and my game improved. I actually thought my opponent played very but I felt I was more focused and patient” said Sammons. “It is always great playing at home, the support is great and the playing conditions here at Sun City are pleasant.” Added Sammons.

Round two of the tournament will be played Wednesday from 10h00 at Sun City.


WAGNER BEATS SOUTH AFRICA’S SITHOLE TO ACSA SA OPEN GLORY

Johannesburg, South Africa – American David Wagner ended his South African safari with a victory over Lucas Sithole in the Airports Company South Africa SA Open at Ellis Park on Saturday.
In a quads final pitting the world number one and two players against each other, it was the more experienced Wagner who won 6-2 6-3.
It was a double triumph for the American, who also beat Sithole in last week’s Gauteng Open on this Airports Company South Africa international series.
But he paid tribute to the young South African as a man rapidly becoming a force in the quads division.
“I knew Lucas would have a lot of support out there, and it’s phenomenal to see that kind of support in wheelchair tennis. It’s good that they could see him playing at his best at home. But for me, this is great because I lost in the semi-finals here last year to Lucas. I know Lucas will never give up in a match so I can’t let down my guard,” said Wagner.
Sithole lost his serve in the first game of each set, but did well to save three match points before eventually succumbing.
“David played very smart tennis. I knew he was going to go all out and I gave it my best, but it didn’t work out. It’s not great losing at home because this is our biggest tournament. But I’m happy for the organisers and sponsors because this is a great event. To get the top players here motivates our young players,” said Sithole.
The significance of having so many top seeds competing in this event was also not lost on Wagner.
“I love the sport and I love what’s going on in the sport, and in countries like South Africa. I love that I get to be a small part of that and to inspire people. As long as I feel competitive and I’m enjoying it, I’ll continue to play.”
In the men’s singles final, world number two Stephane Houdet of France beat British world number three Gordon Reid 6-3 6-3 to also claim an African double following his victory in last week’s Gauteng Open.
“I played smart. I won almost all of the break points and just lost my serve once. I gave him tough balls to play,” said Houdet.
Although both he and Reid felt they could’ve delivered better tennis.
“The level of the game could’ve been better. The altitude is tough when it comes to controlling the ball, and I think we both made too many mistakes.”
Reid had his opportunities, but failed to take advantage.
“I’m very disappointed, more with the standard of the tennis and not just the result. I had my chances but if you don’t take them against a player like Stephane you’re going to get punished, and that’s what happened,” he said.
The women’s singles final saw the only upset of the day when Aniek Van Koot of The Netherlands beat world number one Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany 6-4 4-6 6-4, with Ellerbrock suffering from dehydration after the titanic battle.
“This is quite special. I didn’t expect this considering how badly I was playing at the beginning of the tournament,” said Van Koot.
In the doubles, Wagner and Sarah Hunter won the quads doubles title, beating Antony Cotterill and Andrew Lapthorne 6-1 2-6 7-6 (3).
The men’s doubles final was won by Houdet and Frederic Cattaneo, who beat Nicolas Peifer and Reid 6-3 6-1. And the women’s doubles final saw South Africa’s Kgothatso Montjane and Marjolein Buis of The Netherlands beat Van Koot and Lucy Shuker 6-0 6-1.


WHY LUCAS SITHOLE IS WORLD NUMBERMATERIAL

Johannesburg, South Africa – Lucas Sithole fell under a train at the age of 12, losing both his legs and half of his right arm. And that’s exactly why in the world of quadriplegic wheelchair tennis, he is considered one of the lucky ones.

Lucas Sithole
Photo credit: Reg Caldecott


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


WHY LUCAS SITHOLE IS WORLD NUMBERMATERIAL

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


SOUTH AFRICAN STARS THROUGH TO QUARTERS IN ACSA SA OPEN

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


MARIPA TARGETS WORLD TOP 10 SPOT IN 2014

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

Evans Maripa

Picture by: Reg Caldecott


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


WORLD WHEELCHAIR TENNIS STARS SHINE IN ACSA SA OPEN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


SCHOOLS TO BENEFIT FROM AIRPORTS COMPANY SOUTH AFRICA WHEELCHAIR TENNIS SERIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Seeds are as follows;

MEN

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

WOMEN

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

QUADS

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

JUNIORS - BOYS

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

JUNIORS - GIRLS

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


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

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


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

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


SOUTH AFRICAN STARS ON TRACK IN ACSA GAUTENG OPEN

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


SOUTH AFRICA POISED TO BECOME A WORLD FORCE IN WHEELCHAIR TENNIS

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

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


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

Live scoring available on www.tennissa.co.za


TOP SEEDS CRUISE INTO SECOND ROUND OF ACSA GAUTENG OPEN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


TOP SEEDS CRUISE INTO SECOND ROUND OF ACSA GAUTENG OPEN

DS CRUISE INTO SECOND ROUND OF ACSA GAUTENG OPEN

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

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

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

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


INTERNATIONAL WHEELCHAIR TENNIS DRAW ANNOUNCED

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

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


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

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

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

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


SEEDS ANNOUNCED FOR THE AIRPORTS COMPANY SOUTH AFRICA GAUTENG OPEN

EVANS MARIPA TO MISS FIRST LEG OF WHHELCHAIR TENNIS SWING

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

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

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

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

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

The Seeds are as follows;

MEN

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

WOMEN

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

QUADS

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

JUNIORS - BOYS

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

JUNIORS - GIRLS

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


SOUTH AFRICA CELEBRATES WHEELCHAIR TENNIS AT ABILITY CHALLENGE

Johannesburg, South Africa - The much anticipated Ability Challenge, in which top players and celebrities pitted themselves against South Africa’s wheelchair superstars, like Lucas Sithole, South African number one and world number two quad player, KG Montjane, South Africa’s top female wheelchair player, and Evans Maripa, top-ranked South African male player ended up a great success on Tuesday 8 April 2014.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Members of South Africa’s Fed Cup, Natalie Grandin, Madrie Le Roux, Natasha Fourouclas and Michelle Sammons also participated in the Challenge.

“Disabled sport is globally becoming more recognized and Airports Company South Africa have earmarked wheelchair tennis as the disability code they are committed to supporting. “We were excited and delighted to have exposed more people to wheelchair tennis and to our top wheelchair players at the Ability Challenge. We believe through the event more people appreciated the skills and performances of these players by watching them in action at iThembelihe Lsen School” said Unathi Batyashe of Airports Company South Africa.

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


SOUTH AFRICA CELEBRATES WHEELCHAIR TENNIS AT ABILITY CHALLENGE

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

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

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


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

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

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

Celebrities who have already confirmed their participation are as follows:

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

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

SuperSport presenter:
• Robert Marawa

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

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

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

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


TOP CLASS ENTRY FOR WHEELCHAIR TENNIS SERIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Participation in local and international tournaments such as these is made possible by the generous sponsorships offered by Airports Company South Africa, the official sponsor of the sport.

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


SUPERSTAR SITHOLE EYES SOUTH AFRICAN OPEN TITLE

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


TOP WHEELCHAIR TENNIS TOURNAMENTS FOR SOUTH AFRICA

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


TENNIS ACE SITHOLE SINGLES AND DOUBLES RUNNER UP AT THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN

Johannesburg, South Africa - South African Sports Star Lucas Sithole’s reached both the quads singles and doubles finals at the Australian Open Grand Slam. Although his hopes of winning his second Grand Slam in 6 months did not materialize, Sithole did SA proud. Sithole was the first wheelchair tennis player from Africa to play in both the singles and doubles final of the Australian Open.

Lulu Xingwana Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities (Left) and Fikile Mbalula Minister of Sport and recreation with Australian Open wheelchair tennis quad finalist Lucas Sithole at a press conference after his arrival from the Australian Open at OR Tambo International Airport on 27 January.

Lucas17a: Australian Open wheelchair tennis quad finalist Lucas Sithole with Lulu Xingwana Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities behind at a press conference after his arrival from the Australian Open at OR Tambo International Airport on 27 January.
Pictures by: Reg Caldecott


Unathi Batyashe-Fillis, Spokesperson for Airports Company South Africa the game sponsor of Wheelchair Tennis SA, said “Airports Company South Africa congratulates Lucas on an inspiring performance. The company is especially proud to see how its partnership with WTSA has developed and grown talent over the nine-year period since it started sponsoring the sport. WTSA is developing world-class players and has put South Africa on the global map of wheelchair sporting talent,”

Coming into the finals Wagner and Sithole had both won 2 out of the 3 round robin matches to secure their place in the quad’s final at the first Grand Slam of 2014.

In the finals, Sithole started strong, focused and determined winning the 1st set comfortably. Wagner had a great start in the 2nd set building a lead of 3-0 when Sithole realigned his concentration and nerves to level the set at 3-3. Wagner won the next two games leading 5-3 and it was Sitholes’ strong serves that got him back to 5-5 with Wagner taking the last two games to win the 2nd set 7-5. In the 3rd set the American David Wagner had an early break and took the deciding set 6-3. The final score was 3-6,7-5, 6-3 to World No 1, David Wagner (USA) giving Wagner his 3rd Australian Open title and the 1st year winning both the singles and doubles title at the Australian Open.

SA Sports Awards Coach of the Year 2013 Holger Losch, said “We are proud of Lucas for reaching his 2nd Grand Slam final. It is another milestone achieved and the experience he gained is extremely valuable. Lucas had a very successful Australian tour winning both the Apia Sydney International Open and the Melbourne Open earlier in January this year. We are excited to see what the year holds for our top South African aces Lucas Sithole, Kgothatso Montjane and Evans Maripa. I would also like to thank our game sponsor Airports Company South Africa, who without their support, these achievements would not have been possible. ”

Wheelchair Tennis South Africa and Airports Company South Africa Partnership:
Airports Company South Africa is the official sponsor of Wheelchair Tennis South Africa. The company is committed to a continued investment in the sport as its flagship Corporate Social Investment programme and through this partnership, we wish to produce more champions like Lucas ahead of the 2016 Paralympic Games. Airports Company South Africa would like to encourage more young people to be inspired by Lucas’s achievement and get involved in the sport.


SITHOLE ONE MATCH AWAY FROM AUSTRALIAN OPEN FINAL

Melbourne, Australia - South African Sports Star Lucas Sithole is a match away from his 2nd Grand slam final at the Australian Open.
The top four quads and top 8 men and women wheelchair tennis players were invited to play in the prestigious Australian Open Grand Slam event.

The top four quads players invited to the 2014 Australia Open are:

        David Wagner (USA)     World ranked no.1
        Lucas Sithole (RSA)      World ranked no.2
        Andy Lapthorne (GBR)   World ranked no.3
        Dylan Alcott (AUS)        World ranked no.21 (Wildcard entry)

As the quads draw caters for only 4 players it is played as a round robin format.

The round-robin format for the quad singles at the Grand Slams means that all four players will have to meet each other before the weekend’s finalists are decided. The top two players at the end of the three days of round-robin matches will advance to the final.

Status thus far:

Lucas Sithole, won his first round robin match against world no 3 Andy Lapthorne 6-4, 6-2 yesterday and lost to David Wagner, world no 1 today 6-7, 6-7. Sithole will still face Dylan Alcott tomorrow in his last round robin match.

Alcott lost his 1st match against Wagner 4-6, 7-6, 6-3 and defeated Lapthorne today 6-4, 5-7, 8-6. If Sithole defeats Alcott tomorrow he will secure a place in the Australian Open quads singles final. David Wagner will play Andy Lapthorne tomorrow in their last round robin matches.

In the doubles Lucas Sithole is partnered with Dylan Alcott (AUS) to play top seeds David Wagner (USA) and Andy Lapthorne (GBR) for the title today.

In the women’s division Kgothatso Montjane ranked no.6 in the world and SA Sports Awards winner for Disabled Sportswoman of the year 2013 faced top seed Sabine Ellerbrock (GER), ranked no.2 internationally, yesterday in the quarter finals where Ellerbrock won the match 6-1,6-3. Montjane and doubles partner Sabine Ellerbrock (GER) will be playing in the doubles semi-final against top seeds Yiu Kamiji (JPN) and Jordanne Whiley (GBR).
Holger Losch, Coach and Director of Wheelchair Tennis South Africa says “Both KG and Lucas have prepared well, are in good spirits, and are capable of bringing home titles. We wish them luck and offer our support to two real champions.”

Wheelchair Tennis South Africa and Airports Company South Africa Partnership:
Airports Company South Africa is the official sponsor of Wheelchair Tennis South Africa. The company is committed to a continued investment in the sport as its flagship Corporate Social Investment programme and through this partnership; the company hopes to produce more achievers like Lucas and Kgothatso ahead of the 2016 Paralympic Games and beyond. Airports Company South Africa would like to encourage more young people to be inspired by the players’ achievement and get involved in the sport.


RAMPANT SITHOLE TRUMPS WAGNER FOR US OPEN QUAD TITLE

NEW YORK – Lucas Sithole signalled a peak of his career with a maiden grand slam titles over local favourite and world number one David Wagner in a scintillating three set match. This was also a second victory over Wagner in the same week and a record fourth this year by Sithole.

Sithole’s epoch-making appearance was a first for an African and South African at a major ITF event. Signs were already there during the round robin phase of the event with the world no. 3 posting a victory over the American world no. 1. Sithole started the final on a jittery note with David Wagner stringing four games consecutively in the first set. Sithole regained composure via a service break in the second set to lead 4-3, before leading 5-3 and ultimately sealing the jovial ordeal with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory for his fourth win over Wagner this year, to complete a memorable Grand Slam maiden win.

“I was confident coming into the final,” said Sithole after ending Wagner’s bid for a third successive US Open singles title. “I’d like to thank the supporters and also David for sharing the experience with me on court. I really enjoy playing against him. He is a great player, one of the best in the quads.”

“Airports Company South Africa congratulates Lucas on an inspiring win. The company is especially proud to see how its partnership with WTSA has developed and grown talent over the nine-year period since it started sponsoring the sport. WTSA is developing world-class players and has put South Africa on the global map of wheelchair sporting talent,” says Bongani Maseko, Managing Director of Airports Company South Africa.

Lucas arrives back on Flight AA 6554(Arrival Time 06h55 from Heathrow)

In celebration of Lucas’s victory, and to welcome him home, we, together with the Deputy Minister of t Minister of Woman, Children, and Persons with a Disability, Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu would like to invite all media houses to a press conference to share this momentous celebration with all of us.

Lucas Sithole Welcome Press Conference:
Time: 08h00
Venue: Airports Company South Africa - Media Centre, International Arrivals Hall - OR Tambo Airport
RSVP: Bianca Morkel – pr@tennis.co.za or by phone on 083 386 4002
Contact onsite: Bruce Davidson 083 212 2401

Wheelchair Tennis South Africa and Airports Company South Africa Partnership:
Airports Company South Africa is the official sponsor of Wheelchair Tennis South Africa. The company is committed to a continued investment in the sport as its flagship Corporate Social Investment programme and through this partnership, we wish to produce more champions like Lucas ahead of the 2016 Paralympic Games. Airports Company South Africa would like to encourage more young people to be inspired by Lucas’s achievement and get involved in the sport.

For more information about training and wheelchair tennis as a sport, please contact Siyabulela Nkachela 0826793772 or email siya@tennis.co.za or please visit: www.tennis.co.za


MONTJANE OUSTED IN ROLAND GARROS SEMIS

Paris, France - South African wheelchair tennis ace KG Montjane has been ousted from the French Open in Paris.

Montjane was beaten in both the singles and doubles semi-finals on Thursday after a disappointing day on the red clay of Roland Garros

In the singles, Montjane went down to second seed and world number 2 Jiske Grifjoen of The Netherlands 1-6 3-6. A rather nervous Montjane lost the opening set in less than 30 minutes. In the second set, Montjane regrouped somewhat and fought hard but still never found the “groove” that has got her to the world number six ranking.

Top seeded Dutch combination of Grifjoen and Anniek van Koot then beat Montjane and her German partner, Katherina Kruger 6-1 6-1.

“It wasn’t a good day for me on court today” admitted Montjane. “I really tried my best, but could never get into my playing game. I felt I had chances especially in the second set but then could not convert them, made silly mistakes and far too many unforced errors.”


KG MONTJANE INTO THE FRENCH OPEN SEMI-FINALS

Paris, France - South African number 1 wheelchair tennis star KG Montjane has made a solid start at Roland Garros.

The Limpopo star, won her opening round match against Sharon Walraven of the Netherlands 7-6 (5) 1-6 6-4 today (Wednesday).

Montjane qualified for the elite top eight tournament due to her world ranking of six.

According to Montjane’s coach Holger Losch, Montjane won a “hard grind after the long travel but she won through”. Montjane flew on Monday from Japan to Paris on her birthday arriving at Roland Garros late evening.
In Japan, Montjane reached the semi-finals of the singles and finals of the doubles (with Marilein Buis of The Netherlands).

Montjane now moves into the semi-finals of the French Open Women’s Wheelchair Tennis Champs where she will play against second seed and world number 2 Jiske Grifjoen of Holland tomorrow (Thursday). Montjane after her singles will team up with German star Katherina Kruger in the semis of the doubles. Montjane and Kruger play top seeds Jiske Grifjoen and Anniek van Koot of The Netherlands.


MONTJANE, GRIFFIOEN REMATCH ON THE CARDS AT ACSA SA OPEN

Johannesburg, South Africa - Evans Maripa crashed out of the Men’s Singles, but Lucas Sithole will fly the flag for South Africa in the Quads quarterfinals, while compatriot KG Montjane is relishing another go at Dutch player Jiske Griffioen in the Women’s Singles semi-finals in the ACSA SA Open at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Thursday.

sithole24.jpg: Lucas Sithole the top ranked South African and 4th seed in action against Steven Kekai (RSA) in the quads 2nd round during day 2 of the
Airports Company South Africa SA Open, a part of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour, being played at the Ellis Park Tennis Complex in Johannesburg. Sithole won 6-1 6-1.
Photo by Reg Caldecott

buis26.jpg: Marjolein Buis the second seed from the Netherlands in action against Mabel Mankgele (RSA) in the women’s quarterfinals during day 2 of the
Airports Company South Africa SA Open, a part of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour, being played at the Ellis Park Tennis Complex in Johannesburg. Sithole won 6-1 6-1.
Photo by Reg Caldecott

South Africa’s number one Montjane battled and made a slow start in the opening games of her quarter-final match against Katharina Kruger from Germany on Wednesday. At 4-all, the 26-year-old took control to win the next two games and wrapped up the first set 6-4. She completely dominated the second set, breaking the German players’ serve twice to win 6-4 6-1.

Montjane went head-to-head with Griffioen in the ACSA Gauteng Open final on Sunday, but the tournament favourite and first seed folded under the South African’s strong all-round game.

Montjane lifted the title in straight sets and now has her sights trained on this week’s final in the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour Super Series event.

“I was so disappointed when I lost to Marjolien Buis in last year’s semi-final,” the world number seven said. “I’m more experienced now, though, and I believe I have the game to back a title chase this year.

“This week is a bit different. The ACSA Gauteng Open was a Grade I event, but this one is a Super Series tournament and there are a lot more world ranking points riding on this one.

“I’ll have to get past Jiske again to make the final, so you can bet I’m going to go all out. I expect Jiske to come at me with everything she’s got, but I took a lot of confidence from the victory on Sunday and ready for her.”

First seed Griffioen is also savouring a re-match with Montjane.

“I had a bye on Tuesday, but had a really good match against Mariska Venter,” said Griffioen, who knocked out the 16-year-old South African in straight sets 6-0 6-0.

KG is a tough competitor and I am expecting another tough battle between us. I feel a lot stronger this week, though, and I’m confident that I can produce the kind of game to beat her this week.”

Second seed Buis, a finalist last year, dispatched Mabel Mankgele from South Africa 6-0 6-0. The Dutch player is looking forward to her semi-final clash against third seed Lucy Shuker from Britain, who beat local player Thando Hlatswayo 6-0 6-0.

“I think both the semi-final matches are going to be quite tough, because we are all capable of beating each other,” said Buis. “Actually, I’m the smallest player in the top 10 group, but I’m mentally very tough. That’s how I reached the world number four spot. My goal this week is simple; I’m here to win.”

In the Quads Singles, world number seven and fourth seed Sithole hopes to extend his winning run against his quarterfinal opponent, Antony Cotterill from Great Britain.

“Antony and I have met five times and I’ve won each time,” a confident Sithole said courtside after defeating countryman Steven Kekai in straight sets 6-1 6-0.

“I never take anything for granted, but that knowledge does give me some confidence going into the match. Antony is a good opponent; he will test me and I look forward to a tough, challenging match with a positive result for me.”

In the other Quads Singles, world number one and first seed David Wagner got past fellow American Marc McLean 6-2 6-1, second seed Andy Lapthorne knocked out Queen Nhlapo from South Africa in 6-0 6-0, while third seed Jamie Burdekin from Great Britain retired injured and left the door open for unseeded Indian Harry Prabhu to join the other seven seeds in the last eight.

In the Men’s Singles, Maripa fought bravely but the South African number one was just not up to the challenge against former world number one and fifth seed Frenchman, Michael Jeremiasz.

In the first set, the world number 26 fought back from 2-5 down in the first set, but the Frenchman’s experienced proved too much for the 23-year-old Limpopo player.

“It was such a great experience, playing against Michael,” said Maripa, who lost 6-4 6-2. “I’m disappointed and elated. I managed to comeback and I won six games against a former world number one. He was just so much more experienced than me, but I learned a lot from the match. I’m going to throw all my energy into the doubles now.”

Maripa put his words into action when he partnered Frenchman Nicolas Peifer to a 6-2 7-5 victory over Gustavo Fernandez and Yoshinobu Fujimoto to reach the Men’s Doubles Semi-Finals.

All the other seeds advanced to the Men’s Singles Quarterfinals, including newly crowned ACSA Gauteng Men’s Singles champion Shingo Kunieda from Japan, who defeated South Africa’s Patrick Selepe 6-0 6-0.

Kunieda’s closest challenger, Stephane Houdet from France, joined the action at Ellis Park this week and made quick work of his second round match against local player Frank Ramokoatsi, winning in straight sets 6-0 6-0.

Ends

sithole24.jpg & sithole29a.jpg: Lucas Sithole the top ranked South African and 4th seed in action against Steven Kekai (RSA) in the quads 2nd round during day 2 of the
Airports Company South Africa SA Open, a part of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour, being played at the Ellis Park Tennis Complex in Johannesburg. Sithole won 6-1 6-1.
Photo by Reg Caldecott

buis26.jpg: Marjolein Buis the second seed from the Netherlands in action against Mabel Mankgele (RSA) in the women’s quarterfinals during day 2 of the
Airports Company South Africa SA Open, a part of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour, being played at the Ellis Park Tennis Complex in Johannesburg. Sithole won 6-1 6-1.
Photo by Reg Caldecott


TOUGH TEST AHEAD FOR MONTJANE, MARIPA AT ACSA SA OPEN

Johannesburg, South Africa - South Africa’s top singles players KG Montjane and Evans Maripa cleared the first hurdle at the ACSA SA Open and will join all the top seeds in Wednesday’s second round of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour Super Series event at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
World number seven Montjane beat world number three and first seed Jiske Griffioen to wrap up her second successive ACSA Gauteng Open title two days ago and was in formidable form today (Tuesday) against compatriot Rose van der Meer. The fourth seed beat Van der Meer in straight sets 6-1 6-0 and needed just 53 minutes to wrap up her victory. Her second round challenger, though, needed significantly longer.
Montjane watched with interest as Katharina Kruger from Germany quickly went 3-0 up on Christine Schoenn in the first set, but then had to fight for survival when the French player fought back to level the set. The German world number 11 battled on to take the first set 6-4 and claimed the match with a 6-3 victory in the second after an hour and 31 minutes on centre court.
“You can see why Katharina is such a tough opponent,” Montjane said. “She is such a fighter; she never gives up and you can never assume that you have beaten her until you’ve taken match point.
“She used to beat me all the time when I first started playing international events, but since I broke into the top 10 in the world, the roles have reversed. I’m definitely not over-confident, because on the day, anything can happen. My main focus will be to put her under pressure and to win the match with my service game and returns.”

The Dutch women’s singles top seed Griffioen and second seed Marjolein Buis both enjoyed a first round bye, while British third seed Lucy Shuker defeated Dipuo Molefe 6-0 6-0.
Buis will go up against Mabel Mankgele, Shuker will face Thando Thlatswayo, while Griffioen will play SA top junior Mariska Venter on Wednesday. The 16-year-old Venter is ranked fourth on the world junior rankings and was one of just four top junior girls in the world invited to compete in the Cruyff Foundation Junior Masters in France in January.

Meanwhile Maripa will also count on good serving in his second round clash with world number nine, Michael Jeremiasz. The SA number one defeated compatriot Arrie Opperman 6-0 6-0, while Jeremiasz took out South Africa’s Gift Lekhanyane with the same result. Maripa said he is preparing for a huge battle.
“It was good for me to win in straight sets without dropping a game in the first round, but I know exactly what I lies ahead,” Maripa said. “I will have to bring my A-game against Jeremiasz. “I can’t look at him and get hung up on the fact that he is ranked inside the top 10 in the world or that he made the semi-final last week. “I need to see him as just another guy I’m playing. “I have to focus on my own game. I am playing well and if I am serving well and returning well, I have a good chance of beating him.”

Newly crowned ACSA Gauteng Open champion Shingo Kunieda from Japan, second seed Frenchman Stephane Houdet and fourth seed Gordon Reid from Great Britain were among the other top seeds who advanced without dropping a game in each of their respective opening round matches.

Third seed Gustavo Fernandez from Argentina, who lost to Kunieda in the ACSA Gauteng Open final, dropped three games against South Africa’s Nyasha Mharakurwa on his way to a 6-2 6-1 win.

Ends

Attached pictures:
maripa11: Top ranked South African Evans Maripa with fans from St Peter’s
School in Johannesburg who attended the wheelchair tennis during day 1 of
the Airports Company South Africa SA Open, a part of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis
Tour, being played at the Ellis Park Tennis Complex in Johannesburg.
Photo by Reg Caldecott
maripa19e: Evans Maripa the top ranked South African in action against
Arrie Opperman (RSA) in the men’s first round during day 1 of the Airports
Company South Africa SA Open, a part of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour,
being played at the Ellis Park Tennis Complex in Johannesburg. Maripa won
6-0 6-0.
Photo by Reg Caldecott
montjane18: Kgothatso Montjane the 4th seed from South Africa in action
against Rose van der Meer (RSA) in the women’s first round during day 1 of
the Airports Company South Africa SA Open, a part of the NEC Wheelchair

For free to use pictures from the event please contact Reg Caldecott on regpics@lantic.net or 0837874749
For free to use sound bites from the event please contact Lali Stander on lalistander@gmail.com or 0829907150
For free to use news clips from the event please contact Ryan Toerien on rtoerien@mweb.co.za or 0824641856

Media Contact
BLD COMMUNICATIONS
Bruce Davidson, bruce@thebldgroup.com, +27 83 212 2401


MARIPA, SITHOLE CLEAR FIRST HURDLE AT AIRPORTS COMPANY SOUTH AFRICAN GAUTENG OPEN

The country’s top wheelchair tennis aces, Evans Maripa and Lucas Sithole, showed no effects of a two hour weather delay as both players cruised through their first round clashes at the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open in Benoni on Tuesday.

Singo Kuneida the top seed from Japan in action against Frank Ramokoatsi (RSA) on the first day of the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng wheelchair tennis open being played at the Gauteng East Tennis Complex in Benoni. Kuneida won 6-2 6-1.
Picture by Reg Caldecott

Evans Maripa the highest ranked South African men’s player in action against Xolelani Nyadeni (RSA) on the first day of the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng wheelchair tennis open being played at the Gauteng East Tennis Complex in Benoni. Maripa won 6-0 6-0.
Picture by Reg Caldecott


The South African Paralympians both claimed straight set victories at the Gauteng East Tennis Centre, where the World NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour event is being played this week.
SA number one Maripa beat countryman Xolelani Nyandeni 6-0 6-0 in the Mens Singles division, while Quads defending champion Sithole achieved the same result against countryman Nkosi Nkosanye.
Nyandeni offered very little resistance and Maripa believes his opponent might have felt a little intimidated, something he will guard against when he goes up against world number one, Shingo Kunieda of Japan, on Thursday.
“It was a pretty easy match, but that is because Xolelani is still an up-and-coming player,” Maripa said. “I think he felt a little out of his depth, a little intimidated because I came at him hard.
“I needed to work on my attacking game and my aggression with the match against Shingo coming up, but I think I might have intimidated him out of the match. It happens when you face a player with so more experience. It’s something I will need to watch against Shingo on Thursday.”
Last year Maripa reached the semi-final, but was knocked out by the eventual champion, Ben Weeks from Australia. The world number 26 would love to go all the way to the final, but he has come up against Kuneida before and knows to expect a tough match, especially after the world number one also enjoyed an easy 6-2 6-1 victory against South Africa’s Frank Ramokaotsi.
“I haven’t played against Shingo in a tournament yet, but when I competed in a couple of events in Australia in January, we practiced together for three days,” the 23-year-old Limpopo player explained.
“He is not the world number one for nothing; I did pretty well against him in practice, but it will be a different story when we meet on court. He moves really well and covers the court well. I need to play my own game and match him shot for shot if I hope to advance.”
Meanwhile world number seven Sithole could meet world number one David Wagner in the final if he can stay the course and Sithole has a little extra motivation to get there. The American derailed Sithole’s Paralympic dream when he knocked him out in the top 16 stage in London last year and the KwaZulu-Natal player would love nothing more than to turn the tables on Wagner at home.
“I always play well in front of the home crowd,” Sithole said. “If I can get past Andrew Lapthorne (Great Britain), I am going to count on the fans to spur me on in the final.
“I should have another good practice round against my countryman Bongani Dlamini in round two on Thursday, before I meet Andrew in the third round. I like to take as much as possible out of each match to prepare me for the next one. That is the best way to prepare for the semi-final and final, where the matches are long and tough.”
Meanwhile Wagner enjoyed a bye alongside the Women’s Singles division seeds and will join the action at the Gauteng East Tennis Centre on Thursday.
World number seven KJ Montjane warmed up for her title defence by spending three hours on the practice court, fine tuning a few aspects of her game. “You have to stay in it, keep your game sharp,” the SA number one said. “I would love to defend my title, but I never look too far ahead.
“I’m playing Siphokazi Fuma in my first match and it should be a good one. She is a tough competitor and the match will definitely help sharpen my game.”
In the other Mens Singles matches, the top seeds also disposed of the lower ranking South Africans in straight sets.
Second seed Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina defeated Gift Lekhanyane 6-1 6-0, third seed Gordon Reid from Great Britain knocked out Malcolm Anderson 6-0 6-1, fourth seed Michael Jeremiasz from France beat Thsepo Makwela and fifth seeded Frenchmen Nicolas Peifer downed Geoffrey Letsoalo 6-0 6-1.


SEEDS ANNOUNCED FOR THE AIRPORTS COMPANY SOUTH AFRICA GAUTENG OPEN

Johannesburg, South Africa - The seeds for the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open, part of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour were announced today. The tournament, a Grade 1 event, will be staged in Benoni at the Gauteng East Tennis Complex from tomorrow Wednesday 3 April with the finals scheduled for Sunday 7 April. Play is scheduled to start at 09h00 each day but subject to change. There is no entrance fee and safe and secure parking is available.

The Seeds are as follows;

MEN

1 Shingo Kunieda JPN (1 World Ranking)
2 Gustavo Fernandez ARG (4)
3 Gordon Reid GBR (7)
4 Michael Jeremiasz FRA (9)
5 Nicolas Peifer FRA (10)
6 Frederic Cattaneo FRA (14)
7 Miki Takuya JPN (21)
8 Yoshinobu Fujimoto JPN (25)

WOMEN

1 Jiske Griffioen NL (3 World Ranking)
2 Lucy Shuker GBR (5)
3 Kgothatso Montjane RSA (7)
4 Katharina Kruger GER (11)

QUADS

1 David Wagner USA(1 World Ranking)
2 Andrew Lapthorne GBR (3)
3 Lucas Sithole RSA (7)
4 Sarah Hunter CA (12)


JAPANESE STAR SHINGO EXCITED ABOUT PLAYING IN SOUTH AFRICA.

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

Japanese, Shingo Kunieda with his eyes on the ball.


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

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

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

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

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

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


THREE WORLD NUMBER ONE PLAYERS SET FOR SOUTH AFRICA

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


SOUTH AFRICAN PLAYERS TO BENEFIT FROM HOME DOUBLE HEADER

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


SOUTH AFRICA CELEBRATES WORLD WHEELCHAIR TENNIS DAY

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

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

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

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


SOUTH AFRICA TO HOST SUPER SERIES AND GRADE 1 WHEELCHAIR TENNIS TOURNAMENTS

Johannesburg, South Africa – Wheelchair tennis has taken off globally and South Africa is firmly planted on the international map of the sport.
In April Wheelchair Tennis South Africa will play host to two of the most important tournaments on the wheelchair tennis calendar – the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open and the Airports Company South Africa SA Open.
The ACSA Gauteng Open is one of the 13 Grade 1 events played internationally during the year and will be staged in Benoni from April 3 to 7.

That tournament, important as it is in its own right, can be viewed as a warm-up for the main event – the Airports Company South African SA Open, which is a Super Series event, one of only six that takes place globally during the year. The ACSA SA Open will be played at Ellis Park from April 9 to 13. This will be the first time a Super Series tournament will be staged on the African continent. The other five are played in Australia, Japan, France, Britain and the USA.

The Britain Open is the only other Super Series event where a Grade 1 tournament is hosted either before or after the event . The others do not even have a Grade 2 or Grade 3 tournament as a warm-up event, so the fact that South Africa will be hosting two significant tournaments in quick succession should make it most attractive for top-ranked international players to participate.

“Wheelchair Tennis SA are delighted that our ACSA SA Open has been upgraded to a Super Series event. This gives our players a golden opportunity to take on the world best in their own backyard, and believe our players are now reaching the maturity and rankings where they could even compete for the titles in at least 2 of the divisions” said Karen Losch, General Manager of Wheelchair Tennis South Africa.

Both events will have men’s and ladies draws, quads and junior events (singles and doubles). The men’s singles will comprise of a 32 draw and men’s doubles a 16 draw. The women’s singles will be a 24 draw and doubles a 12 draw. The junior and quad singles will be 16 draws and doubles an eight draw.

The entries may only close on March 6 for both events but a host of leading players have already confirmed their participation for both tournaments. Maikel Scheffers from The Netherlands is the No 3 singles player in the world and is ranked No 9 in doubles. He reached the quarterfinals of this year’s Australian Open and the semi-finals of the doubles with Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina. Scheffers will play in the men’s draw.

American David Wagner is the No 1 quad singles player in the world and is ranked No 2 in doubles. The 38-year-old won the quad section of the Australian Open.
Marjolein Buis, also from The Netherlands, will take her place in the women’s draw. The 25-year-old is ranked World No 5 in singles and reached the semis of the Australian Open and the final of the doubles with Lucy Shuker of Great Britain.

Solomon Makgale, Spokesperson for Airports Company South Africa said “We are proud to present two world class Wheelchair Tennis events that will not only showcase and assist to develop our exceptional talent, but will bring the world best players to our country.” Makgale added, “We look forward to hosting one of the premier events on the tour, and providing players with a memorable experience, and hunger to return.


WHEELCHAIR TENNIS STAR ESTHER VERGEER ANNOUNCES HER RETIREMENT

Esther Vergeer has today announced her retirement from wheelchair tennis bringing an end to the most illustrious career the sport has ever seen.

Pictures Credit: Reg Caldecott


Vergeer was recently in South Africa as spokesperson for the Johan Cruyff Foundation and visited Elandsdoorn and Johannesburg where she participated in tennis clinics sponsored by the foundation. In 2011 Vergeer was part of the victorious Dutch women team which beat second seeded Germany 2-0 to win their 24th World Team Cup title in Pretoria.
The 31-year-old Dutch star, who celebrated ten years without a defeat on the international wheelchair tennis circuit on 30 January, has been the face of her sport for more than a decade.
ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said “Esther Vergeer is a tremendous ambassador not only for tennis but also for disability sports. She is an inspiration to many. Wheelchair tennis owes her a huge debt of gratitude for her professionalism and her quality as a player. Everyone at the ITF wishes her well with her Foundation and we know that anything she chooses to do in the future will be a success. While we will certainly miss her, we will have one more chance to honour her as our ITF World Champion, for a record 13th time, at the ITF World Champions Dinner in Paris.”
Vergeer started to play wheelchair tennis at the age of 12 after surgery on her spinal cord went wrong. Her dominance of wheelchair tennis started when she became world No. 1 for the first time in 1999. She has been named ITF Wheelchair World Champion for the last 13 years, winning 169 titles and ends her career on a winning streak of 470 matches, with her last defeat coming against Australian Daniela di Toro in Sydney on 30 January 2003.
In the last 10 years Vergeer has won a total of 120 successive tournaments, beating 73 different opponents, winning 95 matches 60 60 and dropping just 18 sets of tennis. In that time she faced only one match point – against fellow countrywoman Korie Homan in the women’s gold medal match at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.
In Grand Slam play, Vergeer won every singles event she entered, racking up 21 singles titles and 23 doubles titles at the majors. She won eight Paralympic medals during her career, seven of which were gold to cement her place in the history books as a true sporting legend. She was part of the Netherlands’ team that won the World Team Cup on 12 occasions, in 1998, 2000-2009 and 2011.
Vergeer recently took part in a Johan Cruyff Foundation trip to South Africa to mark the 10th anniversary of the Cruyff Foundation’s involvement in the Wheelchair Tennis Development Fund. The week-long trip included visits to ongoing projects in Elaansdorn and Johannesburg. South Africa was one of the first countries to be supported by the Development Fund.
Esther Vergeer’s career in numbers:

Total win/loss: 700-25
Total singles titles: 148
Total doubles titles: 136
Grand Slam singles titles: 21
Grand Slam doubles titles: 23
Paralympic Medals: 8
Gold: Singles Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012,
Gold: Doubles Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 (with Maaike Smit), London 2012 (with Marjolein Buis)
Silver: Doubles Beijing 2008 (with Jiske Griffioen)
NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters Singles titles: 14
World Team Cup titles: 12
Weeks at No. 1: 668 (first reached 6 April 1999, consecutive from 2 October 2000 – 21 January 2013)
Winning streak: 470 matches from 6 February 2003 – 8 September 2012 (last date played)
ITF World Champion: 13 years 2000-2012


WHEELCHAIR TENNIS STAR ESTHER VERGEER CELEBRATES 10 YEARS UNBEATEN

Johannesburg, South Africa – Dutch wheelchair tennis star Esther Vergeer is celebrating ten years without a defeat on the international wheelchair tennis circuit today. Vergeer, 31 years old from Woerden, has won 470 consecutive matches since she was defeated by Australian Daniele di Toro in Sydney on 30 January 2003.

Esther Vergeer, the most successful wheelchair tennis player in history who owns one of the longest winning streaks ever in world sport jets into South Africa for coaching clinics as Cruyff Foundation ambassador.
Pictures Credit: Reg Caldecott


Vergeer is currently taking part in a Johann Cruyff Foundation trip to South Africa to mark the 10th anniversary of the Cruyff Foundation’s involvement in the Wheelchair Tennis Development Fund. The week-long trip will include visits to ongoing projects in Elaansdorn and Johannesburg. South Africa was one of the first countries to be supported by the Development Fund.

Vergeer started to play wheelchair tennis at the age of 12 after surgery on her spinal cord went wrong. A former national standard wheelchair basketball player, she eventually made the decision to pursue tennis instead, and played her first tournament in 1994. Vergeer became world No. 1 for the first time in 1999 and has gone on to dominate the sport winning 169 titles. She has been named ITF Wheelchair World Champion for the last 13 years.

In the last 10 years Vergeer has won a total of 120 successive tournaments, beaten 73 different opponents, won 95 matches 60 60 and dropped only 18 sets of tennis. She has faced only one match point – against fellow Dutchwoman Korie Homan in the women’s gold medal match at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.

Only one professional athlete in sporting history is known to have a longer winning streak than Vergeer. Pakistan squash player Jahangir Khan won 555 consecutive matches, although he was only undefeated for five-and-a-half years (1981-86).

Vergeer said: “I am impressed I got this far. I sometimes still cannot believe that in all these years I did not have a breakdown. I am proud and I am going to celebrate. I am pleased to link it in with visiting South Africa to celebrate the ten years of the Wheelchair Tennis Development Fund with the Cruyff Foundation.”

ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said: “Esther Vergeer is a great athlete and an even better ambassador for wheelchair tennis. Her skill and personality have helped to lift the profile of the sport around the world. This remarkable achievement is a testament to all the hard work she has put in throughout her career.”

Carole Thate, Director of the Cruyff Foundation, said: “Esther Vergeer is a role model not only as an athlete, but also in setting up her own Foundation so that she can give back to society. In collaboration with the Johan Cruyff Foundation, she has established the project ‘From Sport day to Sport club’ to help physically disabled children get acquainted with sport through sports days at schools.”

The Wheelchair Tennis Development Fund was set up in 2002 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of wheelchair tennis. The Fund aims to establish sustainable wheelchair tennis programmes in developing nations through the provision of tennis equipment and technical expertise and the identification of local partners who will take the programme to self-supporting levels. The Johan Cruyff Foundation began financing the Development Fund in 2003 and celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.


JOHAN CRUYFF FOUNDATION CELEBRATE A MILESTONE IN DEVELOPMENT

Johannesburg, South Africa – The Johan Cruyff Foundation, founded by European footballer of the century Johan Cruyff is celebrating 10 years of involvement in wheelchair tennis development by sponsoring and attending coaching clinics in Moutse Village, Elandsdoorn and Ithembelihle Special School in Primrose, Germiston from 30 January to 2 February 2013.

Esther Vergeer, the most successful wheelchair tennis player in history who owns one of the longest winning streaks ever in world sport will be coming to South Africa for coaching clinics as Cruyff Foundation ambassador.

World number one and Cruyff Foundation ambassador Esther Vergeer will be jetting into the country this week (January 30 – February 3) to meet some of the younger players and share her story.
Pictures Credit: Reg Caldecott


The Cruyff Foundation are donating R120 000-00 towards purchasing wheelchair tennis equipment and coaching for over 6 villages in the Elandsdoorn area. This sponsorship will bolster the development programme initiated by Airports Company South Africa.

The Cruyff Foundation Wheelchair Tennis Development Fund was set up in 2002 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of wheelchair tennis and aims to establish sustainable wheelchair tennis programmes in developing nations. South Africa was one of the first countries identified by the fund, and today is one of the most successful! South Africa not only participates in the BNP Paribas World Team Cup, the Cruyff Foundation International Junior Camp in Africa & Europe, the Paralympic Games, but has also hosts six international events annually. We have athletes ranked in the top 10 in the world, have the second most athletes on the world ranking, are one of three countries to have athletes compete in all three categories in the Paralympics.

World number one and Cruyff Foundation ambassador Esther Vergeer will be jetting into the country this week (January 30 – February 3) to meet some of the younger players and share her story.

Esther Vergeer is the most successful wheelchair tennis player in history and owns one of the longest winning streaks ever in world sport. By the end of 2012 she had won 470 consecutive matches since her last loss on 30 January 2003.

Vergeer is a seven-time Paralympic gold medallist, having won singles and doubles gold medals at Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004, while she won her third successive singles gold medal in 2008 in Beijing, where she was also a silver medallist in the women’s doubles.

Vergeer won her sixth and seventh Paralympic gold medals in the women’s singles and doubles events at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, which was her last competitive appearance of 2012. Vergeer’s victory in the women’s singles gold medal match at the London 2012 Paralympic Games took her unbeaten winning streak to 470 matches.

About the Cruyff Foundation
The Johan Cruyff Foundation supports and stimulates sports and play for children worldwide. Special attention is being paid to children with a physical disability as sports and play are particularly important for them.
The Cruyff Foundation supports all kind of sports projects, from street soccer to sit volleyball, from wheelchair basketball to swimming, from ice skating to horseback riding -not only in the Netherlands, but worldwide.
The Cruyff Foundation also works together with Esther Vergeer and the Esther Vergeer Foundation, organizing wheelchair tennis, basketball and athletics clinics for disabled children.

Wheelchair Tennis South Africa and Airports Company South Africa Partnership:
The Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) is the official sponsor of Wheelchair Tennis South Africa and the sport of wheelchair tennis. Airports Company South Africa has contributed no less than R26-million to date and has committed to a continued investment in the sport as its flagship Corporate Social Investment programme.
For more information please contact Siya Nkachela 082 679 3772 or email siya@tennis.co.za or please visit: www.tennis.co.za


MONTJANE SET FOR ACTION AT THE AUSTRALIA OPEN

Melbourne, Australia – The 2013 Australian Open Wheelchair Championships gets underway at Melbourne Park today (Wednesday), and is the first Grand Slam tournament on the 2013 NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour. Participation in the woman’s draw is limited to the top 8 women in the world. South Africa is therefore honoured to have Kgothatso Montjane, or KG, as she is fondly known, as a participant. She is the 1st player from the African Continent to be invited to partake in a wheelchair tennis Grand Slam event.

KG is determined to make 2013 her year and has set her sights on being the 1st African wheelchair tennis player to be ranked in the top 4 in the world. This would add to her already impressive record of firsts. In 2012 she was the 1st African wheelchair tennis player to be nominated for IPC Athlete of the month and the 1st African wheelchair tennis player to be invited to compete in the esteemed World Singles and Doubles Masters. It is clear that the sky is the limit for this phenomenal, steadfast and inspiring athlete.

The draw ceremony for the Australian Open took place on Monday 21 January 2013 where KG, currently ranked no.10 in the world drew the top seed Aniek van Koot ranked no. 2 in the world in the first round. Although a challenging draw, KG has never shyed away from competition, and is the only player in the world to have defeated Aniek in the run up to the Paralympics. Go KG, we are behind you, believe in you, and look forward to celebrating another year of firsts with you.

For more information, please contact Bianca Morkel Tel: 083 386 4002 Fax: 086 651 6664 Email: pr@tennis.co.za. Other resources worth a visit include: www.tennis.co.za; our Facebook page: WheelchairTennisSA and/or follow us on Twitter: @WCTennis.


CELEBRATING OUR INSPIRATIONAL WHEEL WOMEN

Johannesburg, South Africa – National Women’s Day, 9 August 2012 is an annual public holiday that commemorates the inspiring display of women’s courage and strength in South Africa’s history. It is a day where all South Africans join together and reminisce the memory of the great women who moulded South Africa, and a day to celebrate the women who continue to lead and inspire us forward.

Wheelchair Tennis South Africa (WTSA) are proud of our female athletes, not only for what they have accomplished personally, but for the contribution they have made in growing the sport. We, and our athletes, would not be as strong if it were not for the significant contribution and support we receive from all the women whose lives we touch, whether it is the physio’s, doctors or trainers working with the athletes, or the athletes support system of caring mothers and sisters, daughters, grandmothers, aunts, girlfriends and wife’s. Your unwavering support, and unconditional love for the athletes is greatly appreciated. It is for these reasons, and many more, we celebrate National Women’s Day.

One of WTSA’s phenomenal women is Kgothatso Montjane, South Africa’s no.1 in the Women’s division and ranked 10th internationally. “Kg” as she is fondly known, has shown strength of character, immense discipline, and unrelenting determination. She has confronted life’s challenges head on, to stand tall and be a role model we can all respect and admire. “Kg” was born with a congenital birth defect leaving her no alternative but to have her left leg amputated below the knee. She has a BSc degree and is currently studying Retail Management at UJ. Kgothatso Montjane is no will be representing South Africa at the upcoming London Paralympics at the end of August. We wish “Kg” and the other 3 WTSA players, Lucas Sithole, Evans Maripa and Sydwell Mathonsi all the best for the 2012 Paralympics. Your achievements are an inspiration.

Other inspirational women in our fold are Rose van der Meer and Celia du Toit. Rose is the winner of the recent Airports Company South Africa Soweto Open and Airports Company South Africa Polokwane Open. Rose is ranked no.2 in the Women’s division in South Africa, and no.35 internationally. Rose is a gentle but extremely driven woman. Her soft nature is complimented by a firm determination to succeed. She personifies the true essence of a woman. Celia du Toit, SA’s no.3 ranked woman is another remarkable woman. She commented that “Balancing a successful career in the banking industry, being a wife and a top wheelchair tennis player is not always easy, but is rewarding.” A car accident at the age of 14 years changed her life forever. Although the accident left her wheelchair bound, she believes it taught her to always count her blessings and go the extra mile.
Looking at role models of the future, Mariska Venter and Mabel Mankgele are two such women. They are making a statement on the court, and we believe will be an inspiration to all women in time to come.

WTSA’s Manager Karen Losch said: “Today, we celebrate and toast the contribution we as women make to our country, our employers, our families and our communities. It is often the little things we do that are forgotten, the mountains we move to create stability, the pieces we pick up and put together to mould our loved ones, and the love only a mother can give. To those women who are able to rise above this, and provide role models for us all, we salute you. To our athletes, and “Kg” in particular, continue to shine. We will watch you in London, whether you come back with a medal or not, you will always be an inspiration us. ”

Participation in local and international tournaments is made possible by a generous sponsorship from Airports Company South Africa, the official sponsor of the sport.


WTSA ATHLETES TO COMPETE AT THE ACSA LIMPOPO OPEN 25 – 29 JUNE 2012

Johannesburg, South Africa - The Airports Company South Africa Limpopo Open, which is sanctioned by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and forms part of the ITF World Wheelchair Tennis Tour, takes place from June 25 to June 29 in Polokwane.

The 2011 Winners in the Men’s, Women’s and Quad’s divisions will not be taking part this year, leaving the field wide open for the top young talented South African wheelchair tennis players. Players to watch out for are; in the men’s division South Africa’s no.2 player Sydwell Mathonsi who is no stranger to titles, nor Polokwane and will most likely take on SA’s no.1 Evans Maripa in the finals. These players, both from Limpopo, are evenly matched and both out for the title of SA’s top player. Nyasha Mharakurwa, who has joined the above two players in qualifying for the Paralympics is not to be dismissed. He too has many titles and victories over SA’s two top players, and now more than ever has something to prove.

South Africa’s Golden Girl, Kgothatso Montjane from Limpopo, currently ranked world no. 9, will be taking part in the BNP Paribas French Open; a Super Series event during this time so will not be in Polokwane to defend her title. With KG out of the draw, Rose van der Meer of Pretoria and the rising talent, an eighteen year old from Limpopo, Mabel Mankgele are pipped for the finals.

In the quad’s division, SA’s Star and world no. 7, Lucas Sithole from Kwa-zulu Natal, will be joining Kgothatso Montjane in France for the BNP French Open leaving the 2012 title open for SA’s no.2,3 and 4 players in the quad’s division. We expect a highly contested battle to see who will taste victory between David Mathebula (2), Steven Kekai (3) or newcomer Bongani Dlamini (4).

A total of 69 players will take part in the Airports Company South Africa Limpopo Open. The players will be mostly South African with a few players from Tanzania that will be taking part in the men’s division.

The top ranked South African players that will be competing are:
MEN’s Division: WOMEN’s Division:
Name and Surname SA Rank Name and Surname SA Rank
Evans Maripa 1 Rose van der Meer 3
Sydwell Mathonsi 2 Mabel Mankgele 4
Ishmael Tshipuke 5 Thandeka Dhladhla 7
Thando Hlatswayo 8

QUAD’s Division: JUNIOR’s Division:
Name and Surname SA Rank Name and Surname SA Rank
David Mathebula 2 Gift Lekhanyane 1
Steven Kekai 3 Mariska Venter 3
Bongani Dlamini 4 Sean de Hilster 4
Bonga Mbhele 5

Airports Company South Africa continues to support Wheelchair Tennis South Africa and are delighted to be hosting this event in Polokwane. The tournament gives a golden opportunity for us to showcase our local and upcoming talent. It is aptly placed around youth day, and should produce good performances from the up and coming youngsters.

Participation in local and international tournaments such as these is made possible by the generous sponsorships offered by Airports Company South Africa, the official sponsor of the sport.

Venue: Polokwane Tennis Club
Cnr Rissik & Compensatie Streets
Polokwane

Time: 09h00-16h00 daily


PARALYMPIC BOUND LUCAS SITHOLE IN FINALS AT DAEGU OPEN

Daegu, Seoul, Korea - After the emotional win and lifting the trophy at the Korea Open on June the 2nd it was back to the courts for the South African wheelchair tennis champion. The on form Newcastle, Kwazulu Natal athlete is gaining all possible experience in preparing for his 1st Paralympics later this year. The Daegu Open, an ITF 1 tournament took place from the 5th to the 9th of June and was Lucas Sithole’s next focus.

South African Star Lucas Sithole moving up his career ranking to no.7 in the world during his victory at the Daegu Open

Picture credit: Reg Caldecott


In the quads division a confident Lucas Sithole defeated Young-Mok Yu from Korea 6-0, 6-0 in the quarter finals. It was almost déjàvu for Sithole when he defeated Stephane Erismann (FRA) 6-1, 6-0 in the semifinals to face Anders Hard (SWE) in the finals for the second week in a row. It was only 2 days earlier that Sithole had defeated Anders Hard (SWE) in the finals of the Korean Open, and now had the chance of duplicating that winning sensation against the top seed. It was a hotly contested final but Hard (SWE) avenged his loss of the previous week to beat the South African Star and take the title 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-1.

Achievements, trophies and awards are nothing new for the South African Star Lucas Sithole who has now moved up to a career high ranking of no.7 in the world.

Two of SA’s young top talents in the men’s division Evans Maripa and Sydwell Mathonsi also took part in the Daegu Open. Evans Maripa currently ranked no. 31 internationally played his first match against world no.32 Lahcen Majdi (FRA), winning 7-6, 6-2. This impressive win over Majdi, had Maripa facing Takashi Sanada (JPN) ranked 11 internationally, but unfortunately experience proved too much, with Sanada taking the match 6-2, 6-2. Sydwell Mathonsi, ranked no. 40 internationally mirrored his compatriots’ performance by winning his match against Gamini Dissanayake (SRI) 6-4, 6-4. Despite a good effort from Sydwell Mathonsi he then lost to world no. 26 David Dalmasso (FRA) 7-6(4), 6-4.

WTSA’s Director and Coach Holger Losch said: “We are so proud of Lucas and his achievements, and look forward to watching this inspirational athlete at the Paralympics.”

Participation in local and international tournaments is made possible by a generous sponsorship by Airports Company South Africa, the official sponsor of the sport.


WTSAOUR YOUTH, OUR PRIDE, OUR FUTURE

Johannesburg, South Africa - On the eve of National Youth day in South Africa it is with great pride and joy that we celebrate the sporting achievements of a number of our top youths; 21 year old Evans Maripa, 25 year old Lucas Sithole, Kgothatso Montjane and Sydwell Mathonsi both 26 years old. These young inspiring athletes have excelled in their short tennis careers and have shown that no disability holds them back.

Lucas Sithole the triple amputee from Newcastle Kwazulu Natal, now ranked 7th in the world in the quads division started playing tennis in 2006. Sithole played his 1st tournament in July 2006 where he reached the quarter finals at the Amsterdam Open. In 2010 Sithole was accepted in the Wheelchair Tennis SA (WTSA) residential programme after enrolling at UJ to study Sports Management. Prior to 2010 Sithole has had no coaching. To date Lucas Sithole has won a sterling 19 singles titles with the latest being the Korea Open on 2 June 2012, the ACSA Gauteng Open on 1 May 2012 and the Be Active Adelaide Open in Australia on 15 Jan 2012. To add to his titles and awards, Lucas was voted SA Sportsman of the year with a disability in 2010 and Winner of the Gauteng Sportsman of the year with a disability in the same year. Lucas Sithole is an instinctive tennis player who dreams and aspires to be in the top 3 in the world and represent SA at the Paralympic Games. At the end of August this year Lucas Sithole will be realizing one of his dreams when he will represent SA at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Kgothatso Montjane hails from Seshego Polokwane, ranked 9th internationally in the women’s division in wheelchair tennis. Montjane who was born with a congenital birth defect and had to have her left leg amputated below the knee. SA’s no.1 women started playing tennis when she was 20 years old and has a BSC degree in Recreation and Leisure from the University of Venda and is currently studying Retail Business Management at UJ. SA’s golden girl fondly referred to as “KG”, also joined the WTSA residential programme in 2010 and has won an impressive 29 singles titles, with the latest being the ACSA Gauteng Open on 1 May 2012. KG has also recently had an impressive win over world number two Aniek van Koot (NED) in the Japan Open quarter finals, beating van Koot 46 63 62. The strong and tenacious athlete was voted SA Sports women of the year with a disability in 2010 and was runner up in the Gauteng Sports women of the year with a disability in the same year. KG is definitely one to watch at the upcoming Paralympics in London later this year.

The talented 21 year old player Evans Maripa from Lonsdale, Limpopo is ranked 31 internationally in the men’s division and is the top SA men’s player. Evans Maripa who was also born with a congenital birth defect has had both legs amputated below the knee. Inspired by South Africa’s number one women’s player, Kgothatso Montjane, Evans took up wheelchair tennis in 2007 and after only two years at the game, he won Gold at the Asia Pacific Youth Para Games in Tokyo proving himself a worthy contender at a professional level. This amazing feat has ignited a new dream in the young star: to play professional wheelchair tennis whatever it takes. Maripa’s tremendous focus and powerful forehand has ensured impressive wins over Yoshinobu Fujimoto (JPN) ranked 22 in the world and Daniel Rodriques (BRA).

The jovial Sydwell Mathonsi, 26 years young from Xikundu village Limpopo is the no.2 SA men’s player and ranked 41 internationally. Mathonsi, like Maripa was born with a congenital birth defect forcing him to have both his legs amputated below the knee. “The proudest moment in my tennis career to date was qualifying and representing SA at the Beijing Paralympics in 2008. I love tennis and I like improving the lives of other disabled South Africans. I want the young disabled to know that tennis and hard work can bring success”. Sydwell was first introduced to wheelchair tennis during his first year at varsity. He instantly felt at home on the court and hasn’t looked back since. Sydwell says the physical and mental demands of the sport are what has fascinated him and drawn his interest.The agile tennis star has graduated from the University of Venda with a BSC degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies.

WTSA’s Director and Coach Holger Losch said: “We are proud of the athletes and celebrate their successes and losses with them. The future is bright for WTSA thanks to the commitment, dedication and hard work of the tennis players and our sponsor, Airports Company South Africa.”

Participation in local and international tournaments is made possible by a generous sponsorship from Airports Company South Africa, the official sponsor of the sport.


SA’S LUCAS SITHOLE WINS KOREA OPEN

Seoul, South Korea - Wheelchair tennis champion Lucas Sithole from Newcastle, Kwazulu Natal added another trophy to his young tennis career collection by winning the Korea Open; an ITF 1 Series tournament. Lucas ranked 10 in the world earned valuable ranking points and boosted his confidence ahead of his 1st Paralympics in London 2012 later this year.

South African top Wheelchair Tennis player, Lucas Sithole on his way to clinch the Korean Open Quads singles title.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott


After a successful BNP Paribas 2012 World Team Cup that finished on the 27th of May it was a short rest for SA tennis ace Lucas Sithole. The Korean Open started at the Olympic Park Tennis Centre in Seoul on Tuesday 29 May. It was a mentally strong Sithole who faced Stephane Erismann from France in his first match of the tournament. A focused Lucas comfortably beat the 34 year old Frenchman 6-1, 6-0. This easy victory paired Lucas up against the top seed, Jamie Burdekin of Great Britain in the semi-finals. Earlier in 2012 Sithole lost to Burdekin in the final round at the Melbourne Open.
“Although I lost to Jamie earlier this year I have beaten him twice in 2011 and knew I had to be focused and stick to my game plan if I was going to win the match.” Sithole played with sheer brilliance to defeat and upset top seed Jamie Burdekin (GBR) 6-2, 6-2. It was clear that Lucas Sithole was in top form. The 3rd seed South African played his fourth NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour Quad singles final of 2012 facing 2nd seed Anders Hard from Sweden ranked 8th internationally. It was the 3rd encounter between Lucas Sithole (RSA) and Anders Hard (SWE). Sithole has a 3-0 win loss record against Hard, with the last victory being at the Florida Open in April 2012 where Lucas won 6-7(3), 6-1, 6-2. An unstoppable Lucas Sithole defeated Anders Hard once more 6-4, 6-3 to lift the Korean Open Quads single title.

WTSA’s Director and Coach Holger Losch said: “Lucas always plays to win. We are proud of his determination, courage and performance. He has been working hard, and it is so good to see he is reaping the rewards. ”
Participation in local and international tournaments is made possible by a generous sponsorship by Airports Company South Africa, the official sponsor of the sport.


SITHOLE & MONTJANE DO IT FOR SOUTH AFRICA!

Benoni, South Africa - For triple amputee, Lucas Sithole of South Africa, today’s victory at the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open in Benoni was incredibly special.

Kgothatso Montjane, the 4th seed from South Africa in action against Sharon Walraven (NED) in the women’s final at the Airports Company South Africa 2012 Gauteng Open played at the Gauteng East Tennis Centre in Benoni.

Lucas Sithole, the top seed from South Africa in action against Marco Innocenti (ITA) in the quads final at the Airports Company South Africa 2012 Gauteng Open played at the Gauteng East Tennis Centre in Benoni.

South Africa win big at the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open. Ninth best quad in the world, Lucas Sithole (left) and SA top women’s player Kgothatso Montjane wiped out the strong overseas competition, winning their respective categories at the Gauteng Open played at the Gauteng East Tennis Centre in Benoni.

Pictures by: Reg Caldecott


Ranked ninth in the world, Sithole faced experienced second seed Marco Innocenti from Italy in the Quad Singles Final of the internationally sanctioned tournament and beating the world number 10 in straight sets 6-1 7-5, has boosted Sithole’s confidence ahead of the Paralympics in London later this year.
“Marco has been among the top players in the world for at least the last 10 years and he is very experienced,” said the 25-year-old KwaZulu-Natal.
“He doesn’t move much, but is such a brilliant strategist. He knows just how to place the ball to put the pressure on his opponent and that was a great mental challenge for me.
“I move very fast on the court, but I sometimes don’t place well enough to counter a guy like that. Beating him at his own game, I feel like I now have the complete package to take to London.”
Sithole won the first set comfortably, but battled against a “settled down” Innocenti in the second.
At 5-5, a crucial passing shot by Innocenti on break point was called out by the chair umpire, which upset the Italian and gave Sithole the all-important break to lead 6-5 then serve out for victory.
“Lucas was very good, but the umpire was shocking” said Innocenti after his loss.
“But that’s the way it goes in tennis and I am happy to have got to the final and lose to a true champion like Lucas.”
South African ace KG Montjane overcame nerves and a slow start to upset second seeded Sharon Walraven of Netherlands 3-6 6-3 6-2 to lift the Womens Singles winner’s trophy.
The Limpopo fourth seed was delighted with her win, saying that she enjoyed her winning form over top ten players on South African soil.
“I was incredibly nervous during the first set, because this was a very important match for me to win,” said the 25-year-old Polokwane player.
“But, once we got into the second set and the crowd got behind me, I found my rhythm and I became more aggressive, taking the game to her.
“Once I had the match squared, I knew I could beat her in the third. But I had to fight some nerves again, trying to close the set. This has been a significant victory for me, in terms of the mental aspect of the game. Each time I beat a world top 10 player, I’m getting stronger mentally and they will start seeing me as a threat.”
Montjane enjoyed a double victory when she and doubles partner Kanako Domori from Japan defeated Walraven and Katherine Kruger from Germany in the women’s doubles 6-2 6-1.
And Kruger will be on Montjane’s radar when she and Sithole compete in the Super Series Japan Open in two weeks.
“I’ve shot up to 11th in the world rankings and I’m just 10 points below Kruger,” she said. “I’ve had her number so far this season and I’m going after her in Japan. If I can keep this winning form going, I’ll get inside the world top 10. That’s my goal for the Paralympics.”
In the men’s singles, second seeded Ben Weekes of Australia upset top seeded Japanese star, Takashi Sanada 6-2 3-6 6-4 to capture his fifth international title.
Thabang Lekhanyane of Thembisa made it two in a row when he won the junior final.
The top seed beat second seed Mabel Mankgele 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 in the all South African final to add today’s trophy to his ACSA SA Open victory last week at Ellis Park.


SUPER KG SIZZLES AT ACSA GAUTENG OPEN

Benoni, South Africa - Rising Limpopo star KG Montjane stepped up the heat in her semi-final match against on top-seed Sabine Ellerbrock from Germany and forced her way into the women’s singles final at the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open on Monday.

Kgothatso Montjane, the 4th seed from South Africa in action against Sabine Ellerbrock (GER) in the women’s semifinals at the Airports Company South Africa 2012 Gauteng Open being played at the Gauteng East Tennis Centre in Benoni.
Picture credit: Reg Caldecott


Montjane will fly the flag for South Africa alongside world number nine, Lucas Sithole, who made the final of the Mens Quads Singles on Sunday.
Montjane won the first set with ease, beating Ellerbrock 6-1 but the feisty German hit back to take the second 6-4.
But the South African turned up the pressure up on Ellerbrock in the third set and the world number five threw the towel in at 3-1 down.
“Playing Sabine Ellerbrock is like playing experience itself,” said Montjane. “She has been on the circuit for a long time and has a lot of experience. She used that today against me in the second set. It’s already tough to play an opponent who is injured, but then she also mixed up overhead and underhand serves. It caught me off guard and I had a tough time staying focussed. But in the third set I knew I had to forget about her injuries, get ruthless and I did what I set out to do.”
It was the first time Montjane beat the German since Ellerbrock won the SA Open title from her 12 months ago in a third set tie-break and the South African was thrilled about the result.
“I’m aiming to get well inside the world top 10 for the Paralympics, so getting past Sabine today means I’ll get a lot of extra points,” she said. “Now I just have to win on Tuesday and I’m definitely looking at world number nine or 10.”
Third seed Montjane expects a tough opponent in second seed Sharon Walraven. The Dutch player beat fifth seed Kanaka Domori in straight sets, 6-3 6-2, to make the final.
“I played Sharon six months ago in the United States,” she explained. However Montjane has an incredible record against top ten players on South African soil and feels “quietly confident” going into Tuesday’s final.
“Sharon also has a lot of experience and she will bring that tomorrow. But I’ve never lost against a top 10 player in South Africa. “I work hard every day to achieve on court and I’ve learned a lot playing the international circuit in the last 12 months.
“It’s great to be in another final at home and I intend to keep my record here at home in tact.”
In the Quads, top seeded Lucas Sithole enjoyed a day’s rest before his final on Tuesday.
The world number nine beat unseeded Azman Hasan of Malaysia 6-3 6-3 in the semi-finals on Sunday and will meet second seed Marco Innocenti in Tuesday’s final.
In the junior final, it will be a repeat of last week ACSA SA Open final between the two top seeds Thabang Lekhanyane and Mabel Mankgele both of South Africa. In last week tournament it was Lekhanyane who triumphed at Ellis Park.
South Africa’s last hope in the men’s singles, Evans Maripa, bowed out in his semi-final to second seed Ben Weekes of Australia.
Weekes beat the 21-year-old seventh seed 6-1 6-3 and will play top seed Takashi Sanada of Japan in the final. Sanada beat compatriot Yoshinobu Fujimoto the third seed 6-3 3-6 6-1.
It’s been a great two weeks for Maripa, ranked 47 on the world rankings, who was also a surprise semi-finalist in last week’s SA Open. When the new world ranking come out, up and coming Maripa will find himself at on all time high on the rankings which will stand him in good stead in the race for a spot at the London Paralympics.


MARIPA WHEELS HIMSELF INTO GAUTENG OPEN SEMI-FINALS

Benoni, South Africa - Rising Limpopo star Evans Maripa is through to the semi-finals of the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open in Benoni, marking his second successive semi-final in two weeks.
The 21-year-old “rallied himself” to a upset win over fourth seeded Daniel Rodrigues of Brazil 3-6 6-4 6-3 in a tough quarter final on Sunday.
Seeded seventh this week, Maripa hopes to go one better than last week’s ACSA SA Open when he comes up against second seeded Ben Weekes. The Australian needed less than an hour to beat another Brazilian, fifth seed Rafael Medeiros, in straight sets 6-1 6-1.
“I had to rally and be patient out there today,” said a delighted Maripa. “I like playing fast and I don’t like long rallies. Daniel tested my patience, especially in the first two sets. My coach told me to hang in there and put pressure on Daniel when it mattered. I did that in the final set and the game plan worked perfectly for me.”
Unfortunately luck was not on the side of Maripa’s doubles partner, Sydwell Mathonsi today. Mathonsi lost his quarter final to the tournament top seed Takashi Sanada of Japan.
The Japanese world number 10 beat Mathonsi 6-1 6-4 and will now play fellow countryman Youshinobu Fujimoto in Monday’s other semi-final.
In the women’s singles, South Africa’s KG Montjane was far too strong for seventh seeded Francisca Mardones of Chile. The fourth seed wrapped up her quarterfinal in straight sets, 6-0 6-3.
Lady luck could be on Montjane’s side as her scheduled semi-final opponent, ACSA SA Open champion and top seed Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany, appears to be injured.
The German was forced to serve underhand in her 6-1 6-1 quarterfinal match over Christine Schoenn of France and the tournament favourite battled at times in the match.
“I really struggled out there today,” Ellerbrock said. “My bicep injury was better, but I could not move backwards and so had to serve underarm. I am going to have medical treatment and see how it goes overnight. If things don’t improve, I may be forced to quit.”
Montjane, who will have to wait to see what happens in her semi-final, said she will focus purely on her own game and not on Ellerbrock’s injury.
“It’s been a year since I played Sabine and it is a bit of a grudge match,” Montjane said. “I had four match points against her at the SA Open and I let my nerves get to me and she won. I haven’t played her since, but I’ve seen her on the circuit. She always struggles with injuries but she always plays great tennis. So, if she plays tomorrow, I’ll be ruthless.
“I need to improve my world ranking after last week and my goal is to make the final. If that means picking out her weaknesses, so be it.”
In the other women’s semi-final, second seed Sharon Walvaren of Netherlands will come up against fifth seed Kanaka Domori of Japan.
In the Quads, Paralympic bound Lucas Sithole of South Africa is through to the final on Tuesday. The top seed beat unseeded Azman Hasan of Malaysia 6-3 6-3 to set up a final against second seed Marco Innocenti, who beat fellow Italian Antony Cotterill 7-5 6-3.


SOUTH AFRICA MAKE STRONG START AT WHEELCHAIR TENNIS INTERNATIONAL

Benoni, South Africa - Last week’s SA Open winner, Sabine Ellerbrock from Germany, may have to withdraw after today’s second round of the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open after a bicep injury flared up again in her match against Australian, Janel Manns.
This could be good news for South Africa’s leading Women’s Singles player, KG Montjane, who is on a direct collision course to meet the German in the semi-finals on Monday.
Although top seeded Ellerbrock won the match in straight sets 6-1 6-3, the world number five said she was in a lot of pain during the match.
“I suffered a bicep rupture three weeks ago and received treatment for it,” Ellerbrock said. “It was absolutely fine last week; didn’t give me any problems, but in the practice yesterday it flared up again. “I would like to continue playing, because I think I have a good chance to win and that will mean 200 important world ranking points, which could be crucial in the seeding for the Paralympics. But I also can’t risk further injury that will keep off the court for longer. It’s a tough position to be in.”
Ellerbrock received physiotherapy, but will only make a decision regarding her future in the tournament before her quarterfinal match against Christine Schoen of France on Sunday.
Meanwhile South Africa impressed on the second day of the tournament being played at the Gauteng East Tennis Centre on the shores of Benoni Lake, east of Johannesburg.
Spearheading the local challenge was women’s fourth seed KG Montjane, who made an early morning start and beat compatriot Rose van den Meer 6-1 6-1.
Montjane looked comfortable on court, despite her claim of “not being a morning person”, and the world number 13 dominated throughout the match.
In fact, Montjane has not lost a single match against a South African player since she began playing competitive tournament tennis in 2006 and plans to continue her dominance of South African wheelchair tennis this week.
“I was happy with my start to this week’s tournament,” she said. “I have yet to lose to a South African player and will work hard at keeping up my dominance.”
Montjane added that she hoped to do better in Benoni than the semi-final she reached at the SA Open in order to improve her world ranking and gain a better Paralympic seeding.
“I need to get higher on the world rankings. If I do that then I have less chance of meeting a top seed early in London. That will be important for me, as I really believe I can win a medal at the Paralympics for South Africa.”
Montjane and Ellerbrock will be joined by second seed Sharon Walraven of Netherlands and third seed Katharina Kruger, also of Germany, in tomorrow (Sunday’s) quarter-finals. The second and third seeds also enjoyed straight sets wins in round two.
In the men’s singles, sixth seed Sydwell Mathonsi of South Africa beat Italian Luca Spano 6-1 6-4 to earn his spot in the last eight.
Mathonsi will now meet top seed Takashi Sanada of Japan in the quarter finals, just a week after Sanada knocked him out in round one of the ACSA SA Open at Ellis Park. The South African will be seeking sweet revenge against the world number 10 ranked player, especially after a good straight sets result against Spano.
The only other seeded South African in the men’s singles, Evans Maripa, also won his second round match when he beat Zimbabwe champion Nyasha Mharakura, 6-3 6-1. The country’s number one ranked Mens Singles player will face fourth seed Daniel Rodrigues of Brazil in the quarter finals.
Meanwhile world number nine Quad Singles player, Lucas Sithole, cruised into the semi-final for a second successive week and will face unseeded Azman Hasan from Malaysia. The top seed here in Benoni, Sithole beat compatriot Bongani Dlamini in straight sets, 6-2 6-0.
Third round action starts from 09h00 at the Gauteng East Tennis Centre in Benoni.


FREEDOM DAY OPENS DOORS OF OPPORTUNITY FOR SOUTH AFRICAN WHEELCHAIR TENNIS STARS

Benoni, South Africa - Twenty five years ago, South African wheelchair tennis star Kgothatso Montjane would never have dreamed of competing in tennis at the highest level.
Today on Freedom Day, Montjane, affectionately known as “KG”, is playing on the international wheelchair tennis circuit and is ranked number one in South Africa and 13 in the world.
This weekend, Montjane is playing in the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open at the Gauteng East Tennis Centre in Benoni. Montjane is seeded fourth in the Women’s Singles and one of the favourites to go all the way in this Grade 2 International Tennis Federation tournament.
What happened 18 years ago today in our country has opened the doors of opportunity for players like Montjane, and her fellow countryman, Evans Maripa, Sydwell Mathonsi and Lucas Sithole.
The 25-year-old Polokwane player was born with a congenital birth defect. She started playing tennis six years ago and has since made a huge impact on the local and international circuit. She is widely regarded by her peers and young fans as a major inspiration. “I love tennis and love being part of the action at this level,” said Montjane. “It’s quite sad to realise that, had our country never become the democracy it is now, as a black player I may never have had this opportunity.”
Montjane will open up her campaign on Saturday against the winner of today’s first round match between South Africans Thando Thlatswayo and Rose Van Der Merwe.
If all goes to plan with her side of the draw, Montjane should meet seventh seed Francisca Mardones of Chile in the quarter finals, and top seed and last week’s Airports Company South Africa SA Open winner, Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany, in the semi-final. Montjane reached the last four at Ellis Park, but lost to top seed Marjolein Buis. A good showing in Benoni will almost certainly secure Montjane her spot in the London Paralympics later this year.
South Africa will be banking on the efforts of Sydwell Mathonsi and up and coming star, Evans Maripa in the Men’s Singles.
Mothonsi is seeded sixth while Maripa is a spot back in seventh. Both players were unseeded in last week’s ACSA SA Open, where Monthonsi was unlucky to draw top seed Takashi Sanada of Japan in the opening round. “This week I am seeded and it makes a big difference” said Mothonsi.
Evans, on the other hand, had the week of his life at Ellis Park. The 21-year-old Polokwane player upset two seeded players in reaching the semi-finals.
Like the ladies, all the men’s seeds enjoyed first round byes on Friday.
Lucas Sithole heads the South African challenge in the Quads. The Kwa-Zulu Natal triple amputee is ranked ninth in the world and is the top seed for this week’s action in Benoni. With no points to defend this week, Sithole is hoping to win the Benoni event and move even higher on the world rankings which will certainly secure his spot in London in August.


TOP WHEELCHAIR TENNIS FIELD ENTERED FOR THE AIRPORTS COMPANY SOUTH AFRICA GAUTENG OPEN

Benoni, South Africa - The Paralympics will be the focus, aim and goal of South Africa’s wheelchair tennis stars when the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open starts at the Gauteng East Tennis Complex in Benoni on Friday.
With the Paralympics cut off date being set for 21 May, this weekend’s Benoni Lake event promises to be exciting as local and international players will be putting in a last effort to do well so that they can be assured a spot in the London showdown.
Leading the South African challenge will be men’s singles players Evans Maripa and Sydwell Mathonsi, in the women’s singles; KG Montjane, and in the Quads; Lucas Sithole.
Maripa was a surprise semi-finalist last week at Ellis Park, and Mathonsi - who at the ACSA SA Open was unlucky to draw top seed Takashi Sanada of Japan in round 1 - will be hoping that a favourable draw in the ACSA Gauteng Open will enable him to reach the quarter finals or better this weekend.
In the women’s singles KG Montjane who is ranked 13 in the world, and who - like Evans - reached the last four in the Airports Company South Africa SA Open, poses a strong challenge to the top three seeds; Sabine Ellerbrock (Germany), Sharon Walraven (Netherlands) and Katherina Kruger (Germany). Montjane is knocking on the door of the top ten players of the world and it’s just a matter of time before the Limpopo born star cracks a top ten spot.
World number ten, Takashi Sanada of Japan is favourite for the men’s singles whilst Sabine Ellerbrock who successfully defended her ACSA SA Open title in Johannesburg on Wednesday is a clear favourite for the women’s title.
After her victory on Wednesday, Ellerbrock, the world number five, said that the reason the Airports Company South Africa SA Open and Gauteng Open draws so many top international players, is because it is so well-run and she would love to see it promoted to Super Series status.
“It’s just fantastic to come to South Africa and that is why so many of the world’s top players return year-on-year,” she said. “It really is like coming home for me, especially after a few weeks in the United States. Everyone here is extremely friendly, the standard of the tournaments are high and the atmosphere is fantastic. I am enjoying myself so much that I decided to stay for the Gauteng Open, as well, even if it’s a Grade 2 tournament and doesn’t carry as many world ranking points.”
ACSA’s Group Manager: Communications, Solomon Makgale says that they are proud to be associated with Wheelchair Tennis South Africa as their flagship CSI project. “Through our sponsorship efforts, Wheelchair Tennis South Africa has helped develop athletes who are able to compete at the highest levels, including international competition. This initiative will increase the public’s awareness of wheelchair tennis as a sport with global recognition. Our commitment to Wheelchair Tennis South Africa is on-going and we look forward to supporting the South African team, especially during the build-up to the 2012 London Paralympics.”


MCCARROL AND ELLERBROCK WIN DOUBLE TITLES AT ACSA SA OPEN

Johannesburg, South Africa – South Africa is proving to be a great hunting ground for British wheelchair tennis stars. On Wednesday Marc McCarrol seeded six won his first international title by capturing the men’s singles of the Airports Company South Africa SA Open at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. In the final, McCarrol upset second seeded fellow countryman Gordon Reid 4-6 6-2 6-3. The win catapulted McCarrol to number 13 on the world ranking list and he is now one spot behind Reid on the rankings making him the official British number 2.
A thrilled McCarrol said it was his first international final and was delighted with the win. “I was nervous going into the match and made a bunch of unforced errors in the first set but calmed myself and managed to improve my serve and returns which helped me close out the match and win my first title.”
McCarrol who ended the giant-killing run of South African Evans Maripa in yesterday’s semi-finals upset top seeded Takashi Sanada of Japan in the quarter finals. “South Africa is proving to be a great place for me. I’ve had some real good wins and in the final today, despite losing the first set, I felt that I played well. Gordon is a respected opponent, doubles partner and friend and he fought to the bitter end. I won after losing two match points proving how tough the final was. I am really happy with this win,” continued McCarrol.
McCarrol then teamed up with Reid to win the men’s doubles title. The top seeded Brits beat second seeded Yoshinobu Fujimoto and Takashi Sanada of Japan 6-1 6-4.
Defending champion in the women’s singles, Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany regained her title when she beat top seeded Marjolein Buis of Netherlands 6-4 2-6 6-2. Ellerbrock who has just jetted in from the USA said she felt at home in South Africa. “I just love playing in South Africa. It’s becoming like a second home. I had a lot of pressure with me as defending champion to win again so I could defend my points and maintain my world ranking of 5” she said. Ellerbrock then teamed up with Buis to win the doubles title.
Top seeded Quad player, Andrew Lapthorne of Great Britain gave his country a third title when he beat unseeded Boaz Kramer of Israel 6-3 7-6 to capture the Quad singles. The world number 4 lost only one set (vs Weinberg) in the semi-finals en route to lifting the title.
In the Junior event, it was an all-South African final with second seed Thabang Lekhanyane of Alexandra, Joburg causing a minor upset when she beat top seeded Mabel Mankgele of Limpopo 6-2 6-4.


GLOOMY DAY FOR SOUTH AFRICAN WHEELCHAIR TENNIS STARS AT ACSA SA OPEN

Johannesburg – As the dark skies hung over Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Tuesday, it was a gloomy day for South African Wheelchair Tennis players at the Airports Company South Africa SA Open. Our countries tennis stars had mixed fortunes on day four of the world ranking event.
Unseeded South African, Evans Maripa’s dream run came to a sad end in the semi-finals of the men’s singles. Twenty one year old Maripa has been enjoying the week of his life. In the rain interrupted event, Maripa upset fourth seed Yoshinobu Fujimoto of Japan 6-2 7-6 on Tuesday morning in the quarter finals before losing to six seed Marc McCarrol of Great Britain in the afternoon semi-finals. McCarrol beat Maripa 6-2 6-2. On Wednesday, McCarrol will play fellow countryman and second seed Gordon Reid who beat fifth seeded Takuya Miki of Japan 6-3 6-1 in his semi-final.
Maripa although disappointed after his loss said he had enjoyed a great week on court. “I don’t like losing but I was unseeded and reached the semi-finals and that means I have scored a bagful of world ranking points which will help me in my aims of qualifying for the Paralympics in London later this year” said Maripa.
In the women’s singles, top seed Marjolein Buis of Netherlands put out South African star, KG Montjane, seeded four 6-3 6-3. The South African started strongly racing to a 3-0 lead in the opening set but Buis fought back the level the set 3-3. Buis then broke the South African to win the set 6-3. In the second set Buis broke early to lead 5-0 but Montjane known for her fighting spirit made a premature come back to trail 3-5. The experience of Buis was too much for Montjane and the world’s fourth best player closed out the match 6-3 6-3. Buis seems to have Montjane’s number as the Dutch ace has beaten the South African in all four of their matches played.
Buis will play second seeded German, Sabine Ellerbrock in tomorrow’s (Wednesday) final. Ellerbrock beat third seeded Sharon Walraven also of the Netherlands 6-4 7-5 in a hard fought match that took 1 hour and 40 minutes.
“It wasn’t that Marjolein won the match, it was more that I lost the match” said Montjane following her loss. “I made too many unforced errors and although I played well at times in the match in order to beat the best you have to be consistently at your best. I’m learning from playing the best.” continued Montjane.
For Quad world number nine, Lucas Sithole it was an unfortunate day as he lost to unseeded Boaz Kramer of Israel 3-6 6-2 0-6 in his semi-final. Second seed Sithole, the highest ranked wheelchair tennis player on the world ranking , went to bed last night locked at set all with Boaz after rain had stopped play. It was unfortunate in the sense that Sithole, a notorious slow starter came out onto court today in cold and damp conditions which did not help matters and Sithole did not win a game losing the final set 6-0. Kramer will play top seeded Andrew Lapthorne of Great Britain in tomorrow’s (Wednesday) final. Lapthorne fought hard to beat fourth seeded Sharga Weinberg of Israel 2-6 6-1 6-4.
The junior final it will be an all South African affair with top seed Mabel Mankgele playing second seed Thabang Lekhanyane.
The finals will be played at 09h00 on Wednesday at Ellis Park Tennis Stadium in Johannesburg.


MONTJANE BEATS THE RAIN TO WIN THROUGH TO SEMI FINALS AT ACSA SA OPEN

Johannesburg – In a rain interrupted Monday, South African wheelchair tennis ace KG Montjane braved the weather and won through to the semi-finals of the women’s singles of the Airports Company South Africa SA Open being played at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
The fourth seeded Limpopo star overcame a slow start but had a strong finish when she beat fifth seed Katharina Kruger of Germany 6-4 6-0.
Montjane broke early in the first set and raced to a 4-1 lead. But Kruger then broke back and leveled the set at 4-4. Montjane regrouped and won eight games on the trot to win through to tomorrow (Tuesday’s) semi-final.
“I was really tight in the opening set, especially when I lost my 4-1 lead. I felt I had broken down mentally. But then I focused and put my mind to the task and got strong, Katharina got frustrated and I capitalized on her frustration” said Montjane.
In Tuesday’s semi-final, Montjane will come up against top seed Majolein Buis of Netherlands who beat six seed Jordanne Whiley of Great Britain 6-4 6-1. Montjane and Buis, the world number 4 have met three times before with Buis having won all three encounters.
The other semi-final will be contested by second seed Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany and third seed Sharon Walraven of Netherlands.
Rain played havoc with the tournament organizers all day. The start of the Quads singles semi-final was delayed two hours due to rain. Finally the players took to court and South African second seed Lucas Sithole and his unseeded semi-final opponent Boaz Kramer of Israel after two rain delays were locked at set all 3-6 6-2 when the rain fell again. Top seeded Andrew Lapthorne of Great Britain was in trouble against fourth seeded Shraga Weinberg of Israel in the second Quad semi-final. Weinberg won the opening set 6-2 but was down 0-3 in the second set when the rain came down and play was called off for the day.
None of the scheduled Men’s singles quarter-finals managed to go on court and tomorrow (Tuesday) play will start at 08h30 with all the Men’s singles quarterfinals from today (Monday) being scheduled first.


EVANS MARIPA SLOWLY SECURING HIS PARALYMPIC LONDON 2012 DREAM

Johannesburg – When South African wheelchair tennis star, Evans Maripa arrived at Ellis Park in Johannesburg for the Airports Company South Africa SA Open, he was quietly confident that he would have a good week. Maripa, unseeded from Limpopo after day two has found himself into the last eight of the Men’s singles of the world ranking tournament. On Sunday, Maripa followed up his upset win on Saturday over 8 seed Rafael Madeiros of Brazil with another straight set win over yet another Brazilian, Yamanitu Da Silva, winning 6-0 6-1. Maripa will now play fourth seeded Yoshinobu Fujimoto of Japan who beat South African Marshall Marsh 6-1 6-0. Maripa and Fujimoto last played each other in Polokwane in October last year which Fujimoto won in three close sets.
“I knew in order to do well I had to bring my A game into the SA Open. I’ve obviously brought my A game to Ellis Park and am so excited to be in the quarter finals” said Maripa following his win. With no points to defend, every round won here at Ellis Park by Maripa secures his Paralympic London 2012 dream.
Both top seeds in the Men’s singles, Sanada Takashi (Japan) and Gordon Reid (Great Britain) were comfortable second round winners on Sunday. Takashi beat Siposethu Kati (RSA) 6-1 6-0 whilst Reid beat Spano Luca (Italy) 6-2 6-0.
In the Women’s singles, all the top eight seeds have won through to the quarter finals including fourth seeded South African Kgothatso Montjane. Montjane beat Faizatul Thani of Malaysia 6-3 6-4.
Top women’s seed Marjolein Buis beat Luba Josevski of Australia 6-2 6-2 whilst second seed Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany beat Natalia Mayara of Brazil 6-1 6-2.
The quarter finals of the men’s and women’s singles will be played at 09h00 on Monday at Ellis Park Tennis Stadium.
In the Quads singles, one South African is through to Monday’s semi-final. Lucas Sithole, the second seed didn’t lose a game in his whitewash win over fellow South African David Mathebula. Sithole will now play Israel’s Boaz Kramer who upset third seeded Marco Innocenti of Italy 6-4 6-4. Top seed Andrew Lapthorne of Great Britain will face fourth seed Shraga Weinberg of Israel in the other Quad semi-final.
In the Junior draw, there will be an all-South African semi-final top seed Mabel Mankgele will play unseeded Tato Tsomolo and second seeded Thabang Lekhanyane will play third seeded Mariska Venter.


WHEELCHAIR TENNIS TOP SEEEDS WIN THROUGH ON DAY ONE AT ACSA SA OPEN

Johannesburg – All the top seeds in the Airports Company South Africa SA Open won through on day one of the country’s premier wheelchair tennis tournament being played at Ellis Park in the City of Joburg.
In the men’s division, Japanese top seed Sanada Takashi beat South African Sydwell Mathonsi 6-1 6-4. Mathonsi is one of the brightest prospects in our country and it was unlucky he drew the worlds tenth ranked player in the opening round. Second seeded Gordon Reid of Great Britain lost only two games when he beat Richard Engels of Australia 6-1 6-1.
In the women’s singles, the top seeds enjoyed first round byes including South African third seed Kgothatso Montjane who on Sunday will open up her campaign against Luba Josevski of Australia in round two.
In the Quads section, second seed and world number 9, Lucas Sithole of South Africa was a comfortable 6-2 6-0 first round winner against fellow countryman Fernando Gallant. “I enjoyed the match and it was a good solid start which will help my confidence for the week ahead” said Sithole after his victory. “I feel good about my game and I think it’s due to the good form I have brought back after my recent tour of the USA. But it’s just the start of the tournament and we have lots of tennis and tough matches ahead” continue Sithole. Sithole returned last week for a success run of three tournaments in the USA where he reached two semi-finals and a quarter final. Top seed in the Quads, Andrew Lapthorne needed under an hour to oust Nagaoka Takashi of Japan 6-1 6-0.
In the juniors there were first round wins for South African’s Alwanda Skhosana and Tato Tsomolo.


AIRPORTS COMPANY SOUTH AFRICA (ACSA) SA OPEN READY FOR TAKE OFF

Johannesburg, South Africa – The grand old lady of South African tennis, Ellis Park Tennis Stadium in the City of Joburg is gearing herself up for a bumper week of tennis.

Wheelchair Tennis South Africa are just three days away from hosting the Airports Company South Africa, SA Open, the country’s premier wheelchair tennis event which forms part of the international circuit. The tournament will be held from 21 – 25 April 2012. This Grade 1 tour event has attracted a top entry from overseas and will allow all the local players an opportunity of gaining all important world ranking points and a chance of qualifying for the London Paralympics in August.

Already confirmed as entered are South African’s top ranked men and women’s players Lucas Sithole (world ranked 9 in the Quads Division) and Kgothatso Montjane (world ranked 10 in the Women’s Division). They will be joined by international stars representing Australia, Great Britain, Italy, Scotland, Japan, Poland, Sri Lanka, Germany, Netherlands, France, Brazil, China, Malaysia and Israel.

Notable players that have entered include world number 4, Marjolein Buis and world number 9, Sharon Walraven both of the Netherlands in the women’s division. In the men’s division there will be three players ranked in the top 20 of the world namely Scotland’s Gordon Reid (12), Ben Weekes of Australia (15) and Japanese star, Yoshinobu Fujimoto (17).

In the Quad’s, Andrew Lapthorne of Great Britain is ranked no 4 and Maro Innocenti of Italy, ranked no 10 join Lucas Sithole all ranked in the world’s top 10.

“Ellis Park is a truly historic venue and will be a fitting wheelchair friendly host for the tournament” said Tournament Director Holger Losch. “The venue has played host to top ATP, WTA and ITF events including Davis and Fed Cup and now that our ACSA SA Open is being played at Ellis Park we can honestly say this “grand old lady” has hosted the best of all tennis events.” Losch continued by saying that preparations were well on track to host a truly memorable tournament. “We have been hard at work in making sure Ellis Park will be a warm and hospitable host. The courts are in good shape and the facilities have been well adapted for the players. After successfully hosting the World Wheelchair Tennis Championships last year, we feel in tune to host a great weeks tennis in the City of Gold. “

The tournament will have a Men’s, Women’s, Quads and Junior division each comprising of a singles and doubles draw. The tournament draw takes place on Friday at 18h00 at the Reef Hotel in Joburg with the opening round starting at 09h00 on Saturday morning. Round two is scheduled for Sunday, the quarter finals for Monday, semi-finals on Tuesday and the finals on Wednesday.


TOP SOUTH AFRICAN WHEELCHAIR TENNIS STARS STOOD THEIR GROUND ON USA SOIL

Johannesburg, South Africa - Two of South Africa’s top wheelchair tennis stars; Lucas Sithole, ranked no. 11 in the world in the Quad’s division and Kgothatso Montjane ranked no. 10 in the Women’s division, just returned from a successful tour to the USA. They took part in three tournaments; the Cajun Classic, the Pensacola Open and the Florida Open.
Both Kgothatso and Lucas played with heart, tenacity, and guts. Although they did not break into single digits, they achieved significant personal goals, and further cemented their position as two of the top players in the world.
The Cajun Classic, an ITF Level 1 Event (21-25 March 2012) in Baton Rouge, USA saw impressive performances for Lucas Sithole, where he defeated the world no. 13 Shota Kawano (JPN) in the opening Quads singles round to set up a quarterfinal against Nick Taylor of the USA. A solid, focused performance from Sithole earned him a thrilling win of 6-2 6-3 over the world no. 5. The semifinals saw Sithole facing the 2nd seed Andrew Lapthorne (GBR). Lapthorne, presently no 4 in the world, is considered one of the tour’s fiercest competitors as he came from nowhere to be ranked in the top 5 in less than 2 years. Lapthorne vs. Sithole, the tour’s other player marked as talented and dangerous, were a match up which drew the crowds. Sadly, Lapthorne’s mobility and match experience at that level proved to be just too much for Sithole on the day, losing a closely contested battle 6-2 6-3.
The Pensacola Open, an ITF level 1 Event (30 March – 3 April) in Pensacola, USA saw Sithole on form. He secured a confident straight set win over Takahiro Koga (JPN) defeating him 6-0 6-2. The talented South African then faced the no. 1 ranked player in the world; Peter Norfolk (GBR) in the quarterfinals. Sithole played with confidence and the top seed Norfolk had to unpack all his big shots to ensure a win over the rising star. Sithole (RSA) lost 6-2 6-2. In the third and final event, the Florida Open, a Super Series Event (April 6-10, 2012) in Boca Raton, Florida, USA the world no. 11 Lucas Sithole (RSA) won a cliff hanger first round match against Mitsuteru Moroishi (JPN) 7-6 (4) 7-5. In the second round, Sithole had another lengthy battle to secure a glorious victory over the world no. 7 Anders Hard from Sweden 7-6 (3) 6-1 6-2 to set up a rematch in the quarterfinal against Peter Norfolk (GBR) world no.1. The quarterfinal was exciting and certainly did not fall short of drama; after an extended match; 5 hours of play and 4 rain delays Norfolk won 6-2 6-1.
Kgothatso Montjane, SA’s Golden Girl, also had a great tour, achieving many personal goals and reaffirming her belief she belongs in the top 6 in the world. Her tour started with a bang, where she faced Ju-Yeon Park (KOR) in the 2nd round of the Cajun Classic. A determined Kgothatso Montjane won the match 5-7 6-4 6-1 to set up a challenging quarterfinal against world no. 2 Aniek van Koot (NED). Once again Montjane (RSA) displayed shear tenacity and confidence not making it easy the world no 2, who narrowly won 7-6 (3) 7-5. Most notably, Montjane was the only player in the tournament to take more than a few games off the world no 2.
In the second week, the Pensacola Open, the women’s singles started with Kgothatso Montjane (RSA) progressing to the 2nd round after facing Dorrie Timmermans-van Hall (NED) who retired in the second set with Montjane leading 6-2 3-0. Montjane had a tough draw facing world no. 6 Annick Sevenans (BEL) in the second round. A stand out first set made the world sit up straight; Kgothatso Montjane took the set with ease, but Sevanans was quick to retaliate, taking the second 6-2. This set the stage for a mammoth third set battle. Montjane put up another tremendous fight, and displayed great character, Sevenans however took the match 2-6 6-2 7-5. In the third and final week, in the Florida Open, Montjane won her opening match defeating Henriett Koosz (AUT) in straight sets. In the 2nd round Kgothatso Montjane (RSA) again faced Annick Sevenans (BEL) world no. 6 for the second successive week hoping to this time turn the tables. The Belgium player showed to be the better player on the day winning 6-2 6-4.
Holger Losch, Director and Performance Coach said: “I am very proud and excited about the players’ performance. They both played good matches, displayed great spirit, and most importantly confirmed the belief they belong in the top players in the world. Both the players and I strongly believe that with a little more work, there is no reason they can’t beat players ranked as high as 1 and 2 in the world, and take up their rightful spots in the top 5.”
Participation in local and international tournaments such as these is made possible by the generous sponsorships offered by Airports Company South Africa, the official sponsor of the sport.
Other resources worth a visit include: www.tennis.co.za; or join our Facebook group: Wheelchair Tennis SA and follow us on Twitter: @WCTennis.


SOUTH AFRICAN INTERNATIONAL WHEELCHAIR TENNIS EVENTS OF PARAMOUNT SIGNIFICANCE

Johannesburg, South Africa – With the qualification for this year’s Paralympics just three weeks away, this year’s international wheelchair tennis tournaments to be staged in Gauteng are of greater significance than ever before.
This year’s Paralympics take place in London from August 29 to September 9 and the qualification cut-off is May 21.

Caption: Wheelchair Tennis South Africa’s (WTSA) superstars (Fltr) Kgothatso (Kg) Montjane, Evans Maripa and Lucas Sithole preparing for a double-headed feast for fans. The Airports Company South African Open is being played at Ellis Park from 21 -25 April 2012 followed by the Airports Company South Africa Joburg Open in Ekurhuleni. The ACSA SA Open is a ITF Grade 1 tournament and International world top 10 players in all categories have entered for the event. The South African players will also use the opportunity to prepare for the Paralympic Games which will be taking place in London later in the year. Second from the right is Tournament Director, Holger Losch.

The two South African events, which are sanctioned by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and form part of the ITF World Wheelchair Tennis Tour, will take place back-to-back from April 21 to 25 and April 27 to May 1.
The first tournament, the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) South African Open, is a Grade 1 Tour event and will be played at Ellis Park. The second is the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) Joburg Open, and is a Grade 2 Tour event. That is to be played at the Gauteng East Tennis Complex in Benoni.
As a result of the proximity to the Paralympic cut-off, a large international and local entry is predicted.
“It’s a real honour for Wheelchair Tennis South Africa and our sponsor, ACSA, to be hosting these prestigious events,” said Tournament Director Holger Losch.
“One of our goals for 2013 is for South Africa to host a Wheelchair Super Series event. There are very few of them on the Tour and it will be a first for Africa.
“The success of the ACSA SA Open and ACSA Joburg Open will help us convince the ITF South Africa and Africa that we are ready to host a Super Series. This will also help our own players as they will be able to play at home and earn valuable world ranking points.”
The men’s and women’s champions of last year will be back to defend their titles and there will also be some new visitors to the tournament. Tadeusz Kruszelnicki from Poland won the men’s event last year while runner-up Ben Weekes loved South Africa and is excited to come back and compete in the event again.
Women’s world No 5, Sabine Ellerbrock, is the current defending champion and she could face an interesting showdown with world No 10, Kgothatso Montjane of South Africa. The South African will be looking to go one better this year after going down in last year’s final. However, she is currently in top form and is a strong contender for the title.
South Africa has some of the world’s best players and topping that list is Montjane who is currently ranked at No 10 in singles and No 14 in doubles. In fact, South Africa has 10 women ranked in the top 100. Other than Montjane, Celia du Toit is at No 30, Rosalea van der Meer at No 36, Mabel Mankgele is at No 70, Tsholofelo Sibanda at No 74, Siphokazi Fuma at No 91 and Thado Hlatswayo at No 93.
As far as the men are concerned Sydwell Mathonsi is ranked at No 37 in singles and 36 in doubles. Eliphas Maripa is ranked 52 in singles and at No 37 in doubles.
Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) continues to support Wheelchair Tennis in South Africa and is delighted to be hosting these two major events in Gauteng.
“The tournaments give a golden opportunity to our local talent especially in the year of the Paralympics where South Africa will be represented. We as Airports Company South Africa are honoured to be part of an initiative that has assisted in growing wheelchair tennis in the country. Through our contribution we continuously strive to better South African players thus ensuring that they are well equipped to participate in the best wheelchair tennis tournaments globally,” said ACSA’s Group Manager: Communications Solomon Makgale.


SOWETO TO HOST SA VS SLOVENIA DAVIS CUP TIE

Johannesburg, South Africa - Despite the recent loss of the Soweto Open, international tennis will continue at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre with the announcement that the first-ever Davis Cup tie between South Africa and Slovenia will be played at the Soweto venue.

The Euro/Africa Zone Group I encounter will take place from April 6 to 8. A victory here will put captain John-Laffnie de Jager and his team into the World Group play-offs for the fourth successive year.

This will be the second time South Africa have played a Davis Cup tie at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Stadium. The other occasion was in 2009 against Belarus. If that contest is anything to go by, the venue has proved a happy hunting ground for the team as they beat Belarus 5-0. In addition, SA players Izak van der Merwe won the Soweto Open while Rik de Voest has been a runner-up at the event.

The centre court at the Arthur Ashe Stadium has been good to Rik and Izak with Rik making the semis and finals of the Soweto Open and Izak making the finals and winning the title,” said De Jager. “We are happy to play at high altitude and hopefully the people of Soweto and the rest of Joburg and Gauteng will come and support us.”

The South Africa Tennis Association (SATA) has made it a lot easier for the public to attend the tie. “It is vital that tennis fans get behind the team and for that reason there will be no charge to come and watch the tie,” explained SATA CEO Ian Smith. “We will make it as easy as possible for people to get there and there will be safe parking available. Soweto is a popular tourist destination and coming to support the Davis Cup gives the public a chance of combining good tennis with a real special cultural and historic experience.”

“We have a team which has the capacity to win this tie and get us into the World Group. We sadly lost our last tie against Croatia but two of our key players – Kevin Anderson and Izak van der Merwe – were struggling with injuries and could not give of their best. However, now fit and well, I have complete faith that our boys can take us all the way.”

According to Davis Cup rules, two singles matches will be played on Friday April 6, the doubles rubber on Saturday April 7 and the reverse singles on Sunday April 8. All matches are played as the best of five sets until the tie has been decided.

Further details about the times, the team and the park-and-ride facilities will be announced at a later date.


WHEELCHAIR TENNIS PLAYERS FACE TOUGH CHALLENGE IN KENYA

Kenya - The road to qualifying for the 2012 BNP Paribas World Team Cup for the SA ladies team will begin in Kenya. Our ladies team, together with other wheelchair tennis athletes from around Africa will be heading to Nairobi to compete in the BNP Paribas World Team Cup Africa Regional Qualifier scheduled to take place from the 27 February to 03 March 2012.

The Wheelchair Tennis South African trio of Celia du Toit, Rose van der Meer, and Mabel Mankgele will be facing tough competition from the other African nations but the enterprising trio are more than up for the challenge. “Our goal is to win the Regional Qualifier and join our Men’s, Quad’s and Junior team to represent South Africa at the 2012 BNP Paribas World Team Cup in Korea”, said Coach Hennie de Klerk. “We know the other players will be just as determined as us so we are expecting a very tough tournament”, de Klerk added.

Celia du Toit is currently ranked 2nd in South Africa in the Woman’s Singles whilst her compatriots Rose van der Meer and Mabel Mankgele are ranked 3rd and 4th respectively.

Karen Losch, Manager at Wheelchair Tennis South Africa emphasised the importance of performing well at this event saying, “I am confident the players will rise to the challenge, and take their rightful position amongst the 16 nations competing in the Women’s division of the BNP Paribas World Team Cup in Korea in May. This will be a real testament to Wheelchair Tennis in South Africa as it will be the second year running South Africa will have a team competing in each of the four divisions. We wish Team SA Well, and look forward to them bringing back gold.”


WHEELCHAIR TENNIS SOUTH AFRICA DUO JET OFF TO THE U.K

Johannesburg, South Africa - South Africa’s number two and number three ranked Wheelchair Tennis players in the Men’s Singles division, Evans Maripa and Marsh Marshall jetted off to the U.K to participate in two Wheelchair tournaments; the Northwest Challenge scheduled to take place from 24 February 2012 until 26 February 2012 and the Northern Counties Wheelchair Tournament taking place from the 29 February until 3 March 2012.

Both tournaments will take place in Great Britain in the cities of Preston and Sunderland, and provide the perfect opportunity for the South Africans to improve their rankings ahead of the Paralympics scheduled for September 2012.

“It’s going to be an incredibly tough two weeks for us, as players from all over the world are racing to gain enough points to secure a spot at the Paralympics. ”, said the dynamic duo. “The tournament provides us and many others with the opportunity to get one step closer to the heralded event so we need to do well”, they further added.”

“We expect a good performance from our players”, stated Karen Losch, Manager at Wheelchair Tennis South Africa. “The players have prepared well, and are aware of the significance of the events.” Losch added, “These players are being developed for the 2016 Paralympics, so qualifying for this year’s event would be phenomenal, and put them years ahead of their expected results. Go boys. We are confident you will rise to the challenge.”


WHEELCHAIR TENNIS SOUTH AFRICA BEGINS ITS SEARCH FOR FUTURE YOUNG STARS

South Africa - The journey to find and develop future wheelchair Tennis stars will officially begin on 9 February 2012. Wheelchair Tennis SA (WTSA) will begin coordinating a series of “Rising Stars” nationwide camps throughout Southern Africa in an effort to unearth and cultivate new talents in the sport of wheelchair tennis.

The “Rising Stars” national and regional camps will provide training and development to both players and coaches of wheelchair tennis and assist both sets in realizing their full potential in playing and coaching respectively. The first of the National Rising Stars camps will be held from 9-12 February 2012 with the second being held at from 21-24 June 2012. Various regional camps will held being held throughout the year.

“The development of wheelchair tennis is imperative in ensuring the growth and success of the sport. At Wheelchair Tennis we don’t just focus on the current players who are playing both at national and international levels, but we focus our attention to the future talents we have throughout the country. The Rising Stars camps allow us as WTSA to ensure that our coaches are regularly trained and updated with new training techniques which will enhance their skill level; better coaches make for better players,” commented Siyabulela Nkachela WTSA National Programme Manager.


JAPAN, USA HAVE A CHAMPIONSHIP LOOK ABOUT THEM

Pretoria, South Africa - Japan and USA were the stand-out performers on Tuesday at the 2011 ITF Wheelchair Tennis World Team Cup in Pretoria.

The No 1 seeds Japan and second-seeded Germany are the leading Men’s World Group 2 teams and both are on a mission to gain promotion to the elite Men’s World Group 1 next year.

Japan produced a clean slate with a 3-0 win over Asian neighbours Malaysia and America produced the same result against Italy.

All the leading sides in the Men’s World Group 1 section will be in action today after their rest day on Tuesday.

In the Women’s World Group, the eighth-seeded Spain and unseeded Switzerland wrapped up their matches on a victorious note, after bad light curtailed play on Monday.

The Spanish women beat Russia 2-1 and the Swiss scored an upset 2-1 win over the sixth seeds Belgium.

South Africa handed Greece a 3-0 whitewash in their Men’s World Group 2 clash.

It was an emphatic display over the more experienced Greece side who were among the stand-out performers three years ago when the showpiece was held in Italy.

The SA-Greece tie started out under cloudy skies but it turned out to be a great stage for Evans Maripa’s star to shine brightly as he lead the charge for the host nation.

Evans needed just 50 minutes to dispose of his Greek counterpart Aristomenis Nikolopoulos 6-0 6-1.

Greece’s Georgios Lazaridis was next in the firing line as South Africa’s No 2 Sydwell Mathonsi took aim in the next match.

Mathonsi traded heavily on a big serve which had Lazaridis under pressure from the start but as the match wound its course there was never any doubt who the eventual winner would be. Mathonsi too ended the match after 50 minutes with a 6-3 6-0 scoreline.

After a short break he returned to the fray to partner Marshall Marsh to roll over the Greek doubles pairing of Nikolopoulos and Lazaridis 6-0 6-1. The 3-0 tie win ended with a hefty 87.8% overall games won. Mathonsi, who on the winning side twice against Greece, was literally up in the clouds with South Africa’s performance.

It was a wonderful team effort and a really first-class performance,” said Mathonsi. “I tried to stay with game plan and tried to work hard right to the end. This performance will give us great confidence for our next matches.

In the doubles we had to be patient and I could not use my big serve there.

It was just a matter of being patient and keep getting the ball over the net.”

South Africa’s quads team were at the receiving end of a 3-0 hiding at the hands of Canada in their Group B encounter.

Lucas Sithole was first up against the Canadians and his opponent Sarah Hunter produced a measured performance as she wrapped up a 6-0 6-0 result.

Steven Kekai offered a greater measure of South African resistance but he too came unstuck against Canada’s Adrian Dieleman who clinched the match 6-0 6-1.

After their convincing singles display, the Canadians Dieleman and Gary Luker put in a workmanlike performance against Sithole and Kekai on their way to a 6-4 6-2 win to crown their 3-0 tie conquest over the tournament hosts.

Classy Jon Rydberg laid down the championship marker in the Men’s World Group 2 competition when the US side made it’s bow at the 2011 ITF Wheelchair Tennis World Team Cup on Tuesday.

Rydberg and his teammates had a vacation day on Monday but when they swung into action Morocco bore the full brunt of the US challenge, which is on a mission to win promotion to the elite Men’s World Group 1.

The Morocco No 1 Mohamed Bakhtali was blown away in a matter of 36 minutes as Rydberg swept to a 6-0 6-0 win.

It was just a smooth, solid performance and I was not trying to do too much,” said Rydberg afterwards. “It was a good chance to work on net play and when I had a chance I gave it stick.”

Rydberg’s cavalier approach made for a treat as his supporting US team mates lapped up his show of power tennis, laced with bouts of serve and volley.

Steve Welch was next up to continue the rout and Morocco’s Boukartacha Haj wilted under his 6-0 6-2 onslaught 53 minutes later.

Paul Moran stepped into the fray along with Rydberg to round off the 3-0 tie drubbing with a 6-0 6-2 triumph over Haj and Ayoub Ettali.

The impressive US quads side were made to work hard against Italy in their Group A clash, but they prevailed 3-0 in the end.

First up, Nick Taylor overcame an indifferent start and ground out a workmanlike performance for his 7-6(4) 7-5 win over Italy’s Antonio Raffaele.

David Wagner didn’t have it all his own way initially against Marco Innocenti but once he pocketed the first set 7-6 with a 7-4 tiebreak scoreline he wrapped up the second set fairly comfortably for an eventual 7-6(4) 6-1 win over the Italian.

Taylor was up for the kill in his power chair later again when he was joined by Bryan Barten for the doubles showdown against Innocenti and Giuseppe Polidori.

After a first-set breeze the Americans duo were stretched to the limits but they seemed to feed off the courtside support as they ran out 6-1 7-5 winners.

Wagner said afterwards the US team were mentally attuned for the week-long event and were wary of under-estimating opponents.

Wheelchair tennis has shown that anyone can beat anyone on any given day,” said Wagner. “Our team seem to have benefited from the play at Sun City last week, and I for one, have not been affected by the high altitude.

At a tournament such as this there can be many distractions so one can expect some testing times when you need to stay focused.”

Near the end of day, the US juniors ran into the Spanish Armada and were at the end of a 3-0 defeat in their Group A clash.

Spain’s juniors won the championship last year and their experience was in always in evidence as first Roberto Chamizo defeated Ryan Nelson 6-1 6-1 and then Daniel Caverzachi triumphed against rookie Shelby Baron 6-2 6-2.
The Spanish duo of Chamizo and Caverzachi rounded off with a 6-0 6-3 win as the US pairing Nelson and Baron went down fighting to the end.


WHEELCHAIR BIG GUNS ADVANCE IN STYLE IN PRETORIA

Pretoria, South Africa - The top four seeded men’s sides all scored emphatic 3-0 wins on the opening day of the 2011 ITF Wheelchair Tennis World Team Cup in Pretoria, South Africa, on Monday.

The No 1 seeds, the Netherlands, led the charge in the Men’s World Group 1 by destroying European neighbours Germany 3-0 and the second seeded France followed suit in a later match with the same overall scoreline.

Great Britain, the third seeds, were much too strong for the Slovak Republic and the highly experienced Swedes rolled over Columbia without raising a sweat.

In the women’s World Group competition, the unseeded Americans caused an upset by whitewashing the fifth seeds, Chile, 3-0.

Much of the local focus centered on the 24-year-old Kgothatso Montjane, who provided South Africa with a great start when she defeated Germany’s Katharina Krueger 2-6 6-2 6-4.

The 20-year-old Krueger, the Germany’s number one, lead the charge for the tournament’s second seeds but she failed to reckon with the fighting resolve of the South African, who only a few day’s caught the eye with a straight-sets win over the German at Sun City during the SA Open.

Afterwards, the 20th world-ranked Montjane said her shot selection was the key to her victory over the 11th world-ranked Germany. “I made errors with some of my shots but overall I’m happy with my performance,” said Montjane. “When I looked back I think that although I made errors with my shot selection I persevered with my game plan and that saw me home later in the match.

This win will rank as one my best in my career, and now I’m just looking forward to the next match.”

At the start of the first set the players exchanged service breaks and scores were level at 2-all after four games but then Montjane suffered a lapse of form and failed to hold service in the rest of the set.

In the next set Montjane put her German opponent under pressure with a tremendous return of serve performance and the resultant pressure gave her two breaks of serve and the South African reduced the stalemate with a 6-2 margin.

A real dog-fight marked early play in the third set and after either suffered service breaks, normality was restored at 3-all.

After Montjane had run up a 5-4 lead on serve, she dug dig for a strong finish as she broke to round off a thrilling 2-6 6-2 6-4 victory over the German.

However, the rest of Montjane’s teammates could not repel the charge of the second-seeded Germans who took the honours in the remaining singles and doubles clashes to clinch the tie 2-1.

Earlier in the day, the 14-year-old South African Donald Ramphadi saw the ‘Rainbow Nation’ off to a great start in the juniors clash against the USA when he defeated Ryan Nelson 6-2 6-4 6-3.

Ramphadi looked the part in the first set but the American showed far more enterprise in the next and reeled off a series of forehand winners.

However, Ramphadi’s fine returns in the decisive set saw him break the American’s serve twice to run up an early 4—0 lead, which paid the way for his eventual 6-3 final-set scoreline.

The American juniors came back strongly in the remaining two matches to run out 2-1 overall winners.


EASTER TIME IS TENNIS TIME

Tshwane, Gauteng - ITF Wheelchair Tennis Assistant (Events/Projects) James Hamill-Reeves has announced that some of the 330 players from 44 nations that will contest the 27th edition of the Wheelchair Tennis World Team Cup (WTC), will start arriving in Pretoria today.
Just over 100 players from 19 countries have already been in the country since last week when they started out in the Wheelchair Tennis South African Open at Sun City.
The Wheelchair Tennis Team Cup, an ITF flagship wheelchair tennis event, runs from Sunday, April 24, to Sunday, May 1, on the hardcourts at the University of Pretoria.
Many of the players headed for South Africa’s executive capital city are seasoned journeymen and competing abroad in high altitude conditions hold no terrors for them.
“With this being the 27th edition of the WTC, most of the teams and players are used to travelling and dealing with all sorts (of challenges),” said Hamill-Reeves. “The teams hold no fear with regards to chair or any other technical problems that might arise.”
The eight-day event, which gets under way on Easter Sunday, has been dubbed “Easter Time is Tennis Time” by the tournament publicists.
This will be the first time that the world championship team event will be staged on African soil, and South Africa’s sporting fraternity can take a bow for hosting yet another world first for the continent, just months after staging the FIFA World Cup 2010.
Jacaranda City, as Pretoria is popularly known, has already hosted many international events in the past, and the University of Pretoria’s modern sports complex includes 22 tennis courts.
The men’s defending champions, Sweden, will be led by coach Toni Gustavsson who was voted the International Wheelchair Tennis Association’s “Coach of the Year”.
Their No 1, Stefan Olsson, will lead the charge on court and is ranked No 4 in the world presently.
The Netherlands are the defending women’s champions and their hopes rest heavily on the shoulders of the celebrated Ester Vergeer, a two-time Laureus award winner.
The sports Oscar-winning Vergeer is the world No 1 and she continues to dominate female wheelchair tennis after an unbeaten streak spanning several years now.
Hamill-Reeves anticipates that the competition will be keener than ever because of the proposed change in format for qualifying next year.
“The most defining factor of this year’s WTC is that from 2012 we are introducing a new format to the competition with the reduction of the Men’s World Groups 1 and 2 and the Women’s World Group from 16 to 12 teams each,” said Hamill-Reeves. “This will mean that if teams do not finish high enough they will have to participate in regional qualifications next year in order to try and qualify.
“This really is the big incentive and what we think will make the competition very strong this year.
“The men’s WG1 will be, we think, a three-horse race between defending champs Sweden, Netherlands and France.
“In men’s WG2, Japan have come with one top-10 and one top-20 player so they will be a strong favourite to get promotion to WG1.
“The Netherlands women’s team will be once again be strong favourites to retain their title that they have held for the last 11 years.
“The Quad draw is very strong this year with the US, GBR and ISR all leading contenders for the title.
“The Juniors once again will be very strong with the Dutch as favourites, as they have won the last three edition

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