South Africa represented at prestigious 2011 ITF British Open
Two South African wheelchair tennis players, Lucas Sithole and Kgothatso Montjane, traveled to England this month to participate in the 22nd British Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships. The two South Africans were among the group taking part in the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour Event , which was played recently in Nottingham.
The No.1 quad in South Africa, Sithole, who hails from Natal, was knocked out in the first round when he came up against Italian Antonio Raffaele. Sithole, known for his fighting spirit, battled and lost the first set but rebounded strongly in the second; the third set was won by Raffaele with a finish of 6-4 4-6 6-3.
Sithole's fortune turned in his favour when he played with heart in the consolation draw and successfully won his first top 10 victory, beating Bryan Barten from the USA 6-4 7-6(3). Wheelchair Tennis South Africa director Holger Losch said, "Lucas is a strong player and narrowly missed his chance at winning the third set in the main draw - but made an impressive comeback winning the consolation draw.
We are very proud of Lucas!" In the first round SA's No.1 in the women's section, Montjane, faced Pauline Helouin from France with an inspiring win of 6-0 6-1. Unluckily for Montjane her next opponent was none other than the world's No.1 player Ester Vergeer! Encouragingly enough, Montjane managed to take two games off the champion losing 1-6 1-6. Losch said, "It is good for Kgothatso to come up against the best in the world, it makes her work harder toward her goal of getting to the Paralympics in 2011.
To qualify she has to be ranked within the top 12 players in the world." As one of the fastest growing disabled sports around the globe, South Africa is proud to boast over 80 wheelchair tennis players who hold significant positions on the ITF world rankings; this is more than any other nation and a true accomplishment for any country with such a young team.
Wheelchair Tennis South Africa is proudly sponsored by Airports Company South Africa who is determined to see physically challenged individuals making sporting choices that support the pursuit of happiness and the realisation of a full and meaningful life.