Team South Africa represents the nation with pride at the International Wheelchair Tennis World Team Cup
With the conclusion of the ITF Wheelchair Tennis World Team Cup – the most prestigious tennis event ever staged in this country – great admiration was served up for South Africa’s finest wheelchair tennis players. The team of 12 players, four coaches and one team manager were hand selected to compete in a pool of 300 players from 34 nations. South Africa was entered into four divisions: Men’s’, Group II, Women’s, Quad’s, and Junior’s.
Making History for SA
The men’s team made history with a much celebrated bronze medal beating Chile. “Winning the semi-finals was awesome – although we had been training hard we didn’t know how we were placed against the competition. The men played well and were set on a good result and we couldn’t have hoped for a more convincing win,” said Gerald Stoffberg, South Africa’s men’s Coach. SA’s No. 1, Sydwell Mathonsi, said, “My team mates Evans Maripa, Marshall Marsh and I played to the best of our ability and to say that we are happy with having reached the semifinals is an understatement. It was a collation of intense training, dedication and a winning attitude.”
Unbeaten in the World Team Cup
The highlight in the Women’s division was that South Africa’s Kgothatso Montjane was unbeaten in the tournament. She faced Katherina Kruger from Germany, No.10 in the world, and beat her twice in ten days, to solidify her international ranking of 15 in the world. South Africa’s women’s team Coach, Rene Plant said, “We’re extremely proud of Kgothatso and with this significant win it will only take hard work for her to qualify for the Paralympics.” With team mate Celia du Toit forced to retire due to illness, pressure was on the third member of the team, Rose van der Meer. “Rose fared well and was able to learn a lot about her own game, all the while gleaning skills from her international opponents. The experience will hold her in good stead,” said Plant.
In the quad’s division, the inexperienced South Africans faced fierce competition and the team made up of Lucas Sithole from Natal, Steven Kekai from Gauteng, and Limpopo resident David Mathebula, worked hard to maintain traction. Quad’s Coach, Kgotso Matshego said, “We were up against world class players with years more experience than we have. Lucas played exceptionally well and his win against Sweden was brilliant. Both Steven and David had not been exposed to international players and the exposure was good for both of them. All things considered I am very proud of the players.”
A first for SAThe junior’s Coach, Craig Fairall said, “Entering a junior’s team was a first for South Africa and Wheelchair Tennis South Africa is particularly proud of this. Although completely inexperienced, the team Donald Ramphadi, Gift Lekganyane, and Mabel Mankgele gave it their all and did so well,” said Fairall. The junior’s secured the seventh place pipping Zimbabwe to the post.
Wrapping up, team manager, Marius Masencamp said, “As a nation we can be very proud of our team, they played hard, they played smart, and they played with great sportsmanship. Well done team South Africa, you have left a positive impression on all 34 nations visiting our beautiful country!”
Tournament Director, Holger Losch, said, “It has been a week of great tennis with excellent performances all round. Over 300 players and 34 nations competed in South Africa and on the African continent for the first time. This was the 27th World Team Cup and we are extremely excited to have been a part of something so prestigious. It is thanks to our sponsors - Airports Company South Africa, Department of Sport and Recreation South Africa, and City of Tshwane who have made this ITF World Team Cup possible. We’d also like to thank the public for joining us at the tournament.”