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Sithole & Montjane do it for 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.

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.

Published by The BLD Group