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Top wheelchair tennis field entered for the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open

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.”

Published by The BLD Group