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South African international wheelchair tennis events of paramount significance

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.

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.

Published by The BLD Group