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South African players to benefit from home double header

Last week, South Africa’s top wheelchair tennis player, Kgothatso Montjane was ecstatic. The world number 10 ranked player showed great delight after hearing that Wheelchair Tennis South Africa would be hosting two major tournaments in her beloved country.

The International Tennis Federation confirmed that they had sanctioned South Africa to host to two of the most important tournaments on the wheelchair tennis calendar – the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open and the Airports Company South Africa SA Open in April.

For Montjane, affectionately known as “KG on the circuit, this is a dream come true. “It’s great that we can compete at the highest level at home with our friends and fans watching us and giving support in conditions we are accustomed to travel all around the world to compete at the top level is expensive and exhausting so to play at home is a real bonus.

The ACSA Gauteng Open is one of the 13 Grade 1 events on the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour and will be staged in Benoni from April 3 to 7. The tournament will be an important warm up tournament for the Airports Company South African SA Open, which is one of only six Super Series events on the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour. The ACSA SA Open will be played at Ellis Park from April 9 to 13.

Other than Montjane, a host of other South African players will benefit from the events. In the men’s section, Evans Maripa is the country’s top hope with up and coming Leon Els seen as the possible “dark horse of the tournament. World number 7, Lucas Sithole is expected to do the country proud in the Quads division and Gift Lekhanyane of Johannesburg will go into both events as our top ranked junior.

This will be the first time a Super Series tournament will be staged on the African continent. The other five are played in Australia, Japan, France, Britain and the USA.

Wheelchair Tennis South Africa have made incredible strides since their humble beginnings in 2002. The Association hosted their first international tournament back in 2004 and then proved to the world that they could host the very best when they managed and promoted the prestigious ITF World Team Cup in Pretoria two years ago.

With the help of their sponsors, Airports Company South Africa, Wheelchair Tennis South Africa were able to negotiate to host these upcoming tournaments which form a major part of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour.

Karen Losch, General Manager of Wheelchair Tennis South Africa said by hosting tournaments of this nature, they would be able to inspire future players and use the tournaments to boost the development of the game in the country. “Our structures are sound, secure and working said Losch. “We are recognised a leader in the development of wheelchair tennis around the world and the impressive crop of talent that has unfolded over the past ten years is proof that South Africa is capable of competing at the highest level in the sport. “Now our players, who have developed from humble beginning and are making names for themselves on the international scene have the opportunity in their own back yard of competing for glory, honour and all important world ranking points and on top of it all, they can gain important experience which will hold them in good stead for their future careers.

Published by The BLD Group