Wheelchair Tennis SA - a Winner at the SA Sports Awards
Pretoria, South Africa. – Wheelchair Tennis South Africa scooped four out of five awards that they were nominated for at the 2013 edition of the SA Sports Awards held at Sun City over the weekend - Newcomer of the Year, Sportsman of the Year with a disability, Sportswoman of the Year with a disability and Coach of the Year.
Lucas Sithole, the first African to win a major tournament at the US Open in September, received the accolade of Sportsman of the year with a disability. This was befitting for a player who has risen to a career high of world number 2 in the quads division. Sithole has shown that he is a force to be reckoned with by winning the British Open, Korean Open and being runner up in the Airports Company South Africa SA Open, beating the world number one ranked player, David Wagner, four times in the process. He wrapped up a good year with a runner-up spot at the year-end Masters Series in California in November.
Kgothatso Montjane was the first African player to qualify and participate at the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters and Invacare Doubles Masters in 2012. Her rise to number 6 in the world paved a way for her accolade in the Sportswoman of the Year with a disability award. She made semi-finals at the Australian Open Grand Slam, qualified for the French Open Grand Slam and won the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open before becoming runner up at the year-end Masters Doubles tournament.
Holger Losch and Thato Tsomole capped off a successful evening with Coach of the Year and Newcomer of the Year awards, respectively. Sixteen year old Tsomole from Brits, North West, is a dynamic and extremely talented young player currently ranked number3 in the junior world rankings and ninth in the South African men's division.
It was perhaps fitting that, with all wheelchair tennis stars on stage on the night, High Performance coach, Holger Losch, was acknowledged as Coach of the Year. Losch's involvement stretches far beyond his work on court; he was instrumental in forming the association and coaching players as far back as 2001. Losch is a former professional on the able-bodied tennis and is a stern believer in optimising and ensuring that there is a fresh pipeline for players in any sport for results to filter through. The International Tennis Federation also honoured Losch earlier this year by awarding himthe International Wheelchair Tennis Coach of the Year.
"Airports Company South Africa is proud of its association with Wheelchair Tennis South Africa. We congratulate Lucas, Kgothatso, Thato and Holger on their recent achievements at the SA Sport Awards. The company is especially proud to have partnered with WTSA to develop and grow these players from grassroot programmes to becoming the best in the world," says Bongani Maseko, Managing Director of Airports Company South Africa. "In line with our maxim of 'Moving People, Changing Lives' Airports Company South Africa is committed to the disability sector through its involvement with sporting organisations like WTSA as well as the Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge. We look forward to seeing the athletes continue to grow the sport and break records," Maseko concludes.
Wheelchair Tennis South Africa and Airports Company South Africa Partnership:
Airports Company South Africa is the official sponsor of Wheelchair Tennis South Africa. The company is committed to a continued investment in the sport as its flagship Corporate Social Investment programme and through this partnership; the company hopes to produce more achievers like Lucas, Kgothatso and Thato ahead of the 2016 Paralympic Games and beyond. Airports Company South Africa would like to encourage more young people to be inspired by the players' achievement and get involved in the sport.