SITHOLE AND MARIPA WIN GOLD IN JAPAN
South Africa's Sports Ace Lucas Sithole ranked no.2 in the world defeated the American world no.1 and defending champion David Wagner at the recent Japan Open 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 to lift his second Super Series trophy for 2014 and 3rd for his career. The Japan Open is one of the six top wheelchair tennis events on the ITF Wheelchair Tennis tour.
Triple amputee Lucas Sithole made history in September 2013 when he won the US Open title to become the first African to win a US Open Grand Slam. This is Sithole's 1st Japan Open title and also the 1st win against Wagner since the historic win over Wagner in September last year.
Sithole has faced and been defeated by Wagner six times since his US Open victory, with the most recent being at the Airports Company South Africa series in April 2014. Sithole however remains focused, determined and hungry for a title. At the Japan Open Sithole sailed through the draw defeating K Kondo (JPN) 6-0, 6-1 , A Hasan (MAS) 6-3, 6-0 and T Huang (TPE) 6-0, 6-1 to once again set up a Sithole vs Wagner final. Sithole started off slowly, and let Wagner dictate the game. With his back against the wall, and the odds against him, Sithole decided to change focus, take charge and dictate. After a mammoth battle Sithole eventually won the match and the title 1-6, 6-4, 6-4. After the match an elated Sithole said "This was a very big win for me mentally. It is the 1st time I have beaten David since the US Open. It has given me confidence and motivated me to continue to give it my all to reach my dream of becoming world no.1"
Sithole was not the only SA player to come home with a title and trophy. South African no.1 men's player and world ranked no.14 Evans Maripa together with his partner Shingo Kunieda (JPN) won the men's doubles title at the Japan Open Super Series. This was the first Super Series title for Maripa.
SA's no.1 woman player Kgothatso Montjane together with doubles partner Sabine Ellerbrock (GER) reached the doubles semi-final losing to Marjolein Buis (NED) and Yui Kamiji (JPN) 6-4, 2-6, 10-7. Both Maripa and Montjane reached the men and women's singles quarterfinals before being knocked out.
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 Evans 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.