Silver for SA’s Dlamini at the Korean Open
Three of South Africa's rising wheelchair tennis stars Evans Maripa, Bongani Dlamini and Leon Els are on a three week tour to Korea. The first stop on the tour was the Korean Open where Bongani Dlamini showed he was in top form and wheeled away with the silver and title of Quads Singles Runner Up.
Bongani Dlamini, ranked no.27 in the world, was not only hungry for a title but prepared well for the tournament. Dlamini faced Mika Ishikarwa (CAN) first, posting a 6-3, 7-5 score line. This match proved to be a great warm up for his semi finals encounter with world no.10 Antonio Raffaele (ITA). Going into the match, Dlamini was upbeat and ready to take on a top ten player. The first set was an evenly contested battle that Dlamini narrowly lost 6-7, but Dlamini was far from finished. After a grueling three sets Dlamini took the match 6-7, 6-1, 6-4 to advance to the final. This was a significant win as it Dlamini's maiden victory over a top 10 player and the first time Dlamini has reached the finals of a Grade 1 event. The tournament, however, was not done for Dlamini, he still needed to face Nicholas Taylor (USA) in the finals. Taylor (USA), also a top 10 player, is one of the most crafty and experienced players on the tour but Dlamini wasn't intimidated. He lost the match 6-1, 7-6, but recorded another significant result, and confirmation he is doing the right stuff.
In the men's singles event, SA's no.1 Evans Maripa had an easy start to the event beating Sung-Lee KI (KOR) 6-1, 6-0 to face the 6th seeded Marc Mccarroll (GBR) in the quarter finals. Mccarroll, however proved to be the better player on the day, and defeated Maripa 2-6, 1-6. Leon Els, SA's no.2 won his 1st round match against Masahiro Honma (JPN) 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 to face the top seed Takashi Sanada (JPN) in the 2nd round losing the match 0-6, 0-6.
Evans Maripa and Leon Els both reached the men's doubles semi-finals with their respective partners. The 3rd seed duo of Maripa and Marc McCarroll (GBR) gave the 2nd seeds Takashi Sanada (JPN) and Ben Weekes (AUS) a hard time, narrowly losing the semi-final match 7-6, 7-5. Leon Els and Yoshi Fujimoto (JPN) lost their semi-final doubles match to top seeds Tom Egberink (NED) and Satoshi Saida (JPN) 6-2, 6-1.
The three South African players are currently playing the Daegu Open 10-14 June before heading to the Busan Open 16-19 June 2014.
Wheelchair Tennis Manager Karen Losch said "We are elated with Bongani's performance. Competing against the best players in the world regularly is so important for the players growth. We would like to thank our game sponsor Airports Company South Africa for making it possible for the players to compete at this level both at home and abroad. We look forward to our players bringing in these results on a regular basis."
Wheelchair Tennis South Africa and Airports Company South Africa Partnership:
Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) has for the 10 years been the official sponsor of Wheelchair Tennis South Africa and the sport of wheelchair tennis. Airports Company South Africa has contributed more than R25-million to date and has committed to a continued growth in the sport, helping the athletes to gain experience on the International circuit and to qualify and participate in the 2016 Paralympic games.
Wheelchair Tennis South Africa through the continued sponsorship from Airports Company South Africa hosts:
Six International Tennis Federation (ITF) tournaments,
Three National Camps,
An opportunity for top performers to participate abroad
Grassroot programmes at no less than 60 community centres and schools across South Africa