Sithole Strikes Again
World no. 2 Lucas Sithole is determined to make 2014 his year. Sithole left for Australia in early January where in debilitating heat, and against tough competition, Sithole has claimed both the Apia Sydney and Melbourne Open's quad singles and doubles titles.
The Melbourne Open saw a composed Sithole comfortably defeat Jamie Burdekin (GBR) 6-4, 6-2. This was not only an impressive scoreline but a significant mental victory as Burdekin had defeated Sithole in the round robin match in Sydney the previous week. Sithole then continued this fine form to defeat world no three Lapthorne (GBR) 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (5) in yet another third set tie breaker.
SA's top women's wheelchair player Kgothatso Montjane currently ranked no.6 in the world also played in the Melbourne Open. Montjane reached the quarter finals where she was defeated by world no.2 Sabine Ellerbrock (GER) 1-6, 5-7.
The young and talented Evans Maripa, South Africa's no.1 player in the men's division was the third South African competing in the Melbourne Open. Maripa, currently ranked no. 16 internationally won his 1st match against Henry de Cure (AUS) 6-0, 6-0. Maripa then faced world no.1 Shingo Kunieda (JPN) who proved to strong, and defeated Maripa 3-6, 3-6.
It is clear that South African Ace, Lucas Sithole, has proven that he is no flash in the pan. Sithole won his 1st Super Series title at the British Open in July 2013, became the 1st African to win a US Open Grand Slam title in September 2013, and was the runner up at the NEC World Singles Masters in November 2013, and has now followed it up with a successful Australian tour by winning both the Apia Sydney International Open and The Melbourne Open. All eyes and attention are now on the first Grand slam of the year - the Australian Open taking place from 22-25 January where both Sithole and Montjane will be representing South Africa. Sithole will be playing his 1st match at the Australian Open against world no.2 Andy Lapthorne (GBR) and Kgothatso Montjane will be facing the top seed and world no.2 Sabine Ellerbrock (GER) in her quarter final match.
Holger Losch, Coach and Director of Wheelchair Tennis South Africa says "Both KG and Lucas have prepared well, are in good spirits, and are capable of bringing home the titles. We wish them luck and offer our support to two real champions."
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 and Kgothatso 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.