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It was pretty much smooth sailing for all seeds on the opening day of the Soweto Open, an International Tennis Federation (ITF) Futures event staged at Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre in Soweto on Thursday.

Three-time Soweto Open champion Leon Els is hunting his fourth title at the Airports Company South Africa sponsored event and began his title defence with a master-class performance. The top seed Els saw off compatriot Alfred Gaje 6-0 6-1 in the opening round and just after a few minutes rest, the 28-year-old dispatched Vuyisani Mantshula 6-3 6-4 to advance to Friday’s quarterfinal round.

East London’s Mzwanele Thentsi, seeded second, also advanced to the quarterfinal round after defeating Gift Lekhanyane in a tough two-setter 7-6(8) 6-1 in the first round and went on to topple Xolelani Nyandeni 6-2 6-3 in the second round.

In the women’s event, top seed Mariska Venter who is gung-ho ahead of the Soweto Open after mixed performance in Polokwane enjoyed a bye in the first round. The top seed dismantled Jane Ndenga 6-1 6-2 in the second round to book her spot in the last eight at Arthur Ashe. Second seed Thando Hlatswayo and Nokwanda Hlongwane also advanced to the next round in the women’s singles.

Hlatswayo defeated country-girl Lerato Mathonsi 6-1 6-0 and will meetunseeded Phoebe Masika from Kenya who eliminated seventh seed Lethabo Shai, while Hlongwane who knocked out Nsuku Ndlovu 6-1 6-2 will play compatriot Nonkanyiso Nyosi.

Top seed venter will face fifth seed Mabel Mankgele in tomorrow’s quarterfinal.

Switzerland’s fourth seed Nalani Buob and reigning Polokwane Open champion ousted Alisha Sadler-Almeida 6-1 6-0 and will go head-to-head against eighth seeded Asive Gilifile.

Wheelchair Tennis South Africa and Airports Company South Africa Partnership:

The Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) is the official sponsor of Wheelchair Tennis South Africa and the sport of wheelchair tennis. Airports Company South Africa has contributed no less than R36-million to date and has committed to a continued investment in the sport as its flagship Corporate Social Investment programme.

For more information please contact Anthony Moruthane 082 382 0850 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or please visit: