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ELS, VENTER AND HLATSWAYO FACE TOUGH ROAD TO SOWETO OPEN FINAL

Leon Els, Mariska Venter and Thando Hlatswayo produced a polished performance on Friday to advance to the semi-final round of the Soweto Open at Arthur Ashe Tennis Center but awaits tough tests in Saturday's semi-final round of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Futures event. 

The three must first vanquish their formidable opponents to reach finals of the Airports Company South Africa sponsored event.

The men's top seed Els, continued his winning streak with a 6-1 6-0 win over the seventh seed Ishmael Tshipuke in a quarterfinal match to set up a semi-final clash against Marshall Marsh. The Potchefstroom star was much less error-prone on Friday and says he's primed to take on his biggest competitor Marsh in Saturday's semi-finals. The three-time Soweto Open champion Els who has not lost a set the entire tournament, knows the threat posed by Marsh.

The two met last week in the finals of the Polokwane Open when Els was made to work hard for his victory after surviving a massive scare from the fourth seed. Marsh says he's out to avenge last week's loss. "I am going out there tomorrow to avenge my loss in the Polokwane Open final. I'm confident I can do it, because last week I won the opening set easily against Leon so this time I have to be more aggressive," said Marsh.

Thato Tsomole, the sixth seed from the North West Province caused a major upset when he outplayed third seeded and world number three junior Alwande Skhosana 0-6 7-6(5) 6-0. Tsomole now meet second seed Mzwanele Thentsi who saw off Mayenzeke Gwija 6-3 6-2.

Women's top seed Mariska Venter has advanced to the last four, beating compatriot Mabel Mankgele 6-4 6-3 in the Soweto Open quarter-final. The former world one junior Venter put on a dazzling display of wheels and shot variety against the fifth seed Mankgele, improving her record over the Tzaneen world number 77 to 8-4.

Her next opponent is the world number two junior Nokwanda Hlongwane who easily disposed of sixth seeded Nonkanyiso Nyosi 6-2 6-3.

Fourth seed Switzerland's Nalani Buob whitewashed eighth seeded Asive Gilifile 6-0 6-0 to reach the semi-finals in Jabavu. The 15-year-old Boub remained focused and kept up the pressure and she was effective on with serve and equally impressive with returns and never allowed her opponent back in the game.

In Saturday's semi-final, the Swiss will face second seed Thando Hlatswayo, who eliminated Phoebe Masika from Kenya 6-3 6-3. Hlatswayo met Buob in the finals of last week's Polokwane Open but lost to the Swiss 6-3 7-5.

Quad ace Danny Mohlamonyane, the second seed, also advanced to the last four after he dispatched Jeff Yates 6-0 6-0 and will face Queen Nhlapo in the semi-final who defeated Michael Mahlanya in a clean sweep 6-0 6-0.

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: www.tennis.co.za