Montjane, Maripa out – Sithole remains SA's last hope at Paralympics
Kgothatso Montjane and Evans Maripa have seen their Paralympic campaign cut short after defeats to China’s Zhenzhen Zhu and Takuya Miki from Japan respectively at the Rio Paralympics wheelchair tennis event on Sunday evening.
Eight seeded Montjane was expected to find a way past her Chinese opponent in the women’s singles second round on Sunday at Olympic Tennis Centre, having played some impressive tennis when she opened her account against Miho Nijo from Japan on Saturday.
However the South African world number nine, who had the weight of the African continent on her shoulders as its only female competitor was denied a chance at a medal and suffered a hard-fought three-setter 6-4 4-6 7-5 defeat to Zhu.
Montjane fought back after dropping the first set, 4-6, found her groove to win the second-set, but after long rallies, Zhu clinched the deciding set 7-5. The 30-year-old said she allowed the Chinese girl’s use of the high ball to rattle her.
In the men’s singles event, Evans Maripa, the 26-year-old pressed and fought but ultimately failed to escape Paralympic second round against number ten seed Japanese Takuya Miki.
The South African world number 17 lost 7-6(1) 7-5 against the Japanese world number 10.
Maripa fought back to 5-5 from 5-3 down in the second set and saved two match points, but was finally undone as Miki immediately took two games to win the match.
Later in the day, Maripa joined forces with compatriot Leon Els against Gustavo Fernandez and Agustin Ledesma in the men’s doubles. Despite their fighting spirit, the South African duo were ousted after losing 7-5 6-2 to Argentinian pair in a match that took an hour and 45 minutes.
Third seed quad ace Lucas Sithole is the last remaining South African player in the draw following the exits of Leon Els, Evans Maripa and Kgothatso Montjane. Sithole will be looking to advance to the final on Monday but faces a tough opposition from Australian world number one Dylan Alcott in the semifinal round on court 2 not before 23:00.