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Top seeds maintain winning streak in Mangaung

Defending champions, men's top seed Leon Els of Potchefstroom and women's number one seed Mariska Venter maintained their winning streak in the men's and women's singles of the Bloem Open at Oud Studente Tennis Club in Bloemfontein on Monday.

The world number 35 Leon Els, who made his debut at the recent Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro easily disposed of world number 10 junior Mpho Mhlongo 6-1 6-1 in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Futures tournament sponsored by Airports Company South Africa to reach the semi-finals in Mangaung.

The 28-year-old Els will go up against world number three junior Alwande Skhosana after the Kwazulu-Natal star prevailed over eighth-seeded Luwie Mabelane to win 6-3 6-0.

Skhosana said he is primed to challenge the top seed on Tuesday, “I feel I am ready to take on a big challenge and all I have to do is stick to my game plan. I am hungrier than ever so I will give it my all.”

In another men's quarter-final, second seed Marshall Marsh thrashed Gift Lekhanyane 6-1 6-1 to also make it to the semi-finals. The country's number three ace will next tangle with fourth seed Donald Ramphadi, who defeated Mayenzeke Gwija 6-2 6-2.

The top seeds in the Women's division also lived up to their billing on Monday as Venter, Second seed Thando Hlatswayo, top junior Nokwanda Hlongwane and sixth-seeded Asive Gilifile all punched their ticket to Tuesday's semi-finals.

Top seed and former junior world number one Venter cruised from the get-go in her clean sweep 6-0 6-0 win over 20-year-old Germiston native Lethabo Shai. Venter is inches closer to her second title in Mangaung but will have to go past Adelaide Tambo’s Asive Gilifile, seeded sixth in the next round.

While the second seed Thando Hlatswayo was able to make it look easy to put down Tanzanian Rehema Selemani 6-2 6-0, the 20-year-old will face a tough customer in Tuesday's semi-final.

The country's top junior star Nokwanda Hlongwane engineered a 6-1 6-1 rout in less than an hour, outclassing a big-serving Lerato Mathonsi to join her best friend Thando Hlatswayo in the semi-finals for a place in the last four.