15 April 2014
South African wheelchair tennis players Kgothatso “KG” Montjane and Evans Maripa, back home following strong performances in the United States, are feeling upbeat ahead of two major international tournaments taking place in Johannesburg.
The pair, along with quad star Lucas Sithole, will carry South African hopes into the Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) Gauteng Open, to be played at the Gauteng East Tennis Centre at Benoni Lake from 23 to 27 April. A grade one event, it is one of only 13 such tournaments in the world.
Top international players are expected to participate in the tournament, in preparation for the even more prestigious Acsa SA Open at Ellis Park in Johannesburg from 29 April 3 May. The Acsa SA Open has Super Series status and is one of only six such tournaments. The others are played in Australia, France, Japan, Great Britain and the United States.
Cajun Classic win
Montjane, South Africa’s number one and the world’s number seven ranked female wheelchair tennis player, returns fresh from winning the doubles title in the Cajun Classic Wheelchair tournament in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she and her British partner Jordan Whiley beat Sabine Ellerbrock and Lucy Shuker 7-6, 3-6, 11-9.
Montjane and Whiley, who are becoming a very potent force in women’s doubles, followed that up with another title in Pensacola, Florida, where they had walkovers in the semi-finals and the final.
The South African star will be going all out to impose herself on both tournaments and make people aware of the importance of wheelchair tennis. She is the defending singles champion in the Acsa Gauteng Open.
‘It’s given me a new life’
“I want to encourage other people with disabilities to play wheelchair tennis because it’s given me a new life and a healthy sense of well-being,” she said in a statement on Monday.
“You don’t have to be a champion to play wheelchair tennis. It shows people with disabilities that we can be active and lead good lives.”
Eager for home success
Maripa, South Africa men’s number one, has also been competing on the international circuit and is eager to do well in Benoni and Johannesburg.
A double amputee as a result of a birth defect, he was inspired by Montjane to take up wheelchair tennis, and within two years, won gold at the Asia Pacific Youth Para Games in Tokyo.
The cream of the world’s best players are expected in South Africa for the two tournaments, and play of the highest standard will be on display.