24 July 2013
South Africa’s Lucas Sithole became the first African to win a wheelchair tennis Super Series title on the weekend when he beat world number one David Wagner 7- 5, 6-7, 6-4 to claim the quads singles title at the British Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships.
Sithole has won 23 singles titles to date, including the Korea and Daegu Opens in June 2012, but the prestigious British Open Quads singles title is his biggest win to date.
One of only six Super Series events, the British Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships was played at the Nottingham Tennis Centre.
Sithole began his title challenge strongly, defeating Great Britain’s Antony Cotterill 6-2, 6-1 to set up a semi-final showdown with his long-time rival, Jamie Burdekin.
Focused, determined and clinical in his execution, Sithole defeated the British star, ranked 11th in the world, 6-4, 6-4 to advance to his third Super Series singles final of the year, and his second meeting with world number one David Wagner.
Sithole had beaten Wagner only once previously, in the Airports Company South Africa SA Open in April. However, sticking to his game plan, Sithole showed moments of brilliance to defeat Wagner 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-4 and claim the trophy.
Sithole’s coach Holger Losch said in a statement: “We are very proud of Lucas, and believe winning one of the six big events on the world tour is a very important step to him realising his dream of being world number one.”
“We are so proud of Lucas, and know he has the talent and ability to win numerous titles of this magnitude. Congratulations Lucas, to your first of many,” said Wheelchair Tennis South Africa’s manager, Karen Losch.
“We would also like to thank Airports Company South Africa for their sponsorship which gives the players the opportunity to participate in international events and to realise their dreams,” Losch added.
Sithole and Burdekin reached the semi-finals of the doubles competition, where they lost to the top seeds, Wagner and Sarah Hunter 5-7, 3-6.
South African golden girl, Kgothatso “KG” Montjane, ranked sixth in the world, ran into an inspired Jiske Griffioen, ranked third in the world, in the quarter-finals of the women’s singles competition and was beaten 6-2, 6-2.
The doubles proved to be more fruitful for Montjane as she and her Dutch partner Marjolein Buis won through to the final where their winning streak was ended by Griffioen and Aniek van Koot, who emerged 6-2, 7-5 victors.
Montjane and Sithole were eliminated in the semi-final of the miex doubles, going down 0-6, 5-7 to the English pairing of Marc McCarroll and Jordanne Whiley.
SAinfo reporter and Wheelchair Tennis South Africa