South Africa's junior tennis players proved they are the best on the continent by dominating the African Junior Championships at the University of North West in Potchefstroom over the weekend.
Of the four sections in the under-18 tournament, local juniors captured three titles, with the fourth going to Egypt.
Wayne Montgomery, the highest world ranked junior tennis player on the continent at number eight in the world, won the boys' singles, beating second seed Mazen Osama of Egypt 6-7, 6-2, 6-2.
The top seed struggled in the opening set, squandering a set point when 6-5 up. When it went to a tie-breaker, Osama raced into a 4-1 on his way to taking the lead. Montgomery, though, regrouped and easily won the second and third sets, losing only four more games, to clinch the title.
Montgomery then teamed up with his good friend Matthew Rossouw to win the doubles. Seeded number one, they beat another South African pair, fifth-seeded twins Francois and Okkie Kellerman, 6-2 7-5 in the final.
South Africa's third title came when in an all-South African girls' doubles final when Janet Koch and Jessica Simpson, the fourth seeds, upset third seeds Lynn Kiro and Theresa Van Zyl 6-3 6-4.
Egypt captured the girls' singles title to prevent a South African clean sweep of the titles on offer. Third seed Sandra Samir dominated third seed Lynn Kiro 6-4 6-1 in the final to take the honours.
The Egyptian upset defending African Junior champion and top seed Ilze Hattingh of Pretoria in three sets in the semi-finals.
Tennis South Africa President Bongani Zondi was impressed with the performance of the country's leading junior players. "Once again we have proved our dominance in Africa," he said.
'Competition was tough'
"Our players need to be congratulated on their results. Even though we as Tennis South Africa decided to host the Championships in Potchefstroom to give our juniors home town advantage, the competition was tough and our junior players made the very most of the opportunity thrown at them."
Zondi also made a call for corporate South Africa to get behind Tennis South Africa, saying the sport is facing huge challenges because of a lack of sponsorship. "Despite all our continued efforts, we are not able as the national tennis body to secure major corporate sponsorship, which is crippling our efforts to develop the game and give the deserved opportunity to our top junior players," he said.
"We have such a great pool of talent and if only we could secure financial backing to take our top junior players to the next level we would be able to produce stars, heroes and a group of professional players that would do the country proud."