14 March 2013

South Africa: Wheelchair Tennis Stars Head for SA

Photo: Wheelchair Tennis South Africa
Kgothatso KG Montjane, South Africa wheelchair tennis player.

Wheelchair tennis in South Africa received a huge boost on Wednesday when it was confirmed that three world number one players will be taking part in the Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) sponsored Gauteng Open and South African Open in April.

Players from 13 countries, including South Africa, will contest the events, which take place from 3 to 7 April and 9 to 13 April respectively.

Australian Open champion

The world's number one male player, Shingo Kunieda of Japan, has confirmed his entry. The 29-year-old right-hander has an impressive 377-52 win-loss record and won the Australian Open in Melbourne earlier this year.

Kunieda is also the reigning NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters title holder and won gold at the London Paralympics last year.

Joining Kunieda in the draw will be three other world top-10 ranked players in Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina (5), Masters runner-up Gordon Reid of Great Britain (8) and French star Michael Jeremiasz (9).

Evans Maripa, at number 28 in the world, is South Africa's leading player.

Women's draw

In the women's draw, four top-10 players have confirmed their entries, including the world's number one player Aniek van Koot of the Netherlands, who recently took over the top spot when legendary longstanding world champion Esther Vergeer, also from Netherlands, announced her retirement from the game.

Van Koot is the reigning Australian Open and NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters champion and won a silver medal at the London Paralympics, losing to Vergeer in the final.

The other top-10 entries received include world number four, Jiske Griffion (Netherlands), number six Lucy Shuker (Great Britain) and South African ace KG Montjane, who is ranked tenth.


In the quads division, world number one David Wagner of the USA has confirmed his entry. South Africa's Lucas Sithole, ranked seventh in the world, is likely to be Wagner's strongest opposition.

In the women's quads, Canadian Sarah Hunter, ranked one spot outside the top 10, is also travelling to South Africa.

The Acsa Gauteng Open, a grade one event, will be played at the Benoni and the Gauteng East Tennis Complex, while the Acsa SA Open, one of only six Super Series tournaments, will be played at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg. Both tournaments form part of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour.

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