The top four seeded men’s sides all scored emphatic 3-0 wins on the opening day of the 2011 ITF Wheelchair Tennis World Team Cup in Pretoria on Monday and local star Kgothatso Montjane had a superb win despite South Africa losing their clash.
Top seeds, the Netherlands, led the charge in the Men’s World Group 1 by destroying European neighbours Germany 3-0 and second seeded France followed suit in a later match with the same overall scoreline.
Great Britain, the third seeds, were much too strong for the Slovak Republic and the highly experienced Swedes rolled over Columbia without raising a sweat.
In the women’s World Group competition, the unseeded Americans caused an upset by whitewashing the fifth seeds, Chile, 3-0.
Much of the local focus centered on the 24-year-old Montjane, who provided South Africa with a great start when she defeated Germany’s Katharina Krueger 2-6 6-2 6-4.
The 20-year-old Krueger, the Germany’s number one, lead the charge for the tournament’s second seeds but she failed to reckon with the fighting resolve of the South African, who only a few days ago caught the eye with a straight-sets win over the German at Sun City during the SA Open.
Afterwards, the 20th world-ranked Montjane said her shot selection was the key to her victory over the 11th world-ranked Germany. “I made errors with some of my shots but overall I’m happy with my performance,” said Montjane.
“When I looked back I think that although I made errors with my shot selection I persevered with my game plan and that saw me home later in the match.
“This win will rank as one my best in my career, and now I’m just looking forward to the next match.”
At the start of the first set the players exchanged service breaks and scores were level at 2-all after four games but then Montjane suffered a lapse of form and failed to hold service in the rest of the set.
In the next set Montjane put her German opponent under pressure with a tremendous return of serve performance and the resultant pressure gave her two breaks of serve and the South African reduced the stalemate with a 6-2 margin.
A real dog-fight marked early play in the third set and after either suffered service breaks, normality was restored at 3-3. After Montjane had run up a 5-4 lead on serve, she dug dig for a strong finish as she broke to round off a thrilling 2-6 6-2 6-4 victory over the German.
However, the rest of Montjane’s teammates could not repel the charge of the second-seeded Germans who took the honours in the remaining singles and doubles clashes to clinch the tie 2-1.
Earlier in the day, the 14-year-old South African Donald Ramphadi saw the ‘Rainbow Nation’ off to a great start in the juniors clash against the USA when he defeated Ryan Nelson 6-2 6-4 6-3.
Ramphadi looked the part in the first set but the American showed far more enterprise in the next and reeled off a series of forehand winners. However, Ramphadi’s fine returns in the decisive set saw him break the American’s serve twice to run up an early 4–0 lead, which paid the way for his eventual 6-3 final-set scoreline.
The American juniors came back strongly in the remaining two matches to run out 2-1 overall winners.