Our wheelchair tennis player, Lucas Sithole recently won the Melbourne Open competing against the world’s strongest wheelchair players in the quad division.
As South Africa’s No1 player, Sithole was given the opportunity to participate in two Australian back-to-back tournaments in Melbourne and Sydney in January.┬á ÔÇ£Taking a title of this stature is a really big deal for South Africa and particularly for Sithole. We’re exceptionally proud of his performance and his determination is undoubtedly his edge,ÔÇØ said Wheelchair Tennis South Africa (WTSA) director Holger Losch.
Sithole, who hails from Natal and is now based in Gauteng, beat Britain’s Jamie Burdekin, the tournament’s top seed, 7-6 6-2 7-6 (5).┬á Following that celebrated coup Sithole then flexed his muscle at the Sydney Open ÔÇô the second event of the Australian NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour – and with his usual uncompromising drive managed to reach the finals.
It was the first time Sithole had reached the singles final of an ITF 1 Series event. For the second time in a week Sithole faced and defeated Burdekin, allowing him the chance to take on the world No 4 Nick Taylor from the USA.┬á Sithole playing with guts, determination, and passion, matched Taylor game on game. In the end it was only experience that allowed Taylor to take the match 6-4 7-6 (4). Sithole has now rung the warning bells that he is ready to take on the world.
WTSA currently celebrates 80 players on the world ranking – this is more than any other nation and a true accomplishment for any country with such a young team.┬áAn additional accolade is that two of the country’s players, Kgothatso Montjane and Sithole, are ranked among the top 20 in the world.
Participation in international tournaments such as these, alongside local equivalents are made possible by the generous sponsorships offered by Airports Company South Africa, the official sponsor of the sport. Airports Company South Africa has contributed no less than R14-million to date and has committed to a continued investment in the sport as its flagship CSI project.
Getting involved in wheelchair tennis is as simple as finding the closest weekly coaching programme;┬áthese are held at schools or disabled centres around the country and aim to develop and support those starting out at the game.
For more information contact Karen Losch on 083 325 1169 or e-mail [email protected]┬á or visit the website www.tennis.co.za