The 27th edition of the Wheelchair Tennis World Team Cup in Tshwane next month promises to be an exciting event with nine of the top 10 men and eight of the top 10 women players coming to South African to take part.
Tournament Director Holger Losch said South Africa is privileged to host a tournament with this quality of player. ÔÇ£These are the best players in the world,ÔÇØ said Losch. ÔÇ£It is very rare to get all these players at one event and the public will be able to watch wheelchair tennis at its finest.ÔÇØ
Defending champions in the Men’s World Group I Division are Sweden, who upset top seeds The Netherlands in last year’s final. They’ll be back to try and retain their title and will be led by world No 2 Stefan Olsson. The 23-year-old made it to the semi-finals of the Australian Open and the finals of the 2010 French Open where he lost to world No 1 Shingo Junieda of Japan 4-6 0-6. Olsson will be backed up by quality doubles specialists Dan Wallin and Niclas Rodhborn, who made the difference in winning last year’s event.
Challenging Sweden for the cup will be the experienced Dutch team, who boast three players in the top 10, including the flamboyant Robin Ammerlaan – a former world No 1 – and France, led by world No 3 Stephane Houdet.
The world group division I, made up of 16 countries, will compete in a knockout tournament. The countries competing are Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, France, Great Britain, Germany, Korea, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Slovakia, Sweden and Thailand.
Favourites in the women’s division are defending champions The Netherlands, who will be sending their best team, led by world renown No 1 Ester Vergeer. The US Open and Australian Open champion will be supported by world No 3 Sharon Walraven, No 4 Aniek van Koot and No 8 Marjolein Buis.
Although The Netherlands are firm favourites they will need to keep an eye out for Great Britain, who have two top 10 players, namely Lucy Shuker and Jordanne Whiley. Shuker, who has recently beaten two of the Dutch top 10 players, will be confident Great Britain can cause a few upsets during the tournament.
The women’s division, which will be played in the same format as the men’s, will also comprise 16 countries, namely Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Great Britain, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand and The United States of America.
Local team South Africa will look to upset some of the top countries in the women’s division, led by Kgothatso Montjane, currently ranked 17th in the world.
Montjane said the team were optimistic about their chances going into the tournament. ÔÇ£We are very excited to be playing the World Team Cup in our own backyard and the girls will give their all to make South Africa proud and uplift Wheelchair Tennis in the country,ÔÇØ Montjane said.
The event takes place at the University of Pretoria Sports grounds from 24 April to 1 May.