Two University of Johannesburg (UJ) wheelchair tennis players were awarded top honours at the 2011 South Africa Sports Awards held at Sun City on Sunday evening.
Lucas Sithole won the Sportsman of the year award and Kgothatso Montjane the Sportswoman of the year award in the categories Sportsman/woman of the year with a Disability.
The winning pair, both in their mid-twenties and members of the UJ Performance Excellence Centre, represents South Africa’s number one ranked players in the Men’s Quad Division and the Women’s Division respectively. Both the players also enjoy a top twenty world ranking according to International Tennis Federation (ITF) with Sithole at No14 and Montjane at No17 in their divisions.
UJ Sport says about this achievement, ÔÇ£As a University we are incredibly proud of what these student-athletes have achieved. Both Lucas and KG have been through great adversity in their lives and are roles models for all other athletes. Their attitude and approach to life has brought them this far and we have no doubt that these attributes will take them a great deal further both personally and professionally. UJ Sport is thrilled that Wheelchair Tennis South Africa (WTSA) selected our institution to further both their academic and sporting careers. We will continue to support and develop these talented student-athletes in order to take their level of achievement to the next step. UJ Sport salutes both these remarkable athletes on their brilliant achievementÔÇØ.
Sithole, who hails from Newcastle in Natal, won the Melbourne Open Singles title earlier this year and has a string of wins behind his name. He was recognised ahead of two other nominees, athletes Samkelo Radebe ÔÇô (another member of the UJ Performance Excellence Centre) ÔÇô and Hilton Langenhoven, at this year’s awards.
According to Holger Losch; the Director of Wheelchair Tennis South Africa, Sithole possesses the perfect mind and body for tennis. ÔÇ£Lucas is light and agile on the court with the ability to use his strengths to his advantage. He always plays to winÔÇØ says Losch.
Polokwane-born Montjane began her tennis career about five years ago when Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) provided facilities for wheelchair tennis in her community. ÔÇ£I came to realise that I have a great talent in tennis. When I began playing in 2005 I knew nothing about the sport but now I am incredibly proud of my achievementsÔÇØ she says.
Both players were also nominated for the recently held Gauteng Sports Awards where Montjane again took the winning spot and Sithole was awarded the silver in his category. Those in the know predict that these two stars are definitely worth watching out for as South Africa prepares to compete at the 2012 Paralympic games in London.