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Wheelchair tennis team for Turkey

A team of nine South African wheelchair tennis players, all remarkable athletes in their own right, through sheer guts and determination have qualified to compete in the 2010 World Team Cup in May.

The team will travel to Turkey where they will represent SA in the 26th World Team Cup tournament. This is the most prestigious event on the international tennis calendar and is often referred to as the Davis Cup of wheelchair tennis.

Approximately 300 of the most talented players from 33 nations gather from all corners of the globe to compete from the 3-9 May.┬á The tournament includes four divisions: men’s, women’s, quad’s, and juniors.┬á Barring the juniors, SA will be represented in all divisions.

It is the sixth time that Mzansi will be represented at the games, Wheelchair Tennis South Africa (WTSA) chairperson, director and performance coach Holger Losch said, ÔÇ£Our 2010 team is the strongest yet and our hopes are high for the players performances to be worthy of bringing honour to our countryÔÇØ.

In the men’s division, South Africa’s top ranked player, double amputee, Sydwell Mathonsi, will be accompanied by three team mates: the up and coming 19 year-old Evans Maripa, who won gold at the Asia Pacific Youth Para Games in 2009; Pretoria’s Patrick Selepe, a single amputee as a result of battling and conquering cancer, and has used his fighting spirit to win himself national colours; and post polio victim Desmond Monyamane from Polokwane, whose gentle spirit solidifies at court-temperature.

The women’s team will be spearheaded by Kgothatso Montjane, SA’s golden girl, who recently won the women’s title at the SA Open by beating British competitor, Louise Hunt.┬á She will be supported by Refilwe Mooketsi, and Rose van der Meer. Mooketsi is a first time member of the SA team and is a strong and fast competitor; Pretoria teammate Rose van der Meer is no novice to this high-status competition and has teamed up with Montjane in previous World Team Cups to make SA proud.

The impressive quad line-up includes Lucas Sithole and Steven Kekai. Sithole is the number one quad in SA and has been ranked as high as 13 in the world, while Kekai is currently ranked 33. This team event is a golden opportunity for both champs to see how they fair against the top seven quad nations in the world. The players, coaches and fellow South Africans are all hungry to see if these two stars can occupy one of the top six positions and qualify on merit for next year’s World Team Cup to be held in SA.

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.┬á An additional accolade is that two of the country’s players, Montjane and Sithole are ranked among the top 20 in the world.

Managing the women’s team is WTSA’s Losch and wheelchair bound coach Craig Fairall, a previously ranked player in the top 10 in the world, who will be accompanying the men’s team, with coach Marius Masencamp accompanying the quads.

National and international tournaments are made possible by WTSA sponsor Airports Company South Africa which has contributed no less than R14-million to the sport since 2005.┬á More recently the National Lottery Distribution Fund came on board as a secondary sponsor donating no less than R 2.5 ÔÇô million to date.

Already champions, the Wheelchair Tennis South Africa (WTSA) squad will proudly fly out in green and gold and all Gautengers are invited to an airport send off from OR Tambo International on Thursday, 29th April at 2pm. Look for banners near CNA and Wandies at the International Departure’s terminal at the airport. ÔÇ£Our players are among the country’s best sportsmen and they deserve all the support we can give them as they head off to represent the Rainbow NationÔÇØ said Losch.

WTSA is determined to see physically challenged individuals making sporting choices that support the pursuit of happiness and the realisation of a full and meaningful life. Tennis teaches disabled people valuable life skills and all those who are interested should contact Karen Losch Tel: 083 325 1169 Fax: 086 651 6664 email: [email protected]