Cape Town - South African former world No 2 junior, Thando Hlatshwayo, has passed away at the age of 20.
Health24: Learn more about meningitis
Hlatswayo, who hails from Paulpietersburg in KwaZulu-Natal, lost her battle against meningitis early on Tuesday after a very short illness, her family confirmed.
Hlatswayo took up wheelchair tennis in 2009, played her first tournament in April 2010 in East London and after just two years in the sport she represented the country in the ITF Junior Camp Mechelen in Belgium.
The 20-year-old ever-smiling Hlatswayo also represented South Africa in Russia, Great Britain, Sri Lanka and Mauritius.
Hlatswayo was ranked 49th in the world in the women’s division with her best singles ranking at 36th, and her most notable career moment was reaching the finals of the Airports Company South Africa Johannesburg Open, an ITF level 3 event at Ellis Park Tennis Stadium in December 2015.
Her last tournament was in October this year in Bloemfontein where she clinched a doubles title and finished as runner-up in the singles event to Mariska Venter.
Wheelchair Tennis South Africa General Manager Karen Losch said: “Today we have lost a shining light from the heart of South African wheelchair tennis - a true role model, a great competitor and a wonderful friend.
"We have so many special memories to cherish, but this leaves a gaping hole for everybody, and words simply cannot express how saddened we are by this news.
"May she rest in peace and remain in our memories forever,” added Losch.
Hlatshwayo will be laid to rest this weekend on Sunday at 10:30 at her home in Paulpietersburg at Bilanyoni Section.