Johannesburg - The cream of the crop in South African wheelchair tennis – Kgothatso “KG” Montjane, Lucas Sithole and Evans Maripa – will be vying for titles at the Australian Open this month.
The International Tennis Federation level one event starts in Australia on Tuesday and promises to be exciting and competitive.
This tournament comes hot on the heels of the Sydney Wheelchair Tennis Open.
Sithole and KG both lost in the finals of the Melbourne Open last year, so they will be hoping to make amends and bring silverware home this time around.
KG, South Africa’s leading women’s wheelchair tennis star, was ousted by world number two Diede de Groot from the Netherlands at the Sydney tournament.
De Groot ended Montjane’s remarkable run in the women’s quarterfinal with a straight-sets win. It was De Groot’s fourth win against the Limpopo-born Montjane.
“Diede de Groot deserved to win [on Thursday]; she was definitely the better player on the court,” said Montjane after the match.
Her Sydney Open came to a sad end after losing with her doubles partner, Germany’s Sabine Ellerbrock.
The pair were denied a spot in the final by De Groot and Aniek van Koot, who beat them 6-3, 6-4.
Grand slam tournament
Sithole, a world number four quad phenomenon, cruised into the semifinal round and easily beat world number 23 Shota Kawano of Japan.
He booked a semifinal showdown with defending champion and tournament favourite Dylan Alcott, after dominating Kawano in a 6-2, 6-3 victory. However, he was knocked out by Alcott on Friday.
World number 12 Maripa was knocked out early in the week. He lost in the second round to world number five Nicolas Peifer of France.
Montjane will represent the country in the much-anticipated grand slam tournament, which will be held at Melbourne Park from January 24 to 27.