The world of wheelchair tennis in South Africa has a jam-packed schedule for the upcoming months. First on its agenda is the One-day Wheelchair Tennis Tournament that will be held in Soweto on Saturday.
One-day Wheelchair Tennis Tournament
A record number of 60 players from six centres will participate in the provincial league, which will take place at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre in Jabavu, Soweto, on Saturday, May 11. The tournament aims to improve and increase the level of play and knowledge among the most promising and upcoming tennis stars.
From these players, entries will also be decided for forthcoming major international tournaments, including the Soweto Open Futures in July and the South African Spring Open in September.
The One-Day Wheelchair Tennis Tournament, sponsored by Grandslots Gauteng, will showcase some the best local junior players, including promising star Mpho Mhlongo, who represented South Africa at the 2018 Junior Masters in France. Other notable players include Mabel Mankgele, Mirguel Masia and Ewald Lamprecht.
Spectators are welcome to attend the tournament free of charge. Patrick Selepe, development manager at Wheelchair Tennis South Africa (WTSA), will spearhead the tournament with assistance from regional tennis coaches.
“We continue to offer our players opportunities to compete to elevate their level of play,” says Selepe. “These events also help us identify talent, so that we can continue to develop more players and build future stars. We want to remain among the best in the world.
“In order to achieve this, our upcoming players need to be exposed to competition, otherwise there might be a gap in the experience of the players after a few years. Young talent needs to be nurtured so that they can take the next step.”
2019 BNP Paribas World Team Cup
WTSA has also named the team that will represent South Africa at the flagship wheelchair tennis team event by the International Tennis Federation (ITF): the 2019 BNP Paribas World Team Cup. The event will take place at the Larry and Mary Greenspon Israel Tennis Centre in Ramat Hasharon, Israel, from May 13 to 18.
More than 100 teams from about 50 countries will participate. Both the South African men’s and women’s teams qualified for the event after a triumphant display at the BNP Paribas African Qualifying event in Kenya last month.
The notable players to represent South Africa in the team event include Wimbledon semifinalist Kgothatso Montjane, the top South Africa men’s player Evans Maripa, and two-time Grand Slam champion Lucas Sithole. The team will train at the Bryanston Country Club from May 10 to 11 before jetting off.
The full teams are as follows:
|Evans Maripa||Kgothatso Montjane||Lucas Sithole|
|Leon Els||Mariska Venter||Donald Ramphadi|
|Alwande Sikhosana||Mabel Mankgele||Danny Mohlamonyane|
South African Spring Open
History will be made later this year when Vision View Productions (VVP) in partnership with Tennis South Africa (TSA) host the inaugural South African Spring Open international tournament in Johannesburg. Sanctioned by the ITF, the event will showcase the best of South African tennis talent against both continental and international counterparts.
It is the first of its kind in South Africa, with both a wheelchair tennis grade-two tournament and an able-bodied ITF world tennis tour of US$ 15 000 (R215 889) – for men and women – that will see more than 200 global participants in action.
Some South African talent likely to participate include Lucas Sithole, Kgothatso Montjane and the top-ranked women’s player Chanel Simmonds. The event will be held at the Ellis Park Tennis Precinct, which has 17 courts and an indoor facility, from September 23 to 29.
The Spring Open will have a strong developmental focus, with the aim of providing international competition for South African tennis players.
Speaking at the launch of the Spring Open, Mafadi Mpuru, MD of VVP, said: “We are thrilled to organise this tennis showpiece. As a company involved in sport, one of our objectives is to contribute practically to the development of sport in South Africa, especially where it is underdeveloped, with a focus on the less advantaged.
“Tennis is one area where we identified a gap and decided to complement the efforts of TSA. We worked with them to bring the South African Spring Open to our shores as a beginning for the tennis development journey, and to develop the sport continuously so that our participation on the world stage is always guaranteed.”
Richard Glover, the CEO of TSA, commented: “VVP has a bold, long-term plan for the Spring Open and we look forward to seeing this combined tournament go from strength to strength. Indeed, the launch of the Spring Open is important for two reasons. First, it solidifies the planned integration of wheelchair tennis as a key department within TSA. Second, it brings much-needed international competition to our shores. TSA is working hard to bring more international tennis to South Africa, and this is the first of several exciting announcements in this space in the coming months.”