The South African quadriplegic wheelchair tennis squad secured their first World Team Cup medal at the BNP Paribas World Team Cup, which was held at the Larry and Mary Greenspon Israel Tennis Centre in Ramat Hasharon, Israel, earlier this week. The team, which included Lucas Sithole, Donald Ramphadi and Danny Mohlamonyane, defeated Great Britain 2-1 in the third-place playoff to clinch the bronze medal.
Promising quadriplegic ace Ramphadi got South Africa off to a good start, bagging a 6-3 and 6-4 win over James Shaw, but Britian world number four Andy Lapthorne halted the South Africa charge when he defeated Sithole 6-3 and 6-1.
Sithole then joined forces with Ramphadi in the doubles decider and were spurred on by their teammates. The duo went on to secure the doubles encounter 6-2 and 6-4 to take third place.
The quadriplegic team is the first African team to clinch a medal at the BNP Paribas World Team Cup.
“The quadriplegic players made a massive improvement from last year’s event,” says team coach Holger Losch. “All three players worked hard in preparation for the World Team Cup and that work showed during the competition.
“It was a fun week and a privilege to work with the players. Credit needs to be given to each one of them for competing so hard for their country. They all said they can’t wait for next year’s event to see if they can go for gold,” he adds.
After winning the BNP Paribas World Team Cup African Qualification earlier this year in Kenya, the South African women’s team also made history in Ramat Hasharon, reaching the semifinals of the ITF’s flagship wheelchair tennis team event for the first time.
The team’s progress is in no small part thanks to the contribution of world number six Kgothatso Montjane and great efforts from rising stars Mariska Venter and Mabel Mankgele. The team finished in fourth place after losing to Britain 2-0.
The men’s team, which comprised the country’s leading men’s player Evans Maripa, Leon Els and promising star Alwande Sikhosana, finished in 12th position after losing to Austria 2-0 in the 11th and 12th playoffs.
“My first World Cup in the men’s division was so amazing, because I learnt a lot from top players around the world. The tournament was tough but it also helped me to learn about tactics. It was key for me to be exposed to international competition at a higher level, which will be beneficial in my career going forward,” said Sikhosana.