Leon Els Clinches Third Soweto Open Title

Potchefstroom’s Leon Els took his third, Danny Mohlamonyane his first and Christine Schoenn from France her first victory on Soweto soil, while the country women’s top seed Mariska Venter came up short in the finals of the Airports Company South Africa Soweto Open on Monday.  Men’s top seed Els toppled Australia’s Keegan Oh-Chee 6-0 6-3 to claim his third successive men’s singles title at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre in Soweto.  The 27-year old immediately expressed his excitement saying defeating a player of such calibre is a huge achievement for him:  ‘This is a huge relief and I am thrilled that I was able to defend my title in both the Pretoria and Soweto Open and I am even happier that I won against a strong player like Keegan.  I recently came from a four-week oversees tour, where I struggled with a faulty chair and that messed up my joints and I was so tired.  I had an added pressure of coming at these must-win tournaments to make sure I maintain my ranking especially with the Paralympics coming up next year.’

Among the many congratulating Els for his incredible triumph today was his opponent Keegan Oh-Chee, who says:  ‘Leon Els is a tricky customer, a good and strong player.  I never know what to expect from him and today I was unable to keep up.  He played very well and he really deserve this title.’  Second seed Christine Schoenn of France has completed a magical fortnight of tennis with her finest performance of all, stunning top seed Mariska Venter to win her first Soweto Open title.  The French-lady ended Venter’s hope with a 7-6(5) 6-2 defeat to secure the title.

It is Schoenn’s second title in South Africa, following her victory at the Pretoria Open last week.  Danny Mohlamonyane was another player who caused an upset after Schoenn.  Mohlaonyane disposed of the country’s number two quads ace Bongani Dlamini in an all-South African quads singles final.  Mohlamonyane played with power, aggression and consistency – and kept his focus to devastating effect – to record a 6-2 6-4 victory over the top seed in the final.

Mohlamonyane says:  ‘It is the first time I beat Dlamini, this is huge for me and today I have discovered a weapon to win against any player, I just need to stick to my game and not let nerves get in the way.  Today marks one of the best achievements since I started playing wheelchair tennis.’  South African top junior Alwande Skhosana took just 52 minutes to beat compatriot fourth seed Mncedi Zenani 6-4 6-3 for the boy’s singles title, while top seed Nokwanda Hlongwane saw off Asive Gilifile 6-1 6-0 to take the girls final.

Photo credit: Reg Caldecott