South African quad ace Lucas Sithole finished in the second place at the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters after losing to defending champion David Wagner in the finals on Sunday when the season-ending elite tournament reached a stunning climax at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in London. The championships which featured only the top eight men’s and women’s players and the top four quad players was staged from 2-6 December 2015. The victory marked the 39-year-old American’s record eighth Masters title and dashed Sithole’s hopes of becoming the first African to win a Masters trophy but reaching the finals on Sunday was a stepping stone for Sithole who finished in the third place in 2014.
Sithole says: ‘Although I didn’t win, I played very well. Last year I finished in the third place, this year second and hopefully next year I will be first.’ It was a thrilling match between the two rivals, as Sithole fought back in the first set from 5-0 to trail and level the score five-all. Neither player gave an inch but Wagner proved to be too strong winning 7-6(6) 6-4.
In his opening match, Sithole saw off world number five Itay Erenlib of Israel in three sets 6-1, 4-6, 7-5. Erenlib who was awarded the opportunity to play the Masters after the withdrawal of quad singles world no.1 Dylan Alcott. The 28-year-old advanced to the final round after eliminating Brit’s Andy Lapthorne ranked no.4 globally 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.
In the women’s event, Kgothatso Montjane produced a masterclass performance demolishing world number three and defending champion Aniek Van Koot 7-6(4), 6-4 in the opening round. It was the first time in the 14 encounters that Montjane defeated Van Koot. The South African number eight lost to Japan’s Yui Kamiji in her second match but demolished world number seven Lucy Shuker 7-5, 6-3 to end her Masters in seventh place.
Wheelchair Tennis South Africa General Manager Karen Losch says: ‘We are very proud of both Lucas and KG’s achievements in London, they always make us very proud. This year showed a great progress, Lucas finishing in second place after finishing third last year. KG also finished in the 8th place last year but this year in the seventh place.’
Photo credit: Reg Caldecott/Gallo Images