South Africans Go Down In Wheelchair Tennis Finals

American David Wagner took his third, Dutch player Marjolein Buis her second and Joachim Gerard from Belgium his first victory on South African soil, while the country’s top wheelchair tennis aces Kgothatso ‘KG’ Montjane and Lucas Sithole came up short in the finals of the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open on Sunday.  World number one Wagner beat world number four Sithole 6-3 6-1 to claim his third successive quad singles title at the Gauteng East Tennis Centre in Benoni.  The American immediately blamed the fantastic South African hospitality for Sithole’s loss.

Wagner says:  ‘Wheelchair Tennis South Africa hosted this incredible ‘Shisa Nyama Braai’ on Saturday night.  I could eat meat for breakfast, lunch and supper, so it was paradise for me.  It was the best beef, lamb, chicken and sausage I’ve had in years.  All that meat was just the ticket to inspire my victory.  On a serious note, though, I feel fortunate that I was able to pull that one out.  Lucas is a world-class player and a wonderful strong champion in our division.  He is always going to test you, like he did in the final, no matter who you are.  I know he took some time out last year, so he will need a few matches to get back to form, but he improved in every match this week.  He will be a strong contender in the Airports Company South Africa SA Open next week.’  World number six Buis defeated Montjane 6-4 6-1 in the women’s singles final.  The former Airports Company South Africa SA Open champion was delighted with her performance, but admitted that Montjane had her worried in the opening set:  ‘I was having trouble returning KG’s serve and I wasn’t putting any pressure on her in the first set and she broke me twice.  I got more aggressive and build a 5-3 lead, but I didn’t use my two breakpoints at 5-4.  Luckily, I managed to claim the set on my own serve.  That gave me a lot of confidence going into the second set and I was able to play with more flow.  I feel like I am at the top of the game right now.  There are a lot of strong players coming to the Airports Company South Africa SA Open next week and I believe I can challenge again.’

Montjane did not leave empty-handed, though.  Just an hour after her singles final loss, the South African partnered Buis to victory in the women’s doubles final.  The pair whipped Sabine Ellerbrock and Katherina Kruger from Germany 6-0 6-2.  Gerard took just 52 minutes to beat Frenchman Nicolas Peifer 6-2 6-1 for the men’s singles title.

The world number five says:  ‘It was a little strange to play Nicolas, because we have been friends for 13 years and we are roommates this week, but you just have to get on with the job.  I think the key to my win was that I made very few mistakes; I only had five errors in total, but Nicolas was also protecting a back injury and that helped me, as well.  I’m really excited for the Airports Company South Africa SA Open after this win and hopefully I can make it two in a row next week.’  The lanky world number five was very pleased with his decision to visit South Africa this year.  The 26-year old says:  ‘I completed my studies at the end of 2013, so last year was the first time that I started to compete internationally.  I heard many really good things about the tournaments in South Africa and decided that I must come and check it out.  The venue this week is one of the best I’ve seen and the facilities were great.  It was fantastic to be walking distance to the hotel.  I felt really at home here because of the hard balls and the altitude and I settled in quickly.  I’m happy to report that everything I’ve heard is the truth.’

The ACSA SA Open, an International Tennis Federation (ITF) Super Series event, will be contested at the country’s premier tennis venue, Ellis Park Tennis Stadium, from April 14 to April 18.