All seeds remained unchallenged on the opening day of the Airports Company South Africa Soweto Open, an International Tennis Federation (ITF) Futures tournament part of the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour staged at Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre in Soweto on Friday. Reigning Pretoria Open champion Leon Els is hunting his third consecutive victory in Soweto. The 27-year-old Els beat compatriot Thato Tsomole 6-3 6-1 in the first round and just after half an hour rest, Els saw off Benito Vuma 6-1 6-0 to advance to Saturday’s quarterfinal round.
Els says: ‘My game is very solid at the moment. My forehand and serve is working well and I’m really excited about this tournament. Playing in these tournaments is an opportunity to grow, to gain experience and to test the level of your game. All thanks to the game sponsor Airports Company South Africa for the generous sponsorship to host such events at home.’ Australian Keegan Oh-Chee, seeded second, also advanced to the quarter-final round after defeating Tiisetso Motaung 6-0 6-0 in the first round and Shepherd Banda of Zimbabwe 6-0 6-1 in the second round. While the women’s top seed Mariska Venter enjoyed a bye, Pretoria Open runner-up Rose Van Der Meer and Thando Hlatshwayo advanced to the next round in the women’s singles.
Van der Meer defeated Jane Ndenga of Kenya 6-1 6-2 and will face her country lady Lethabo Shai, while Hlatswayo, who knocked out Wendy Hlongwane, will play Tsholofelo Sibanda. Top seed venter will face unseeded Mabel Mankgele in tomorrow’s quarter-final. France’s second seed Christine Schoenna and reigning Pretoria Open champ ousted Judith Mdaka 6-1 6-1 and will take the court against unseeded Nokwanda Hlongwane.
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