Next stop France for ten­nis champs

CityPress - - Sport - OWN COR­RE­SPON­DENT sports@city­press.co.za

Kgothatso Montjane and Lu­cas Sithole, two of South Africa’s most suc­cess­ful wheel­chair ten­nis play­ers, are off to try their luck in France.

Af­ter a two-month break since the com­ple­tion of the Air­ports Com­pany South Africa SA Open at El­lis Park in Jo­han­nes­burg, Montjane jets off to­day to be­gin her two-week tour in France.

The 30-year-old from Lim­popo will be­gin her ex­cur­sion at the Toy­ota Open In­ter­na­tional de L’ile de Re, an In­ter­na­tional Ten­nis Fed­er­a­tion (ITF) level 1 tour­na­ment, part of the Uniqlo Wheel­chair Ten­nis Tour start­ing on June 14.

Montjane last year teamed up with Em­manuelle Morch to win the Toy­ota Open women’s dou­bles ti­tle, de­feat­ing Dutch pair Mar­jolein Buis and Diede de Groot in the fi­nal.

The world num­ber nine women’s ten­nis ace showed great com­po­sure, but fin­ished as a semi­fi­nal­ist in the women’s sin­gles af­ter go­ing down to sec­ond seed Sabine Eller­brock. But she wants to avenge that loss. “I have worked very hard, and I can con­fi­dently say that I am phys­i­cally and men­tally strong. I am fo­cused and mo­ti­vated.

“Spend­ing time at home with fam­ily helps to align one’s fo­cus. For me, it’s al­ways the best recharge. So I look for­ward to the chal­lenge in France.”

Af­ter the ITF 1 event, Montjane (or KG as she is fondly known) will move on and be joined by quads world num­ber three Lu­cas Sithole at the French Open Su­per Se­ries tour­na­ment, which takes place in Paris from June 21-26.

Like KG, Sithole, a triple am­putee from New­cas­tle in Kwazulu-Natal, has spent the past two months pre­par­ing for the muchan­tic­i­pated Su­per Se­ries tour­na­ment.

The 29-year-old will be hunt­ing another vic­tory in Paris af­ter he cap­tured his first French Open ti­tle with Aus­tralian Dy­lan Al­cott in the dou­bles com­pe­ti­tion in 2015.

In the sin­gles event, for­mer world num­ber one David Wag­ner from the US dashed the South African world num­ber three’s hopes of bring­ing another tro­phy home when he top­pled Sithole 6-1 6-4 in the semi­fi­nal round.

“It’s al­ways great play­ing in the French Open, though it’s al­ways tough with all the top-10 ranked play­ers par­tic­i­pat­ing. But it’s the chal­lenge that makes it more ex­cit­ing.

“I have had enough time to rest and put more work on court, so I feel very strong and con­fi­dent go­ing to France,” Sithole said.

I have worked very hard, and I can con­fi­dently say that I am phys­i­cally and men­tally strong. I am fo­cused and mo­ti­vated KGOTHATSO MONTJANE I have had enough time to rest and put more work on court, so I feel very strong and con­fi­dent go­ing to France LU­CAS SITHOLE

PHOTO: REG CALDE­COTT / GALLO IMAGES

ON FIRE Ath­lete Irvette van Zyl is hav­ing a blast of a year

AM­BAS­SADOR Lu­cas Sithole is lead­ing by ex­am­ple as South Africa’s top male wheel­chair ten­nis player

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