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Team SA seal bronze

On a day that the world celebrated the royal wedding in England, South Africa’s men’s wheelchair team celebrated their own momentous achievement by winning the bronze medal at the 27th ITF World Team Cup in Pretoria on Friday.

The Rainbow Nation’s warriors defeated Chile 2-1 in the Men’s World Group 2 third/fourth play-off in a contest which offered suspense right to the end.

Chile’s Francisco Cayulef dashed South Africa’s hopes at the start of the tie when he posted a straight-sets 6-2 6-3 win over Evans Maripa. But next up, Sydwell Mathonsi halted the Chilean charge when he claimed the opening set 6-2 in his clash against Robins├│n M├®ndez. The South American fought back bravely in the next to reduce the stalemate when he clinched the tie-break 7-6 (2). Mathonsi though levelled the tie when he clinched the final set 7-5.

Maripa and Mathonsi were spurred on by a large band of South African supporters as they set about attempting to clinch the rubber – and the gold medal, in the deciding doubles encounter.

Most of the games in the two sets were fiercely contested before the SA pair ended off with a 6-4 6-3 triumph in just under two hours.

In Men’s World Group I competition, unseeded France caused an upset in their semi-final clash against fourth-seeded Sweden, who were beaten 3-0.

The French upstarts will play top seeds, The Netherlands, in Sunday’s final. The Dutch posted a 3-0 win over Korea Republic in their semifinal clash.

There was more glory for the Dutch when their top-seeded women cracked the whip in their clash against the unseeded Swiss and ran out 3-0 victors in their World Group semifinal clash.

Second seeds Germany were extended in their 2-1 win over third seeds Great Britain and will have their work cut out to topple the awesome Dutch in Sunday’s women’s final.

On Saturday, top seeds USA, spearheaded by world No 1 David Wagner, play third-seeded Israel in the quad final. The Israelis scored an upset win over Great Britain in the semi-final round.

Team USA could be headed for a double if their men’s side, the second seeds, can deny top seeds Japan in the Men’s World Group 2 final, also on Saturday. The winner of the match will win automatic promotion to the elite Men’s World Group 1 next year.


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