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Wheelchair aces out to inspire the nation’s youth
- Updated: June 14, 2016
With South Africa celebrating Youth Day on Thursday, Wheelchair Tennis SA has declared its great pride in celebrating the sporting achievements of Kgothatso Montjane and Evans Maripa both from Limpopo among their accomplished champions, each one of the young inspiring athletes having excelled in their short tennis careers, and having shown that no disability holds them back.
The country’s top wheelchair tennis queen Montjane who hails from Seshego in Polokwane, ranked No9 globally started playing tennis when she was 20 years old and in less than 10 years she has taken the sport by storm.
In addition to her wheelchair tennis commitments, Mzansi’s golden girl, who is currently on a two-week tour in France, also holds a BSC degree in Recreation and Leisure from the University of Venda.
The 30-year-old who was born with a congenital deformity affecting her hands and one leg, and then having the other leg amputated, had an impressive start to the year clinching the doubles title at Melbourne Open and Cajun Classic Open in Baton Rouge. Some of the great highlights was when the strong and tenacious star dismantled world No2 Yui Kamiji from Japan in the quarter-final and reached the finals without dropping a set in the Melbourne Open.
Inspired by Montjane, Evans Maripa, pictured above, took up wheelchair tennis in 2007 and after only two years at the game, he won gold at the Asia Pacific Youth Para Games in Tokyo proving himself a worthy contender at a professional level. This amazing feat has ignited a new dream in the young star – to play professional wheelchair tennis whatever it takes.
The 25-year-old who also hails from Polokwane (Lonsdale), is currently ranked 16th in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Wheelchair Rankings and recently represented the country in the 8th ABN AMRO World Wheelchair Tennis in Ahoy Rotterdam, Netherlands.
The country’s top men’s player who was born with a congenial birth defect has overtaken most in the men’s division globally as the greatest and strongest tennis player of all time.
The two stars’ focus is now on the upcoming Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil later this year.
Wheelchair Tennis South Africa’s Director and Coach Holger Losch said: ‘We are extremely proud of the athletes and celebrate their successes this month and believe they can motivate others to do more.
‘We are grateful for their commitment, dedication and hard work and our sponsor, Airports Company South Africa.’
Pictures courtesy of Reg Caldecott