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Sithole and teammates back from US tour

Sithole

South Africa’s top wheelchair tennis athletes Lucas Sithole, Kgothatso ‘KG’ Montjane and Evans Maripa return from a two-week tour in the United States on Tuesday after the trio competed in the Arizona Open and Cajun Classic to warm-up for the highly anticipated South African Open.

World number four quad player Sithole reached the singles semi-final round in both events. The 30-year-old was challenged by world number two David Wagner, who denied him a spot in the final of the Arizona Open. The South African star fell to the American 6-0 6-3.

Sithole went head-to-head against Wagner again in the semi-finals of the Cajun Classic, an International Tennis Federation (ITF) level 1 event. The American once again ended his run, this time wining 6-4 6-4.

Sithole is optimistic about turning lessons learned during his double defeat against Wagner into a successful campaign in the SA Open. ‘I was out for some time with injury and the two events in the US was my first time back on court. It was a learning curve for me and I’ve seen what I need to work on for next month’s SA Open.’

In the women’s event, the country’s leading player Montjane put up a stiff fight before going down 6-7(5) 6-4 7-6(5) to world number five Aniek Van Koot from the Netherlands in the Arizona Open. She and partner Katharina Kruger from Germany finished as the runners-up in the doubles at the ITF level 2 event in Tuscan.

The Limpopo star, who battled with a hand injury, stumbled against Britain’s world number eight Lucy Shuker in the quarter-finals of the Cajun Classic, going down 6-3 6-2.

World number 14 men’s player Evans Maripa crashed out 6-2 6-1 in the opening round of the Arizona Open against former world number five Ha-Gel Lee from Korea, but the 26-year-old joined forces with Daniel Caverzaschi from Spain to reach the doubles final without dropping a set.

The pair were denied the title by top seeds Maikel Scheffers (NED) and Ben Weekes (AUS) 6-3 6-3. Maripa staged an incredible fight against world number seven Stefan Olsson from Sweden in the semi-finals of the Cajun Classic before he went down 7-5 6-3.

The two events served as the warm-up tournaments for the country’s aces in preparation for next month’s top-flight SA Open tournament to be staged from 10-14 April at Ellis Park Tennis Stadium in Johannesburg.

Picture of Sithole courtesy of Reg Caldecott


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