Words: Bianca Morkel, Wheelchair Tennis South Africa | Photos: Reg Caldecott
South African Sports Star Lucas Sithole’s reached both the quads singles and doubles finals at the Australian Open Grand Slam. Although his hopes of winning his second Grand Slam in 6 months did not materialize, Sithole did SA proud. Sithole was the first wheelchair tennis player from Africa to play in both the singles and doubles final of the Australian Open.
Unathi Batyashe-Fillis, Spokesperson for Airports Company South Africa the game sponsor of Wheelchair Tennis SA, said “Airports Company South Africa congratulates Lucas on an inspiring performance. The company is especially proud to see how its partnership with WTSA has developed and grown talent over the nine-year period since it started sponsoring the sport. WTSA is developing world-class players and has put South Africa on the global map of wheelchair sporting talent,”
Coming into the finals Wagner and Sithole had both won 2 out of the 3 round robin matches to secure their place in the quad’s final at the first Grand Slam of 2014.
In the finals, Sithole started strong, focused and determined winning the 1st set comfortably. Wagner had a great start in the 2nd set building a lead of 3-0 when Sithole realigned his concentration and nerves to level the set at 3-3. Wagner won the next two games leading 5-3 and it was Sitholes’ strong serves that got him back to 5-5 with Wagner taking the last two games to win the 2nd set 7-5. In the 3rd set the American David Wagner had an early break and took the deciding set 6-3. The final score was 3-6,7-5, 6-3 to World No 1, David Wagner (USA) giving Wagner his 3rd Australian Open title and the 1st year winning both the singles and doubles title at the Australian Open.
SA Sports Awards Coach of the Year 2013 Holger Losch, said “We are proud of Lucas for reaching his 2nd Grand Slam final. It is another milestone achieved and the experience he gained is extremely valuable. Lucas had a very successful Australian tour winning both the Apia Sydney International Open and the Melbourne Open earlier in January this year. We are excited to see what the year holds for our top South African aces Lucas Sithole, Kgothatso Montjane and Evans Maripa. I would also like to thank our game sponsor Airports Company South Africa, who without their support, these achievements would not have been possible. ”
Wheelchair Tennis South Africa and Airports Company South Africa Partnership:
Airports Company South Africa is the official sponsor of Wheelchair Tennis South Africa. The company is committed to a continued investment in the sport as its flagship Corporate Social Investment programme and through this partnership, we wish to produce more champions like Lucas ahead of the 2016 Paralympic Games. Airports Company South Africa would like to encourage more young people to be inspired by Lucas’s achievement and get involved in the sport.
For more information, please contact Bianca Morkel Tel: 083 386 4002 or Siyabulela Nkachela 082 679 3772 or email Bianca on or Siya on . Other resources worth a visit include: www.tennis.co.za; or join our Facebook page and group: Wheelchair Tennis SA and follow us on Twitter: @WCTennis.