SA’s unsung hero of wheelchair tennis

2013-07-26 00:00

UNKNOWN to many, South Africa has a new champion and unsung hero in the wheelchair tennis world.

Lucas “Twister” Sithole, who has 23 singles titles to his name, including the Korea and Daegu opens that he bagged in June, claimed his biggest win to date last weekend as he claimed the quad’s singles title at the British Wheelchair Open.

He became the first player from ­Africa to win a Super Series title and the win was made sweeter as he defeated the No. 1 seed David Wagner (U.S.) 7-5, 6-7, 6-4.

It was a great tournament for Sithole, who defeated Britain’s Antony Cotterill 6-2, 6-1 in the quarters to meet long-time rival Jamie Burdekin, also a Brit, in the semis.

Giving a display of great focus and determination, mixed with clinical execution of his shots, Sithole remained in control, taking the match 6-4, 6-4.

This was his third Super Series final this year and his second showdown with Wagner. The pair met at the SA Open in April this year, where Sithole was victorious on home turf.

“This was a big title to win and is the highlight of my tennis career. Making history is special to me and inspires other sportsmen and women to achieve and succeed,” he said.

Wagner, partnered by Canadian Sarah Hunter, snatched one over Sithole and Burdekin in the doubles semi-final, winning 7-5, 6-3.

SA coach Holger Losch said he was proud of Sithole and what he had achieved.

“We believe winning one of the six big events on the world tour is an important step in Lucas realising his dream of becoming the world’s No. 1 player,” he said.

At the same tournament, fellow South African Kgothatso “KG” Montjane, the world No. 6, lost to the powerful world No. 3 Jiske Griffioen of the Netherlands 6-2, 6-2 in the quarter-finals of the singles, but made the doubles final with partner Marjolein Buis (Netherlands).

Once again Griffioen proved to be her nemesis, partnering with fellow Hollander Aniek van Koot for a 6-2, 7-5 win.

In mixed doubles, Sithole and Montjane lost 6-0, 7-5 to Brits Marc McCarroll and Jordanne Whiley.

“We are proud of Lucas and this proves he has the talent to and ability to win big tournaments. We hope this is the first of many,” said Wheelchair Tennis South Africa manager Karen Losch.

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