The SA Open, the premier wheelchair tennis tournament in South Africa is under way as play started on Monday with a number of tight and entertaining matches, the biggest being a near upset to home town hero Kgothasto Montajne who just managed to survive and advance to the women’s singles quarterfinals.
Montajne came in to her match as the favorite, the world number ten taking on another South African in Mariska Venter. Venter put up a strong fight against her compatriot, especially in the first set which she pushed to a tiebreak with Montajne winning 7-3 in the tie break. From there Montajne pushed out to a 4-0 lead in the second set and then managed to win 6-2 for a 7-6, 6-2 match win to advance to the semi-finals.
I don’t think I played my best tennis today. I battled a lot on court and made a lot of easy mistakes but the best players win, even on their toughest days, I realised in the first set, it wasn’t that I was playing badly but I was making the wrong decisions and I was playing loose balls. So in the second set I just had to settle down a bit and try and push myself. I just had to relax and play my game like I normally play.” Said Montanje to media after her match.
Her opponent in the quarter-final made much lighter work of her first round match as German Sabine Ellerbrock claimed a 6-0, 6-0 win. It was a great result for Ellerbrock coming back to competition after a right leg amputation in February and she showed no ill effects from that surgery.
There were two other women’s players who managed 6-0, 6-0 wins as British player Lucy Shuker and Frenchwoman Charlotte Famin both beat South Africans. The bad day for South Africans continued as the third seed Dutchwoman Diede de Groot beat Nonkanyiso Nyosi 6-1, 6-1. There will at least be two South Africans in the quarter-finals as Nokwanda Hlongwae managed a 6-1, 6-0 win in an all-South African match up against Lethabo Shai.
On the men’s side of the draw the pain for South Africans continued as Japan’s Yoshinobu Fujimoto managed a 6-1, 6-0 win over South African Thato Tsomole. Seven of the other matches saw South Africans play each other, all winning in straight sets, setting up some mouthwatering match ups for the quarterfinals.