Stars wheel in for Open

AN ARRAY of South African wheelchair tennis players have confirmed their participation in the 2010 South African Open in Benoni from April 6 to 10.

AN ARRAY of South African wheelchair tennis players have confirmed their participation in the 2010 South African Open in Benoni from April 6 to 10.

The big names include Sydwell Mathonsi, Evans Maripa, Patrick Selepe, Desmond Monyamane and top seed Kgothatso Montjane.

International flavour has been added to the tournament with wheelchair tennis stars arriving from Chile, Britain, France and Austria.

From the African continent, organisers of the tournament said they were expecting players from Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

They will be part of the 12 foreign players competing against 59 talented South Africans. The tournament will be played at the Gauteng East Tennis Stadium.

Wheelchair Tennis South Africa (WTSA) chairperson, director and performance coach Holger Losch says the tournament is a grade two event.

"This is the biggest event that WTSA has hosted so far and we want to grow it into a true South African Open of great international stature.

"All 71 players in the tournament have an inspiring story to tell and most will include how the sport of wheelchair tennis has enabled them to triumph over adversity.

"Players are categorised according to their physical disability and the quadriplegic players are among the most victorious; conquering limited mobility with incredible strength to compete in this fast-paced game."

Airports Company South Africa has been sponsoring wheelchair tennis, spending more than R14million in the past five years.

With wheelchair tennis being an official Paralympic sport, WTSA remains devoted to developing the sport nationally and empowering the disabled.

There are more than 350 active players around South Africa and WTSA has set up 30 development programmes across the country at schools and sports centres, offering weekly coaching. A further 10 development centres will be set up across the country this year.

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