Tennis ace says long period of not playing led to loss

Rejuvenated Montjane goes back to drawing board

19 February 2021 - 08:25
By Charles Baloyi
South African wheelchair tennis superstar Kgothatso Montjane
Image: SUPPLIED South African wheelchair tennis superstar Kgothatso Montjane

SA wheelchair tennis ace Kgothatso Montjane marked her return to court with a solid display after almost a year of not playing the sport at the highest level due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Paralympian was unveiled as the Discovery Vitality ambassador last week and next week she is set to receive a new wheelchair from her sponsors to help her improve her game. On Tuesday, the SA number one player lost her Australian Open women's doubles final in Melbourne.

Montjane and her British partner Lucy Shuker lost to Dutch top seeds Diede de Groot and Aniek van Koot 6-4, 6-1.

The Limpopo-born star reflected on her stay Down Under and the difficulties that she went through to take part in the tournament.

She quarantined for 10 days, but could not get enough time to train when she arrived in Australia last month.

"It was an unbelievable feeling to finally compete at the highest level again. We did not have enough opportunities to compete last year as several events got cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Congratulations to Tennis Australia for putting everything together. Playing three tournaments is something that I had not done in a while," said Montjane.

The modest athlete took part in three tournaments, something that she could not achieve in 2020.The world No 6 reached her second singles semifinal in Melbourne after producing a faultless display to thrash Colombian Angelica Bernal 6-1, 6-2. Montjane then put up a fine effort against Kamiji, but the world No 2 held on to win 6-1, 5-7, 6-0.

"My fitness level was great. I had no injuries and I felt good coming and I'm leaving for SA with no injuries. I lost some of my sharpness due to the long period of not playing; I had a mixed feeling. But I was positive to take on the slam. The momentum was gone after the long break of staying almost a year without playing before this tournament," she said.

The 34-year-old is coming home and she will go and improve mentally after her first international tournament this year. "I pushed myself in the singles and gave it my best in the double. It's all about going back and improving. I am going back to the drawing board," said Montjane.