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Team SA name strong tennis quartet for Tokyo 2020 Paralympics

SA wheelchair tennis star Kgothatso Montjane.
SA wheelchair tennis star Kgothatso Montjane.
Image: @CyrilRamaphosa/Twitter

The SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) have unveiled a strong tennis team to take part at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics in Japan, which take place from August 24 to September 5.

Team SA features four tennis players — Kgothatso Montjane, Mariska Venter, Evans Maripa and Leon Els — who will compete in the singles and doubles competitions from August 24.

World No.6 Montjane, who has been in form this year, is expected to lead the charge when SA aim for a first wheelchair tennis medal at the Paralympics.

“Wimbledon was a confidence boost and I'm looking forward to Tokyo,” said Montjane, who will turn out at the Paralympics for the fourth time in her career.

Montjane reached a Grand Slam final for the first time at the Wimbledon Championships in London last month, establishing herself among the medal favourites for the Tokyo showpiece.

“I've always said in Tokyo I just want to aim for a medal — it doesn't matter which colour — and after my performance at Wimbledon I don't see why it's not attainable,” she said.

The 35-year-old player from Limpopo, who also competed in the Wimbledon doubles final with British partner Lucy Shuker, will pair up with Venter in the doubles competition at the Games.

Receiving a wild-card entry from the International Tennis Federation, world No.35 Venter will make her Paralympic debut.

Tennis wheelchair star Mariska Venter.
Tennis wheelchair star Mariska Venter.
Image: Reg Caldecott

“I've worked hard for this for the last seven years,” said Venter, who was delighted to be selected after missing the cut for the 2016 Rio Games.

“I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to gain this experience on the biggest stage. It's a dream come true, and I can't wait to live the dream.”

In the men's division, world No.31 Maripa has qualified for the Games on merit, while Els has been given an opportunity with a wild-card entry.

Maripa will turn out at the Games for the third time, while Els will make his second appearance at the quadrennial event.

“It would be the best feeling to be on the podium representing SA,” Maripa said.

“It wouldn't really matter much if I played for a gold, silver or bronze, though the main goal is to get gold.”

A total of 104 wheelchair tennis players from 31 nations will compete at the Tokyo Games, with the action on the court taking place at Ariake Tennis Park between August 27 and September 4.

“Good luck to Team SA, but especially our four wheelchair tennis athletes as they represent the country on the highest stage,” Tennis SA CEO Richard Glover said.

“Covid-19 has made preparations very challenging for all concerned, but we have little doubt they will fly our flag with pride in Tokyo.”

Team SA for the Paralympics:

PARA ATHLETICS:

Ntando Mahlangu, Charl du Toit, Dyan Buis, Reinhardt Hamman, Kerwin Noemdo, Mpumelelo Mhlongo, Tebogo Mofokeng, Tyrone Pillay, Daniel du Plessis, Puseletso Michael Mabote, Ndodomzi Ntutu, Anrune Weyers, Sheryl James, Simone Kruger, Ntombizanele Situ, Louzanne Coetzee, Johanna Pretorius, Liezel Gouws

Coaches/management: Cornelia (Lappies) Swanepoel, Suzanne Ferreira, Daniel Damon, Cathy Lansberg, Claus Kempen, Erasmus Badenhorst

ARCHERY:

Shaun Anderson, Philip Coates-Palgrave

Coach/manager: Barbara Manning

PARA CYCLING:

Nicholas Pieter du Preez, Ernst van Dyk, Toni Mould

Coaches/management: Elrick Kulsen, Pieter Jansen, Gillian Evans, Walter Lutch

EQUESTRIAN:

Philippa Johnson-Dwyer, Cayla van der Walt

Coaches/management: Ingeborg Sanne, Chris Hazen, Robyn van Lijsdonk, Trisha Bell

PARA SWIMMING:

Christian Sadie, Hendrik van der Merwe, Katherine Swanepoel, Alani Ferreira

Coaches/management: Theo Verster, Keith Jansen

TABLE TENNIS:

Theo Cogill

Coach/manager: Anver Lyners

WHEELCHAIR TENNIS:

Kgothatso Montjane, Mariska Venter, Eliphas Maripa, Leon Els

Coaches/management: Gerald Stoffberg, Saidi Moruame


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