SA celebrates wheelchair tennis success
3 May 2011
South Africa's mens wheelchair tennis team surprised with a bronze medal at the Wheelchair Tennis Team World Cup which ended in Pretoria on Sunday, while the Netherlands proved themselves to be number one in both the men's and women's game.
The host's unexpected success was well received. Playing in World Group 2, South Africa qualified to face Chile in the playoff for third place and, after a tense contest, the Rainbow Nation sealed a two-one victory.
The South Americans went one-nil up when Francisco Cayulef scored a convincing 6-2, 6-3 victory over Evans Maripa.
Sydwell Mathonsi then levelled the tie by outlasting Robinson Mendez in a two-and-a-half hour marathon, winning 6-3, 6-7, 7-5.
Maripa and Mathonsi teamed up in the doubles and sealed the bronze medal for South Africa, much to the delight of a strong band of supporters, after a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Christian Aranda and Robinson Mendez.
Top-seeded Japan, who beat South Africa in the semi-finals, won the title after defeating the USA in the final.
The Netherlands claimed both the men's and women's titles in World Group 1 for the first time since 2006.
Their women's team, led by world number one Esther Vergeer, secured the title when they took an unbeatable two-nil lead over Germany in the final.
Vergeer, a two-time winner of the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability, crushed Katharina Kruger 6-2, 6-0 to record an incredible 415th victory in succession. When Sharon Walraven followed that win up with a 6-2, 7-5 win over Sabine Ellerbrock the title belonged to the Dutch.
Vergeer, who missed last year's event, was thrilled with the victory. "We are delighted to have won again," she said.
"I am glad to be back in the team and be part of the spirit and camaraderie that makes this team event so special and different from the individual competition we are so used to playing."
The Netherlands' men found it tougher in their final against France, but still came away with a two-one victory.
World number four Ronald Vink had few problems with former world number one Michel Jeremiasz and put the Dutch side ahead with a 6-1, 6-3 win.
France drew level when Stephane Houdet upset world number three Maikel Scheepers 6-4, 6-1.
It all came down to the doubles and the French pair of Jeremiasz and Houdet claimed the first set 6-4 against Vink and Robin Ammerlaan. The Dutch fought back well, however, and went on to claim the next two sets 6-4, 6-2 and with them the title.
"It's our first double win since 2006 and I am real proud of my team. The hard work has paid off, and gelling as a team and fighting hard together, especially in the men's final, was key to our success," said Dutch coach Mark Kalkman.
Spain edged the Netherlands two-one to take victory in the men's junior section, while the USA was successful in its defence of the quads title, beating Israel 2-1 in the title-decider.
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