Kgothatso Montjane, South Africa's top ranked wheelchair tennis player in the women's division, competed against the world's finest talent in two prominent wheelchair tennis tournaments staged in Australia in January and February.
Montjane, who has a fast growing number of titles to her name, used the opportunities presented by the international exposure to her advantage and the 2012 Paralympics-hopeful left the tournaments richer for the game play experience.
In the Melbourne Open, Montjane was in excellent form reaching the finals - an incredible achievement for the Polokwane-born player who has just seven on-court years experience.
Despite making it this far in the tournament and beating many tough and worthy opponents to arrive at this juncture, Montjane was unable to outplay Japan's Kanako Domori who is ranked No.16 internationally.
A disappointing loss as Montjane began in a commanding position and was up 5-2 in the first set, but was unable to hold onto the fight and was ultimately defeated 6-7(7) 4-6.
One week later, the 24-year old Montjane, played in the Sydney International tournament - the second part of the Australian NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour.
Montjane, who in preparation for the 2011 World Team Cup is now based at the University of Johannesburg, again fared well. In the first round she was paired up against Marjolein Buis, a top 10 player from the Netherlands. Buis and Montjane have previously met each in the finals of the Ath Open in Belguim where Buis took the title. Buis, once again proved a little too strong for Montjane. Montjane however turned around and showed she does not take defeat lying down.
Gusty performances and pure determination won her the back draw where she beat no other than Japan's Domori 6-1 6-3 in the finals - a spectacular turn around from the week before. "We're all really proud of Kgothatso and she has once again shown us that the sky is the limit for her. She did remarkably well against the cream of the world's wheelchair tennis crop and through her many victories has jumped up the world ranking to secure 17th position," said Wheelchair Tennis South Africa (WTSA) director Holger Losch.
WTSA currently celebrates 80 players on the world ranking - this is more than any other nation and a true accomplishment for any country with such a young team. An additional accolade is that two of the country's players, Montjane and Sithole, are ranked among the top 20 in the world.
Participation in International tournaments such as these, alongside local equivalents are made possible by the generous sponsorships offered by Airports Company South Africa, the official sponsor of the sport. Airports Company South Africa has contributed no less than R14-million to date and has committed to a continued investment in the sport as its flagship CSI project.
Getting involved in wheelchair tennis is as simple as finding the closest weekly coaching programme; these are held at schools or disabled centres around the country and aim to develop and support those starting out at the game. For more information contact Karen Losch on 083 325 1169 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website www.tennis.co.za