Sithole prepares for autumn series

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iol spt mar18 Lucas_Sithole2 Gallo Images SA wheelchair tennis player Lucas Sithole advanced to the quad's singles semi-finals at the Open de France in Paris. Photo: Reg Caldecott

Johannesburg – South Africa's number one quadriplegic tennis player Lucas Sithole is hard at work preparing for next month's two tournaments in Gauteng.

The series kicks off with the Gauteng Open at Benoni Lake from April 23 to 27. All eyes will then shift to the SA Open at Ellis Park, from April 20 to May 3, where Sithole aims to defend his title.

The SA Open has Super-Series status and is one of only six such tournaments. The others are played in Australia, France, Japan, Britain and the United States.

Sithole made history last year when he won the US Open to become the first African in 40 years to win a grand slam.

He is ranked second in the world and also has two Super Series titles under his belt.

Earlier this year, he reached the final of the Australian Open in Melbourne, losing to arch rival, world number one, David Wagner.

For the first time since his win in New York, Sithole will be playing at the highest level on home soil and said he was excited and optimistic about his chances.

“I am looking forward to the two tournaments,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.

“It is always good to play at home in our conditions and in front of our fans.

“I believe my game has improved since last year's tournament, and I hope to do better this year, and lift the title.”

Sithole said he looked to carry on making history, and had his eyes on a medal at the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. – Sapa

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