Mharakurwa Zim's hope at SA Open

HARARE - Wheelchair tennis ace Nyasha Mharakurwa is set to boost the country’s hopes for continental success at the Acsa South African Open Tennis tournament to be held at Johannesburg's Ellis Park starting tomorrow to April 13.

Acsa South African Open, which was upgraded to a Super Series event this year, is one of only six tourneys that take place globally this year.

Mharakurwa has been more successful in the doubles though, emerging winner in his maiden appearance in 2008 and runner-up in 2009.

He bowed out at the quarter-finals in both categories last year.

The country’s number-one wheelchair tennis player, who was named the Sportsperson of the Year with a disability in 2012, has been on a free-fall on the world rankings due to non-participation in international events.

Currently the South Africa-based tennis ace is on position 86 having fallen 23 places down the ladder.

It will be the first time that a Super Series tournament will be staged on the African continent.

The other five are played in Australia, Japan, France, Britain and the USA.

According to South Africa Wheelchair Tennis Association, entries for the events closed on March 6, and a host of leading players have already confirmed their participation for the tournament.

Among them is Dutch star Maikel Scheffers, who is ranked number three in the world in singles and number nine in doubles.

He reached the quarterfinals of this year's Australian Open and the semifinals of the doubles with Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina.

American David Wagner is top of the quad rankings in singles and is number two in doubles.

He won the quad section of the Australian Open. Marjolein Buis, also from the Netherlands, will take her place in the women's draw.

The 25-year-old is ranked fifth in the world in the singles and reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open and the final of the doubles with Lucy Shuker of Great Britain.

South Africa's leading contenders are Kgothatso Montjane, who is ranked 10th in the world in the women's singles, and Lucas Sithole, who occupies seventh place in the men's quads rankings. - Blessings Mashaya

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