South African top ranked wheelchair tennis juniors have been hard at work gearing up to represent the country at the 2018 Cruyff Foundation Junior Masters in Tarbes, France on 25-28 January.
Players from seven different countries will contest the boys’ singles and doubles in Tarbes, with South Africa represented by current world No. 4 Alwande Sikhosana as well as wild card Mpho Mhlongo.
Skhosana, who is no stranger to the Junior Masters will be hoping for better results this year after finishing in the 4th place both in 2016 and 2017 in Tarbes.
“I love participating in the Junior Masters, the level of competition is very high and fascinating. This year I hope to do even better and reach the finals,” commented Skhosana.
The 16-year-old Mhlongo will take part in the world’s premier event for junior wheelchair tennis players for the first time.
“I have struggled to obtain travel documents for the past two years and this is a dream come true to finally get an opportunity to travel and gain some international exposure. I have been working real hard preparing for this tournament and I look forward to the challenge and most importantly to learn,” said Mhlongo.
Eight of the top ranked junior boys and four of the top ranked junior girls will contest the prestigious event, which takes place alongside the last four days of the Les Petits As tournament.
With entries based on the Cruyff Foundation Junior Ranking dated 30 October 2017, seven players in the boys’ event and three players in the girls’ event have qualified directly by ranking, with one wild card awarded for both events.
Only players born on or after the 1 January 2000 are eligible to compete in 2018.
The world number 4 Skhosana and world number 11 Mhlongo jetted off on Saturday with WTSA Development Manager Patrick Selepe.
The tournament will be preceded by a three-day high performance training camp, ensuring athletes are well prepared for the event.
“This is a great opportunity for both athletes, most importantly for Mpho who will be travelling overseas for the first time. This is a chance for the juniors to solidify their games and to gain international experience,” said Selepe.
Picture credit: Reg Caldecott