SA junior takes 3rd place at Cruyff Foundation Masters

South African top wheelchair tennis junior Alwande Skhosana claimed the third-place spot at the Cruyff Foundation Junior Masters which ended on Sunday in Tarbes, France.

With eight players from seven different nations starting the boys’ singles in two round-robin pools of four players, Skhosana comfortably clinched his first two pool matches, defeating Sergel Lysov from Russia 6-0 6-0, Niels Vink of the Netherlands 6-0 6-1 but lost his third match against world number 1 Jef Vandorpe of Belgium 1-6 3-6.

Skhosana was in charge from the very beginning in both matches and dropped just one game against Vink and with a 6-0 6-0 win over Lysov, the 17-year-old booked his place in the semi-finals as runner-up in the pool.

USA’s Conner Stroud denied Skhosana a final stage spot when he ensured his place in this year’s final after coming back from 2-0 down to defeat the South African number one 6-1 6-0 in just over an hour.

“I am very grateful for taking part in the Junior Masters for the third time and very happy that I managed to improve and finish in third position this year after finishing fourth in 2016 and 2017,” said Skhosana.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy battle, but I am glad I gave it my best. It was even more exciting and different this time because I had a teammate. Mpho and I make a great team and played really well in the doubles,” added Skhosana.

Wild card Mpho Mhlongo lost his opener against Conner Stroud 3-6 0-6, staged a stunning fight against Jucelio da Silva Torguato (BRA) but fell to the Brazilian in a captivating match 1-6 6-3 4-6.

The 16-year-old Mhlongo enjoyed his first match win in his Junior Masters debut after world number 5 Riauri Logan of Britain retired at 6-2 3-6 1-0 due to a burst tube.

“It is my first time travelling overseas and playing in the Junior Masters was great,” said Mhlongo. “I played my best but most importantly I learned a lot. I am very excited that I got this opportunity to play amongst the world’s best juniors.”

Mhlongo and Skhosana produced another solid effort in the doubles final but could not match Logan and Vandorpe’s performance losing 6-4 6-2 to finish as runners-up in the doubles event.

Photo Credit: Reg Caldecott

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