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Sithole rolls into wheelchair tennis championship semis


South Africa’s wheelchair tennis sensation, Lucas Sithole, yesterday overcame a big scare in his quad quarterfinal match against Itay Erenlib at the Airports Company of South Africa’s International Wheelchair Tennis Championship at Ellis Park to book a place in one of today’s semifinals.

Third-seed Sithole, who is ranked number four in the world, suffered an early setback in the quad singles quarterfinals when he lost the opening set to unseeded Itay Erenlib.
Sithole, however, fiercely fought back, eventually snatching victory from the unheralded Israeli by 4-6 6-4 6-1.

“I told myself I needed to join the party; I also needed to dance,” smiled Sithole.

“I had never played Itay before, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I took it too easy on him in the first set, but he went all-out against me. I pushed him to his backhand because he doesn’t have a reverse backhand, but he hit some really good, unexpected shots.

“He forced me to start playing defensively. So, going into the second set, I started playing my own game. He broke back when I led 3-1, but I managed to regroup, gain control and win the set.”

Sithole added that he realised almost at once what he was doing wrong, and decided to go “straight back to basics” in the final set.

“I wasn’t worried at any stage, because I knew what I was doing wrong,” Sithole said. “I stayed relaxed. I didn’t chase and I didn’t push hard. I just kept hitting the ball away from him, because I didn’t want to waste any more energy and I won the set quickly.”

Sithole will next play second seed Andy Lapthorne of England, who defeated fellow Briton and sixth seed Anthony Cotterill in straight sets 6-4 6-3.

Sithole’s compatriot, Kgothatso "KG" Montjane, was less fortunate. She lost 3-6 2-6 to Dutch third seed Marjolein Buis in the women’s singles quarterfinals.