Photo: Reg CaldecottEliphas Maripa (RSA)
Eliphas Maripa leads six home players into Thursday’s second round of the men’s singles at the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open, part of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour, after the completion of Wednesday’s rain-delayed first day of play in Benoni, near Johannesburg.
Maripa was the only unseeded player to secure a 60 60 win on the opening day of this week’s ITF 1 Series tournament after beating Xolelani Nyandeni in one of six all-South African matches. Maripa’s reward is a second round match against world No. 1 Shingo Kunieda, who dropped the most games of any of eight seeded players, despite still proving dominant in his 62 61 win over Frank Ramokoatsi.
Ishmael Tshipuke, Leon Els, Sean de Hilster and Thato Tsomole all beat fellow South Africans to advance to matches against seeded players, but the only three set match of the day ended in victory for Marshall Marsh, who edged out Morocco’s Ayoub Ettali 62 46 63 to book his place in the second round against Argentinean world No.4 and second seed Gustavo Fernandez, who is seeking his third NEC Tour victory in successive tournaments.
In the top half of the men’s draw third seed Gordon Reid and fifth seed Nicolas Peifer both claimed 60 61 wins to earn matches against Tshipuke and Els respectively, while Japanese seventh seed Takuya Miki will play de Hilster.
Aside from Maripa, Japan’s Yoshinobu Fujimoto, who was a semifinalist at the Gauteng Open in 2012 with Maripa, and Frenchmen Michael Jeremiasz and Frederic Cattaneo all wrapped up 60 60 wins. Eighth seed Fujimoto plays Austria’s Wolfgang Stieg for a place in the quarterfinals, with fourth seed Jeremiasz playing Zimbabwe’s Nyasha Mharakurwa and Cattaneo facing Tsomole.
Quad singles quarterfinalists decided
With world No. 1 David Wagner having a first round bye, the other seven quarterfinalists in the quad singles all came through their opening matches with ease.
Fourth seed Lucas Sithole opened his title defence with a 60 60 win over fellow South African Nkosi Nkosanye. Sithole is one of three players from the host nation who will contest the quarterginals, alongside Queen Nhlapo, who is set to play Wagner, and Bongani Dlamini, who Sithole will play for a semifinal berth.
Fourth seed Sarah Hunter of Canada and Marc McLean of USA both sealed early 61 61 wins and will now go head-to-head, guaranteeing that a North American player will contest the semifinals. After opening his challenge with a 60 63 win over India’s Harry Boniface Prabhu, British second seed Andy Lapthorne will play USA’s Greg Hasterok in the other quarterfinal.
Meanwhile, just two matches were needed to complete the line-up for the last 16 in the women’s singles. Nomo-Afrika Gxumisa led her compatriot Zintle Platyi 7-5, 4-2 when Platyi had to retire, handing Gxumisa a match against Dutch top seed Jiske Griffioen.
Junior Mariska Venter beat her fellow South African Dipuo Molefe 60 60 to set up a contest against second seed Lucy Shuker of Great Britain.
Third seed Kgothatso Montjane is one of three seeded South African players in the women’s singles. Montjane will open her Gauteng Open title defence against Siphokazi Fuma.