Top Junior Nokwanda Hlongwane bags first sports award

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South African wheelchair tennis junior Nokwanda Hlongwane was on Friday named the LSEN School Female Athlete of the year at the 2015/16 Gauteng School Sport Awards at Birchwood Conference Centre in Boksburg. The world no.2 junior beat Andile Maseko of St Vincents and Bongekile Sabeka from Hope School to record her first sports award.
“I would like to thank everyone who have supported me through the tennis journey, my school Adelaide Thambo and Wheelchair Tennis South Africa for introducing me to the sport. When I took up wheelchair tennis I never thought I would be here today”, said Hlongwane.
The 15-year-old who recently went on a three-week-tour to Sri Lanka said this was the highlight of her career. With only five years in the sport Hlongwane has reached a career-best ranking of no 2 in the world and is showing all the signs of a champion in the making, “Travelling the world and playing tennis has been fantastic and watching myself reach the second place globally has given me a huge boost going forward, but the ultimate highlight has to be lifting this award”, Hlongwane said in an interview.
Hlongwane also said she’s looking forward to the two major international tournaments being hosted in South Africa in April where she will be playing in the open ladies and the junior girls events. The tournaments will see the world’s top wheelchair tennis players battling it out for world ranking points ahead of the Paralympic cut off in May.
The Airports Company South Africa Open, an ITF level 1 event to be staged in Benoni from 30 March – 3 April and followed by the Airports Company South Africa SA Open, an ITF Super Series event which will be played at the “Grand Old Lady” of tennis, Ellis Park in Johannesburg from 5 – 9 April. There are only six Super Series events on the calendar globally; the other five are staged in Australia, Japan, France, Britain and the USA.
Wheelchair Tennis South Africa’s General Manager Karen Losch congratulated Hlongwane, “Nokwanda is a superstar! We want to congratulate her on her achievement, and well-earned success. Her hard work, commitment and practice is starting to pay off. We look forward to many more great achievements and successes from Nokwanda in years to come”.

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