Nick Gordon
2 minute read
11 Sep 2013
6:30 am

Lucas looks to push on after US Open glory

Nick Gordon

It's fair to say that champions don't come any humbler than Lucas Sithole.

Resplendent in his leopard print T-shirt, Sithole, right, soaked up the praise at a welcoming ceremony at the airport yesterday and given the chance to share his thoughts, the 26-year-old in turn heaped praise on all those who have stood by him on the journey to Grand Slam glory.

“I closed my eyes and served a big serve and he couldn’t return it. That was game set and after that I screamed,” Sithole said as he relived the last moments of last weekend’s final in the US Open quads against world No 1 David Wagner.

“I’m honoured today to be a champion and I hope that there are still many more to come,” he added while admitting that nerves got the better of him shortly before the final and he only managed to find his rhythm in the second set as he bounced back against the American for a 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 win in his first Grand Slam.

“It was my first time playing in a Grand Slam and I was nervous. Very nervous. I was shaking and shivering on my chair,” said the KwaZulu-Natal player, who was left quadriplegic after falling under a train at the age of 12.

“In the second set I tried to settle down and I won it 6-4 and in the third set that’s where everything started to change. I had three match points but I couldn’t finish because I was shaking.

“It wasn’t easy but I told myself that I just have to play my game as I practiced. I did that and the results followed and I was happy,” said Sithole, who participated in last year’s Paralympic Games in London and has his sights firmly set on Rio de Janiero in 2016.

Looking ahead, Sithole’s next appearance will likely be at the season-ending Wheelchair Tennis Masters in California in November and coach Holger Losch is hopeful that his charge can follow up his success.

“In any sport aspiration is a major component,” he said. “Lucas has got some firm goals in his mind and there’s a lot of competitive opportunities out there. I think for now it’s to consolidate, what’s very difficult is to have won a Major title and back it up.

“It’s the year-end event and it will be a great cherry on the cake for Lucas to take that.”