Open winner

Kevin Simpson competing in South Africa
Kevin Simpson competing in South Africa
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LINLITHGOW’S Kevin Simpson heads for next week’s British Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships in Nottingham on the back of winning his first men’s singles title of the season.

Kevin returned from South Africa this week after back-to-back tournaments and a victory in the men’s singles at the Pretoria Open.

The current British number 5, who is trying to qualify for the London 2012 Paralympic Games after making his Paralympic debut in Beijing, put up a determined performance to edge out the host nation’s Evans Maripa in the three sets in the final at the ITF Futures Series event in Pretoria.

Kevin won the match 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3 to avenge his 4-6, 4-6 quarter-final loss to Maripa at the Polokwane Open a week earlier.

He said of his achievement: “When we last played I was comfortable enough to sit on the base line and attempt to return his big serves, but it lost me the match. I varied the height and spin on my balls and used a lot more angles drawing him out of his comfort zone.”

While winning the men’s singles, he and his Dutch partner Jelle Oosterwijk had to be content with runners-up honours in the men’s doubles for the second week in succession.

The Capetown trip was the sixth country he has travelled to so far in playing eight tournaments in 2011. And by the end of the sport’s qualification period for London 2012 next May he hopes to reclaim a place in the top four ranked British players, a position he held until May this year.

The world’s number 41 player added: “I’m happy with where I am after the first half of the year. I’ll go to the British Open and take it a point at a time and a match at a time. It’s one of the biggest tournaments out there and I think I’m ranked 27 out of a main draw of 32 players, so we’ll have to see who I draw and take it from there.”

While in South Africa, Simpson took time out to meet the locals, visiting orphanages and budding wheelchair tennis players.

He said: “It was a real eye-opener in some of the townships and I think we take for granted how lucky we are. We visited an orphanage that houses 25 kids between the ages of nine months and 18 years old and it was very stirring. Before we left we went to a department store and brought some basic provisions, like blankets, with our prize money to leave for them as it gets very cold out there at night time.“