Wheelchair tennis star dies of Meningitis aged 20

Photo: Reg Caldecott

Former world number two junior, Thando Hlatshwayo, has passed away at the age of 20.

Hlatswayo, who hails from Paulpietersburg in Kwazulu-Natal, lost her battle against Meningitis early Tuesday morning after a very short illness after her family confirmed the news.

Hlatswayo took up wheelchair tennis in 2009, played her first tournament in April 2010 in East London and just 2 years in the sport she represented the country in the ITF Junior Camp Mechelen in Belgium.

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The 20-year-old ever-smiling Hlatswayo also represented South Africa in Russia, Great Britain, Sri Lanka, and Mauritius.        

Hlatswayo was ranked 49 in the world in the women’s division with her best singles ranking at 36, and her most notable career moment was reaching the finals of the Airports Company South Africa Johannesburg Open, an ITF level 3 event at Ellis Park Tennis Stadium in December 2015.

Her last tournament was in October this year in Bloemfontein where she clinched a doubles title and finished as a runner-up in the singles event to Mariska Venter.

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Wheelchair Tennis South Africa General Manager, Karen Losch, said: “Today we have lost a shining light from the heart of South African wheelchair tennis – a true role model, a great competitor and a wonderful friend.

“We have so many special memories to cherish, but this leaves a gaping hole for everybody, and words simply cannot express how saddened we are by this news.

“May she rest in peace and remain in our memories forever,” added Losch.

The tennis ace, will be laid to rest this weekend on Sunday at 10h30am at her home in Paulpietersburg at Bilanyoni Section. – Statement issued