Chair Umpire set to make make Davis Cup history

Patrick Selepe is set to make history as the first disabled official to oversee Davis Cup ties. Photo: Eunice Visagie

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) and Tennis South Africa (TSA) have named their officials for the upcoming Davis Cup by BNP Paribas tie and for the first time the tie will be overseen by a disabled official, former wheelchair tennis player Patrick Selepe.

Selepe will be getting the duty as chair umpire when South Africa kick-starts its campaign to regain its spot in next year’s Euro Africa Group 1, when the team takes on Estonia at the Irene Country Club in Pretoria from 3-5 February.

Selepe, who retired from the sport as a player a year ago and holds a white badge was recently tasked to Line Umpire at the Wimbledon Qualifying event in London and was the Chair Umpire for the Under 18 ITF Junior event.

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Since obtaining the white badge, Selepe has also been invited to officiate at the ITF Futures in Stellenbosch, African Championships qualifying and main event as a chair umpire to gain more experience.

Fitted with a prosthetic leg after his left leg had to be amputated due to bone cancer, the 40-year-old former wheelchair tennis player from Limpopo was tasked to oversee unearthing of the country’s future stars since the inception of Wheelchair Tennis South Africa (WTSA) in 2005.

Selepe continues to be an inspirational figure for those in his native in the country and abroad and always believed he can do more.

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Selepe thanked Tennis South Africa for the opportunity, “A big thank you to TSA for granting me this opportunity which will be the first time in my officiating career being a chair umpire for a Davis Cup tie.”

“We are so proud of Patrick and unbelievably happy for him. He works so hard and has sacrificed a lot to get to this point, and an event like this makes all of that worthwhile,” said WTSA General Manager Karen Losch.