The International Tennis Foundation announced on Sunday former South African wheelchair tennis player Patrick Selepe as the inaugural winner of the Spirit Award.

Selepe was confirmed as the winner on the last day of the 2017 Wheelchair Doubles Masters in Bemmel, Netherlands.

Selepe, who receives US$ 5000 (R69 354) for the award, was recognised and commended for his commitment to all aspects of wheelchair tennis over a period of 10 years, as a competitive player and as an official, becoming the first disabled person to attain the White Badge officiating qualification.

At the same time, he has worked tirelessly and shown immense and selfless devotion to the development of the sport in South Africa, playing a major role in overseeing the activities of a wheelchair tennis development programme that serves more than centres and over 500 players.

“It is a great honour to be the first winner of the UNIQLO Spirit Award, this is huge for me”, said Selepe.

“I will continue to work hard, raise awareness for people living with disabilities and continue to be a reminder to all people with disabilities that it is possible.

“Thank you to International Tennis Federation (ITF) and UNIQLO for this great recognition, not forgetting Wheelchair Tennis South Africa who offered me a life-changing opportunity”, added Selepe.