By Tom Degun

Gustavo Fernandez_14-06-121June 14 - Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina, one of the rising stars of wheelchair tennis, has been voted the International Paralympic Committee's (IPC) Athlete of the Month for May following a superb few weeks that have seen him break into the world top ten singles ranking for the first time in his career and establish himself as a London 2012 Paralympic medal contender.

In what was a stunning month for the 18-year-old, Fernandez (pictured above) won the men's wheelchair tennis singles events at both the Japan Open and Korea Open, producing a major upset in the former event by stunning the then world number one Maikel Scheffers of the Netherlands in a thrilling three-set match.

The young Argentinean followed up the huge win by marching through to the final and shocking current world number one Stéphane Houdet of France in straight sets to take the Japan Open and truly establish himself on the world stage.

"The match with Scheffers was everything," Fernandez said.

"Once I won that match I had all the confidence I needed to keep moving forward.

"It did not seem like something that was real.

"It still felt like something I knew that could maybe happen."

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The following week, Fernandez won all four of his matches at the Korea Open as he took the title with a crushing 6-2, 6-0 victory over Britain's Gordon Reid in the finals to vault himself to world number nine.

He is currently ranked world number seven after winning the Daegu Open earlier this month to complete a clean sweep of the three recent tournaments in Asia.

It is perhaps no major surprise that the Argentinean is starting to see such much success as he comes from a family of great sporting stock.

His father, also named Gustavo, had a successful 17-year professional basketball career in Argentina, where he played for a number of teams and won five national championships, while his older brother Juan now plays professional basketball in Italy after making a name for himself playing college hoops at Temple University in the United States.

Fernandez himself has been in a wheelchair since he was just over a year old after he fell out of a chair and suffered a major spinal-cord injury, but he admits he is delighted to be following in the footsteps of his family.

"It's a dream come true," Fernandez said.

"Because of my impairment, I didn't think it would be possible to do sports at first.

"But I dream like they do and with all the contacts I've had in sports, I always thought of myself as a sportsman.

"Now, I play like they do."

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His major breakthrough in wheelchair tennis came when he won singles gold at the 2011 Parapan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, but he is now targeting medal success at the London 2012 Paralympics.

"With these results and all [my chances of winning a Paralympic medal are] now better than ever," Fernandez (pictured above, centre) added.

"I hope that scares people when they play me."

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