Norfolk wheelchair tennis star Alfie Hewett continues his world rankings rise
06:30 21 August 2014
Wheelchair tennis ace Alfie Hewett has improved his men’s singles world ranking to number 18 and moved up to British number three in the process after a successful summer.
The 16-year-old, from Cantley, took time out of competition between late February and mid-June to concentrate on completing his GCSEs, but such was the bank of ranking points he had accrued in 2013 the Norfolk player only saw his world ranking move a maximum of two places between 20 and 22 before making his comeback at the Slovakia Open in June.
He made an immediate impact, reaching the men’s singles final and winning the men’s doubles in Slovakia, his singles result earning a jump of two places to a new career best ranking of 19 ahead of retaining singles and doubles titles he had won in Madrid last summer.
Hewett also completed a sweep of men’s singles and doubles titles at the German Open at the end of July during a period that has seen him win two singles titles, reach four singles finals and win five doubles titles in eight tournaments in eight different countries.
“It’s been an amazing summer and I haven’t had many days off, but I’m looking forward to a bit of a rest now before my next tournaments in September,” said Hewett, who believes last week’s Wroclaw Cup in Poland saw him produce some of his best tennis as he finished runner-up to Australian second seed and defending champion Adam Kellerman, having beaten British number two and top seed Marc McCarroll in the semi-finals.
“Adam’s either beaten or taken a lot of the top players to three sets, so for me to take a 5-3 lead over him in the second set and almost take him to a deciding set was really pleasing,” added Hewett, the youngest men’s player on the Tennis Foundation’s Wheelchair Tennis Performance Programme, whose latest world ranking improvement has seen him replace two-time Paralympian David Phillipson as the British number three this week.
“I’ve produced a lot of great tennis aside from winning titles and last month’s British Open in Nottingham also stands out, when I played world number two Stephane Houdet in the first round and went a break ahead of him in the second set.
“After that I partnered South Africa’s Evans Maripa in the men’s doubles and we played a great match to win the first set against the top seeds, Maikel Scheffers and Joachim Gerard and only missed out 6-4 in the third.”
As well as facing Scheffers in the doubles in Nottingham, Hewett has also had the world number six as a singles opponent and doubles partner in recent weeks.
Together they won the men’s doubles at the Austrian Open at the start of this month before Hewett partnered another former Dutch world number one, Ricky Molier, to doubles victory at the Trofeo Della Mole in Italy.
“To play with and against the likes of Maikel and Ricky, who have been at the top of the rankings and have won Paralympic medals, and to get praise from them is really quite special as I look to where I want to get to,” said Hewett, who has been at the top of the world junior rankings since January 2013 and whose trophy haul includes a hat-trick of Junior Masters singles and doubles titles.
Hewett is set to return to competition in mid-September at the Open de L’Ile de Re in France before playing in his second and third ITF 1 tier tournaments of the year in Italy and France.