Alfie Hewett - his route to the top
Aged just 20, Alfie Hewett already has three wheelchair tennis Grand Slam titles to his name – not to mention a singles crown – and can now justifiably call himself the best player in the world.
The winner of last year’s French Open and NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters, Hewett topped the latest set of ITF Wheelchair Tennis rankings on Monday – less than a year after cracking the top four.
His rise to the top began when he picked up a tennis racket 12 years ago.
Three years later he competed in his first tournament and was selected for Great Britain at the European Junior Wheelchair Tennis Camp.
A steady progression followed, until his breakthrough in 2016, when he won the Wimbledon doubles title alongside fellow Brit Gordon Reid, before going on to pick up two silver medals at the Rio Paralympic Games.
And he did not stop in 2017, winning a maiden singles Grand Slam title in Paris before defending his Wimbledon crown with Reid and adding the US Open title to their collection.
Also a singles finalist at Flushing Meadow, Hewett capped his year with victory in the Masters event and began 2018 with a final appearance in the Sydney Open singles.
And despite losing in the Australian Open singles quarter-finals, it was enough to see him onto 4349 points – 223 ahead of Argentina’s Gustavo Fernandez.
“Today a dream of mine became a reality. A long-term ambition since I struck my first tennis ball 12 years ago,” Hewett tweeted on Monday.
“It’s been a journey, many highs and lows, pain and sacrifice, tears, fun and enjoyment. However, it was worth every moment, because as of Monday I’m the new world number 1 singles player." Alfie Hewett
“To everyone who has been involved in my career and supported me, I want to take this opportunity to say thank you.
“As an individual on the tennis court, it is often forgotten that there are many people behind the scenes who have developed me into the person and sportsman you watch today.
“You’ll never know how much this means to me.”
Scotsman Reid, still only 26, has played a large role in mentoring Hewett and helping him on his progression to the upper echelons of the game.
And following his win over Reid in last year’s Masters final Hewett also paid tribute to outgoing Tennis Foundation head of disability player performance Geraint Richards.
But it was his family that he thanked the most, following his latest achievement.
“There is one big thank you I do need to say, that is to my family. I couldn’t possibly put into words how influential they have been in helping me get to where I have,” he added.
“Time, money, effort, encouragement, passion, love and all-around support since the moment they found wheelchair tennis for me, has been truly amazing.
“They have picked me up through the hard times, given me motivation and inspiration when needed and we’ve enjoyed the good memories together.
“It’s not been easy but I’m glad I can come home to celebrate with everyone, as you all deserve this special moment, too.”