The World junior no 1 wheelchair tennis player has got his sights firmly on Wimbledon after competing in an exhibition match at Queen’s last week.
Norwich-born Alfie Hewett who is fresh from spearheading Britain’s first victory in the World Team Cup in Turkey is ready to take the next step by playing on the hallowed greens.
The 17-year-old, who is top of the world junior rankings and 17th in the men’s, has been spurred on by his historic win.
“I absolutely loved the tournament,” said Alfie, who spends three days a week studying sports science at college.
“It’s the only event when all the British players get together – at the end of the match we all went back to the hotel and jumped in the pool.”
After winning a wildcard, Alfie’s sights are on the historic tournament where he will compete for doubles glory with British number three Joachim Gerard.
Wheelchair tennis is one of Britain’s most played disabled sports and only differs from its counterpart in that the ball is allowed to bounce twice.
Despite inclusion in the 2012 Paralympic Games, the slow surface of Wimbledon’s grass pitches means wheelchair singles is yet to make an appearance at the All England Lawn Club.
Speaking prior to the Queen’s match, Alfie gave his backing to have it included in the 2016 tournament.
“Now that they’re cutting the grass shorter, it should happen next year or the year after – if it does, it will be massive for the game.”
Alfie first started playing wheelchair tennis when he was just seven years old, two years after he was diagnosed with Perthes disease, a rare condition that slowly kills bones in the sufferer’s hip joints.
Immediately confined to a wheelchair, Alfie was unable to attend the Norwich City football trials he was invited to.
“It was a big thing for me and afterwards I was in a lonely place,” he said. “I think football will always be my heart sport, but sometimes you’ve got to accept it and move on.”
With his first Wimbledon appearance just days away and a packed tour calendar making a professional career possible, Alfie’s future is full of promise.
“Wheelchair tennis has been a massive help for me,” he said. “I get to travel all over the world playing a sport I absolutely love.”
Featured picture courtesy of Alfie Hewett via Twitter, with thanks