Another career first for Alfie Hewett as Norfolk wheelchair tennis star prepares for French Open debut
PUBLISHED: 07:00 08 June 2017
Paralympic silver medallist Alfie Hewett realises another career first today when he makes his debut at the French Open, the second Grand Slam of the season.
The former City College Norwich student, who won two silver medals at the Paralympics in Rio last year, is one of three Brits on the Tennis Foundation’s Wheelchair Tennis World Class Programme who will be competing for honours at Roland Garros.
The 19-year-old British number two, from Cantley, near Acle, faces 2016 Wimbledon finalist Stefan Olsson of Sweden in his opening match today and is relishing the opportunity to play on the iconic clay in Paris.
“I’m really excited for my first Roland Garros, especially having made my debut at the Australian Open in January,” said world singles number seven Hewett.
“This is obviously much closer to home and it’s going to be great to have the support from family and friends.
“I’ve not long come back from back-to-back tournaments in Asia and although I didn’t come back with any titles, I lived up to my seeding with a quarter-final against Nico Peifer at the Japan Open and a place in the final against Gustavo Fernandez at the Korea Open.
“That means I got valuable match practise in against both Nico and Gustavo, who I could both play this week.
“I’ve had a really good week of training on the clay at the National Tennis Centre. Although this will be the first time I’ve played on clay since 2015 I won several tittles on clay two seasons ago and also helped GB to win the World Team Cup men’s title for the first time, so it’s a surface on which I’ve got some really nice memories and hopefully I can make some more this week.”
Hewett, who reached the final of the men’s doubles at January’s Australian Open, partnering Fernandez, renews his Wimbledon winning and Rio Paralympic silver medal-winning doubles partnership with British number one Gordon Reid – they face Gustavo Fernandez, of Argentina and Holland’s Maikel Scheffers.
“Playing doubles at a Grand Slam with Gordon again is going to be great after we met in the doubles final at the Australian Open,” the former Acle High School pupil continued.
“I’m really excited for that and hopefully we can translate our form on the grass at Wimbledon last summer onto the clay at the start of another big summer of tournaments.”