Alfie Hewett hoping to conquer Australia on his way to Rio 2016
- Credit: Archant
Alfie Hewett is no stranger to achieving firsts in his burgeoning wheelchair tennis career and Norfolk's world number one junior is eyeing success Down Under.
Hewett gets his 2015 season under way with his first competitive visit to Australia next month, having just finished 2014 by winning his first senior National title.
He partnered Nottinghamshire's David Phillipson to win the men's doubles at the National Wheelchair Tennis Championships in Gloucester, the second seeds dropping just one game en route to the final before defeating top seeds and defending champions Marc McCarroll and Gordon Reid 7-5, 2-6, 6-4.
The victory gave Hewett, a former multiple junior national champion, some recompense for slipping to a 6-1, 6-0 loss to world number three Reid in the semi-finals of the men's singles on Saturday, which was also the young Cantley athlete's 17th birthday.
'I've not had the chance to play with Dave too much, so we're really pleased with our performance and made a good team. It's great to get my first national title,' said Hewett. 'It's been a long season and the singles against Gordon wasn't the best.'
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The British Wheelchair Tennis Awards were also presented during the National Championships, with Hewett named Junior of the Year for the second year in a row after starting 2014 by retaining his Junior Masters singles and doubles titles in Tarbes, France, and maintaining a healthy advantage over his rivals at the top of the junior world rankings throughout the season.
He's also continued to make a significant impact in international senior competition and has won two ITF3 Series men's singles titles and eight senior men's doubles title in 2014, as well as making his debut inside the men's world top 20 and then briefly replacing Phillipson as British number three in August.
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After beating French world number seven Nicolas Peifer in October in France for his first career win over a senior world top-10 ranked player, Hewett won doubles titles in Sion, Switzerland, and Prague in November to end his international season on a high.
The current British men's number four and world number 18 is now one of a host of players on the Tennis Foundation's Wheelchair Tennis Performance Programme set to start 2015 in Astralia, with tournaments lined up in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. It's also a season which sees the start of the qualification window for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
'I fly to Australia on New Year's Day, so it will be a very different start to the year, but I'm really excited to get there and start acclimatising,' added Hewett.
'After getting into the top 20 this year I would like to be top 15 in 2015, but I'm not worrying about rankings. I'm just concentrating on the technical side of my game and the results and rankings will take care of themselves.
'But it's the start of qualification for Rio in the summer and that's a big focus.'