Norwich ace desperate to follow in the footsteps of Hewett in Apeldoorn
© Tennis Foundation/James Jordan.
Norfolk will be doubly represented at this week's BNP Paribas World Team Cup in Apeldoorn, with Norwich's Ben Bartram selected to make his wheelchair tennis debut for Great Britain alongside Cantley's world number Alfie Hewett.
Bartram, 12, has been selected for the Tennis Foundation’s Junior Futures Potential Programme as one of four young players chosen to represent Great Britain in the junior event in Apeldoorn whilst Hewett plays in the senior event.
“I am just so excited I didn’t see this coming! To represent my country doing something I love will be my proudest moment ever, it will be amazing,” said Bartram, who is part of Great Britain’s 13-strong squad competing across four events.
“I would say my best feeling so far was when I won the doubles with Abbie Breakwell at Bolton Indoor junior tournament in February. It was really close and I worked so hard. And now, being selected for the Junior Furores Potential Programme, I’m loving it.”
The All Saints School, Lessingham student and his family first messaged Hewett in 2016 to congratulate the Rio Paralympic silver medallist on his successes in Brazil. Hewett messaged back to encourage Bartram in his own ambitions and now has his photo on the youngster’s bedroom wall.
“Alfie has been a big push for everything I’ve done,” said Bartram, who trains three times a week at East Anglia tennis and squash club here in Norwich. Hewett was one of the GB team members that won the Wold Team junior title in 2013. Now competing in the same event, Bartram will seek to help Great Britain improve on their provisional seventh seeding in Apeldoorn.
“To see your child’s life turn around to something so positive and that smile on his face makes my heart burst,” said Bartram’s mum, Samantha.
Meanwhile, Great Britain are top seeds for the men’s event, which begins in Apeldoorn on Monday, Hewett and Glasgow’s Gordon Reid once again spearhead the GB challenge, having led their country to a first ever World Team Cup men’s title in 2015 before winning the silver medal in 2017.
“To be representing your country is always an honour. I really enjoy the event, it’s the only time in year where you can get together and play as a team. I can’t wait to get out back on the clay, get behind the team and hope to bring back the title,” said Hewett, who had the ideal preparation with Reid as they joined forces to win their third Super Series men’s doubles title together at last week’s Japan Open. The British top seeds beat Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina and Shingo Kunieda of Japan 7-6(5), 6-4 in the final.
“Winning the doubles title at the Japan Open was a great win for us. It’s our first title of the year, backed up with some strong performances and only gives us confidence heading into a busy but exciting summer. With World Team Cup on the horizon it’s boosted the morale and I’m hopeful that it can drive similar performances going into next week,” added Hewett, who reached the men’s singles semi-finals in Iizuka before bowing out to eventual champion Reid.