Great Britain’s Alfie Hewett becomes new wheelchair tennis world No.1
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Great Britain’s Alfie Hewett has become the new world No.1 men’s singles wheelchair tennis player, following the official publication of this week’s rankings by the International Tennis Federation.
Hewett overhauled Japan’s Shingo Kunieda, widely considered as the best men’s wheelchair tennis player in history, at the top of the rankings after claiming the prestigious Cajun Classic Super Series title in Baton Rouge, USA on Sunday. It follows an outstanding start to 2022 that has seen the Brit with three titles on the ITF’s UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis World Tour, including both ITF Super Series events (the equivalent of the ATP/WTA Masters 1000 as the highest-ranking tour events outside of the four Grand Slams and end of season finals), and finish runner-up at the Australian Open.
Hewett’s first action as world No.1 will be in Turkey this week as part of the LTA’s Great Britain men’s team aiming to qualify for the World Team Cup Finals, the ITF’s flagship team wheelchair tennis event and the equivalent of the Davis Cup for men and Billie Jean King Cup for women.
The 24-year-old, who is supported by the LTA’s Wheelchair Tennis Performance Pathway, trains in Norwich where he is coached by Donna Andrews and Ben Collingwood. This is the second time he has reached the summit of the men’s singles world rankings, having previously briefly occupied top spot back in 2018 when he became the sport’s youngest ever world number one.
Having taken up the sport in 2005 after attending a wheelchair tennis camp, he went on to become a world no.1 ranked junior. Fast-forward to 2022 and the Norfolk-born star is now a five-time Grand Slam men’s singles winner, and as the reigning Roland Garros champion will be defending his title in Paris in May.
Alongside Gordon Reid, Hewett is also one half of the best men’s doubles wheelchair tennis partnership in the world, with the duo having won 14 Grand Slam men’s doubles titles together to become Britain’s all time most successful tennis doubles partnership. The pair famously also completed a calendar year Grand Slam in 2021 in taking the men’s doubles titles at the Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open.
Speaking following the confirmation of his new status as world No.1, Hewett said: “It’s a great feeling. I’ve worked incredibly hard to achieve the consistency over the last 18 months – I really feel like my performances have stepped up. The world number one spot is something I think every player in the top 15-20 in the rankings dreams of – it’s the ultimate accolade.
“The game has moved on massively since I was world no.1 in 2018. I’ve had to adapt in terms of my game, my mentality, my behaviour, my emotions. I don’t think at the time I appreciated how hard it was to achieve something like that. I want to try to stay there a little bit longer this time. It’s not going to be easy, I’m aware of that, but I’m just taking it one tournament at a time and I’m going to enjoy every week and every moment that I’m able to say I am No.1 in the world. The hard work does continue, there is no rest now – it’s just getting on with the rest of the season. It’s been a great year so far and so maintaining some strong performances with similar outcomes is the target for me.
Hewett’s position at the top of the world rankings further reinforces Great Britain’s standings as one of the leading nations in the world for wheelchair tennis, with Gordon Reid, Lucy Shuker and Andy Lapthorne also all ranked inside the top five in the world in both singles and doubles across the men’s, women’s and quad divisions. There are also five Brits inside the top 10 junior boys and girls wheelchair tennis world rankings, including Ruby Bishop, Ellie Robertson, Ben Bartram, Dahnon Ward and Andrew Penney.
Michael Bourne, LTA Performance Director, said: “It’s a fantastic achievement for Alfie to become world No.1 again. To have delivered so consistently over the past 18 months is a testament to the hard work Alfie and his team have put in, and we are proud to have supported him on his journey to the top of the rankings. The continued success of Alfie and our other leading elite wheelchair tennis players is a key part of our goal for Britain to become one of the most respected nations in the world for player development, and for British tennis to now have officially the best men’s singles wheelchair tennis player in the world is something everyone involved in our sport can celebrate.”
To find out more about wheelchair tennis and the LTA’s wider disability tennis work, visit lta.org.uk.