Acle schoolboy Alfie wins top wheelchair tennis title
Cantley’s Alfie Hewett became just the second British player to win the Cruyff Foundation Junior Masters boys’ singles title on Sunday as the world’s premier tournament for wheelchair tennis players aged 18 and under came to a thrilling climax in Tarbes, France.
The 14-year-old Acle High School student upset Argentinean top seed Augustin Ledesma to take the title 2-6, 6-2, 7-6(7) in front of 3,000 spectators.
Hewett remained unbeaten in all three of his round-robin matches before defeating Dutchman Carlos Anker 6-2, 6-1 in Saturday’s semi-final en route to emulating current senior British No.1 Gordon Reid, the first British player to win the boys’ title in Tarbes in 2008 and 2009.
With Ledesma almost four years older than Junior Masters debutant Hewett, and 85 places higher than the Brit in the senior world rankings, the Argentinean looked to be on course for victory after taking the first set 6-2. But Hewett made a remarkable start to the second set, taking a 5-0 lead before finally levelling the match on his third set point.
He proceeded to break at the start of the third set and, although Ledesma then reeled off five games in succession, Hewett dug deep to force the final set tie-break and take the title.
The junior world No.3 had earlier claimed the first part of an extraordinary double, partnering Ledesma to beat Rody de Bie and Jeroen Staman 7-6(5), 2-6, (11-9) in Saturday’s doubles final.
“When I came into the tournament I never thought I’d win a title because of the level of my opponents, so I’m feeling slightly overwhelmed right now,” said Alfie.
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“In the first set Augustin played a very solid game, seemed to get everything back and forced me into making too many errors, so at the start of the second my plan was to get everything back into court and it worked. To come home with both titles and become only the second British boy to do it is incredible.”
Alfie first played the sport at a Tennis Foundation Wheelchair Tennis Development Camp in 2005, when he was just seven years old.