Alfie Hewett’s impressive 2017 came to a glorious conclusion on Sunday when the 19-year-old became the first Brit to win the men’s singles title at the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters, the sport’s year-end championship, after beating compatriot Gordon Reid 6-3, 6-2.
In the first all-Brit men’s singles final in the event’s 24-year history, 2016 runner-up and British No.2 Reid stormed into a 3-0 first set lead. But with both players having produced remarkable comebacks earlier in the week to reach the final, British No.1 and Roland Garros champion Hewett reeled off eight games in a row to lead by a set and 2-0.
Rio Paralympic gold medallist Reid broke back to level the second set, but Hewett, who won the silver medal in Rio in the first all-Brit Paralympic men’s singles final, regrouped to reel off the last four games and seal his historic victory after an hour and 18 minutes.
“I feel great. I think it started to sink in a couple of minutes ago with the emotions when I was waiting to go into media. It was a really good performance again today. I wasn’t sure which Alfie would turn up. It was a bit of a struggle at the start of the week and then out nowhere yesterday I played one of the best matches of my life in the semi-finals,” said world No.2 Hewett, who partnered Reid a week ago to win the sport’s Doubles Masters title after their Wimbledon and US Open crowns earlier in the year.
“I came out in the first set and Gordon was too strong for me, but I didn’t panic and I just had to ride the storm. If he’d played like that for two sets he deserved to win. Fortunately for me his intensity dropped and I managed to find my way back into the match. It feels great to make history, but as much as I get the limelight I need to and I want to thank everyone around me – family, friends, support team back in Norfolk and in London, the Tennis Foundation; there are so many people, because if it hadn’t been for them I wouldn’t be here now,” added Hewett, who turns 20 next Wednesday.
“I’m a bit disappointed, of course, and I’m feeling a bit tired today, both mentally and physically. But I’m feeling pretty happy with my week overall,” said Reid. “I had a great start today, but then there was maybe a little bit of confidence lost after a couple of missed shots. But I also think Alfie got a few nerves out of his system and started to relax. But overall it’s been a good week and there are lots of positives to take away, especially coming back like I did in my last round-robin match against Gusti (Gustavo Fernandez), being three match points down. That was the greatest comeback of my career.”