SJA Sportsman of the Year: The case for Alfie Hewett

SJA members can vote now to decide the winners of three major categories at the Awards, to be held at The Kia Oval in London on Thursday 7 December; Jake Wightman, Beth Mead and the Lionesses claimed the equivalent 2022 honours; who will take the top prizes this year? Voting deadline is 15 Novemberโ€ฆ

By Jerome Coombe

Alfie Hewett continues to defy the odds, this year recording his most successful season on tour, achieving previously unthinkable new heights of wheelchair tennis.

The Norfolk-based star has been driving disability sport into the spotlight with his efforts in recent years, but his 2023 campaign will go down as one of the greatest.

Hewett reached seven out of the eight possible Grand Slam finals, and walked away with two singles and three doubles trophies with partner Gordon Reid. 

In recognition of the outstanding footprint he has left on wheelchair tennis, as well as on para-sport in general, Hewett was awarded an OBE at Windsor Castle in October.

And as if all of that wasnโ€™t enough, Hewett will finish the 2023 season as World No.1 in both singles and doubles and, in doing so, become the first British male or female in Open Era tennis to ever achieve this feat.

Hewettโ€™s year began with a bang, winning his first Australian Open singles title alongside his fourth straight doubles title in Melbourne.

Whilst he suffered defeats to next-generation star Tokito Oda in the singles final of both the French Open and Wimbledon, doubles wins alongside Reid helped cushion the blow.

And Reid went from teammate to opponent for the first time in a Grand Slam, as Hewett beat him in the final at Flushing Meadows to secure his fifth Slam of the year. 

The 25-year-old then went one step further as he edged Oda to the year end No.1 spot by picking up his third Masters title, seeing him soar to new heights of the sport. 

Finishing the year in the top spot has been a dream for Hewett, and one of the very few accolades that was missing from such an illustrious career. 

Hewett said in his on-court interview: โ€œWhen I sat down at the beginning of the year I said I wanted to finish the year as number one.

โ€œIโ€™m obviously super happy, it was one of my goals. To be able to say we did it is something I’m extremely proud of.โ€

After winning three out of the four Slams of the year, Hewett and Reid are now 18-time major winners, the most of any pairing. 

In addition to increasing their tally on the Grand Slam stage, Hewett and Reid also swept the doubles Masters title and will now begin the 2024 season as No.1 and No.2 in the doubles rankings, respectively.  

What Hewett has been able to achieve this season – all the while being at the forefront of promoting disability sport – is something truly remarkable.

Sports journalist Jerome Coombe is a member of the SJA Academy – find out more about membership here.