Alfie Hewett left devastated with silver in Paralympic wheelchair tennis for second consecutive Games
Alfie Hewett left devastated with silver medal in Paralympic wheelchair tennis for second consecutive Games…
- Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid take on France in the wheelchair tennis final in Tokyo
- The Paralympics GB pair lost again in the final, after the same result in Rio 2016
- Hewett’s disability is not considered serious enough according to new criteria
- The Brit is unsure where his future lies and was crushed to bend without gold
Alfie Hewett admitted he can’t even think about life outside of wheelchair tennis after his Paralympic career effectively ended without a gold medal following another heartbreaking double defeat alongside Gordon Reid.
The British pair – defeated finalists in Rio – were visibly devastated to have once again been forced to settle for silver following a second consecutive loss of the Games to French defending champions Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer.
Norfolk-born Hewett has been playing under a cloud of uncertainty for nearly two years and unless he gets a reprieve he will soon be ineligible to play professionally as his hip limitation – Perthes’ disease – is not considered severe enough according to the new criteria of the International Tennis Federation .
Alfie Hewett’s wheelchair tennis career may be over with new criteria excluding him from 2024
The GB athlete, in addition to Gordon Reid, had to settle for Silver again after losing to the French
The 23-year-old and Scotsman Reid were well placed to win in Tokyo, but lost a three-game lead in the deciding set to go down in a dramatic tiebreak, losing 7-5 0-6 7-6 ( 3) .
A defeat put an end to the teammates’ hopes of a Golden Slam – victory in all four Grand Slams and the Paralympic Games in the same year – and they must pit themselves to compete in the bronze medal match in Saturday’s singles.
“It’s on my mind now, but it hasn’t been,” Hewett said of the classification issue.
“I’ve always tried to keep it in mind and just focus on the tennis and yes, the thought of that upsets me now, so I try not to talk about it, to be honest.
“I have no idea (what would come next). I haven’t thought about it that far yet.
The clutch also won silver in Rio and was looking for a Grand Slam Calendar
“I want to stay, I don’t want to move on and I wouldn’t be there if I were thinking about what life would be like after that, so I’ve been holding myself very much in the here and now and whatever happens, happens and I will respond whatever the decision is.
“I can try to be as positive as possible, but I can’t control it at all.”
Hewett is currently allowed to continue until the end of 2021 and has a glimmer of hope from an assessment of the situation.
He undoubtedly produced the shot of the match at Ariake Tennis Park, clattering against billboards and holding his arms outstretched behind an astonishing forehand winner on the field in the second set.
After overcoming the setback of dropping the opening set, the GB pair went on to win nine games at a trot and looked to be on their way to victory before wily 50-year-old Houdet and Peifer, 30, made a smashing comeback.
“We’re so broken and flat and emotional, too,” Hewett said.
“The only thing I can take out of the game is that point.
“I think the reaction spoke volumes for both of us, we hugged as if we had won the match. It was outrageous.’
Hewett now has to hope for a positive result from a review about his situation that is coming
Reid defeated Hewett in the singles final in Rio, but their hopes of a repeat ended Thursday after losing in the semi-finals apiece.
Speaking about the swift return to court for the third-place showdown, Reid said: “I don’t think any of us really thought about it.
“It’s so fresh and so raw the emotion of that match that we probably have to sleep on it.
“It’s going to be difficult to be on the other side of the net tomorrow, but as Alfie said before, a bronze medal is at stake, so we have to do our best – put this game behind us and hopefully have a good fight.” ‘
After leaving Japan, the star pair – who have already had double success this year at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon – will quickly focus on the US Open.
“When we get there, it’s a chance to turn things around this week and try to complete the calendar, which we didn’t do together,” said 29-year-old Reid.
“That’s still a big goal that we’re going to try to achieve.”
Later on Friday, GB’s Jordanne Whiley won bronze in the women’s singles. The 29-year-old defeated the Dutchman Aniek Van Koot 6-4 6-7 (7) 6-4.