Ah, the English Summer. Full of so much promise; a few glorious days of sunshine followed by even more days of skin-soaking torrential downpours. Must be time for Wimbledon! The weather plays a key part in proceedings, and it wouldn’t be the great sporting occasion that it is without the chance of singing in the rain with Cliff Richard. Celebrity spotting is another fun activity too – who will the cameras catch huddling under an umbrella or munching on strawberries and cream?
On the subject of Tennis, last year our junior reporters, Luke and Ben, were fortunate to meet some of Norwich City’s Community Heroes at a pre-match Family Fun Zone. Local Tennis player Alfie Hewett was amongst the stars meeting supporters.
Only a couple of months earlier we had all watched with excitement as Alfie became a double Paralympic silver medallist, and this on top of becoming Wimbledon men’s doubles champion with partner Gordon Reid made for a great year for Alfie. The boys are both aspiring sportsmen, so meeting Alfie and the other sporting stars was very inspiring for them. Alfie has since gone on to claim his first Grand Slam singles title, becoming Roland Garros (The French Open) men’s singles champion!
When the opportunity arose to ask Alfie a few questions about Tennis and Norfolk, the boys jumped at the opportunity. After a bit of a rally they conspired to come up with some questions to lob over to Alfie. So, with Wimbledon upon us once more the boys served up some ace questions and Alfie Hewett volleyed the answers back! Game, Set and Match!
– What age did you start playing tennis?
– I started playing tennis at the age of 8 years old.
– Are tennis facilities in Norfolk wheelchair-friendly?
– Tennis facilities is Norfolk are very wheelchair accessible, the place I train (David Lloyd in Norwich, used to be Virgin Active) is very easy to get to and from the courts. I have also visited other tennis venues in Norfolk and found them to have good accessibility.
– Who is your role model?
– My role model in sport is Andy Murray. I like the way he has had to fight and overcome all odds to become the best in the world. He has had to be patient and work hard for his success, I enjoy watching his style of tennis and his work ethic. I have met Andy Murray a few times now and see him around when at the Grand Slams. I think he is a really nice person and is always friendly. He has came over to me a few times unnecessarily to say hello and chat, which is something I value a lot in elite athletes.
– What is your favourite pre-match food?
– My favourite pre-match food has to be a good Spaghetti Bolognese with a side salad and a banana to boost the energy levels.
– We’ve had a chance to try out wheelchair basketball at Easton College and UEA Sportspark. It was good fun but really hard – Have you played any other wheelchair sports?
– I played Wheelchair Basketball for about 10 years with Norwich Lowriders and loved every minute of it. Playing other sports gave me lots of different skills and widened my ability as a sportsperson. Playing tennis as an individual is great but at times can get lonely so having that team sport on the side created a new and different working environment for me. Being surrounded by friends and playing a sport like wheelchair basketball is so much fun.
– Do you have favourite music to listen to before a match?
– I have lots of different music I listen to before a match, it really depends on how I feel. I have worked a lot on getting my arousal levels to my optimal level. Which means If I feel like I am low on this I will listen to something that is fast and loud, normally Eminem. But if I feel like I am buzzing and need to calm down then I will listen to something that is more chilled and relaxed, example would be Ed Sheeran.
– When you were at school did your school encourage you to excel in sport?
– When I was at school and College ( Acle High School and City College Norwich) they both were very very supportive of my sport and enabled me to go out and train and player whenever I wanted to. However, at the same time they made sure that I was never behind on any work and that I still got the best out of myself education wise. I believe that having this support off these two schools massively helped my journey and if it wasn’t for their support I don’t think I would have achieved what I had so soon.
– If you could be any other sports person (past or present) for one day, who would it be and why?
– If I could be any sportsperson for one day I would love to be Buffon the Italian Goalkeeper. I am a massive fan of football, especially goalkeepers since I was one as a child, so to be a player like Buffon at the age he is at is inspiring.
– We love going to the beach in Norfolk; What’s your favourite place to visit in Norfolk?
– Funny enough my favourite place is a beach, and that beach is Wells. I went there as a kid and loved everything about it. I make sure I go there with my family every summer when I am back. I love the coast, I find it very peaceful and relaxing, whenever I am travelling and near one I will always do my best to go there.
– Do you support a football team and if so what shirt number would you want on your football kit, and why?
– My hometown team is my favourite and that is Norwich City! On the ball City! Been supporting them since I was a child and have had a season ticket there now for about 9 years. I will always go to the games when I am home, although that has been somewhat of a challenge recently with being away so much with tennis. I would have number 6 on my kit as that is my birthday and also my lucky number.
– Winning the singles in the French Open was amazing – which of your wins gave you the most pleasure?
– All the wins at the French Open were special to me in their own way. My first win against Stefan Olsson was my first ever singles win at a grand slam so that meant a lot to me. Then my semi final win against 6x Roland Garros Champion Shingo Kunieda was special since he is a champion within the sport and I had never beaten him before. Then there was the final where I beat Gustavo Fernandez who was the previous champion, was an incredible win for me, especially getting off to such a slow start being 6-0 2-0 and saving 2 match points in a thrilling tiebreak. The whole occasion was special and I will forever treasure each moment.
NorfolkPlaces would like to thank Luke and Ben for coming up with some really interesting questions, and of course a massive thank you to Norfolk’s very own tennis superstar, Alfie Hewett, for taking the time to respond to them. We wish Alfie the best of luck at Wimbledon!