Australian sporting legend Dylan Alcott has claimed the Ray White Victorian Wheelchair Tennis Open in the penultimate tournament of his career at the Hume Tennis and Community Centre.
At the end of last year, Alcott announced that the 2022 Australian Open would be the last tournament of his illustrious and record-breaking career.
Despite defeating his long-time rival Sam Schroder 6-1, 6-4, Alcott didn’t have it all his way. Struggling with the sun, Alcott couldn’t serve out the match when given the chance, but he managed to break the very next game to claim the title.
This was Alcott’s first tournament since he triumphed at the US Open. Post-match he was very happy with his level of tennis after his extended break.
“It was tough. The level of wheelchair tennis is getting so much better and better. I thought the quality was really good. I was really proud of the way I played after a long break after the US Open.”
Alcott is now looking forward to the Australian Open which will be his final tennis tournament.
“I am actually pumped; I feel excited more than nervous. I think I can see the finish line and I have no regrets about my decision so I’m just really going to enjoy the moment.”
Reflecting on his career, there is one moment that really stands out for the 7-time Australian Open winner.
“Winning one of my Australian Opens which was the first time live on television on Rod Laver Arena, 10,000 people there, but seeing 500 kids in wheelchairs there, I just couldn’t believe it.”
Alcott was also full of praise for the work Tennis Australia has done over the years to ensure wheelchair tennis wasn’t left behind.
“Tennis Australia and the whole team have been the biggest supporters of me and wheelchair tennis. The way they talk to us, treat us and include us is second to none. I’m forever grateful and thankful. They made my career but hopefully changed the lives of a lot of people with disabilities.”
Alcott’s long-time rival Sam Schroder was full of praise for the impact Alcott has had on the sport.
“The biggest part of his career has been the influence he’s had on kids. Getting people to play wheelchair tennis but also people just to feel good about themselves even if they have a disability.”
Looking back on the impact he has had on the sport and people with disabilities, Alcott is just happy he’s been able to provide hope to so many people.
“I don’t actually try too much to be a role model. I just want them to be them. I think the biggest thing is that I’ve been able to do is just be authentically me. Just be proud of my disability, proud to be a wheelchair tennis player and also just be yourself. Now that I’m gone, I want to see it (wheelchair tennis) go from strength to strength.”
In the days other action, top seed Shingo Kunieda defeated Gordon Reid 6-1, 6-2 to win the Victorian Open Men’s Singles Championship.
The match was not as straightforward as the score suggests with many games going to deuce.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion was very pleased to win another tournament.
“It was very tough. I played good today; it was my comeback tournament because I had to take a rest after the US Open, so it was a good start to 2022.”
Japanese superstar Yui Kamiji defeated Zhenzhen Zhu 6-1, 6-1 to claim the Victorian Open Women’s Singles Championship.
Post-match. Kamiji couldn’t hide her excitement of being back in Melbourne.
“It’s always nice to come to this tournament. People are very nice. In Japan, it’s winter now so it’s nice to stay under the sun.”
Tournament Director, Tim Connolly was very pleased to be hosting the tournament for the seventh straight year.
“We have now had the pleasure of hosting this tournament for seven years. It’s great having world-class wheelchair tennis players come from all different continents. The quality of play gets better each year.”
The Australian Open wheelchair competition commences on the 25th of January at Melbourne Park.