Alfie Hewett’s ‘ridiculous’ influence fired Ben Bartram to a third senior singles title on the spin in the Nottingham Futures event at the LTA’s British Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships.
The Norwich star, who is supported by the LTA’s Wheelchair Tennis Performance Pathway, shares his hometown with the 20-time Grand Slam champion and came through in straight sets against Dahnon Ward 6-4 6-1 in Saturday’s final.
Bartram, 17, was crowned the LTA’s Junior Player of the Year in May after a searing 2021 and believes Hewett, 24, laid the foundations for his latest success.
“Alfie is definitely a massive inspiration to me and seeing how well he's doing it just drives me and motivates me to want to become the best in the world,” said Bartram.
“I trained with Alfie back at Eastern [College] and I learned so much - hitting with him it’s ridiculous.
“When I was younger all I would do in my spare time was just watch [videos], not only of Alfie, but other players as well.
“I’d definitely watch a lot of videos and see the best guys in the world.”
Bartram made it six victories on the bounce against Ward, a run which began in the final of the LTA’s Junior British Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships in Nottingham last year.
Bartram stressed the challenge facing such a familiar opponent posed, made even harder by the sweltering conditions in the East Midlands.
He said: “It’s very difficult because we know how each other play so well having played each other so many times.
“Our first final was against each other so it's just amazing to see how far we've come together here.”
The gifted teen, still juggling his burgeoning career with school commitments, now looks ahead to tournaments in Belgium and Romania ahead of a tantalising Junior US Open debut at Flushing Meadows later this year.
Bartram expressed his delight in competing in the sport at a time where such opportunities are endless for wheelchair tennis players.
He added:” It’s very, very exciting.
“The US Open will be another dream come true – it's like: ‘is this wheelchair tennis?’ What is going on?’
“It’s growing so quickly and it’s amazing to be a part of it.”
For more information on the LTA’s British Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships click here