WARRINGTON’S highest ranked tennis professional Ashley Hewitt believes his goal of achieving a top 300 world ranking by 2013 is back on track after recovering from an injury-plagued 2011 season.
This year has seen the 20-year-old recover to 741 in the world rankings having dropped down to almost 2,000 in 2011, a result of an eight-month wrist injury lay-off that came months after he had made it through to the second round of Junior Wimbledon in 2010.
In the highly competitive world of professional sport eight months out of action can potentially be career-ending, but Hewitt made the brave decision to avoid quick fixes and take the long road back to full recovery.
“When I saw the specialist I went down the line of not getting surgery, not having the pain injections that would have allowed me to keep playing but would not have fixed the problem,” he said.
“I made the sacrifice and did as much rehab on it as I could to make sure it was right.”
A move from the LTA’s (Lawn Tennis Association) National Training Centre in Roehampton to a High Performance Centre in Bolton earlier this year followed his recovery, and after a bleak few months things are starting to look up for Hewitt, whose parents own Warrington’s Happy Guests Lodge Hotel.
A final appearance in October’s AEGON GB Pro-Series Tournament in Glasgow, having beaten the UK number two Josh Goodall in straight sets, indicated that Hewitt was getting back to top form, while victories over top 150 player Laurynas Grigelis from Lithuania, suggest that 2013 could be a big year.
“I want to rank up to around 300 to 350 in the world,” he said.
A new coaching team, including Wimbledon doubles champion Jamie Murray’s sports psychologist Richard de Souza, has helped bring about a marked improvement in Hewitt’s game and he now plans to attack the six-week off-season in the hope of taking his fine form into the new year.
But time is of the essecnce, as Hewitt’s funding only lasts until March and he is looking for a sponsor to help make his dream a reality.
“I will be heading to three Pro-Series events at the start of 2013,” he said.
“But getting a main sponsor now is vitally important for me.
“The best tournaments are all over the world, so in order for me to play against the best players I need the funds to travel to these tournaments.”