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Britain’s Alfie Hewett may continue with wheelchair tennis

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Wheelchair tennis player Alfie Hewett, who completed the doubles on the calendar this year, said he has been cleared to continue his career after a change in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) classification rules.

Great Britain’s 18-time Grand Slam champion Hewett has Perthes disease, which affects hip movement. At the first changes to the ITF regulations in 2019, the disease was not considered severe enough to require the use of a wheelchair.

The ITF ruling meant Hewett would not be eligible to compete in wheelchair events outside of the Tokyo Paralympic Games, which were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while his appeal also delayed execution.

However, UK media reported that the ITF has since changed its criteria to exclude only those who can compete while standing.

The 23-year-old heard the news last weekend in Amsterdam, where he had traveled to undergo further classification tests.

“I barely slept the night before so I was quite exhausted and then there were tears,” Hewett told British media on Monday. “Mentally and emotionally it was a very exhausting experience, but of course the best.

“You’ve probably all felt it at some point in your life when something so heavy is lifted that you really feel that lift fall off your shoulders, and I did. I just felt so much relief.”

Hewett, who defended his singles title at the French Open this year, is now allowed to participate in the Australian Open in January, where he reached the singles final in 2021.

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