Australian wheelchair basketball gold medallist Dylan Alcott has swapped one court for another and will take to the tennis court at the APIA Wheelchair Tennis International Sydney today at Sydney Olympic Park.
Returning to his first sport of choice before he found wheelchair basketball, the two-time Paralympian and gold and silver medallist will face Great Britain’s Jamie Burdekin in his first quad singles match of this summer’s ITF Super Series.
Earlier this week the 23-year-old from Melbourne enjoyed three straight set wins against New Zealanders James McLeod, Richard Page and Chris Harvey on his second outing back on the tennis court at the Perry New Zealand Wheelchair Tennis Open in Auckland, and has earned himself a wildcard entry to the Australian Open in his home town later this month.
“Back when I was playing tennis as a kid, all I wanted to do was play in the Australian Open. It’s going to be so cool, especially playing in my home town of Melbourne. I’m actually getting a bit nervous with all my friends and family coming down but I cannot wait,” said Alcott.
“I’ve already had a taste of what it will be like playing in Brisbane and now Sydney because the wheelchair competition runs alongside the able-bodied, so it’s really cool to be able to sit down and have lunch and bump into guys like Roger Federer.”
Before committing to full time wheelchair basketball, Alcott had represented Australia in wheelchair tennis at four World Team Cups and left his career ranked 100 in the world and fourth in the junior rankings. Not having played wheelchair basketball since the London Games, Alcott is now keen to give tennis another crack.
“I’ve always felt a bit like a tennis player who dabbled in basketball. I was really lucky that before Beijing when I was 16, I could’ve picked either sport to have a crack at and I picked basketball, which was great. We won a gold medal and then a silver in London and it’s been great to be a part of.
“I just want to do what makes me happy and stick to that, and right now that’s tennis. I’m taking the Australian Open very seriously, I’ve been training six days a week and playing with the basketball team has taught me how to train and that if you’re going to do something then you do it properly. Right now I’m looking to enjoy my tennis.”
Alcott will be joined in Sydney by Australian Paralympic wheelchair tennis stars Adam Kellerman, Ben Weekes and Janel Manns as well as a host of upcoming players taking on some of the best players in the world including men’s singles world number one Shingo Kunieda of Japan and women’s world number two Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany.
Last week Sydney-sider Kellerman won the first tournament of 2014 at the Queensland Open, winning in two sets to one against Japan’s Takuya Miki.
“I’m really happy with my start in 2014, I’ve been training really hard for the Australian summer series and the work is paying off,” said Kellerman.
The APIA Wheelchair Tennis International Sydney begins today at the Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre and will finish on Monday 14th January.
By Rebekka Wake