Dylan Alcott tonight capped of an incredible year by being awarded the highest honour in Australian tennis, the Newcombe Medal.
The world No.1 was bestowed the award at a gala celebration at Crown Palladium in Melbourne, attended by a who’s who of Australian tennis. Alcott accepted the Newcombe Medal from the award’s namesake, Australian tennis legend John Newcombe.
“It’s just unbelievable. It’s been the best year of my life, bar none. I’m so proud to be a Paralympian and to have the Paralympics on everyone’s TV this year. It was massive for me to be given this award in honour of Newk, who is such a tennis legend. He’s someone who I looked up to when I was young watching videos of him play. [He’s] also got the best moustache in sports entertainment so it’s fitting that it’s Movember,” Alcott said.
Alcott, who also took home the Most Outstanding Athlete with a Disability award with his doubles partner Heath Davidson, was honoured to receive the top gong in Australian tennis.
“I’m not going to lie, I really wanted to win this award. We have an athlete with a disability category and that’s a huge honour but I see myself as an elite athlete first and foremost who just happens to have a disability who uses a wheelchair to play.
“To be recognised with the highest honour means so much to me and for people with a disability, especially kids. We’re often seen as second class citizens. And even though you win the elite athlete with disability award, we weren’t actually good enough to win the able-bodied award and this absolutely smashes that glass ceiling for elite athletes with a disability everywhere.”
John Newcombe said it was a historic night for the sport.
“He’s come along and won gold for Australia in singles and doubles. It’s unbelievable and I’m so bloody proud,” Newcombe said.
On court, Alcott began 2016 with wins in Brisbane and Sydney before successfully defending his Australian Open crown in Melbourne.
The world No.1 partnered with fellow Victorian Davidson to win the World Team Cup in Tokyo before winning two gold medals, in singles and doubles, in Rio.
His other titles in 2016 include the South Africa Open, Japan Open, Open de France and British Open.
Alcott is the fourth winner in as many years joining 2015 Sam Groth (Vic), 2014 winner Nick Kyrgios (ACT), 2013 recipient Lleyton Hewitt (SA) and three-time winner Sam Stosur (Qld) on the Newcombe Medal honour roll.
Stosur, along with first time nominees Daria Gavrilova (Vic), John Millman (Qld) and Jordan Thompson (NSW) and doubles specialist John Peers (Vic) were also in the running for the 2016 accolade.
The Newcombe Medal is the premier award presented on a night that recognises players, coaches, clubs, communities, volunteers and officials for their service to the sport. The awards ceremony has been held annually since 2010.
A highlight of the evening’s celebrations was the emotional presentation of the President’s Spirit of Tennis Award to the late Angie Cunningham who lost her long battle with Motor Neuron Disease last month. Her father Bill Woolcock accepted the award on behalf of the family from friend Hamish McLachlan.
Alex De Minaur (NSW) was named Male Junior Athlete of the Year, Kimberly Birrell (Qld) was named Female Junior Athlete of the Year for a second year running and Des Tyson (NSW), coach of Newcombe Medal finalist Thompson, was recognised for Coaching Excellence – High Performance.
By Tennis Australia