Newcombe Medal winner Dylan Alcott.
Newcombe Medal winner Dylan Alcott. FIONA HAMILTON

Alcott's medal win 'smashes that glass ceiling'

TENNIS: Dylan Alcott has finally received the recognition he deserves by winning the coveted Newcombe Medal.

The world No.1 and triple Paralympic gold medallist took out Australian tennis's highest honour - in recognition of great John Newcombe - at Melbourne's Crown Palladium.

Alcott was snubbed for a nomination last year despite winning two grand slams. In 2016, he successfully defended his Australian Open title, won singles and doubles gold at the Rio Olympics and was crowned Australia's Paralympian of the Year.

The 25-year-old was also named joint winner of the most outstanding athlete with a disability award with fellow Victorian Heath Davidson, who he partnered with to win the World Team Cup in Tokyo this year.

"I'm not going to lie, I really wanted to win,” Alcott said of the Newcombe Medal, which is given to the "most outstanding elite tennis player and ambassador for the sport”.

"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.”

Alcott, who won his first Paralympic gold in wheelchair basketball in 2008, is the fourth different winner of the Newcombe Medal in as many years following Sam Groth (2015), Nick Kyrgios (2014), Lleyton Hewitt (2013) and Sam Stosur (2012).

"It's just unbelievable. It's been the best year of my life, bar none,” Alcott said.

"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.”

Stosur was again in the running for the Newcombe Medal, after reaching the French Open semi-finals for a fourth time, along with Daria Gavrilova, John Millman, Jordan Thompson and doubles specialist John Peers.

Award winners:

Newcombe Medal: Dylan Alcott

President's spirit of tennis award: Angie Cunningham

Coaching excellence (high performance): Des Tyson

Coaching excellence (club): Helen Magill

Coaching excellence (talent development): Stephen Thompson

Female junior athlete of the year: Kimberly Birrell

Male junior athlete of the year: Alex De Minaur

Most outstanding athlete with a disability: Dylan Alcott and Heath Davidson

Volunteer achievement award: Kathy Brummitt

Most outstanding 35-plus tennis senior: Leanne Swaysland

Excellence in officiating: Troy Deighton

Most outstanding club: East Malvern Tennis Club

Most outstanding Australian ranking tournament: Ferntree Gully Kia MUSTA Silver AMT

Most outstanding professional tournament: Canberra International

Most outstanding school: Wembley Primary School