Cruz Hewitt, the 15-year-old son of legendary Aussie tennis player Lleyton Hewitt, will make his junior grand slam debut next week in the Australian Open boy's singles. Hewitt's wildcard comes as a welcome boost for his budding career after falling at the final hurdle of junior grand slam qualification twice.
He is currently the 14th highest-ranked 2008-born boy in the ITF World Tour junior rankings and was handed one of 16 wildcards for the tournament on Monday. The wildcard comes 27 years after his father debuted in the main draw of the Australian Open.
'NOT GOOD ENOUGH': Uproar as Chris O'Connell shafted for Novak Djokovic
Cruz moved between the junior and men's ITF circuits at the backend of 2023, winning three titles at the junior level. Ahead of his junior Australian Open debut, Cruz trained alongside US Open champion Dominic Thiem and Australia's top-ranked tennis player Alex de Minaur at Melbourne Park. He was seen practising his serve and received some advice from de Minaur.
The 15-year-old will hope with the wildcard he can follow in his father's footsteps. Lleyton reached the second round of the junior event in 1996.
He then famously in 1997 at just 15 years of age received a wildcard into men's qualifying where he upset former world No.80 Mark Petchey to reach the main draw. That win kickstarted a 20-year run of appearances in the Australian Open main draw.
Alex de Minaur credits Lleyton Hewitt for his success
De Minaur became the first Australian man to crack the top 10 of the ATP rankings since Hewitt last week. Davis Cup captain Hewitt has overseen a dramatic shift resulting in numerous Australian players rising to their potential, none more so than de Minaur.
De Minaur is the poster child of the Hewitt era, mentoring the Aussie since he broke into professional tennis. Hewitt even took de Minaur into his family home alongside his wife Bec and their three kids when he didn't have anywhere to live and the top-ranked Aussie is full of gratitude for the tennis great.
"It was great to just have that inside advice all the time and get his thoughts on everything," de Minaur said at the time. "I stayed with him in Sydney and also at his place in Melbourne. At the French Open last year in the juniors, he came out and we had a nice chat and told me that he would be very supportive of everything I needed.
"It's been unbelievable the amount of stuff he's done for me. I couldn't be more grateful. I spent time with his family and we went out with the family for dinner together ... it was nice."
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.