By Emily Goddard

Alfie Hewett 090113January 9 - British wheelchair tennis players Alfie Hewett and Lauren Jones are starting 2013 as world number ones in the junior rankings after the International Tennis Federation (ITF) published the first world rankings of the New Year.

The 15-year-old Hewett (pictured top) ended last year at number three in the junior boys rankings, behind Argentina's rising wheelchair tennis star Gustavo Fernandez, who is the senior world number five, and fellow Argentine Agustin Ledesma - the player Hewett defeated at the end of January 2012 to win the Cruyff Foundation Junior Masters, which he has again qualified for this year..

Both Fernandez and Ledesma turned 18 in 2012 making them now ineligible for junior competition and pushing Hewett to the top of the rankings after he won four senior men's singles titles at ITF Futures Series level last year and improved his senior world ranking to number 56.

South Africa's Gift Lekhanyane and Austrian Nico Langmann follow Hewett in the rankings in second and third place respectively.

Jones, 17, only started playing tennis three years ago and ended 2012 as world number four in the junior girls rankings, as well as becoming the youngest player ranked inside the top 50 of the women's senior world rankings.

Lauren Jones 090113Lauren Jones starts 2013 as the girls top ranked junior wheelchair tennis player in the world

The teenager from Sussex starts her final year as a junior in the top spot, followed by Russian Polina Shakirova in second place and Diede de Groot of the Netherlands in third, after the three players ranked above her at the end of last season also became too old for junior competition.

The pair will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of compatriots Paralympian Gordon Reid and London 2012 Paralympic bronze medallist Jordanne Whiley, who also topped the world boys and girls rankings respectively as juniors.

"This is a great way to start 2013 and, after both having fine seasons in 2012, Alfie and Lauren have already demonstrated their tremendous potential," said Geraint Richards, the Tennis Foundation's head of disability player performance.

"For them to follow in the footsteps of Gordon and Jordanne to attain the world number one junior ranking shows the quality of the players we have coming through the Tennis Foundation's junior performance programme.

"We're committed to getting more young people playing wheelchair tennis and Alfie and Lauren are both inspirational role models for anyone thinking of taking up the sport."

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