Aussie tennis star Sam Groth has capped a stellar year by being named the 2015 Newcombe medallist at an awards ceremony in Melbourne on Monday night.
The award is strong recognition for the upward trajectory Groth’s career has taken since he briefly retired from the sport to play suburban AFL four years ago.
The big-serving 28-year-old reached a career-high ranking of 53 back in August in what was his most successful season on the ATP tour.
Groth is currently ranked 60th after a foot injury cut-short his season, behind only Bernard Tomic (18) and Nick Kyrgios (30) who were not nominated due to off-court indiscretions.
He won the vote ahead of dual Grand Slam wheelchair champion Dylan Alcott, rising young ace Thanasi Kokkinakis, Fed Cup regular Casey Dellacqua and doubles specialist John Peers.
Groth joins Kyrgios, last year’s winner, new Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt and three-times winner Sam Stosur on the Newcombe medal honour roll.
Newcombe praised Groth’s mentality after making the announcement at Melbourne’s Crown Casino.
“Sam’s done exceptionally well,” he said. “He’s a tough competitor out there now.
“The guys hate playing him, someone who serve-volleys all the time and has some big weapons.”
The biggest of which is no doubt his serve, with Groth still holding the world record for the fastest serve recorded after sending down a 263kn/h thunderbolt at the 2012 Busan Open.
Groth won two second-tier Challenger events, in Taipei and Manchester, and helped Australia to the Davis Cup semi-finals with a memorable win over Kazakhstan in the quarters.
The Victorian also reached the third-round of a grand slam for the first time at this year’s Australian Open and repeated the feat at Wimbledon.
Hewitt, who teamed up with Groth in the doubles of the Davis Cup, was also among those honoured on the night, with the dual grand slam singles champion set to retire after next year’s Australian Open.
The full list of 2015 Australian award winners
Newcombe Medal – Sam Groth
President’s Spirit of Tennis Award – Ray Ruffels
Most Outstanding Athlete with a Disability – Dylan Alcott
Tennis Senior of the Year – Bob Howes
Coaching Excellence (ANZ Tennis Hot Shots) – Adrian Muscillo
Coaching Excellence (Club) – Jason Lindeman
Coaching Excellence (Talent Development) – Janine Thompson
Coaching Excellence (High Performance) – Ben Mathias – Labrador, Qld
Most Outstanding Club – Alexander Park Tennis Club (Menora, WA)
Most Outstanding School – Brisbane Boys’ College (Toowong, Qld)
Most Outstanding Professional Tournament – 2015 Mildura Grand International
Most Outstanding Australian Ranking Tournament – Bendigo Junior Tour and Australian Money Tournament
Excellence in Officiating – John Blom
Volunteer Achievement Award – Lyn Duffy