The LTA Needs Some (New) Balls
Another weekend, another disappointment in British tennis. Britain’s loss in this weekend’s Davis Cup marks the teams worst run of form ever, with five straight losses putting us on the brink of group of death: Europe / Africa Zone Group Three.
You can’t blame Andy Murray for not wanting to play. He can only carry the team so far. What’s the point in him risking injury when we’re never going to win the tournament with only one good player in the team.
The LTA must face up to the fact something is still not working. £43million a year should be enough to generate four players good enough to beat the Lithuanians. We’ve blamed the weather in the UK for not being condusive to tennis but it can’t be worse here than it is in Russia, Sweden and Switzerland and they’ve all made it through to Group One.
We blame the lack of role models but tennis has never had better characters on court, with anti-hero Murray in Britain and Nadal, Federer and Del Potro overseas. We’ve said tennis only matters for two weeks a year in the UK but the sell out crowds at last November’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals proved there is a year round appetite for the game.
Success in tennis is as lucrative as football or golf – the LTA needs to make it as desirable to be a tennis player as it is a Premier League player, as it’s a sad day when English need to become British to find something to cheer about.
Blaming/ sacking/ changing the coach may help (certainly Roger Drapers had 4 years to do something other than open a tennis school that currently it looks like the can’t give places away at) but the LTA’s tennis scouts should work better, like football scouts do, picking up players with potential in primary school. And every tennis club in the country should be made to have a junior programme manned by Dads at the weekends, that are incentivised to work with the LTA.
And if all else fails, perhaps we should encourage Murray into a few sex text scandals – that’s clearly what grabs the attention of the masses and turns a good sportsman into the icon they all aspire to be!