Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Youngsters Will Be Focus of the Future

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Youngsters Will Be Focus of the Future

Article excerpt

THE Lawn Tennis Association are to focus their attention on improving the sport's grassroots over the next three years, writes ELEANOR CROOKS.

It is four years since the governing body published a blueprint for British tennis following the appointment of Roger Draper as chief executive.

That began with the words: "Our new vision for British tennis is 'Winning'. This means British players winning slams, ATP, WTA, ITF and Tennis Europe tournaments and, ultimately, the Davis Cup and Federation Cup."

The tone of the update, presented at yesterday's AGM, was somewhat different, with the spotlight turned on the massparticipation side of the sport rather than the elite players.

The report read: "The approach to high-performance player development has been embedded and is now sustainable, subject to continuous improvement and appropriate funding of the high-performance network.

"With these foundations in place, the LTA is now in a position to direct more of its time and resources towards enabling the sport to grow the number of weekly participants."

The LTA have spent a significant amount of time and money over the past four years investing in the structure of the game in Britain at the top level.

There are now four international high-performance centres, 15 high-performance centres and 120 satellite clubs, as well as the flagship National Tennis Centre in Roehampton.

However, Andy Murray aside, the facts make largely uncomfortable reading, with Britain boasting the same number of top-100 singles players - two, Murray and Elena Baltacha - as in 2006, while 2010 also saw the embarrassing Davis Cup defeat by Lithuania.

Men's tennis in particular has shown a noticeable decline over the past four years, and the LTA admitted "perseverance and patience is needed to make sure that promising juniors are supported in the most appropriate way".

Junior tennis is one area where the governing body can celebrate significant progress, with victory for 17-year-old George Morgan in the prestigious Orange Bowl last weekend the latest in a string of noteworthy performances by British youngsters. …

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