Sham? You Can't Be Serious; Tennis Chief Felgate Hits Back at Claims That Move for McEnroe Is Just Window-Dressing

By Jones, Chris | The Evening Standard (London, England), July 8, 2003 | Go to article overview

Sham? You Can't Be Serious; Tennis Chief Felgate Hits Back at Claims That Move for McEnroe Is Just Window-Dressing


Jones, Chris, The Evening Standard (London, England)


Byline: CHRIS JONES

BRITISH tennis chiefs today denied that their decision to bring in John McEnroe is an exercise in "fluff " to create a short-term feel-good factor in the sport.

Poor results at Wimbledon highlighted the paucity of international talent in Britain. Now the Lawn Tennis Association has turned to McEnroe to prove it is prepared to look outside the country for inspiration.

David Felgate, the recently-appointed LTA performance director, who is set to introduce his own changes to the LTA's coaching and player development system in the next month, said: "We are not doing it for fluff purposes so that the media has a good story.

We will use John in the right way and it's not a panacea for our problems "There are a number of guys who could benefit from working with an inspirational figure like John, but it won't affect the work they are undertaking throughout the year with their own coaches.

"John has done some work in the past with Sergei Bruguera before a US Open, but it's about all the other things he brings to the table."

McEnroe's fee has yet to be agreed, but the LTA's position as a non-profit-making operation means its budget is closely monitored. The LTA claims junior initiatives will not be curtailed.

The LTA initially wants McEnroe, the threetime Wimbledon men's champion, to help run three coaching camps with Felgate as well as add some input into the City Tennis programme for inner-city children.

McEnroe will be playing in the annual tennis legends event - the Honda Challenge - at the Albert Hall in December and the training camps are planned for around that time of year, including a possible trip to the LTA's winter facility at La Manga. Felgate added: "It's about getting value for money and how many days John has available. We haven't got into those kind of discussions at the moment.

"Realistically, if what John can do, because he still plays and commentates, doesn't fit in with our players' schedules then there would be no point getting someone of his quality along if he wasn't going to work with our players.

"After an initial meeting, we have subsequently met with some of his advisors and discussed what John's input could be and put together the two ideas we have. …

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