Courting a New British Game
by Lynn Berenbaum | October 23rd, 2006, 9:55 am

These are fast changing times for British tennis. Andy Murray shot into the world’s Top 20 this year with new coach Brad Gilbert. There is a new British Davis Cup Captain, John Lloyd; and they just officially hired Peter Lundgren to coach the team after working with them during the fall. At the center of it all is a new Chief Executive of the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), Roger Draper, who has big aspirations.

Six months into his job, the former head of Sport England seems to think big and aim high in his goal to totally transform British tennis. Refreshingly unlike other association leaders such as those at the ATP or WTA, who have spent the past few months dribbling out bits and pieces of their seemingly reactive plans to remake the calendar, Draper’s a 21st century businessman who’s using transparency in his approach.

His first endeavor is to build up a solid leadership team. So he launched a recruitment website for a series of LTA executive positions, including the heads of men’s and women’s tennis. The site attracted more than 25,000 visitors, and thousands of applicants. The association’s goal is to have new names and faces in place by the time the LTA’s new National Tennis Centre at Roehampton opens at the end of February.

A major goal is to import top new coaches to groom young English talent, in what The Times of London called “The LTA’s Foreign Aid Package”. The LTA has already sanctioned a three-year deal for Brad Gilbert worth more than 1 Million Pounds which includes coaching And Murray. Now Draper is trying to persuade Paul Annacone to lead the men’s game. If he accepts the position, he will work alongside other high-profile recruits such as Gilbert and Lundgren, who will put the new restructuring plan of the British game into action.

Blueprint logo Draper’s organizational plans are also well documented on their own website in the new Blueprint for British Tennis, which is a proposal for the future of the game in the country. The transparent approach is highlighted in the fact that the Blueprint is open for public commentary until November 10th by anyone who wishes to submit their thoughts.

Among the most interesting aspects of the Blueprint is a measure to kill the present LTA Wimbledon ballot. In its place there will be a more inclusive way of distributing Wimbledon tickets, which will reach out to a more diverse population.

At the top of his wish list of supra-goals is bringing the Tennis Masters Cup to Britain. This isn’t such a far fetched idea given that the 2012 London Olympics are coming up, and though London currently lacks suitable indoor venues to host such an event, one of the proposed Olympic sites could be used if completed by November 2009. Add to this that organizers in London are keen to bring world-class competitions to the capital before then, and chances are good that construction could be completed in due time. The LTA is committed to using the 30 Million Pounds they earn every year from Wimbledon to bring the prestigious ATP event to the capital. Paris is currently London’s only serious rival for the bid, and chances are looking good for the City.

Draper also wants to bring more top-notch tournaments to Britain, and to add a regular winter event to the British calendar and another big grass court tournament for women in London before Wimbledon. Whether the other tennis bodies go for these proposals is still in question, but no one can deny that the momentum is building.

The community development level includes plans for a major overhaul of coaching in clubs, schools and training centers, which might ultimately have a bigger impact than his more newsworthy ambitions. He’s also anxious to promote the sport to kids, and has asked the Stella Artois tournament to make more tickets available for children. “I saw Rafael Nadal play at Queen’s Club this year,” he said, “and there were 7,000 people watching, but most of them were City boys and posh totty. And I was thinking that it could have been 7,000 kids watching Nadal and being inspired. We need to change that.”

‘Changing that’ is the crucial element here. It’s hard to fathom another tennis body even coming up with the aggressive recruitment — no less openness — that Draper’s bringing to his work at the LTA. In the coming years it will be exciting to see the results. Such a major overhaul is not going to be easy, and it certainly won’t be quick, particularly the cultivation of new young talent. I just hope that the women’s game in Britain receives as much attention and care as what’s obviously being given to the men. Time will tell if Draper’s plans are effective, but on the surface they certainly seem smart.

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3 Comments for Courting a New British Game

Michelle Says:

I really admired the bit in the article on enlarging the tennis attendance beyond “City boys and posh totty”. I think that expanding the audience of tennis is something that must be given attention. Do you have any other articles relating to this subject? Please e-mail me, if you have a chance –

Klein Says:

25.05.2006 Berne Mc Donalds Zytlog
In the sport restaurant economics and probably fraud and unjustified enriching of the tennis player Roger Federer.
More damaged: Leo Klein
INDICATIONS Case: Roger Federer I told of my take place in the Squash as I in the Tivoli tennis center partner seek over together Squash to play to be able. And in such a way you became hellhörig there. They aimed at espionage off, which I much too late discovered unfortunately only. Köderung of the junior of owner by means of a coach contract probably around vordergründig mine trust to win. In the Tivoli tennis center me a house prohibition expressed as I the junior owner responded on a remuneration for the stolen knowledge. A Mrs. those the disaster in the Tivoli received by me later asked whether it that than a witness will arise. It answered in the negative and said that, which was your life. It has probably fear of these people. I am 2002 in February from the FRG fled then found I by intensive look for myself job in Murten in Switzerland (canton Berne CH) at a company Cobra vehicle AG called the time as I worked there from in the middle of 2002 to 2003 in January was. The company owner did not announce me at the stranger police in Berne to although this Swiss the law prescribes in such a way and the company for it was responsible your again adjusted workers at the stranger police to announce. I even the necessary documents at the stranger police in Berne got and there inquired which one do must for a work grant. Boss was the Mr. Baumann now in Domdidie with Freiburg its company headquarters has. QUESTION: As am I knowledge which R. Federer differently make than the other tennis players of this world if I this not compiled.
STATEMENT: No other Coach in this world can only from that watch the tennis plays that to crib from which the other tennis player better or differently to make be over better to be able tennis plays. Why the public prosecutor’s office does not work on the case on my written one inquires in Berne. I have a letter delivered where in detail described am which exactly happened. Restaurant economics and fraud and unjustified enriching are this said some lawyers who I for it asked the case to take over. None wanted to take over the case until today. The secretary of the public prosecutor’s office said to me with a personal discussion in the Bernese responsible authority building in the long term, all state lawyers no time would have the case to work on. At the local police I submitted a similar letter. They said that are the case at the earliest in one year to work on could. Questioning of some tennis players and use a consultant. This would point the case of espionage out. According to the international sport federation right must the national federation an investigation commission have formed and the case examine and in writing record which is experience and me a copy have sent. I you a writing sent and you said at the telephone which I never again calls am. I was personal also with the federation in Biel. They did not receive the letter and wanted me refused to me a receipt stamp. A similar letter has I directly with that law and police department in the German Parliament Buildings west in Berne delivered to the treatment. I received as answer that you nothing make can. (Wools) The large newspapers and in Switzerland I wrote also and got either no answer or you condemned without to investigate the case as Idiotie. A Mrs. whom I in a Advokatur Kanzlei addressed meant that this case to be proven is. Swiss Olympic did not help also and you treated me very badly Mobbing or bad gossip A former Fitnesstrainerin of the Swissolympic which I in Liechtenstein spoke meant that the Swiss tennis a heap of sow is. With the Coach Ivo Werner with the Swiss tennis the Fed Cup team leads I spoke and it did not mean that you at all to become better to want? I saw Justin Hennin Arden in the town center in Berne and looked you exactly me into the eyes? uvm. Human right commission in Geneva got also a letter over this case and you meant that you is not responsible. The human Rigts Watch (association for human rights) in Berne did not help also All organizations in Berne did not help on which I called. They said always you in in or to two weeks me perhaps to only help can. Then you said no. All federal advice know away and some national councils also, to today no evident assistance. Federal Prosecutor’s Office in Berne got also a letter over this case. I received no evident reaction. To the Federal court in Lausanne I sent a fax and the secretaries meant that now am no more time to have and you would have to go. The police in Lausanne I handed over the case also and you meant that the responsible man only next week am again there. Also with the city owner from Lausanne I spoke and he have also a letter do not keep direct he meant which he not to do can. The secretary even gave me 20 CH Fr. And pointed oneself still the way to the police to Lausanne. They did not mean to come only on Monday a specialist can and I again go past are that truely very friendly nevertheless I had a so good feeling because I little French speak and I had fear there problems to naturally encounter. A correct lawyer can carry perhaps still more indications and proofs together.
Signature: Leo Klein

ben Says:

Klein, use Babelfish muchly? WTF???

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