Coaching & PE, Fitness & Health

Davis Cup inquest begins

The fallout from Great Britain’s embarrassing Davis Cup defeat at the weekend, when Dan Evans lost in five sets in the decisive singles match to hand Lithuania a 3-2 victory, has begun.

The defeat means Britain must now beat Turkey in a play-off to avoid dropping into the competition’s lowest tier and already there are calls for heads to roll – most notably those of team captain John Lloyd and LTA chief Roger Draper.

But why is Great Britain so bad at tennis? It does not appear to be a lack of funding as the LTA spends some ¬£25m a year on the development of “high-performance” players.

The old excuse of poor facilities now carries little weight as British players have the benefit of world-class training facilities, sports science support and highly paid coaches at the National Tennis Centre at Roehampton.

There is a view that British players have it too easy and are not hungry enough for success. Critics compare them with eastern Europeans who receive little material support and have to work hard for everything they get.

Is it simply a case that tennis does not attract enough of Britain’s most talented sporting youngsters? The LTA sees this as a big priority, along with increasing participation.

A programme backed by the LTA, the Tennis Foundation and Aegon is promoting the sport in schools. In the last 12 months, more than 3,000 primary school teachers have been trained to deliver tennis and 3,000 schools have been given equipment.

The use of slower balls and smaller courts is also seen as a way of making tennis more accessible to children.

There has been talk of Britain having to “miss a generation” among the men, but optimism that a group of promising teenagers led by Oliver Golding, George Morgan, Jack Carpenter and James Marsalek can eventually be successful.

However, we have heard that before and perhaps a chat with a certain Mr Bollettieri might not come amiss.

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