Legendary tennis coach and HK author, Nick Bollettieri was interviewed by Sally Nugent on the BBC’s Breakfast programme today.
He believes that in order to raise the standard of British tennis it will be necessary to divert youngsters to tennis from other sports.
Bollettieri has been responsible for a string of top players emerging via his academy in Florida, which he set up in 1978, including the likes of Monica Seles, Andre Agassi, Jim Courier and Maria Sharapova.
The 81-year-old believes the performances of Murray, Robson and Watson, in particular, will inspire youngsters but warned more needs to be done.
Watson spends much of her time training at the Bollettieri Academy, as she has for much of the formative stage in her career.
Bollettieri said “With Murray, Robson, Heather Watson, they’ve created success, so that will get more people playing the game.
“What you need now is for sponsors to start helping some of the boys and girls that don’t have money but do have ability. You’ve got to get to the kids that want to be special.
“We’ve got to start getting the kids away from your football and your rugby and that cricket game, whatever that is, we’ve got to start diverting some of them to playing tennis.
“Tennis is a very expensive sport and a lot of them don’t have the money to do that. We have to start diverting these kids at 10,11, 12 and 13 and teach them techniques that will enable them to play the entire game rather than just parts of the game.”
“I would steer a lot of these kids to go to college for a few years, nothing wrong with that. They can come to the US, play for a good college, you get to play pro events and the team pays for those things.
“But normally speaking, I believe you have to divert the athletes and pay for them when they’re 10, 11, 12. People may not agree with me, but that’s what I did.
“I gave out scholarships and I got the best players, and when you put the best players together in one place, they push each other to be better players.
“As Jim Courier and Pete Sampras said, ‘Nick gave us all scholarships, gave us balls and rackets, gave us the travelling team, and we pushed each other to be better every day’.”
After more than fifty years coaching the world’s top players, Nick revealed that he was in fact “Only just starting”