A glance to the future of British tennis
[The Yorker (Uni of York website), 3 Feb]Following the usual "Will-Murray-ever-win-a-Slam" musings
But it is not all doom and gloom for British tennis. In true British bulldog spirit we will not surrender without a fight and allow the impressive French, Spanish and Russian players to completely dominate what many perceive to be “our” sport.
Instead the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), the country’s largest tennis governing body, have continued to pump tens of millions of pounds into supplying better resources to support British tennis talent coming through. The building of The National Tennis Centre (NTC) - which boasts 120 acrylic hard courts - as well as providing one of the best sports science centres in Europe is a clear indication that the LTA means business.
Additional cash has also been injected into acquiring some of the best tennis coaching in the land allowing our young British players to develop and make a smooth transition over to senior level at a more effective pace. There has also been a strong initiative set up to encourage more tennis lessons in schools and more competitions at grassroots level which will also look to increase the general popularity of the sport.
The good news for Murray and for Britain is that we actually do have some really exciting young tennis protégés working their way through the ranks of the LTA system. I can’t see any reason why some of these young guns can’t go on to challenge some of the world’s elite players and share some of the strain that we are currently placing on Murray’s shoulders.
The best of the bunch is arguably 18-year-old starlet, Oliver Golding. The London-born teenager won the 2011 US Open junior title at Flushing Meadows after a polished display and also reached the boys’ singles semi-final at Wimbledon in 2010. His style of play is very domineering as he already possesses some very powerful ground strokes and his serve is certainly one of the best on the junior circuit.
Stockport-born youngster, Liam Broady, is another Brit who is being tipped for great success in the sport. Broady is yet to play a match on the men’s ATP tour but he has already been a big hit on the junior circuit. The 18-year-old reached the illustrious boys’ singles final at Wimbledon last year losing in three sets to current junior world number 1, Luke Saville, and he recently won the boys’ doubles title in Melbourne last week. The “lefty” junior does not actually receive any funding from the LTA because of a political dispute that Broady’s father has with the governing body regarding improper images posted on a social media site by Broady’s tennis-playing sister, Naomi, who still plays on the WTA tour.
Other promising players coming through the system include Kyle Edmund who hails from Yorkshire. The 17-year-old reached the quarter-finals of the boys’ singles last week losing 7-5 7-5 to the Australian home crowd favourite, Luke Saville. He was also a semi-finallist at the 2011 US Open and has been lauded by critics for his mature demeanour and his current all-round game play on court. George Morgan is another junior hoping to break into senior level soon with his notable successes also including a semi-final berth in the boys’ singles at the 2011 US Open as well as winning the prestigious junior Orange Bowl title in 2010.
There is also some positive news involving British players in the women’s game. In the Fed Cup, Great Britain have earned two hard-fought victories over Portugal and Netherlands this week with the young doubles pairing of Heather Watson and Laura Robson, currently ranked 105 and 118 in the world respectively, winning both of their rubber matches against more experienced opposition.
Watson notably became the first British woman since 1994 to reach the second round of the French Open last year and her impressive form resulted in a career-high world ranking of 87 in 2011. Robson has also been showing glimpses of improvement and she received many plaudits for her gutsy display in a narrow 7-6 6-3 defeat to 2004 Wimbledon ladies champion, Maria Sharapova, in the second round last year.
It is satisfying to see the LTA putting a number of good measures and initiatives in place in tennis which will hopefully result in a change of peoples’ perceptions that British tennis is a national sporting joke. However, larger sums of investment inevitably comes with increased expectations therefore it is absolutely key to see our young British produce progressing further at the Grand Slam tournaments in the not so distant future. Anything less than that is going to leave a particularly sour taste in the mouth for everybody associated with British tennis.Full article