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Wednesday, 5 July, 2000, 20:03 GMT 21:03 UK
Cup keeps pressure on Brits
Roger Taylor
Taylor knows what it takes to play Davis Cup tennis
Lack of success at Wimbledon has again placed British tennis under scrutiny. But Britain's new Davis Cup captain, Roger Taylor, remains optimistic, as BBC Sport Online's Gabrielle Lewis reports.

Less than a week after the conclusion of Wimbledon, Great Britain's tennis players will find themselves back in the spotlight.

Although favourites to win their Davis Cup tie against Ecuador, the British quartet of Tim Henman, Greg Rusedski, Arvind Parmar and Barry Cowan have the weight of their country's hopes on their shoulders.

Failure against the South Americans will not only see Britain relegated from the elite World Group, it will also have a detrimental impact on the lower echelons of British tennis, and reignite the widespread criticism of the game in the country.

Surprise

No-one knows this better than former Davis Cup player Roger Taylor, who took over the captaincy when David Lloyd was dismissed after the 4-1 hammering by the Czech Republic in February.

The three-times Wimbledon semi-finalist said: "It was a surprise to be named captain, but I'm proud to be involved.


Roger Taylor
Taylor remains optimistic
"There's a special atmosphere about competing for your country as a team.

The Ecuador match takes place from 14-16 July on Court One at Wimbledon, and being drawn at home will inevitably benefit the Brits.

Taylor said: "We're favourites to win, and we've got a huge advantage of having the home support. But this is a relegation match and one we must win if we want to stay in the World Group."

Confidence

But the fact the match comes so soon after Wimbledon means that Ecuador's world number 16 Nicolas Lapentti goes into the tie having enjoyed an unusual amount of preparation time on grass.

Taylor warned: "We must not underestimate Ecuador at all. They've been at Wimbledon and will have had much more time to prepare than they've ever had. "

But how much confidence can Taylor have in his own players?


Jamie Delgado
Delgado is not in the squad
Whilst Henman kept going until the fourth round of Wimbledon, he has few compatriots to back him up.

Rusedski has struggled with his form since undergoing an operation and went out in the first round, as did Cowan, and Parmar only lasted a round longer.

British number five and a former World Junior number one, Martin Lee, is only just returning from injury and number three, Jamie Delgado, is not 100 per cent fit.



The main thing is that Popp will have to indicate that he's prepared to play for Britain

Roger Taylor
Like Delgado, British number seven Mark Hilton has had a non-playing attachment to the Davis Cup squad, but neither has since warranted a recall.

Taylor said: "We are lucky to have two great players [Henman and Rusedski] at the top, and any country would be delighted with that.

"But we have to think of ourselves as a four-man team, and Parmar and Cowan are very important parts of that team.

Optimistic

"But realistically we could increase the overall standard. We need to get more players inside the top 100.

"A lot is being done to achieve this and I'm very optimistic about British tennis."

So what are the chances of encouraging Alexander Popp, the 6'7" German who also holds a British passport, to join the fray following his run to the last eight at Wimbledon?

"That's a difficult question," Taylor admitted. "Popp has just come on the scene and I certainly didn't know he had a British passport.

"The main thing is that he will have to indicate that he's prepared to play for Britain."

Consequently, the Davis Cup ball and potentially the chance of becoming the new British number three is firmly in Popp's court.

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Roger TaylorForever optimistic
Roger Taylor on the future of British tennis
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See also:

05 Jul 00 | Wimbledon2000
Rafter eases past Popp
03 Jul 00 | The BBC Team
British tennis fails again
30 Jun 00 | Wimbledon2000
Parmar makes Davis Cup squad
03 Jul 00 | Wimbledon2000
Henman crashes out with epic defeat
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