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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 January 2008, 04:33 GMT
GB junior sent home in disgrace
By Jonathan Overend in Melbourne

Marcus Willis
Willis reached the third round at last year's junior Wimbledon
A British junior tennis player has been sent home in disgrace from the Australian Open.

Marcus Willis, 17, from Berkshire, was the 16th seed for the boy's singles and due to play his first match on Monday.

But the LTA, which was funding his trip, has pulled him out of the tournament for disciplinary reasons.

It is believed that Willis missed a bus, was late for training, disappeared for a few hours and left his rackets behind at the hotel.

"He's blown his chance here at the Australian Open," Roger Draper, Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) chief executive, told BBC Radio 5 Live.

Willis was already on a final warning for previous bad behaviour.

How stupid can you be? How do you arrive at the courts without your rackets?

Former British number one Chris Bailey

"We actually wrote to him last week explaining that he was in the last chance saloon," said Draper.

"A few things have happened in the last few days which have led to him being sent home.

"We said last year we were going to get a lot tougher and hopefully Marcus will come back a better player and more wiser as a result of this.

"It's just frustrating because he's a really talented player, but hopefully these players will learn from their mistakes and realise that they're blowing their chances."

This latest incident follows the suspension of two other junior players last year for publicising a love of drinking and partying on a social-networking website.

"We're trying to change the culture amongst the junior players," added Draper.

We've got to hope we get the right reaction from Marcus

Roger Draper,
LTA chief executive

"Coming to the Slams just reinforces it - you see the Slovaks and the Croats and the Serbs and they work hard and have the right attitude.

"You don't see them missing training and leaving their rackets at the hotel.

"We're trying to explain to all these players that they're role models to the 13 and 14-year-olds and that's starting to sink in with a few of them. We've got to hope we get the right reaction from Marcus."

It is not clear whether any further action will be taken against Willis, who reached the third round of junior singles at Wimbledon last year.

"We'll deal with that when we get home," said Draper.

Former British number one Chris Bailey said: "How stupid can you be? How do you arrive at the courts without your rackets?

"For me, it's about respect for the organisation which is giving you opportunities and the coaches who are trying to help you."

"In my day, you couldn't afford to miss these sort of chances. It's good that the LTA is sending out a tough message."

The International Tennis Federation confirmed Willis' withdrawal from the junior competition.

"He's been withdrawn by the LTA for constant bad behaviour," said a spokesman.

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