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LTA boss Roger Draper optimistic over future of GB game

LTA chief Roger Draper
Draper has put a positive spin on Britain's worst ever Wimbledon

Lawn Tennis Association chief Roger Draper insists there is cause for optimism in British tennis in spite of a record poor showing at Wimbledon.

Only one Briton, world number four Andy Murray, made it beyond the first round of the singles for the first time in 133 years as seven players crashed out.

Draper told the BBC: "When you lose at Wimbledon everyone sticks the knife in.

"On the men's side there's work to do, but the women are going pretty well and you can see real progress there."

Murray moved into round four with his third straight-sets victory of the tournament, against France's Gilles Simon, on Saturday, but the rest of the British contingent bowed out in the opening two days of the tournament.

Elena Baltacha, Laura Robson, Melanie South and Katie O'Brien all exited on day one, while Anne Keothavong, Heather Watson and the only other British male in the tournament, Jamie Baker went out on day two.

"Monday and Tuesday were disappointing," conceded Draper on BBC 5 live's Sportsweek. "I was sharing everyone's disappointment with results not going our way but we've got the British number one (Murray) in the last 16 and in the mix to win his first Grand Slam.

"We've got 15 women in the top 500 in the world. Keothavong was in the top 50 last year and Baltacha reached a career best 52 and there's a good crop coming through.

"We have junior Grand Slam winners in Watson [US Open] and Robson [Wimbledon] and Watson beat a top 50 player at Eastbourne last week, so there's plenty of potential coming through."

Draper insisted that the LTA's performance should be measured across the entire year, not just on results at Wimbledon.

"It's like playing Russian roulette if you base everything on one or two days of the year," he said.

"Back in January we had Murray in the final of the Australian Open and we had Robson in her second junior Grand Slam final and Peter Norfolk won his fourth Australian Open [in the quad wheelchair singles] and all of a sudden, when you lose a few matches at Wimbledon, the sport is seen as not been as successful and it's terrible.

"We are four years into a 10-year transformation. The reason we made changes is to stop what happened this week from happening but it will take a number of cycles to get the players through.

"We are in this for the long-term and what we are doing will get results.


"The chances are that we will only have Murray in the top 100 in next couple of years.

"On the girls' side, Laura and Heather should come through but it is a longer transition on the boys' side."

Draper took a cautious view of Murray's progress at the All England Club but acknowledged the impact a first men's title at Wimbledon since Fred Perry won in 1936 would have on the British game.

"It would help accelerate all our plans to grow the sport and, of course, it would be a big boost for British tennis," he said.

"But we mustn't get too excited when things are going well. If Murray wins Wimbledon this year does that mean British tennis is great? Of course not. We've still got a lot of things to do to improve."

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see also
Murray cruises into second week
26 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Three more Britons in early exits
22 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Jankovic defeats battling Robson
21 Jun 10 |  Tennis
British women suffer early exits
21 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Federer ends Murray's Slam dream
31 Jan 10 |  Tennis
Norfolk secures Australian title
30 Jan 10 |  Disability Sport
Robson loses Aussie girls' final
30 Jan 10 |  Tennis
Watson wins US Open girls' title
13 Sep 09 |  Tennis
Briton Robson wins girls' title
05 Jul 08 |  Tennis

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