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banner Monday, 25 June, 2001, 10:14 GMT 11:14 UK
British tennis needs shock therapy
Hagelauer, sitting on the right of Davis Cup captain Roger Taylor, has a blunt assesment of the UK's problems
Hagelauer has a blunt assesment of the UK's problems
The man charged with restoring British tennis tells BBC Sport Online there'll be no home grown champions until tennis clubs ditch their current culture.

Wondering where the next Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski is going to come from is becoming as much of part of the British summer as rain on the Centre Court and strawberries and cream.

The French could list 16 men and 14 women in the first round of their own Grand Slam championship at Roland Garros.


Unless we can change Britain's tennis clubs from leisure and adult-orientated organisations to a more competitive and junior culture, you can forget about producing champions
  Patrice Hagelauer
But of the Britons, only Henman and Rusedski are likely to qualify for Wimbledon through their ranking.

The British numbers will be swelled by wild cards and qualifiers, but there's no question that tennis across the Channel is in a much healthier state than it is in Britain.

Every year, the likes of Arvind Parmar, Martin Lee, Jamie Delgado, and on the women's side, Lousie Latimer and Julie Pullin cause a stir of excitement in the first few days.

But last year the only home grown player to get beyond the second round was Henman.

Amelie Mauresmo
Mauresmo: One of the current crop of French female satrs
There's no excuse when you realise that the profits from Wimbledon, last year more than 30m, are given to the sport's ruling body in this country, the Lawn Tennis Association, to develop the game.

It makes Britain one of the richest tennis nations in the world.

Views on why Britain produces so few top class players vary.

Lack of sport in schools and the high cost of club membership certainly contribute.

Culture clash

Others point to the LTA itself and accuse it of being behind the times.

Two years ago, the LTA employed the man largely responsible for putting French tennis where it is, Patrice Hagelauer, to do the same job here.

He told BBC Sport Online: "In France, they have 60-80 players between 16 and 20 who have the potential to be top professionals. In Britain we have 20 or 25.

"The key is getting that number up to increase the chances of more of them making it to the top. The answer lies with the ordinary tennis clubs around the country.

Jamie Delgado at last year's US Open
Delgado:
"We are trying to change the culture in these clubs.

"At the moment, they are leisure and adult-orientated. We need to change it to a more competitive and junior culture. If this doesn't happen, forget about producing champions."

With that in mind, former British Davis Cup captain Paul Hutchins has been asked to find clubs worthy of investment to become part of the LTA's programme, which they call Club Vision.

Simple solution

Hagelauer added: "The good news is that we have identified 25 clubs, and in October there will be 35 more, who are going to be performance-orientated for juniors.

"Paul is confident that by the end of next year, we might have between three and 10 clubs in each county that can be part of our scheme.

"The real target is to 400-500 clubs. If we don't achieve this goal we will never have enough players.

"You might get lucky and have a tennis family, like the Maleevas in Bulgaria or the Lapentti's in Ecuador, but if you want strength in depths you need good facilities for juniors in clubs.

"It is as simple as that."

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