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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 June, 2005, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
Becker trains with Brit hopefuls
By Piers Newbery
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

Boris Becker
Becker helped select the winners from 10,000 hopefuls
Boris Becker gave British tennis a boost on Wednesday when he trained with the two winners of the Ariel Tennis Ace nationwide talent search.

The three-time Wimbledon champion hit with Naiktha Bains, aged seven from Leeds, and Richard Bekoe, aged nine from Southampton, at Wimbledon.

"It was very difficult - we've seen 10,000 kids and it's tough to pick the right ones," Becker told BBC Sport.

"They're only young but they were talented and they stood out."

The pair have won a year's free LTA coaching as part of their prize, and the pressure is on the governing body to convert such talent into top players.

He's good, I don't think I was much better
Becker on one of the youngsters he played with

"It's always a combination of having the talent and having the right coaches and facilities, and I think the LTA's doing as much as they can," said Becker.

"We've had a national tennis centre in Germany and I think that's what the LTA are doing in Roehampton from next year.

"It's very important to get them to train together, live together. It's much easier then to spot the talent."

Becker admits that there is no cast-iron guarantee when it comes to selecting the right players at such a young age; something he knows from experience.

"It came later for me at the age of 14 or 15 when I grew a lot and got a lot more power," he said.

"That's when we all decided to give it a go."

And as for the young man in front of him, Becker is optimistic for nine-year-old Richard.

"He's good, I don't think I was much better," said the German. "It's just about the way you go after that.

"For the moment he likes to play and will be encouraged by us and hopefully he'll stick with it and be a great player."


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