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Last Updated: Sunday, 1 July 2007, 10:31 GMT 11:31 UK
Becker takes aim at woeful Brits
Boris Becker
Becker believes there are too many mediocre players in Britain
Three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker says the Lawn Tennis Association should stop handing out wildcards to underachieving British players.

Britain had a disappointing Wimbledon this year with no singles player managing to make the fifth day.

And Becker told Five Live's Sportsweek: "Wildcards are given to people in their early 20s. That is the wrong signal.

"If a 22-year-old needs a wildcard all the time then maybe the player is not good enough to be a professional."

The German added: "The ones that get the wildcards are in their early 20s and that's when you are supposed to have made it already as a professional.

"If you are not in the top 150 in the world by the time you are 23 or 24 then maybe you should look for another job."

606: DEBATE

Tim Henman and Lee Childs, who made it through qualifying, were the only Britons not to require wildcards into the main draw, although Andy Murray would have been there too had he not been forced to withdraw before the tournament started because of injury.

You are judged by results and the LTA know what they have to do.

Boris Becker

Henman eventually lost in round two to Feliciano Lopez, and, like Becker, has criticised his countrymen and women who continue to underperform.

"Wildcards are a fantastic opportunity, but if you're any good you don't need wildcards," said the British number two.

"The players get very short-sighted around March, April time, positioning themselves to get these opportunities."

With just two British players in the world's top 100 - Henman and Murray - LTA chief executive Roger Draper has introduced a host of reforms in a bid to improve performances.

The LTA has built a new 39m National Tennis Centre in Roehampton as well as appointing high-profile coaches such as Brad Gilbert, Paul Annacone, Peter Lundgren and Carl Maes.

But Becker, who won Wimbledon in 1985, 1986 and 1989, believes the key is to get more youngsters playing the game.

"I can only judge it from the outside and what strikes me is that there are no good British teenagers participating in tournaments," he said.

"You are judged by results and the LTA know what they have to do.

"They are making changes and appointing top coaches but it is about getting as many British youngsters involved as possible.

"The more players aged 12,14 and 16 years old you have, the higher the chances of finding the one or two players that could win the Wimbledon title."



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