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Last Updated: Friday, 15 June 2007, 07:21 GMT 08:21 UK
GB tennis boss vows to get tough
LTA chief executive Roger Draper
Draper has shaken up the LTA in his 14 months in charge
Lawn Tennis Association chief executive Roger Draper has promised to be more "ruthless" with British players who he says have been wasting their talents.

Draper has been overseeing a major overhaul of British tennis in the 14 months he has been in the job.

"It's been a pretty bad culture in British tennis," said Draper.

"While we will give all the funding support and encouragement, we've also got to be pretty ruthless with people's attitudes and behaviours."

There are currently no British women in the world's top 100 and just two British men.

People have got to either get behind what we're trying to do or go and do something else

Roger Draper

That contrasts with countries like Serbia, who have managed to produce three players in the world's top 10 with facilities that pale in comparison with the LTA's state-of-the-art national tennis centre in Roehampton.

Britain is also way behind the likes of France, who have 12 men in the top 100, and Spain, who have 13.

"Probably my biggest disappointment this last year was that the behaviour of people in British tennis is not really conducive to winning and success," said Draper.

"Everyone has their own views but at times it's like running some sort of kindergarten.

"Over the years, when you look back at the talent we've had, I think a lot of that talent has been wasted and it's been wasted because people haven't been leading professional lifestyles.

"That's why we've been bringing in people like Bill Sweetenham from swimming and some of the rowing guys.

"It's changing the culture and making sure that our athletes are educated, not just from a social point of view, but from a strength and conditioning point of view.

"Rafael Nadal doesn't look like he is going out partying every night. He goes in the gym every day.

"People have got to either get behind what we're trying to do or go and do something else."

After recruiting high-profile coaches such as Brad Gilbert, Paul Annacone, Peter Lundgren and Carl Maes to work with Britain's leading players, Draper says the LTA is now aiming to broaden the base.

"Last year we started at the top end, getting a world-class coaching team in place, moving to the national tennis centre and making sure the players have no excuses in terms of sports science, medicine and nutrition," he said.

"Our focus now is at the bottom end, getting more kids competing.

"There is no point having great coaches at the top end if you haven't got great coaches working with nine and 10-year-olds.

"It's a numbers game. Compared to France, we have the same number of people playing tennis but we've only got 10,000 juniors and they've got 80,000 and that's why we got one or two in the top 100 and they've got eight or nine."



SEE ALSO
Annacone part of new LTA set-up
30 Nov 06 |  Tennis
GB youngsters get funding boost
06 Jul 06 |  Tennis
LTA boss targets 'soft' players
24 May 06 |  Tennis


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