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Page last updated at 12:44 GMT, Monday, 23 June 2008 13:44 UK

LTA chief defends British tennis

Roger Draper
Draper insists British tennis is improving

Lawn Tennis Association chief executive Roger Draper has defended British tennis despite just two players occupying top 100 spots.

With Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski retired, Britain has only Andy Murray and Anne Keothavong in the top 100.

But Draper told BBC Radio 5 Live: "We always knew we were going to have a bit of a drop when Tim and Greg retired.

"But we have nine boys in the top 100 in the world under-18s and we have to get them quickly playing behind Andy."

Murray is joined in the men's draw at Wimbledon by three other British players - Alex Bogdanovic, Jamie Baker and Surrey's Chris Eaton.

But all three are ranked outside the top 200 and while Baker and Bogdanovic received wildcards, Eaton came through qualifying after being handed entry into that competition.


British number one Keothavong, the only Briton apart from Murray to have gained acceptance into the main draw by right, is joined by Katie O'Brien, Mel South, Elena Baltacha and Naomi Cavaday in the women's draw.

Murray heavily criticised the running of British tennis in his recent autobiography.

The Scot said that someone "in authority in British tennis" needs to admit that Britain is "doing really badly" as a tennis nation.

But despite Murray's stinging attack, Draper insists progress is being made at youth level.

"We've always had good juniors but only one or two of them, we've never had the depth before," he said.

"What we need is to get the situation like the French or the Spanish where they have got seven or eight players kicking on and we are beginning to get that with the girls.

"We have got five girls in the top 200 and Keothavong is in the top 100 so if we can get some of those quick wins over the next few years we've got some world-class juniors coming through.

"Two years ago I was really surprised, having worked with all the other professional sports how poor tennis was.

"But I think that is changing. We've got a team in place who are working the players hard and I think on the girls' side the success they are having is down to hard work and improving their fitness over the last year."

see also
GB junior sent home in disgrace
20 Jan 08 |  Tennis
Murray warns British youngsters
25 Sep 07 |  Tennis

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