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Page last updated at 18:58 GMT, Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Tennis chief Draper extends deal


British tennis needs more strength in depth - LTA chief

Roger Draper has signed a new five-year contract to continue as chief executive of the Lawn Tennis Association.

Formerly chief executive of Sport England, Draper has introduced a series of radical reforms since taking over the role in April 2006.

"We've always said that transforming British tennis is a work in progress," he told Radio 5 Live on Wednesday.

"It's really a seven to 10-year plan and I didn't want to walk away after just two years."

He added: "The most important thing is to continue with plans to keep making steps forward for the long-term [future of British tennis]."

We've spent a lot at the top end of the sport. What we've now got to do is take tennis back to the masses

Roger Draper
Draper has overhauled the LTA's business practice and in September secured a 25m agreement with financial services provider Aegon, which will be used to boost all aspects of British tennis - such as improving courts in parks and schools, along with funding junior development and training players.

The LTA is one of the world's wealthiest governing bodies and one of the more controversial aspects of Draper's time to date has been the decision to recruit a number of high-profile coaches.

Brad Gilbert was brought in to work with Andy Murray and, despite dispensing with the American's services last year, the 21-year-old Scot has risen to a current high of four in the world rankings.

Leading British woman Anne Keothavong is also at a career high of 61 in the world, while many hopes rest on 14-year-old Laura Robson, who won this year's junior title at Wimbledon.

However, the strength in depth of British tennis remains a worry, with only two men and four women inside the top 200 singles players.

"We've spent a lot at the top end of the sport," Draper told BBC Sport. "What we've now got to do is take tennis back to the masses.

"The idea is that you fix the top end, you get success here, you get many more people playing and both worlds collide at the same time.

"If Andy wins Wimbledon wouldn't it be great to have the infrastructure in place to cope with that demand?"

Meanwhile, the All England Club and the LTA have agreed a new deal to do with the Wimbledon surplus.

Once the current agreement runs out in August 2013 the LTA will receive 90% of the financial surplus from each year's Wimbledon until at least 2053.

In return the LTA will sell its 50% share of the company which owns the Wimbledon site and facilities.

LTA president Stuart Smith said: "This agreement is fantastic news for all involved in British tennis."

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see also
State of the tennis nation
26 Jun 06 |  Tennis
LTA boss targets 'soft' players
24 May 06 |  Tennis

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