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Page last updated at 07:00 GMT, Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Players do not want 'big name' for GB captain - Draper


Lloyd not to blame for Davis Cup - Draper

By Matt Slater

Lawn Tennis Association chief executive Roger Draper believes John Lloyd's exit as Davis Cup captain has left a "great opportunity" for a young British coach.

Lloyd resigned after Great Britain lost to Lithuania a fortnight ago - his fifth straight Davis Cup reverse.

Former British number one Greg Rusedski is the favourite to replace him but Draper hinted otherwise.

"It's interesting to hear the feedback we've got from the players - we don't need a big name," Draper said.

"(They want) somebody who is embedded in British tennis. It's a great opportunity for some young British coaches to come through."

The strategy we put in place is the right one - this is a 10-year fix

LTA chief executive Roger Draper

The humiliating 3-2 defeat by Lithuania, a tennis nation with a fraction of the resources available to the British game, left Great Britain facing a July play-off against Turkey to avoid relegation to the lowest tier of the competition.

This dire state of affairs prompted Draper, who was appointed chief executive in 2006 and whose own LTA record has come under fire, to ask his "player director" Steven Martens to conduct an internal review.

Martens will present his initial findings to the board on Tuesday, the same day Draper goes before the All-Party Parliamentary Tennis Group - a group of MPs and peers chaired by Baroness Billingham - to explain how the LTA spends the £27m it receives in public funding from Sport England for grass-roots projects.

The panel is expected to quiz Draper about the amount he has spent on salaries, bonuses and pay-offs for a succession of high-profile staff who have been hired by the national governing body only to leave without making much of a difference.

Henman hopes for grass-roots change

Speaking on the eve of his Westminster appearance, Draper said the money spent on the likes of star coach Brad Gilbert and former head of women's tennis Carl Maes was "a very small amount in terms of the bigger picture".

"That's just the nature of sport: people come, people go," he added. "The strategy we put in place is the right one. Everybody said, when we started, that this would be a 10-year fix."

This last comment will come as a surprise to Draper's loudest critics, who have frequently highlighted his failure to meet targets on getting players into the top 100 or boosting the number of juniors competing regularly.

As well as uncomfortable questions about the LTA's spending, Billington's panel will ask Draper for clarification on the targets he is working towards and a progress report on the drive to increase participation in the sport.

For his part, Draper will point to the genuine progress being made on the world stage in women's tennis and at junior level.

He will also flag up a small increase in participation levels in Sport England's last annual review of grassroots sport - tennis being one of only four sports out of 33 to show a "statistically significant increase" in participation in 2007/2008.

Roger Draper
Draper has been in charge of British tennis since February 2006

"We know there are things that need to be improved but we're also very clear about the things that are going well," he stated. "This is a chance to have a balanced exchange of views with the panel.

"We have a contract with Sport England for the community funding until 2012 and we're bang on track with it."

Draper said 60% of the LTA's money was directed at grass-roots projects, including "significant investment" in schools tennis, coaching initiatives and new facilities.

On the more immediate issue of appointing a new Davis Cup captain, Draper said Martens had taken "a broad view across players, coaches and parents" but did not reveal which players had been consulted.

It is widely believed that British number one Andy Murray will have a big say in the appointment if he is to be persuaded to play Davis Cup tennis more regularly.

This would appear to rule out Rusedski, who is already employed by the LTA but reportedly does not get on with Murray, while the Scot's former coach Mark Petchey is believed to have an uneasy relationship with Draper.

Murray's current coach Miles Maclagan has been mentioned as a possible candidate but the world number three is unlikely to be keen on losing him and four-time Wimbledon semi-finalist Tim Henman has already made it clear he does not want the Davis Cup job.


Henman told BBC Radio 5 live on Tuesday the LTA must focus on increasing mass participation in the sport.

"There has been a lot of focus on Davis Cup but, for me, that should be the icing on the cake," he said.

"We need to look at the grass roots, the clubs, the tennis in schools. There is a massive amount of money put into those areas but we need to target them more strongly. (The LTA) needs to spend more.

"We have some fantastic facilities and some very good coaches but if we haven't got any players what can they do? We need to change the base of our pyramid to make that a lot better."

On the controversial subject of Murray's commitment to the GB team, Draper defended the current policy of using him on a "tie by tie" basis.

"[Murray] enjoys playing Davis Cup but his priority has got to be winning Grand Slams and major titles - that will get more people playing the game and it will inspire the next generation," he said.

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see also
Draper should leave LTA - Petchey
18 Mar 10 |  Tennis
Lloyd resigns as GB Cup captain
18 Mar 10 |  Tennis
Murray wants input over captaincy
12 Mar 10 |  Tennis
David Lloyd demands Draper exit
09 Mar 10 |  Tennis
GB fall to humiliating Cup defeat
07 Mar 10 |  Tennis
Draper unveiled as new LTA chief
21 Feb 06 |  Tennis

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