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Leon Smith appointed Great Britain Davis Cup captain

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Smith plans fresh Davis Cup start

Andy Murray's former coach Leon Smith has been named as the new captain of the Great Britain Davis Cup team, as revealed by the BBC last week.

He succeeds John Lloyd, who resigned in March, and will take charge for July's relegation play-off with Turkey.

"This is a huge honour and an irresistible challenge," the Scot told the Lawn Tennis Association website.

"I know the players, and I know that together we can get Britain back to winning ways in the Davis Cup."

Britain's embarrassing defeat by Lithuania in March meant Lloyd become the nation's first Davis Cup captain to oversee five successive defeats.

It has left the team on the verge of relegation to Europe/Africa Zone Group III - the lowest tier of the competition.

Former Davis Cup stalwart Greg Rusedski had been the early favourite to take the captain's role.

Murray distances himself from Smith appointment

But 34-year-old Smith jumped to the head of the field following comments from LTA chief executive Roger Draper that the governing body would not seek to appoint a high-profile name.

Smith, who has been a professional tennis coach for 16 years, was most recently the LTA's head of player development in men's tennis.

LTA player director Steven Martens denied the decision to appoint Smith was a snub to Rusedski.

"Greg is a fantastic guy and the way he's working with some of our key players like James Ward is a fantastic way for him to be involved in men's tennis," he said.

Martens also told BBC Radio 5 live he had spoken to another former British number one, Tim Henman.

"Tim clearly has other priorities, but he is not to be ruled out in future as a potential captain because of his experience as a player and within tennis," he said.

Smith has also been appointed LTA head of men's tennis as one of the recommendations of a review into men's tennis carried out by Martens following last month's defeat by Lithuania.

"Leon is the perfect fit for this important role, at this stage in the development of British men's tennis," said Martens.

"He's a young British coach full of energy and passion, who's already proved he's a quick learner, and has the respect of the players."

Britain's next Davis Cup tie is the Europe/Africa Zone Group II match against Turkey in Eastbourne on 9-11 July where Smith will be supported by a selection of British coaches.

Smith's relationship with Murray is reported to have played a big part in the LTA's decision.

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The pair began working together when the world number four was 11 and Smith oversaw Murray's progress to the top of the junior game and his first forays into the senior ranks.

The relationship continued while Murray was at the Sanchez-Casal academy in Barcelona and Smith was courtside when his fellow Scot won the US Open junior title in 2004.

After a flurry of negative publicity following the Lithuania defeat, which included a parliamentary investigation, the LTA will be desperately hoping Smith can persuade Murray to play against Turkey this summer.

Murray, 22, chose to skip the last tie amid a degree of acceptance that his team-mates must first prove themselves up to the task before he returns.

But defeat by Turkey and descent to a tier that includes the likes of Andorra, San Marino and Montenegro is simply unthinkable - although, without Murray, certainly not impossible.

For Smith, the appointment caps a swift rise through the coaching ranks. He began his career at the age of 18 and worked at a number of clubs in Scotland before linking up with Murray.

Smith became academy coach for Scotland in 2002 and was promoted to national training coach two years later.

He joined the LTA three years ago as national under-16 men's coach, moving up to coach the Under-18s in 2008 before taking up the role of head of player development for men's tennis last year.



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see also
Can Leon Smith save British tennis?
12 Apr 10 |  Tennis
The making of Murray
27 Jun 06 |  Tennis
Next GB captain 'not a big name'
23 Mar 10 |  Tennis
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


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