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Page last updated at 20:20 GMT, Thursday, 17 June 2010 21:20 UK

Historic first as no English men in Wimbledon draw

Wimbledon Championships
Venue: All England Club, London Date: 21 June - 4 July
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James Ward
James Ward reached the quarter-finals at Eastbourne

For the first time in its 133-year history there will be no English representative in the men's draw at Wimbledon next week.

Alex Bogdanovic, Daniel Evans and Josh Goodall were knocked out in qualifying.

James Ward, who this week beat two top-100 players in Eastbourne, was not given a wildcard as he is ranked outside the world's top 250.

Britain will be represented in the Wimbledon men's draw by Scots Andy Murray and Jamie Baker, a wildcard.

The Lawn Tennis Association set a mark of 250 in the world rankings when recommending British players to be considered for wildcards, which are offered by the All England Club.

We have got to get the message across - it is not just about who wins Wimbledon

Roger Draper,
LTA chief executive

Ward, who is currently ranked 342nd, attempted to boost his ranking by playing at Eastbourne rather than try to secure a place at Wimbledon through the qualifying rounds.

"It's a little bit disappointing not to get a wildcard," said Ward, who beat world number 30 Feliciano Lopez and world number 72 Rainer Schuettler to reach the quarter-finals in Eastbourne.

"I've been in the top 250 for 18 months and only dropped off the week before the cut because of losing the points from the Sarasota Challenger I won last year. But what can I do? I don't make the decisions."

Although Baker is also outside the top 250 - at 259 - a blood disorder and an ankle ligament injury that have hindered him in recent weeks were taken into consideration.

"There are fewer British men in the main draw because fewer wildcards have been handed out," Leon Smith, head of men's tennis at the LTA, said in a statement.

"We accept that this is where we are in the men's game but what I saw in qualifying this week was British players fighting for every point, battling for a place in the Championships.

606: DEBATE

"That's what we need to concentrate on - creating an environment where more British players aren't just in the first round because of a wildcard, but on merit."

British number two Bogdanovic was one of 10 home players to fall in the men's qualifying event, and despite being ranked 161 he was not considered for a wildcard as he has lost in all eight previous appearances at Wimbledon.

Britain's former Davis Cup captain David Lloyd was highly critical of the LTA's failure to put Ward forward for a wildcard, attaching the blame to chief executive Roger Draper.

"Maybe Roger Draper has done it for a reason so that they don't all lose in the first round and he loses his job," said Lloyd. "He can't get slaughtered now. He's not stupid."

Former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash has called on Draper, who was appointed in 2006, to resign.

"[Draper] should have had the guts to say 'Look, I've under-performed. I'm embarrassed to have done so little,' and leave," said Cash on Wednesday.

"In any other company, any other business, they would say it's time for him to go. They [the LTA] are the laughing stock of the world as far as tennis associations go.

"It's just another year of the same old thing so things need to change at the top and the sooner the better."

Speaking to the BBC last week, Draper insisted that the focus of tennis in the UK should not solely be on Wimbledon.

"I am concerned with what is going on for 52 weeks of the year, not just for a few weeks during the summer," he said. "We are a big sport, with half a million adults playing weekly, and we are one of the few sports that are growing.

"We have got to get the message across - it is not just about who wins Wimbledon."



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see also
Superb Ward into quarter-finals
16 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Bogdanovic beaten in epic finale
15 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Bogdanovic hit by wildcard blow
07 Jun 10 |  Tennis
LTA targets expose lack of talent
31 May 10 |  Tennis
Draper eyes bright British future
26 Jun 06 |  Tennis
LTA boss targets 'soft' players
24 May 06 |  Tennis
Draper unveiled as new LTA chief
21 Feb 06 |  Tennis


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