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Page last updated at 21:33 GMT, Thursday, 10 March 2011

Henman attacks GB 'blame culture'

By Jonathan Overend

Tim Henman
Henman reached six Grand Slam semi-finals during his career

Former world number four Tim Henman has criticised the "blame culture" in British tennis and called on juniors to "appreciate how lucky they are".

Henman says players must take "personal responsibility" for their careers and "stop looking anywhere else".

He told BBC Sport: "There is a blame culture from the playing point of view.

"The players should appreciate how lucky they are with the opportunities they've got, and they've got to get out there and maximise that."

Henman, currently competing at the BNP Paribas Zurich Open, added: "That's what success is about and unfortunately in British tennis there are too many people over the years who haven't maximised their potential."

In 2007, Britain had four boys inside the top 50 of the ITF world junior rankings, and teenage talent has routinely disappeared rather than be converted into the professional ranks.


Henman, on the other hand, did not break the top 100 until he was 21 and was seen as little more than a doubles player in his teens before going on to maximise his potential.

The six-time Grand Slam semi-finalist has been hitting this week with three British juniors in Zurich.

"On the one hand I watch them and think they're so much better than we were at that age," said Henman, "but on the other side of the coin, it's the mental side that's so important and I think that's where they've got to get out and experience the higher levels.

"You've got to set those standards day in, day out on the practice court. They're good kids and I think they've got some ability but I think they've got a hell of a long road ahead of them.

"Sometimes I hit with these young kids and it concerns me that they don't know the level of competition and how hard they have to work."

Henman believes it is time for the the focus to shift away from the perceived failings of the governing body, the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA).

"It always amazes me how much the focus of the attention is on the LTA and it shouldn't be like that," he said.

"It's not about the LTA, it's about those individuals who haven't maximised their potential. Don't look anywhere else, they've got to look at themselves. The players need to take greater responsibility.

"I think Roehampton [the National Tennis Centre] is a fantastic facility. We're lucky we have got money in the game and we've got a great facility, so I want the kids to really utilise that, take advantage of that.

"On the other side of the coin, the LTA have got to do a better job.

"There are still areas which aren't good enough and, looking at the Davis Cup in Bolton, that should be the icing on the cake.

"I think you get the structure right, the best kids playing at a young age, then you get the best chance of those athletes coming through, you get good professionals.

"Then you get the chance of a good Davis Cup team and, at the moment, we don't have that."

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see also
Ward seals Davis Cup win for GB
06 Mar 11 |  Tennis
LTA 'raises bar' in 2011 funding
09 Dec 10 |  Tennis
LTA chief optimistic about future
27 Jun 10 |  Tennis
LTA spoils youngsters - Clijsters
23 Jun 10 |  Tennis

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