Draper seeks to serve up the net gains from a glorious 12 months

 

Revelling in the success of a remarkable year would be easy. But Roger Draper’s responsibility as chief executive of the Lawn Tennis Association is not just to the top of British tennis and the present, but to the roots of the game and its future too.

So Draper knows he would be betraying the British game 20 years from now if he did not harness 2012’s momentum. “We want to make sure we leave a legacy,” Draper said at the European Club Leadership Summit held at Wimbledon this week.

“So those board members in 2032 don’t think ‘what did those idiots do in 2012 when they had all those great events and great players and they didn’t actually build on that?’”

It has not always been this enjoyable. In March last year, one newspaper ran a story saying, “Lame Duck Draper Must Go”. Draper returned home that night and received an email from Sir Alex Ferguson headed, “It takes years to be an overnight success”, reminding him that Ferguson took a long time to win the league title at Manchester United and was once supposedly one game from the sack.

But this is the moment British tennis had been waiting for. “You don’t wake up in the morning and say ‘Oh, Andy Murray won the US Open, what should we do?’” Draper said.

“But if you had said to me a few years ago, if Tim Henman or Greg Rusedski or Andy Murray won Wimbledon was Britain ready, I’d have said ‘no, absolutely we’re not’.

“So the key to legacy is when you get great athletes coming through, making sure all of our 3,000 clubs, 6,000 coaches, teachers, and volunteers are ready for that moment.

“It is about being ready for key moments. There’s no point having wonderful events and great winners if our places aren’t ready, our people aren’t ready and we haven’t got our programmes in place.”

That is precisely what the LTA is now doing, hoping to take advantage of increased interest. Draper has identified groups which would be particularly keen to get more into tennis.

Mini Tennis is a new programme for under-10s and is already played by 100,000 children. The LTA is also pursuing a group of roughly 400,000 women keen on fitness, aged generally between 35 and 45, who might be bored of the gym. Cardio Tennis is already huge in the United States and there is a hope it will catch on here.

The LTA knows that too many of the clubs are inaccessible to new players. “I can’t stand here and say ‘all of our 3,000 clubs are fantastic and affordable and accessible’ because they’re not,” Draper said. “But we are now at a state of readiness where we probably got about one third of our clubs ticking all the right boxes.”

There has been a significant growth in the last year. The number of British tennis members has increased by 26 per cent to 480,000. Weekly participation is up by 18 per cent and monthly participation by 12 per cent.

Roger Draper was speaking at a  meeting for heads of sports clubs from across the world held at the All England Lawn Tennis Club this week.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue