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?
Latest in Sport
Sport
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

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific