Lloyd wants home tie

Tennis
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The Independent Online
In keeping with the passing of the Empire, gunboat diplomacy, the stiff upper lip, flannels and the spirit of playing a game for its own sake, the Lawn Tennis Association may offer to buy home advantage from Ghana for Britain's second-round Davis Cup tie the weekend after Wimbledon.

The price could be around pounds 25,000, and VIP treatment at the All-England Club championships may be part of the package. Such a move would seem to risk further ridicule from the rest of the world, who never cease to be amazed at how millions of pounds of Wimbledon profits have failed to nurture national winners.

David Lloyd, the Davis Cup captain, appears not to care. His priority is to capitalise on the first-round victory against Slovenia by climbing out of the Euro/African Zone Group Two.

"I'll do everything but cheating," Lloyd said, confirming that he would request that the LTA makes representations for the tie to be switched from Accra. A win would give Britain a promotion play-off at home, probably against Egypt.

"I don't think that's bad sportsmanship, I don't think that's bad management, I think that's good management," Lloyd said. "My job is to make sure we go up this year, and I really believe we've got a great chance next year [of promotion to the World Group]. You only need to have some home matches. If we can do that, it would be terrific.

Lloyd's chief concern about playing in Ghana centres on the health of his players. "The big worry, obviously, is that the players don't get ill. Half the time you get ill in these places because you think you're going to get ill. It's a punishing journey, too."

Lloyd rejects any suggestion that he might be running scared. "I'm not frightened of playing them away, because we're going to beat them anyway. Our players are too good to be in the division they're in. We've got to get out. It's actually worth fortunes to this country to be back in that top group."

And how would Lloyd react to such a request if he were Ghana's captain? "I don't know what their bank balance is like. If their bank balance is not too good, then I'd think, 'Yeah, this is a good opportunity.' Their job is to put money back into their tennis, and if they don't think they can win it's better to get something in your pocket."

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