Tennis: Henman anxious to boost depth of squad

TIM HENMAN thinks Britain needs a National Tennis Centre to develop the next generation of players to keep the country among the world's best.

Henman and the British No 1, Greg Rusedski, teamed up to keep Great Britain in the elite World Group of the Davis Cup at the weekend with victory over South Africa in Birmingham. Both won their two singles matches despite poor recent form to give the home side a 4-1 victory and earn a place in October's draw for the Davis Cup in 2000.

However, when the opposition is tougher than the under-strength South Africans, Henman is well aware that some help will be needed to stand a genuine chance of a first Cup victory for more than 60 years. Henman had to play on all three days against South Africa and the loss of the doubles (with Neil Broad) to David Adams and John-Laffnie de Jager meant the pressure was on the world No 7 to win his second singles match on the last day.

"There is only two of us, and if one of us gets injured in the World Group we're in big trouble," Henman said yesterday. "We really need another guy to start pushing along and a specialist doubles team. Greg and I play good doubles together. But playing the best of five sets three days in a row is very demanding, and I think if we could have a break on Saturday it would make a big difference.

"I know a National Centre is in the pipeline and in my opinion it would be an excellent idea. The national squads are good. But if we could get a whole group of different age groups, different squads, and the professional players and put them together I think it would create a really good atmosphere. There is lots of talk about it, and I really feel it should be pushed for very strongly."