Tennis: Knight picks up the gauntlet: LTA persuades coach to make swift return as Davis Cup captain

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BILL KNIGHT made a U- turn yesterday and succeeded Tony Pickard, his former international doubles partner, as the British Davis Cup captain.

The appointment comes only three weeks after Knight's resignation as the manager of men's national training in response to the row which erupted after the team's defeat in Portugal.

Knight was persuaded by the Lawn Tennis Association not only to return to his old job, but also to accept responsiblity for the beleaguered British Davis Cup team, starting with the Euro- African Zone relegation tie against Romania in Manchester two weeks after Wimbledon.

The 58-year-old coach resigned after Pickard and Richard Lewis, the LTA's director of national training and development, aired their differences in the media.

Pickard demanded changes if he was to stay. The LTA responded, through Lewis, that Pickard's post-match comments in Portugal made it impossible to reconsider his reappointment.

In the circumstances, Knight's change of heart is the most satisfactory solution to the LTA's dilemma. He has the respect and trust of the players, who expressed disappointment at his resignation.

'I am happy to rejoin the national training department to try and complete the job I started three years ago,' he said. 'I will give that, and the increased responsibility of the captaincy of the Davis Cup team, my very best efforts.'

Ian Peacock, the LTA's chief executive, said Knight had been 'very upset' by the post-match publicity from Portugal. 'I think he has decided to carry on because he felt very strong ties to the players he was working with, and felt a tremendous sense of loyalty to them.

'The players we have spoken to are as delighted as we are that he has accepted the job and come back. After the loss in Portugal, and the unpleasant conflict that took place, I think we do need to get back to stability, and I don't think there is any better appointment we could have made.'

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