Tennis: Pickard's Cup poser: Great Britain captain looks to future

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The Independent Online
TONY PICKARD announced the British Davis Cup squad yesterday for the tie in Portugal from 25 to 27 March, and left his future involvement with the Lawn Tennis Association open to speculation.

'That I don't know,' Pickard said. 'I've given a commitment to do the match against Portugal. I have no idea what will happen after that.'

Pickard's current arrangement as the Davis Cup captain is about to expire, and plans for him to play a wider role in the British game may depend on his involvement as coach to Stefan Edberg, the former Wimbledon champion.

'We want Tony to continue as Davis Cup captain,' Ian Peacock, the LTA's chief executive, said yesterday. 'There is a question about whether there is any widening of the role, but as far as the Davis Cup captaincy is concerned he has our one hundred per cent support.'

The team Pickard named for the match in Oporto suggests forward planning. A first chance is given to Tim Henman, the 19-year-old from Oxfordshire who has made encouraging progress in recent satellite tournaments. Henman joins Jeremy Bates, the 31-year-old British No 1, Mark Petchey and Danny Sapsford.

If Britain win the Euro-African Zone tie, they will go into the draw for the World Group qualifying round, to be played in September. If they are beaten in Portugal, they will face a relegation play-off in July against the losers of the tie between South Africa and Romania.

The match in Oporto will be on clay, and later this week Pickard will accompany Bates, Sapsford and Henman to Casablanca, where it is hoped they will gain match practice on a similar surface. Petchey, who is playing on the concrete courts of Florida in the Lipton Championships, intends to join the squad later for four days preparation in Estoril.

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