Draper makes swift impact by sacking three at LTA

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The Independent Online

The new broom sweeping through the corridors of power in British tennis brushed aside three of its most high-profile executives yesterday. David Felgate, the Lawn Tennis Association's performance director, Rebecca Miskin, the tennis operations director, and Paul Keen, the finance director, all found themselves out of work as Roger Draper, the new chief executive, began a major restructuring programme.

Draper, who took up his appointment less than two months ago after leaving Sport England, is going through a lengthy consultation process and has come to some swift conclusions. The shortage of international-class British players has long been an embarrassment for a nation which boasts the world's most famous tennis tournament and Draper believes the situation is unacceptable.

While Government funding for tennis remains poor in comparison with many other countries, Wimbledon's profits provide millions for the British game every year. The LTA's coaching schemes, however, have failed to produce a flow of players capable of competing on the world stage.

Britain has three men in the world's top 100, but Greg Rusedski learned his game in Canada, Andy Murray went to Spain to develop as a player and the young Tim Henman owed much to an independent coaching scheme run by David Lloyd. Anne Keothavong, at No 141, is the only Briton in the women's top 200.

Miskin, who used to work for the nightclub empire Ministry of Sound, was appointed three years ago with a brief to attract, retain and develop players. Felgate, 42, was recruited around the same time on the recommendation of Henman, whom he had coached from his teenage years until they parted company in 2001.

Draper seems to have decided that quantity is no substitute for quality. While Felgate can boast that there are now 38 British male players ranked in the world's top 1,000 ­ in the week that he took over there were 21 ­ only four are in the top 200. Rusedski is ranked No 40, Murray 46, Henman 72 and Alex Bogdanovic 134.

With Rusedski and Henman in the twilight of their careers at 32 and 31 respectively, the future does not look bright.

Jeremy Bates, Britain's Davis Cup captain, will take on some of Felgate's responsibilities as an interim measure but is not seen as a long-term replacement. Some overseas appointments look likely. "Roger wants to bring in a world-class team of people around him," an LTA insider said.

* Britain's No 1 and No 2 had contrasting fortunes at the Hamburg Masters yesterday. Murray, who last week lost the No 1 spot to Rusedski, upset the in-form Gaël Monfils of France in the first round, winning 6-4, 6-1. Rusedski, however, won just two games as he made an early exit with a humiliating 6-1, 6-1 defeat by the French qualifier Gilles Simon.