Roger Draper, the Lawn Tennis Association's ambitious new chief executive, wants to bring more top-class tournaments to Britain, with the Tennis Masters Cup topping his wish list. Draper pointed out that the organisers of the 2012 London Olympics were keen to bring world-class competitions to the capital before then. "We have to be shooting for events like the Masters Cup," he said at Queen's Club yesterday. The end-of-season tournament, featuring the year's most successful eight men, will be staged in Shanghai next month and in 2007, but is then up for grabs.
Draper is also keen to add a regular top-class winter event to the British calendar and another big grass-court tournament - probably for women - in London before Wimbledon. Anxious to have what he called "the right people" watching, Draper said he had asked organisers of the Stella Artois tournament at Queen's in June to make more tickets available for children. "It's a very corporate event, but it's one of the few that we have to promote the sport," he said. In remarks which might not go down well in some quarters, Draper explained: "It struck me here [at Queen's] this yearthat there was Rafael Nadal here with 7,000 City boys and posh totty watching. I was just thinking, what if we had 7,000 kids who had gone away inspired by watching Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray out here?"
Draper is also considering scrapping the LTA members' ballot (not the main public ballot) for 7,500 Wimbledon tickets, which would be redistributed to clubs providing the best opportunities for juniors.
Other changes include more competitive tennis for children of all ages and a national network of scouts to seek out talented children as young as five.