Hagelauer focusing on youth revolution

FROM A British perspective, the most important event here at the Samsung Open yesterday was a meeting between Patrice Hagelauer and 150 coaches. Hagelauer is the Lawn Tennis Association's performance director, which some may consider equivalent to a costume designer at a nudist camp.

FROM A British perspective, the most important event here at the Samsung Open yesterday was a meeting between Patrice Hagelauer and 150 coaches. Hagelauer is the Lawn Tennis Association's performance director, which some may consider equivalent to a costume designer at a nudist camp.

Hagelauer, who helped revolutionise the development of tennis talent in France, outlined the LTA's latest strategy, which is directed at the root of the problem: the roots of the British game.

"I thought the clubs were doing more for the kids than they are," Hagelauer said, having spent his first six months in the job assessing the state play and suggesting remedies. "Everything will change the day we have junior programmes in all the clubs, mini-tennis, tennis schools, and competition from a very young age. The clubs need to become magnets to attract the young kids and help them become tennis players.

"If the clubs are just for social tennis, they don't need me. I will see in two years if they're moving in the right direction."

The importation of Greg Rusedski, from Canada, and the rise of Tim Henman, from Oxford, ought to have created an environment for success in the men's game in Britain after the big two retire. But the signs are not promising. And women's tennis in Britain is almost a contradiction in terms.

"A lot of kids are dreaming of becoming the next Henman or Rusedski," Hagelauer said, "but if when they knock on the door of the club and have to pay £20 or £30 to receive individual lessons and there is no competitive tennis, that is the worst thing that can happen.

"If the clubs want to survive in the next 50 years, they must open their doors to kids and help. That's where we are far behind other countries. It's a cultural thing. Tennis clubs here are places for adults. If they don't change, they will become clubs for veterans."

Some clubs may argue that the LTA, with its annual donation of multi- millions from the Wimbledon Championships, is responsible for nurturing talent. "People ask me if the LTA is going to help," Hagelauer said. "The LTA is expected to be the cow they take the milk from all the time. You can have all the money in the world, but if you don't have the numbers and the talent, you won't have players."

Next month the LTA intends to take to the road to deliver Hagelauer's message, visiting the county associations, talking to officials, coaches, players and parents, and assessing the best young players in each area aged 9, 10, 11, 12, 13. "The LTA is going to help clubs that do junior programmes well," Hagelauer said. "We are going to help the counties to push the clubs to produce more young players. Even this year, we hope to find 100 more of these talented kids who may otherwise be attracted to football or cricket. And we expect the numbers to increase every year, to 2,000 and 3,000."

As Hagelauer spoke yesterday, the clay courts at the West Hants Club were occupied solely by ATP Tour players from overseas. Sweden's Magnus Gustafsson, Austria's Stefan Koubek, Germany's Hendrik Dreekmann and Morocco's Younes El Aynaoui all advanced to the quarter-finals.

Koubek defeated Ronald Agenor, of Haiti, 6-4, 6-1. Agenor, 34, the oldest players in the draw, retired from the Tour three years ago and tried to set up his own tournament and a tennis academy. The ventures failed, and Agenor resumed playing, starting with satellite events, and gradually raising his world ranking from No 543 to No 103.

Agenor dreams of playing Andre Agassi again, having defeated the world No 1 in each of their three previous matches, never dropping a set and only conceding 12 games. They have not met for ten years.

Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence