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.

BUY WIMBLEDON TICKETS

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms