Andy Murray has been Britain's lone competitor in the Paris Masters this week but there has been no shortage of Lawn Tennis Association employees and members of the Scot's personal entourage around Bercy's Palais Omnisports.
Murray, who was playing Juan Ignacio Chela in the second round last night, has been here with his mother, Judy, his coach, Brad Gilbert, and agent, Patricio Apey, along with Jean-Pierre Bruyère, the LTA's fitness guru, Jeremy Bates, the interim performance director, and Bruce Phillips, head of communications. Were it not for holiday commitments, you would imagine that Roger Draper, the chief executive, would have also been here to oversee - even add to - his ever-expanding team of high-profile coaches and administrators.
Having recently appointed Roger Federer's former coach Peter Lundgren as assistant to the British Davis Cup captain, John Lloyd (another recent recruit), Draper is expected to name new heads of women's and men's tennis later this month. Carl Maes, Kim Clijsters' former coach, is one of the front-runners for the former post, while Paul Annacone is favourite for the latter.
Annacone, who coached Pete Sampras, now works with Tim Henman, an arrangement that would probably be unaffected by the LTA job. The American would be expected to move to London, which in all likelihood would make him more available to work with Henman than at present.
The British No 2, who could have been forgiven if he had cast envious eyes at Murray when the LTA decided to foot the bill for Gilbert's appointment, can see clear advantages in the governing body's recruitment of Annacone, whose services cannot have come cheap. "I'm sure he'd be able to see me play at different times," Henman said. "I think it would be of benefit in a funny sort of way because he would be in the UK. I don't think he could do that job from anywhere else apart from London."
Henman regards this as an exciting time for British tennis and sees far-reaching benefits in the recruitment of top international coaches, provided full use is made of their talents. "You've got to make sure, in the nicest possible way, that everyone really uses them - players and coaches alike," Henman said. "Coach education is really important because how do you become a good coach? We want good British coaches and that's where, when you've got Brad or Peter or someone like that involved, coaches should use them as well."
The LTA has not been ruthless enough in the past, Henman believes. "In any business, if you're not doing a good job, you're probably given a chance. But if you're not good enough then someone else should be brought in and you get moved on for whatever reason. That hasn't been the case at the LTA. Once you're there it seems like you've had your job for life and that's not right.
"It's the same scenario for us. If you're not good enough, if you're not playing well enough, if your ranking isn't high enough, you don't get into these tournaments. I think that's the way it has to be. Roger's got to make decisions and I'm sure some of them are going to be difficult but, for want of a better phrase, he's got to have the balls to make them. I think it's pretty clear he has."
How Draper must envy the French, who had 12 players in the 48-strong main draw here, only three of them courtesy of wild cards. One of the home heroes, Paul-Henri Mathieu, reached the third round with a 7-6, 7-6 victory yesterday over Novak Djokovic, the No 12 seed, while Arnaud Clément was 2-0 up in the final set against James Blake, the No 7 seed, only to lose 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.Reuse content