LTA dumps underperforming players

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The Independent Online

The Lawn Tennis Association is to cut its financial support for some of Britain's underperforming players after raising the standards it requires them to meet. Team Aegon, the elite group of players who receive the highest level of funding, had 43 contracts last year but only 32 have been offered for 2011.

While those not on the team will receive support in other areas, the raising of the bar has meant that five of Britain's top 10 men singles players and four of the top 10 women will not be given contracts. Britain currently has five women ranked in the world's top 200 but only one man. In discussion with the LTA, the players are given targets each year based on age and ranking.

Among those dropped are the 20-year-old Dan Evans, who has been hailed as the country's most promising youngster but has in the past been criticised for a poor attitude, and the 24-year-old Jamie Baker, who has worked hard but with only limited success after a career-threatening blood disorder. Katie O'Brien and Mel South, who have both been in the top 100 in the past two years but are now ranked No 180 and No 259 respectively, are the highest-rated British women not in the elite group.

The Team Aegon programme pays for training costs, whether players are based at home or abroad. In the past they have got up to £48,000 a year to pay for personal coaches. They are also given help with international travel and get sports-science support.

Players not in the top group are still eligible for some support, while more funding will be made available next year through a "tournament bonus incentive" scheme. This will reward success in tournaments on the ATP, Challenger and Futures Tours and their women's equivalents. Victory, for example, in a Challenger tournament, which is one tier below the main ATP Tour, would be rewarded by a bonus of £2,500.

The LTA also helps 375 of the best juniors through its Aegon Future Stars programme. Three players who were on the scheme this year have been rewarded with Team Aegon contracts for 2010.

* Philip Brook has been elected Wimbledon's chairman after the retirement of Tim Phillips. Brook, 54, has been on the All England Club's main committee and the one that runs the Championships since 1997.