Murray's mentor appointed as Davis Cup captain
Andy Murray's former coach Leon Smith was today appointed as the new captain of the Great Britain Davis Cup team.
The 34-year-old Scot succeeds John Lloyd, who resigned following the British team's humiliating defeat by Lithuania last month.
"This is a huge honour and an irresistible challenge for me," Smith said on the Lawn Tennis Association's official website, http://www.lta.org.uk.
"I know the players, and I know that together we can get Britain back to winning ways in the Davis Cup."
The loss to Lithuania gave Lloyd the dubious distinction of becoming the first British Davis Cup captain to oversee five successive defeats and left the team on the verge of relegation to Europe/Africa Zone Group III - the lowest tier of the competition.
Former Davis Cup stalwart Greg Rusedski had been the early favourite to take the captain's role but Smith jumped to the head of the field following comments from LTA chief executive Roger Draper that the governing body would not seek to appoint a high-profile name.
Smith, who has been a professional tennis coach for 16 years, was most recently the LTA's head of player development in men's tennis.
He has also been appointed LTA head of men's tennis as one of the recommendations of a review into men's tennis carried out by LTA player director Steven Martens following last month's defeat.
"Leon is the perfect fit for this important role, at this stage in the development of British men's tennis," said Martens.
"He's a young British coach full of energy and passion, who's already proved he's a quick learner, and has the respect of the players."
Great Britain's next Davis Cup tie is a Europe/Africa Zone Group II match against Turkey at Eastbourne on July 9-11 where Smith will be supported by a selection of British coaches.
Smith's relationship with Murray is sure to have played a big part in the decision.
The pair began working together when the world number four was 11 and Smith oversaw Murray's progress to the top of the junior game and his first forays into the senior ranks.
The relationship continued while Murray was at the Sanchez-Casal academy in Barcelona and Smith was courtside when his fellow Scot won the US Open junior title in 2004.
After a flurry of negative publicity following the Lithuania defeat, which included a parliamentary investigation, the LTA will be desperately hoping Smith can persuade Murray to play against Turkey this summer.
The 22-year-old chose to skip the last tie amid a degree of acceptance that his team-mates must first prove themselves up to the task before he returns.
But defeat by Turkey and descent to a tier that includes the likes of Andorra, San Marino and Montenegro is simply unthinkable - although, without Murray, certainly not impossible.
For Smith, the appointment caps a swift rise through the coaching ranks. He began his career at the age of 18 and worked at a number of clubs in Scotland before linking up with Murray.
He became academy coach for Scotland in 2002 and was promoted to national training coach two years later.
He joined the LTA three years ago as national under-16 men's coach, moving up to coach the under-18s in 2008 before taking up the role of head of player development for men's tennis last year.
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