Smith tells young Britons: Use clay to shape your talent

 

Queen's Club

As the first major event of the grass-court season limped towards its final weekend here yesterday, Britain's Davis Cup captain outlined the importance of clay-court tennis for the nation's future generations.

Leon Smith, who is also the head of men's and women's tennis at the Lawn Tennis Association, wants Britain's best young talent to spend 70 per cent of the year practising and competing on red clay. He believes that it is the surface on which players develop the best habits.

The LTA already encourages the top juniors to spend most of the year on clay and Smith wants the 18- to 21-year-olds to do the same.

"It's a demanding surface that will help accelerate their learning and give them all those important skills that they'll need when they go back on to a hard court or grass," he said.

Smith cited the example of Oliver Golding, Britain's 18-year-old US Open junior champion.

"Ollie hits the ball pretty flat and hard and is probably going to be a better player on a quicker, hard court," Smith said. "That's where he got his junior results and you can see already he's pretty confident on grass because he's got a huge serve and can hit through the court. But for sure he will play better if he learns how to defend, how to deal with the ball coming up high on his backhand, when he's running up for a drop shot, how he's receiving a heavy kick serve. If we can put him up against Spaniards who are making him work for hours on end, even if he beats them 6-3, 6-3 he's going to be out there for two and a half hours in 80 degrees – and that's going to be good for his tennis."

On a day disrupted by rain breaks, Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov continued his fine run here at the Aegon Championships, beating South Africa's Kevin Anderson 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 to earn a semi-final meeting today with David Nalbandian, who after completing a third-round victory over Edouard Roger-Vasselin went on to beat Xavier Malisse 4-6, 7-6, 6-4. Sam Querrey, the 2010 champion, and Marin Cilic will meet in the other semi-final.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who injured a finger in losing on Thursday, is expected to be fit for Wimbledon after being told that he suffered a severe sprain rather than a break.

Andy Murray, another early loser here, confirmed that he will play two matches at The Boodles exhibition tournament at Stoke Park in Buckinghamshire next week. Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro, Janko Tipsarevic, John Isner, Cilic, Stanislas Wawrinka, Alexandr Dolgoplov and Gilles Simon are also playing in the event.

Rafael Nadal, who chose to miss Queen's, was knocked out of the Halle Open in Germany yesterday by Philipp Kohlschreiber, who won 6-3, 6-4. Meanwhile, Roger Federer beat Milos Raonic 6-7, 6-4, 7-6.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Caption competition
Caption competition
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.

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn