Wimbledon prodigy Kasiri suspended by LTA for lack of effort

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The Independent Online

Eight months after Miles Kasiri reached the Wimbledon junior singles final, the 19- year-old from Kent was yesterday suspended for three months from the Lawn Tennis Association's national training programme.

Eight months after Miles Kasiri reached the Wimbledon junior singles final, the 19- year-old from Kent was yesterday suspended for three months from the Lawn Tennis Association's national training programme.

Kasiri last July became the first British junior to advance to the boys' final at the All England Club since Buster Mottram lost to Bjorn Borg in 1972. Recently, however, Kasiri had displayed a lack of motivation, said Mark Petchey, the LTA's head of men' national training, and had exasperated the coaching staff.

"Miles has an abundance of talent and potential which is not currently being fulfilled for a variety of reasons," Petchey said. "It was felt by myself, the LTA performance team, and Miles, that a period of time away from the national training facilities at Queen's Club was necessary at this stage."

The LTA stressed that they were not abandoning Kasiri. Petchey said: "I want to be able to sit down with Miles in June and be convinced he has used this period away constructively and is ready to take on the challenge of being a professional tennis player. If he does, the team will be delighted to welcome him back.

"During this period away, we will continue to allow Miles access to our sports science department for one day a week, with a view to helping him apply himself better in the areas we feel are necessary to reach the top of the game.

"We have spoken to Miles's parents and management team, who have agreed that this is in his best interest, and they will be working with Miles during his time away from the national training facilities to address the reasons behind this move."

Kasiri responded in a statement issued by the LTA: "There are a number of factors that have contributed to my performances in 2005. We have all agreed it would be beneficial for me to spend a period of time away from Queen's where I can address these in order that I return a better player. I am looking forward to returning to working with the LTA at the end of this period and see this as a positive step in my progression as a professional tennis player."

After losing the Wimbledon junior final to Gaël Monfils, of France, who had won the Australian Open and French Open junior titles, Kasiri advanced to the third round of the US Open junior tournament.

That title was won by the 17-year-old Andrew Murray, of Scotland, who last weekend in Tel Aviv underlined his potential by becoming Britain's youngest ever Davis Cup player and triumphed in the crucial doubles match in partnership with the 24-year-old David Sherwood, from Sheffield.

Kasiri, a former student at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida, returned to Britain in September 2003. En route to the Wimbledon junior final, he said that the LTA did not have the same kind of work ethic: "Over there. they're not afraid to hurt you or push you into doing something." But yesterday Bollettieri had a different recollection.

"When Miles reached the Wimbledon junior final, he credited the Academy with turning him around, but we'd hardly started," he said. "He was barely 18 when he finished with us. He had - and apparently still has - a critical weak point in his mental approach. He has no ability to control his temper and, just as bad, no insight into how detrimental that is to his game. When he lost his cool on the court, he did so absolutely. He just lost the plot. He couldn't control his temper, and that affected his game.

"There've always been guys who lose their temper, McEnroe and Becker are obvious examples. But they didn't lose control, they channelled energy. Miles does not lack ability. That's not the problem. And he's not malicious, or a mean guy. But he currently lacks the discipline to be a special player."

Bollettieri added: "Dealing with boys or girls with temperament problems is a challenge. What's causing that underlying problem leading to this symptom? That's the key. I'm not talking about Miles here, I mean in general. Maybe there's a pushy parent, weighting a kid with expectations they can't or don't want to shoulder. Maybe the kid knows they're never going to really make it, and they're just frustrated. Maybe there's a family problem, a personal problem.

"I'd try to address it by researching their life from childhood - family, schooling, their friends, their siblings. I'd do everything to discover what this factor is, causing the rage. And only when you identify can you start to work on it, using a psychologist perhaps, or just talking about it, or facing an issue and tackling it. It takes time."