Women's mentor Sears leaves LTA for Ivanovic

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The Independent Online

Nigel Sears, who has been a key figure behind the recent success of Britain's women, is leaving the Lawn Tennis Association in order to coach Ana Ivanovic.

Sears, the LTA's head coach of women's tennis, leaves after four and a half years with the British game's governing body. During his time both Elena Balatcha and Anne Keothavong have broken into the world's top 50, three more British women have made the top 100 and Laura Robson and Heather Watson have emerged as two of the brightest young talents in the game.

Sears made his name as the coach of Daniela Hantuchova and Amanda Coezter, who both reached the world's top 10. He now has the task of reviving the career of Ivanovic, who has struggled to rescale the heights ever since winning the French Open three years ago. The 23-year-old Serb has had a succession of coaches in recent times.

"I couldn't be happier," Ivanovic said. "I've admired Nigel for some time now and I can't wait to start working with him on court. It was important that I waited for the right coach." Sears, the father of Andy Murray's girlfriend Kim, said it had been "a real privilege" to be in charge of women's tennis at the LTA, which has now lost nearly all the high-profile coaches and administrators who were appointed at the start of Roger Draper's reign as chief executive.

Draper said: "Nigel has been instrumental in developing the player programmes for our most talented girls and women, and he leaves behind a real sense of confidence and optimism that we can look forward to a bright long-term future in the international game."