The State of British Tennis: 'We must spend to attract world-class coaches'

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The Independent Online
DAVID LLOYD, the former Davis Cup player, has expressed a willingness to give up the administration of his seven successful indoor centres for a leading role in the British game. 'That's an impossibility, so I just say my piece,' he said. His opinions are forthright.

'I view the LTA as a business. It's business is twofold: one is to produce world-class tennis players and the other, as important, is to promote the game. Unfortunately, they haven't recognised the fact that there are two absolutely distinct roles. A totally different type of person is needed to produce world-class players than to make the game more attractive and accessible to the public.

'I have got a lot of respect for Ian Peacock (the LTA's exective director). He's a marketing man, and I think the indoor centre scheme, and that side of the game, is coming on, though too slowly in my opinion. But I don't think they've really tackled the side of the game that produces the players.

'Richard Lewis is supposedly in charge of the development of the better players. He reports to Ian. Well, that is not Ian's role. I don't think Ian is qualified to know what a really good coach is. To my mind, this is reporting sideways, when the roles should be independent of each other.

'I would have them in some way reporting back to the bank, which is the All England Club. In my business, or in any other business, the banker calls the tune. If the All England Club was a bank, it would have called in this loan a long time ago, because we haven't had any results. You can judge by results, by the number of people in the top 100.

'You can't go through committees. You've got to make decisions, and sometimes they are not nice decisions; they harm people, but it's done in the interest of the total.

'The coaching standard in the regions is diabolical. The regional coaches wouldn't get jobs in other countries. If you want to produce players, they are not all going to come from the London area, they're going to come from anywhere. We have lots of coaches who are very good-willed and very nice people, but I believe you need to have a team of world-class coaches, and you have to pay them the going rate, which is a lot of money. But that's the name of the game.'