LTA ditches 'irrelevant' championship

By John Roberts
Thursday 06 February 2014 03:49

The National Championships have been discarded by the Lawn Tennis Association, a decision likely to raise few dissenting voices. Started in 1983 and held indoors in October, the Nationals became known as the only tournament guaranteed British winners, a joke that quickly wore thin.

The original champions were Chris Bradnam, a coach, and Jo Durie, who was already established on the international scene. The sight of British players beating each other when few were a match for competitors from the rest of the world tended to make the exercise an irrelevance.

Tim Henman defeated Greg Rusedski in consecutive finals, in 1995 and 1996, when both were establishing themselves. In 1997, Henman was able to win his semi-final at the Nationals, dash from Telford to Hannover in Germany to play against Yevgeny Kafelnikov, and return in time to win the final of the Nationals.

David Felgate, Henman's former coach and now the LTA's director of performance, said yesterday: "I think it's the right decision. The event has served its purpose and its time. The way the calendar was when we started it fitted in nicely. But now there are so many challenger and satellites elsewhere where the players should be chasing ranking points."

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