Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Murray Speaks the Truth

Andy Murray’s unprovoked outburst at the lack of depth that British tennis players are producing seems slightly harsh, but yet a close reflection of reality. This past year has seen all aspects of Murray’s game improve, but while he rises up the world rankings, he advances alone, being the only Brit inside the ATP world 100.

Murray is in the same boat as 13 other players inside the top 100, who fly the flag alone for their country. His frustration at his fellow country men comes after yesterday’s victory over Robert Kendrick, which has resulted in the 22 year old being the only Brit remaining in the tournament.

The absence of British talent from Wimbledon isn’t just a modern phenomenon. Although we have the world’s greatest tournament - maybe slightly biased - we can not come close to produce the remarkable talent of Fred Perry, the last Brit to triumph at Wimbledon, but why does this seem to be the case?

The majority of the world’s top 100 is full of players from eastern Europe and neighbouring developing countries, despite the lack of facilities or funding. In Britain, tennis will never be able to shed its middle class image and while this the case we will struggle to encourage youngsters into the sport.

Tennis is often seen as a social activity, rather than a competitive sport, with schools and colleges rarely putting any dedicated effort into taking the game further. With the funding available through the LTA, the main problem seems to be lack of identifying the talent at a young age.

While we continue to put all our eggs in one basket, we should be focusing on the development of teaching tennis through the educational system, that way we could identify natural talent at a young age and risk the chance of going without a British champion for another seven decades.

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