British tennis continues to soak up the glory of the team’s first Davis Cup win for 79 years, but behind the triumph is the face of turmoil.
Andy Murray was the driving force behind the team’s victory against Belgium in Ghent and there is no doubting that the success continues to inspire a nation. Captain Leon Smith had played a heroic part in the picture as in just five years he’s been able to save the team from relegation to the event’s lowest tier to winning the title.
The final blow, a magnificent lob, gifted the team a title they hadn’t held since 1936 and an influx of voices followed speaking out against the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA).
It’s a well known and proven fact that huge success in sport can drive an interest as seen by the 2012 Olympics and World Cup fever.
The LTA’s problem is that it can’t respond, even though it should be the governing body’s responsibility to develop interest and keep participation numbers consistent.
In 2013 the LTA was criticised for failing to take advantage of Murray’s Wimbledon victory and now the biggest names in the British game are making their views known.
Murray voiced his concern saying he just “doesn’t know where the next generation are”.
David Lloyd also lashed out calling the LTA “a mess”.
The question is if participation and the organisation are such a mess, how and where is the £30million a year the LTA get from Wimbledon every year being spent?
Britain’s women’s number one Johanna Konta recently revealed that she has been a victim of the LTA and has received cuts to her funding, putting her career at risk.
This is no way to encourage our players to succeed.
If we are to continue to inspire a nation to participate in tennis, we need the players who will pull off the results.
For Konta she has taken it into her stride and continues to rise through the rankings with the support of her team behind her. Tennis is accessible and probably more than most people think.
It’s one thing having good participation numbers but it’s another to keep young players especially in the game.
There is less and less funding in the performance steps of player development, probably the most important stage.
Without the funding to bring players on from one stage up to another, there is the possibility of a lost generation of upcoming players.
It could well be another 79 years before Britain can lift the Davis Cup trophy again. It is certainly doubtful at present whether there is anyone to fill Murray’s shoes.
We just have to look at the world rankings to see how behind British tennis is.
In the men’s game France has 10 men in the top 100, with only two Brits.
The women’s game is stuck in the same situation.
There is a dire need for a new generation of British tennis heroes.
The interest is there, the money is there but the organisation and the passion of the LTA needs to catch up.