ROGER DRAPER (pictured), the chief executive of the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), has today launched a stinging attack on the sport in Britain.
Draper has compared his job to sometimes like running a kindergarten and questions the hunger of our elite players.
Only Andy Murray and a handful of juniors escape his wrath and he has threatened to to withhold tennis clubs’ ticket allocation for Wimbledon unless they promote the game at junior level.
Draper, who has been in charge for 12 months, warned: "We are going to have to be very ruthless with our players and coaches."
He said in an interview published by The Daily Mail today: "While we’ve got to give all the support, funding and encouragement to our players, we’ve also got to be pretty ruthless with people’s attitudes and behaviours.
"That’s probably my biggest disappointment over the last year: the behaviour of people in British tennis.
"It’s not conducive to winning and success.
"At times running British tennis is like some sort of kindergarten.
"When I was with Sport England, Seb Coe said that we are just a nation of Victor Meldrews.
"If you talk to some of the successful tennis-playing nations, they wouldn’t have people bumbling around 300 or 400 (in the world) for six years.
"They would be given a chance, but after a couple of years you have to say it’s probably not going to happen and they should go off and do something else.
"A lot depends on players, one of the things that causes me sleepless nights is this whole comfort factor.
"The Serbians Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic have desire and hunger, and sport is their way out.
"In this country a lot of our players have had been handed it on a plate.
"We’ve now got to say: 'You’ve got good facilities, good coaches and the best sports science.
"What are you doing when you look in the mirror at night? Because you can’t blame the LTA any more'.
"When you look back at the talent we’ve had, a lot of that talent has been wasted.
"It has been wasted because people have not been leading professional lifestyles.
"That’s why we’ve been bringing in people like Bill Sweetenham in swimming.
"The swimmers are in the pool at 4.30 in the morning, they’ve eaten the right things and they aren’t out partying.
"Rafael Nadal doesn’t look like he goes out partying every night; he goes to the gym every day."
Draper is in no mood either to spare the clubs.
"At the moment Wimbledon tickets go to clubs and the majority of people who get them are over 50, therefore the kids don’t experience watching Nadal or Andy Murray.
"The incentives and the funding we use will be geared to the question: 'Have you got more juniors competing?'
"The people who get more juniors competing will get more funding, more support and more tickets."
The full article can be read at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/sport/tennis.html?in_article_id=462070&in_page_id=1956.