British tennis set for Olympic overhaul


Originally published on: 21/07/10 10:15

UK Sport revealed yesterday that tennis will be the 28th sport subjected to scrutiny from the Mission 2012 team in a bid to revamp efforts to deliver top-flight success.

The LTA has approached the body responsible for overseeing many of the country’s Olympic disciplines in a bid to boost its own chances of success in the build up to the London Games, announced the outgoing chief executive of UK Sport, John Steele.

“Tennis has approached us and when we next produce another review, tennis will be added to the rest of Olympic and Paralympic sports that are part of this process,” said Steele, speaking at UK Sport’s latest Mission 2012 review.

“They have approached us and it shows that we are not brandishing a big stick, wanting to know how money is being spent. It’s about sharing performance practices and being open and honest about where they think they are and how they can learn from us and move forward.”

The news comes after one of the most humbling summer seasons in British tennis.

Great Britain endured its worst Wimbledon in history, with only eventual semi-finalist Andy Murray progressing beyond the first round of both the men’s and women’s singles draws, before the Davis Cup squad salvaged some pride by beating Turkey to avoid dropping into the lowest tier of the competition.

But Steele believes that the game’s national governing body have made a wise decision in opening themselves up to a more objective and elite form of scrutiny.

“Mission 2012 is open to all sports and the LTA approached us which we think is very positive. It’s about them learning from all the other sports about performance.

“Every sport is very good at at least one thing and why not share that between sports?” added Steele. “Therefore, I think it’s very shrewd of the LTA to look at what the process is all about.”

“We agree with every sport a target so we’ll sit down together with them and look at what they should try and achieve and that will progress year upon on year. This is purely about profiling their high performance system and if there are any things standing in their way then they must be honest and address those problems.”

It is a bold step from a sporting body that has come under severe criticism in both the press and even from the government for its failure to develop more world class players despite spending £8.8m on its elite athletes last year.

But UK Sport’s director of performance Peter Keen is convinced the LTA is willing to change its ways.

“The LTA has seen this process and it has enabled them to take a blurred picture of themselves and then pick it apart and with our support we can encourage them to look at things in different ways,” he said. “It’s early days but we are helping them to come up with a different way of analysing and rationalising their programme.

“They’ve given us a sense of where they think they are at the moment and it may be the case that we bring fresh outlooks and ask: are they really there?

“It comes down to do you want to win, and then we ask: do you really want to win? And if they are willing to pick apart their whole system and take a look at all the different pieces.

“The LTA really do want to win, badly, and their approach to us has been a genuine one.”


Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.