Great Britain's Davis Cup winning captain Leon Smith insists that the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) must capitalize on the success of the British Team this year. The Brits won the Davis Cup last weekend for the first time since 1936.
Long Term Strategy Would Help British Tennis
Leon Smith said that the governing body needs to quickly create a long term strategy whilst the country is celebrating the Davis Cup win In order to inspire more youngsters into the sport and try and guarantee there will not be another long wait for repeat success. Smith praised Judy Murray and her tennis programs, but added that "she can't keep doing it on her own." Judy Murray is the well-known mother of British number one Andy Murray and his older brother Jamie Murray, a doubles specialist. She has set up several tennis initiatives ranging from Set4Sports to her new endeavor to encourage more girls to the sport that is called Miss Hits. "She needs a lot of help" said Smith.
Smith also said that "At the end of the day, we all care about British tennis a lot. What we want to see is more people playing, so there should be a bigger talent pool in years to come."
He continued by saying the Davis Cup win should really help recruit young players, "It really is an important time to get strategies rolled out as quickly as possible, not only to get people on the court but to keep them on the court. We need to offer them good clubs and good coaches that turn up in all weather and bang out great sessions. Let's hope it has a positive influence, because it should do"
LTA's Inactivity Has Hurt Sport's Ability To Attract Young Players
The LTA has been criticized for failing to encourage more people to participate in the sport following Andy Murray's epic Wimbledon win back in 2013. Participation in the sport at the grass roots level remains a concern, as the expected increase in those taking part in tennis has failed to materialize. Prices of tickets to events, the cost of coaching for beginners and the cost of joining a tennis club have all been muted as factors for the failure in more youngsters getting involved. With the national sport in Great Britain being football (soccer), something has to be done to raise the level of participation in this traditional British sport.
Recent successes should be inspiring more youngsters to take up the mantle as they would aim to reach the highest echelons of the sport. Instead, the inaction of the sport's governing body has done nothing to instill faith that once Andy Murray hangs up his racquet that the Brits will continue to have players in the top tier of the sport. LTA chief Michael Downey described the weekend in Belgium as "very, very special and emotional moments that can drive interest in our sport."
However, if the price of playing the sport is more than other sports in Britain, then only the elite and rich can continue in the sport. That would leave those who are talented, but poorer to leave the sport for something more affordable.