Go ahead, do it. It would be really interesting to see the number of registered players and tennis courts in France vs UK. Would go a long way towards explaining the discrepancy in results despite the massive amount of money spent in the UK on Tennis.
Number of registered players: 1.100.000 in France,110.000 in UK
udy Murray: my plan to revolutionise British tennis following Wimbledon fallout
It's really interesting listening to all the criticism being levelled at the state of British tennis this week and some of the reasons as to why this is happening.
By Judy Murray
Published: 7:15AM BST 24 Jun 2010
Anne Keothavong - Judy Murray: my plan to revolutionise British tennis following Wimbledon fallout
British faller: Anne Keothavong, of Great Britain, in action during her first round defeat against Anastasia Rodionova Photo: GETTY IMAGES
From the locker room to the media centre, everybody was asking why one of the wealthiest governing bodies in tennis, with an annual budget of £600 million, can struggle to produce world-class players. Below are a few steps we could take which would help address some of the issues.
1 Increase our talent pool - Right now this is way too small because we simply do not have enough people playing the game. We have a similar population to France but they have 10 times as many clubs and 10 times as many registered players.
They also have more men and women in the top 100 than any other country. That's no coincidence. So why not look at what France has done over the last 20 years and grow the game by investing heavily in places to play and people to drive activity?
The two go hand-in-hand. Courts without a local tennis workforce and fun, stimulating activity are a waste of space. Tennis has to make itself attractive to kids and adults but it must also be affordable, accessible and welcoming or they will just find another sport to try.
2 Put the emphasis on talent development - Over the past four years, the Lawn Tennis Association has invested in an elaborate talent identification system operated nationally by a team of over 30 coaches. It targets children aged 7-10, puts them through a battery of physical and tennis tests and awards an element of funding according to the results.
I don't think it's so difficult to identify coordinated, athletic kids who have a feel for the game and a love of competition but the key is in the development of that talent. We have to ensure that those identified have access to a local tennis environment that has lots of other kids to hit and compete with, and a coach who understands how to instil the basics of stroke production, movement patterns and a love of the game.
There are still huge pockets of the country where that cannot or does not happen and parents have to travel long distances for both training and competition.
3 Invest in the tennis workforce - Much has been written about the many and highly paid foreign coaches who have been brought in by the LTA over the last few years.
Some have been effective and some have not, but the likes of Peter Lundgren, Brad Gilbert, Louis Cayer and Paul Annacone, who have all worked with grand slam champions, should be involved in a structured mentoring programme for some of our most promising and committed British coaches, rather than using their experience and expertise solely with our best players. If we invest in developing world-class British coaches, surely we would have a better shot at developing world class players.
4 Develop a winning mentality - Because we have so few kids playing at a high level domestically, there has been a tendency to over indulge the best ones from a young age partly because we are so desperate to find a champion but also to keep them in the game. It's still too easy to be a big fish in a small pond in British tennis. That won't change overnight but tennis is a sport where only the toughest survive and if we want to create winners from our talent pool, we must ensure that the very best are nurtured in a competitive and international training environment.
5 Climate change - Our weather doesn't help. Tennis is an outdoor sport but we are forced indoors for more than half of the year. Indoor courts are expensive – £18 an hour on average – and few and far between. So we are back to accessibility and affordability, again.