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Keothavong's retirement deepens Britain's talent chasm

Posted 07-29-2013 at 12:52 PM by Philip Oliver
Anne Keothavong's announcement that she is to retire from tennis at the age of 29 is another blow to the sport as it continues to struggle overall in Britain.

Apart from Andy Murray's glorious triumph at Wimbledon earlier this summer and Laura Robson's rise up the women's rankings, there is not a lot to get excited about for fans of French Open betting, forever hopeful that the amount of money invested into grassroots tennis over the past decade or so can finally begin to reap its rewards.

Following former British No 1 Keothavong's decision to call it a day, there really are very few positives out there at the minute and, especially in the men's game, there is a fear Murray's undeniably-brilliant performance at the
All England Club in June is masking big problems.

Murray has been the glaring exception in recent years and a quick look at the world rankings reveals he is the only British male in the current top 100. In fact you have to delve right down into the top 250 before James Ward and Dan Evans, ranked at a shockingly poor 239 and 247 in the world, appear - to realise just how bad things are.

Furthermore, looking at other countries, Spain have nine players right now in the top 50, France can boast seven among that list and the tennis hotbed of Poland even managed to get two men into this year's quarter-finals at Wimbledon. If it wasn't for
Murray, we would be the laughing stock of Europe!

Some experts are calling for another radical overhaul of the structure of the sport in Britain, with better coaching, yet more funding and better facilities being built in order to get more youngsters playing the game and coming through the
rankings. But we've been here before in the past decade and we seem to not be making much progress.

Keothavong reached a career-high ranking of 48 four years ago but her future absence from the sport means others must now step up to the plate. Robson, for one, cannot be blamed for not doing her bit and she is now 32 in the world after another fine Wimbledon. But, again, aside from her there are very few offering hope of real improvement overall in the women's side of things.

Heather Watson, currently 72 in the world, has lost ground on Robson recently, and there are big doubts she has what it takes to muscle in on the top 50 moving forward.

So where are the other top players? It's a familiar tale of woe for British tennis that, following Keothavong's decision to retire, needs sorting out - and fast. Unfortunately, Britain is likely to struggle heading into the French Open nevertheless.
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