Lawn Tennis Association chief executive Scott Lloyd responds to Ed Warner’s comment piece, published in yesterday’s City A.M., “Wimbledon too much of a good thing for LTA”.
It’s difficult to know where to start with Ed Warner’s piece from yesterday when it contains inaccuracies and misconceptions.
He criticises the LTA’s National Tennis Centre in Roehampton, but he doesn’t recognise that it is now home training base for Britain’s elite players, and recently became one of only three venues in the world to be awarded the ITF’s Gold Level status in recognition of the high quality of its facilities.
Mr Warner goes on to cite historic comments from 2015, whilst just yesterday British number one Cameron Norrie said: “I think the LTA and the people around, everyone are really good influencers of everyone.
It is no secret why there is a big group of younger guys and girls coming through.” Jack Draper went further saying, “The LTA have done an amazing job of cultivating something better in British tennis. A more performance-based approach. And the National Tennis Centre is an incredible venue and the players love training there and the environment for the players is so much better. I know people are quick to slag them off but I will be the first to say they really changed the way British tennis is.” Although perhaps Mr Warner knows more about performance tennis than these players?
We know that there is more to be done in to get British tennis where we want to be, but the facts are these, Great Britain are the only nation in the world during the last 10 years to have Grand Slam success at both men’s and women’s singles, as well as men’s and mixed doubles.
There are now more British players ranked inside the world’s Top 160 (seven men, five women) than there have been for more than 40 years. We are also hugely proud of our wheelchair tennis players who include two of the top four men in the world.
At the recreational level, the numbers of people playing tennis post pandemic has been recovering steadily and in fact monthly participation figures are at the highest levels we have recorded. We now also have more children playing tennis once a month than any other sport except football.
Meanwhile rather than sitting on our reserves (far less than the figure of £171m quoted which includes assets such as the National Tennis Centre), we and our charity the LTA Tennis Foundation, are investing in refurbishing park tennis courts across Britain, supporting and building indoor tennis centres and taking tennis into more and more schools.
In conclusion, the LTA is committed to bringing tennis to the widest possible audience. Our vision is ‘tennis opened up’, a sport that is relevant, accessible, welcoming and enjoyable. We still have a long way to go but Mr Warner’s view is both outdated and inaccurate.