Annacone exit the end of an era
When Paul Annacone leaves the Lawn Tennis Association in November it will end the culture of big-name, big-money coaches in British tennis. The era of excess will be over and expenditure on the balance sheet will look a little less top heavy.
In 2006, the new LTA regime fell in love with the concept of spending riches on celebrity coaches. A big-spend for quick wins.
Gilbert would coach Andy Murray, Lundgren would coach the Davis Cup team and Annacone would be men's head coach. By the end of the year, all three will be gone.
Lundgren, the former coach of Roger Federer, was first to depart after a troublesome time over the summer of 2007.
Gilbert, hired to coach Andy Murray, finally left in September 2008 - nine months after his relationship with Murray ended. He was reportedly the world's highest paid coach and British tennis was footing the bill.
Annacone was on a much more sensible salary but still a huge whack for a part-time contract which didn't require him to move from the family home in California.
It's unclear whether he would have been offered a new deal but he isn't waiting to find out. He's given six months notice and the news comes as no great surprise.
His contribution was last night recognised by the LTA in a glowing statement, and undoubtedly some coaches and players have benefitted from his ideas and experience, but average rankings have not improved and no player he worked with broke into the top 100. After everything he achieved with Pete Sampras, his LTA spell hardly sits well on the CV.
Annacone (l) and John Lloyd (r) at the Davis Cup tie in Lithuania. Photo: Getty.
The LTA tennis leadership team, recruited four years ago to work under chief executive Roger Draper, has now been thoroughly dismantled.
An "extensive worldwide search" was promised at the time and it was a costly business. A leading recruitment agency did the worldwide headhunting (one successful candidate was in Wimbledon, another in Chiswick) and salaries were negotiated individually.
Bill Mountford was appointed head of coaches and competitions. The American was the first out of the door after just over a year. Paul Hutchins was head of men's tennis. He was asked to moved to a more minor role after Wimbledon 2008. Carl Maes was the head of women's tennis. He left for personal reasons in April 2009.
Ann Quinn was the head of sports science. Her contract expired last year but only after spending many months in her native Australia, apparently because of visa problems.
Kevan Taylor, the finance director, and Mountford's successor Gary Stewart were others to leave last year for "personal reasons" while John Lloyd, the Davis Cup captain, "resigned" last month after the Lithuania debacle.
The LTA points out that any big business has a high staff turnover and the money spent paying up contracts is a relatively small amount, but it's still hundreds of thousands of pounds, perhaps more. The sort of money which - if redistributed - could have helped persuade Slough Council to keep their Indoor Tennis Centre open.
The pay-and-play facility closed recently to become a bowling alley. Annacone, it should be noted, is seeing out his contract so there remains plenty of time to get value from the likeable American. But the idea of expensive celebrity coaches hasn't worked.
The appointment of inexperienced Leon Smith as head of men's tennis and Davis Cup captain emphasises the change of tack.
Jose Mourinho couldn't take Burnham Ramblers into the Premier League, so why did British tennis think superstar coaches would create a nation of world beaters?