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27 November 2014

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Greg Rusedski and Tony Pickard

Greg Rusedski and Tony Pickard

Tony Pickard on tennis

Ripley's Tony Pickard is a former coach to Greg Rusedski and Stefan Edberg. BBC Radio Derby's Ed George asked him for his reflections on Tim Henman's retirement.

Is it the right time for Tim Henman to retire?

Personally yes. It hurt me to see him losing to people that he would normally put away very easily. I don’t think that any good player deserves to go on playing longer than he should.

You’ve previously said that Henman was a great player. Why do you think it was that he didn’t clinch that elusive Grand Slam title?

I think it comes down to him not believing he could do it. I think that was the main question. He was a fabulous tennis player of the old school.

We’ll always judge him - which is wrong – on him not winning Wimbledon which is wrong because he had a fantastic career. The boy was good enough to win one, but tragically, I don’t think he believed enough that he could win Wimbledon.

Do you think this problem is something that is going to continue our players, like Andy Murray?

Unfortunately, we just don’t have many of what I call ‘world-class’ tennis players anymore. Tim was basically the last one. After now Tim’s gone, we’re going to be left with Andy Murray who is hopefully winding his way up to the top of the game, but behind him there’s nobody really there to help him.

Where is British tennis heading to?

Quite honestly, I don’t think we’re going anywhere. I don’t see how we can be paying extortionate fees out to part-time coaches. We need coaches who are dedicated to our sport and dedicated to bringing on our own players, not for a few weeks a year but for forty-eight weeks a year.

We’ve recently had the opening of the new National Tennis Centre in Roehampton, is that something we’ve sorely needed?

Personally, I don’t think we did. I would’ve rather seen, for instance, the tennis centre in Nottingham refurbished because that’s right in the middle of the country. For what has been spent in London, we could’ve had six centres built all over the country which would’ve made it much more available to young tennis players. Where they’ve put it, is in the most inaccessible part of London.

Do you think the popularity of tennis is waning since the lack of success in the international arena?

I don’t think it’s waning. It’s the same with all things that young people want to do. If you set them on fire, they’ll want to succeed, but all that’s said in this country is negative. Everything’s negative, and until that attitude changes, it’s going to be difficult to attract top athletes into the game.

Do the young players you work with feel that pressure that if they don’t succeed, they’re going to be hung out to dry?

I don’t think they feel like they’re being hung out to dry. There has to be a fountain to drink from and it has to be there in England like it is in other countries.

last updated: 07/09/07

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