Comments for en-gb 30 Sat 26 Jul 2014 12:32:48 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at dennisjunior1 Mihir:it needs to have a cultural change. Wed 25 Jun 2008 23:39:39 GMT+1 fastMichael69 If you make life too easy for prospective tennis players, then they can never get into the correct mindset to become sucessful. Tennis may be a physical game but the game also has a mental element to it, you need to learn how to win and not to be afraid to win! Mon 23 Jun 2008 08:44:22 GMT+1 jaksap I'm a Serbian, so I may contribute to "unlocking" this mystery. The reason for Serbian tennis success is that we are not too rich and not too poor. If we were a richer society, parents and children wouldn't dream of achieving big success in tennis world. They'd probably say: OK, the children shouldn't push too hard, if they don't make it in tennis, they can be managers, doctors, etc. Those options in Serbia are very limited. On the other hand, Serbs are rich enough to provide their children with basic equipment and training for this financialy demanding sport. We also have a culture where sports success and investing in children is held in highest regard. It is also shocking to hear that UK doesn't have clubs and tennis courts dedicated to young talents. Sat 21 Jun 2008 23:40:11 GMT+1 thebrix2007 Couldn't agree more, and the situation outside clubs is not much better. My local park has a number of courts which, a couple of years ago, were resurfaced and repaired to a high standard. Presumably because of some micromanaging accountant decreeing that the work had to "pay its way" a fee of £4 an hour was introduced - there was previously no fee - which led to most existing players vanishing within a few months, as the local area is very mixed income. The courts are now monopolised by middle-class, middle-aged doubles players whose noses are so stuck up in the air it is a wonder they can see where to serve to! There are coaching sessions for new players, but what use are these if the recipients cannot afford to use the courts outside the lessons? Sat 21 Jun 2008 15:26:57 GMT+1 Tartan_Army_Spider No argument from me here, as a young player i was routinely forced off a court, usually for a 50+ women's doubles match. Im sorry, but after school hours and weekends should be largely reserved for young, promising players only and any of the seniors can play during the day when everyone else is at work/school. A new breed of british tennis players is required, ones that have a will to win and a bit of an attitude. The sad thing is that they are already there in many places, but are being banned from playing at the clubs due to their 'fiery' temprements. These types of players should be encouraged, not thrown out - can u imagine lleyton hewitt playing in a British tennis club? He would be asked to leave after 5 minutes yet thats exactly the kind of attitude required to win. Sat 21 Jun 2008 15:03:16 GMT+1 jonny "the intolerable burden placed on parents who are expected to accompany players"I think is a pretty major problem - parents who don't want to support their children.I play a couple of musical instruments; and my mum and dad have never complained about taking me to rehearsals every night, to concerts and contests and generally being supportive.I also used to do a lot of running, and, what a surprise, they didn't mind taking me to training (15 miles away) or to races. Oh yeah, I have a brother and a sister as well, and my parents do exactly the same for them.If you're a parent, it's your job to support your children! They can't do it themselves! Sat 21 Jun 2008 14:51:21 GMT+1 stroke-doc I disagree on several counts. For a start there is no 'dress code' any more. There is nothing wrong with participation sport. Thousands of club players regularly play doubles (competitively - 6 sets at a time for a club match). This is healthy, social and to be encouraged. Tennis clubs are for participants, not a training ground for commercial and media interests who only want superstar professionals (few, short lived and expendable). If middle aged people pay for the facilities (which we do - along with subs TO the LTA) why should we not play? The LTA is free to use its commercial millions to train whoever it wants.The main issue about junior competition is the intolerable burden placed on parents who are expected to accompany players around the counties - impossible if you have more than one child. Sat 21 Jun 2008 14:19:42 GMT+1 Prointhemaking My son is a performance junior, age 11. He is at an academy in surrey and is about to come out of mainstream school to train full time and be educated at home. We are sacrificing traditional schooling and a huge amount of money so that our son get's a shot at making it. Most other parents at the academy are not happy to do the same however, 'little Jonny will be a doctor first and tennis player second...' or they simply cannot find the money to fund a full time programme. Scholarships exist but they still leave a huge bill to pay and since only a tiny number of British players have made it you can see why parents are reluctant to invest everything they have into it. Time will tell whether the sacrifice was worth it for us but at least at 11 if it doesn't work out he can return to school. On our path to performance tennis my son has trained at a few different clubs and the level of coaching at some has been shocking. 19 year old students looking to earn a few quid at weekends is not going to produce the next Roger Federer. I now advise other parents to take their children to an established academy or HPC from the very start so that they can be taught correctly fom the begining. That way if they show ambition and talent they are in the right place to maximise their potential and they don't have years of bad habits to sort out. Sat 21 Jun 2008 12:34:00 GMT+1 riffraffken Mihir,You are so out of touch, it is you who is old fashioned not the clubs. Aspiring juniors play in tennis centres, they play in singles competitions. Most clubs do a fantastic job to introduce very young children to tennis. Tennis is an incredible difficult game to play at the highest level. It combines skill with the fast thinking of a chess master and the battling qualities of a boxer. I am just glad that there is another version that riff raff like me can play on a Saturday afternoon.HarryHarmski is a lot closer to the mark with the account of his experiences. I would suggest that tennis clubs have almost no part to play in producing a Wimbledon champion other than providing venues for coaching and competitions.There were many children in Scotland, like my three, who were introduced to competitive tennis through the work of Judy Murray but were not members of tennis clubs. Only when they failed to get on in the tough singles competition circuit did they join welcoming clubs to continue their love of the game through team competition.What tennis clubs need to get better at, is keeping these "children" involved as they grow up and move away from home. Despite having had a very successful junior programme for over twenty years we are very short of members in the 25-35 age group. Sat 21 Jun 2008 10:29:18 GMT+1 luckytigertop Some years I was lucky enough, as an amateur, to play tennis with some of the best Australian and NZ players. To them hard work and hard competition is almost a religion in their sportI am so sad to see the appalling way the LTC fritters away good money on hopeless and outdated coaching policy at national and club levelThe LTC has to realise , as the Australians did long ago, that coming nowhere in competition is not an option. There is huge natural talent out there but the way the amatuer tennis clubs operate is suitable for the game as it was 50 years ago . Andie Murray came good in spite of the system not because of it. Sat 21 Jun 2008 09:25:25 GMT+1 spox1509 Hi, I am from Serbia ( although living in Cairo ) and I would like to give You insight of how Serbia became tennis force. Tennis is expensive sport and individual, and there is the key. Serbian parents are risking everything ( father of Jelena Dokic even sold his house , just like Yuri for Maria ) and are ready to give last penny on 12 year child for its tennis education. It is no country or tennis Federation behind success , its individual risk at highest level. That is why former east europe is breading best players ( especially ladies tennis , and that becouse they can start to return money faster, at younger age then boys/men ), becouse people in east see it as the best alternative for quick success and big money ( alternative is criminal which is also in expansion as you are all well aware ). Break of iron curtain has opened possibilities for becoming rich, and tennis is the best way to make honest money. Unless You in UK start to think same, and are ready to sell your house to send your kid to Florida to Tennis Academy, You will not have top players. It is as simple as that. Regards, Steven Sat 21 Jun 2008 09:09:00 GMT+1 AJKern So why exactly do you think it is important to push a child to become a Wimbledon winner? Superbrat and Bangbang Becker may all be very amusing, but the reality is you want to steal someone's childhood.Only one or two can achieve the success you seem to want, and even for those I question if what they go through makes it worthwhile. I would not want any child of mine to have the mentality of a Borg, Becker, Lendl, Connors, McEnroe. Mandlikova goes to pieces in the final - that's normal, that's what any normal person should do. Anyway, why waste the time and money when Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi will be applauding their children after they win every event at Wimbledon for 5 years in row? Sat 21 Jun 2008 08:24:59 GMT+1 liberalbedwetter Millions may watch Wimbledon but where are they in the Middle of Winter when Murray is playing in obscure hard court tournaments?Clearly the British are fairweather tennis fans and the way it is presented on TV you could be forgiven for thinking it is a summer game - like cricket.The BBC are hardly interested (no tennis equivalent of match of the day, even skiing gets ski sunday) - and dont give me any rubbish about Sky Sports buying up the rights - its always been this way even before satelitte dishes.Its true that British Tennis Clubs are snooty - but actually the real problem is we just aren't that interested in tennis as a nation. We have 12,000 juniors, whereas the French have over 80,000. If we had that level of interest, posh clubs would have to change their ways, or we could get players playing in the parks. Serbia demonstrates its not the facilities but the will; where there's a will there's a way.clearly the LTA and club structures can't be changed, but if we could get the numbers we wouldn't need them - perhaps we should think more about participation in sport more generally. The Govt could help with this and use the Olympics as means of building momentum - which is partly what they promised anyway. Fri 20 Jun 2008 22:19:04 GMT+1 annekh23 We are Brits who moved to the US in October 2006. We have young children who are just starting to get involved with activities and are noticing how different it is to the same activities in the UK. Everything is pointed towards success, competition, acheivement etc. sometimes to the extent of removing the idea of doing things for fun.But then when I see the older gymnasts where I take my kids, I see 10-20 girls who are better than the best where I took part in a gym class growing up and she finished in the top 10 in the UK more than once. Hardly surprising that the US wins many gymnastics medals if there are this many good gymnasts.I think one of the things that creates this demand for serious sports programs for teenagers and younger is getting college scholarships, the parents of these gymnasts will have spent a lot on gymnastics, but for the 5 or 6 that have full scholarships for 4 years of college, that will be money well spent. I don't always like the competitive nature of everything and of course these things cost money, but I look back at my own childhood and reflect that whilst I'd never have been a professional or national standard competitor, even at my level, I would have enjoyed those opportunities to take things seriously and work at them that are far from easily available in most parts of the UK. It's taken family and friends one visit to the gymasium to realise why the UK has little success at gymnastics and everything we have seen suggests other sports are similar. Fri 20 Jun 2008 21:05:23 GMT+1 cybertennisfan1 Totally agree with your analysis here Mihir. I was an extremely keen player when I was younger but lived in a small village and although was picked to go through one year to the next stage of coaching, never heard anything more. The local clubs was tiny but whilst being encouraging by giving us used balls, we still had to vacate for adult doubles sessions on a weekend and there was never any coaching.Now, 25 years later living in a small rural town with two tennis clubs still the same thing. There are some coaching sessions run by a keen PE student wanting to earn some cash each summer but apart from that nothing. It is impossible even to find out how to join the club or pay adhoc court fees nevermind actually seek to improve your tennis or have some junior competition for my kids.Meanwhile the town also offers rugby, football, karate, swimming and hockey to a good standard all with junior sections and increased interest due to the olympic 2012 efforts. Although to be fair, football suffers from dads trying to live through their kids and the work ethic is terrible. All a bit depressing from a tennis point of view. It is such a fantastic sport and not just about Wimbledon.Interesting that Nottingham suffers whilst people will beg, borrow and steal to see lesser players at Wimbledon a week later. What coverage of Edgebaston too. The media don't help. Fri 20 Jun 2008 20:49:37 GMT+1 NightRider Thanks Mihir, great article.It is heartening to see a voice of sanity leading up to Wimbledon week. Otherwise, most of the media is talking about Murray or Henman and how they are going to win Wimbledon this year.There will always be a huge local support at every Grand Slam - the media and the supporters would be counting the number of their countrymen left, and turn up in large numbers and cheer, but Wimbledon really takes the cake here. For the past several years, I have patiently listened to Henman's chances and Murray's chances and deep analysis of their games. The fact remains that neither of them will never win Wimbledon. The fundamental problems that you have pointed out in your column need to be addressed at the grass roots level, to up the standard of tennis in England.As for the media, it is good to see a balanced opinion that cuts thru the hype. We have already been deluged by all the hype around British football, soccer and now tennis for the next two weeks, while it is quite clear that England is quite poor in all these sports and hasnt won anything on the international stage for decades. Fri 20 Jun 2008 20:05:14 GMT+1 nick_call I was once a promising county junior and believe the reason behind our failure is evident also in football. From a very young age we are taught that winning is essential, and fail to teach the proper techniques and skills that need to be built on and harnessed over time. From the age of 8 or 9 there is a fear of losing instilled and an inhibition in the way kids will play. Basically they will do anything it takes to win, and a new wave of hackers surfaces to the top. These guys who lack the skill, style and flair of others ultimately win, develop a reputation, and receive all the funding and backing from the county establishments. Then from about 14 these guys have these skills built on by the best coaches in the area and we have a situation where someone like Andy Murray is criticised for the negative style of his play. Ultimately, the most talented kids slip through the net at a young age.My point is also emphasised by the England football team, who when they actually reach a major tournament, cant string 2 passes together because they lack the technique of their continental counterparts. Fri 20 Jun 2008 19:23:22 GMT+1 townsend193 I think this report is absolutely spot on, couldn't have put it better myself. Tennis in this country always has been, and always will be a sport for the upper class and middle aged and it baffles and enrages me as to why.I play, in a local league, not a particularly high standard but competitive enough for me, and have done for since i was 13. As i trapsed around the clubs of the leigh league second division all of them had one thing in common, the signs posted on the outside of the court. All of them read roughly the following;* Junior members must vacate the court by 6pm*Junior membres must vacate the court if older members are waiting to play*Appropreate footwear must be wornHow is this meant to encourage young aspiring tennis players to take the game further than just a social level when they have to give up their court to a pensioner who can barely muster up enough strength to hit the ball. I myself became dissalusioned by this as a youngster, possibly prompting me not to take the game further.You just look at our most recent generation of top professionals to gain an insight into the appauling state of proffesional British tennis. Andy Murray for a start learnt his trade in Spain, away from the pompus snobs who ruin our tennis clubs. Greg Rusedski was Canadian and Tim Henman's parents were so wealthy that they probably had a tennis court in their garden. Apart from these anomylies, we wouldn't have had a tennis player in the worlds top 100 for the past 15-20 years, thats worse than countries such as chinese taipe or peru.My prediction is, unfortunately, that not only will this generation of British tennis players fail to win a grand slam, but many generation of players into the future will also succum to the same fate, and the best we can hope for is to finish our game before we get kicked off the court to make way for our elders. Fri 20 Jun 2008 19:13:54 GMT+1 emsti #2 - how can you compare golf to tennis.It is the attitude to a sport that determines who wins at the end of the day. Each sport demands its own attitude from the player.Golf, being cynical, I would say is hardly a sport. But I will try not to be. Golf requires minimal concentration, it requires that you are able to peak you're concentration (for example when you're going to take a shot) on your physical abilities and walk around in between. Walking can hardly be considered a sport, otherwise we'd be seeing million dollar deals for "Champion Walkers".Tennis, cricket, football, rugby demand that you are always on the move and peak you're physical concentrations at the right moment.Coming to the end of my long winded but necessary approach to an answer, I think the author is trying to say the English attitude has to shift from viewing sports like tennis as just a way to pass time but something that requires support of players, and perseverance and a winning attitude from the player. Step up to the plate and deliver.Until that happens, you will never see the equivalent of the German, Italy or Turkish Euro 2008 performance in British tennis, or for that matter the performances we get from Federer or Nadal on a regular basis.Don't discourage your youth. Fri 20 Jun 2008 18:34:10 GMT+1 Hannam81 I can confirm from my own personal experiences that the British tennis scene is elitist. It’s an exclusive game for the well-to-do. My brother and I joined a tennis club in our youth. We were one of the few members who didn’t go to private schools and felt we were somewhat frowned upon. An incident of note included being ousted by the junior coach, who coincidentally happened to be the headmistress of a local private school, for the ludicrous excuse of “not smiling enough”. I also remember being reprimanded for wearing a grey or off-white pair of shorts and not the imperial white demanded by the club.Eventually, both me and my brother gave up. I wonder if any potential Wimbledon winners also gave up and joined the local soccer team?My overall view is that it is an exclusive game for the well to do. Fri 20 Jun 2008 18:27:57 GMT+1 anglomexican If promising youngsters in British tennis clubs are always being kicked off the courts to allow doubles matches to be played, then surely the obvious answer is to set up tennis clubs for promising youngsters only. Why doesn't the LTA promote this? Fri 20 Jun 2008 18:01:50 GMT+1 Plica06 It is true, the way the LTA is run at grass roots level doesn't help matters by effectively limiting younger players access to court time.But, Andy Murray was right when he said the main reason Britain is producing few elite Tennis players is due to poor work ethic of young Britons.The success of the Serbian players shows that you don't need world class facilities, what you need is kids with hunger and desire to achieve to the very best of their ability. Kids who will practice for hours and hours every single day.Murray was right to make this point which few seem prepared to accept. Many of our kids just have it too easy. Fri 20 Jun 2008 17:54:40 GMT+1 HarryHarmski Now let me tell you.. the problem - its been there for years. As a 10 year old almost 3 decades ago I played a good standard of Junior tennis, tennis wasn't my first love, even then the pull of football was strong. I went to closed tournaments and the odd open, my dad ferried me around in his little old car. I wasn't bad, but mentally I struggled, praise from anyone was never forthcoming and despite being the junior champion in my age group in my town of 30,000 I rarely got any recognition from anyone. Coaching places were taken up by the children of "well appointed persons" in the county, junior county teams were even more of a closed shop. Sure these kids were better than me, but only after opportunities and considerable coaching. Thats the thing with tennis, its not one of those sports you can get better at on your own, those foundation years are the key to success, getting used to hitting the ball harder, getting it hit back harder still. You can to a point coach a ham fisted idiot to play tennis, getting them to the next level is something a bit harder, taking a natural sportsman and giving him coaching.. well there you go, that's how you breed success. And that is the problem with British tennis, the likes of a Gael Monfils just wouldn't and and couldn't be successful in the British system, he neither has the contacts or the background. We seem to get off on the likes of Henman and Murray, both the result of good breeding... that's two in a long line of well bred, well appointed but ultimately flawed British tennis players. Only last week I played a ratings match with a 15 year old, probably the best player I've seen for some time, he was 3 or 4 ratings below what he should be, so ok he won't ever go pro, but you need to build the foundations of British tennis - ultimately this guy feels the system is against him, he'll move onto something else, another player lost. My old club has a fairly decent team, Cambs Div 1, the average age of their team is something like 36. I recently left the club I was at because whilst I was one of their better players, the teams were build in stone, impossible to get a game and in club nights I was playing with Doris the 70 year old. This is British tennis, you can throw money at it, you can make it nigh on impossible to gettting a coaching certificate (unless you have guess what... money), but unless you set standards, set grass roots goals you'll get no where. British Tennis... going nowhere. Fri 20 Jun 2008 17:45:33 GMT+1 colinbgood Very true, Mahir but there are other reasons for the failure of Tennis to be taken seriously as a year round international sport, rather than an excuse for a garden party in SW19. Perhaps you could persuade your BBC colleagues to promote the sport with better year round coverage of, at least the Grand Slam and Masters Series tournaments, so that the Wimbledon fortnight fans and especially tennis playing youngsters have something to follow and be inspired by. Fri 20 Jun 2008 17:03:22 GMT+1 Medieval-Evil You're 100% correct Mihir about the attitudes of most tennis clubs to younger members - they all retain a stuffy, very middle-class atmosphere that makes everyone else feel guilty for being there. So many times as a youngster I was asked to vacate the local court so that a pair of pensioners could take on a pair of near pensioners - despite my membership being as valid as theirs.If we genuinely want to begin producing British talent in this sport, then there has to be a total overhaul to the system. People should be encouraged to play from as young an age as possible and clubs should do more to prevent older members from abusing their positions of self-assumed authority. Fri 20 Jun 2008 16:54:00 GMT+1 ridingspikey Having been involved with British tennis for over 30 years I have first hand experiences of the failures to produce players at the highest level. The LTA has made some high profile staffing acquisitions recently, which will undoubtedly help with the progression of our existing 'elite' players. Unfortunately, as you rightly point out Mihir, the biggest problem is with the culture of the game and getting more kids interested at grass roots level. Most British tennis clubs are far from inspirational when it comes to attracting new talent. We have also tried to copy many countries' tennis development strategies over the years but they haven't worked here. We have to create a totally new environment to encourage kids to get involve that suits the British youth culture. I would love to discuss this further but I'm in the process of a planning a new system of grass roots tennis development, so wouldn't be able to share these ideas at present. Fri 20 Jun 2008 16:52:54 GMT+1 hackerjack British Tennis ?People don't care about British failure because Tennis is an individual sport. There is no representing Britain, each and every player is out there representing themselves and themselves alone.Once or twice a year they represent their countries in the Davis cup but outside that they are just playing for themselves.As for the Golf comparison, ther are far more golf courses in this country than tennis clubs. Rounds can start 10-20 minutes apart and having 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 players playing together does not detract from each individuals game due to the one at a time nature. All this combines to allow far more golfers to play than tennis players. Also Golf clubs are much more welcoming of youngsters and competitive environments overall than tennis clubs are. Fri 20 Jun 2008 16:50:10 GMT+1 1963Tiger Face it, what sport are we good at? We can't play the beautiful game and we have never done that well at tennis. Occasionally the rugby team does well but are not consistent and the same applies to cricket.I think the problem is attitude/culture. You have to want to win not just be given great coaches and facilities - just watch/listen to the video clip of playing tennis in a swimming pool with constant breaks due to air attacks.I can't think of any British youngsters with the same level of determination that others appear to have. Fri 20 Jun 2008 16:44:49 GMT+1 fox-in-the-box-88 Very often in British tennis clubs aspiring singles players will be asked to vacate a court so a doubles match can take place and children are often frowned upon.------------------------------------------------------Having once played tennis at the local LTA club I believe this is the worse issue with clubs today. Child/Teenage players were treated like second rate members and often we had to postpone matches so that adult doubles matches (played at leisure, not for LTA ranking points) could be completed. I am not the only person who quit the game for this reason and it's a shame because I used to love it. Now I'm one of the thousands who play for leisure rather than competing. Maybe it's time for clubs to be sorted at a local level and then success will stem from there. Fri 20 Jun 2008 16:28:50 GMT+1 matti76 It is not meant to produce champions but to instead provide a nice jolly afternoon of tennis for mostly middle-aged people.Very often in British tennis clubs aspiring singles players will be asked to vacate a court so a doubles match can take place and children are often frowned upon.And of course there is a strict dress code - hardly the way to encourage a new generation of talent.---------------------------------------------But can't all this be said about golf, too? Probably to a greater extent in many cases, especially re: dress code. And yet we still do okay at golf - not brilliantly, but we're one of the top countries and normally a Brit can provide a challenge in the majors, Westwood last week, for instance. Fri 20 Jun 2008 16:22:32 GMT+1 answerprancer Mihir, I don't usually agree with you, but with this, I'm in full agreement. For too long British tennis has suffered thanks to its elitist attitude, unnecessarily strict rules, and, as you state, the barely disguised disdain shown towards younger players.Unless the LTA sort this problem out and make tennis fun again, we'll be stuck in the tennis doldrums for many a year to come. Fri 20 Jun 2008 16:00:31 GMT+1