Heartfelt warning from GB coach: Emma Raducanu is a brilliant one off… we could struggle to find another from this generation of snowflakes
- Emma Raducanu has courage by the bucket full, and it won her the US Open
- The Lawn Tennis Association’s system is not set up to develop Brit stars like her
- Spain and Italy have far more players in the top-100 but don’t have Grand Slams
- Tennis coaches should be focused on developing character, not pretty styles
Tennis is a brutal sport. Most people in Britain have no idea how tough it is. I think they see Wimbledon, the sunshine, strawberries and cream, the pretty stroke-playing and think that’s what tennis is about.
They don’t realise how hard the best players have worked to get to the top. I had a player in my academy who was among the best juniors in the world.
He had everything. Great movement, the range of shots, he understood the game. But he couldn’t cope with the demands on him. He’s still young, still trying to make the grade. But he’s a long way off.
Tennis isn’t all strawberries and cream, it takes a bucket loads of courage to reach the top
Emma Raducanu’s strong character landed her the US Open, but she may be a British outlier
Talent is ten a penny. What you need is courage. What are you like at break point down, having been broken at 3-1 in the third? What are you like when you’ve got three match points against the best player in the world? Are you going to be brave or safe?
The sport is gladiatorial. It always throws up situations where courage, not skill, is the key factor. You need warriors to succeed. Young people who are relentless in their commitment to the game.
Emma Raducanu has courage in bucketloads. She deserves all the praise coming her way. But I don’t know if the system is set up to produce another personality like hers.
Ninety per cent of coaches are concerned with developing a pretty style when they should be focused on developing character.
I watch coaches and if they aren’t worrying about stroke-play, they’re analysing a match, so that they can tell a player where they’ve gone wrong. I don’t want to tell the player that.
The 18-year-old ruthlessly stormed to victory without dropping a single set in New York
I want them to tell me what they’re doing wrong so I can debate it. I want them to think for themselves. Only then can they make decisions under pressure.
The coaches I watch aren’t ruthless enough. Maybe they’re too worried about losing their client. But the coaching structure is wrong too. We have had coaches working with the ruling body for years, regardless of whether their players have failed or not.
When a football manager is moved on, his whole coaching team goes with him. That doesn’t happen at the Lawn Tennis Association. So many coaches have survived there, it’s astonishing.
This isn’t an attack on the LTA. I have worked for them and they always supported me. I was national coach on three occasions and worked with some of the best players this country has produced. Jo Durie and Jeremy Bates. Anne Keovathong and Elena Baltacha.
No, the LTA are well-intentioned. But the centralised system is not best suited to producing the kind of players that can cope with the pressure of tennis. It is just not competitive enough.
Despite the bonus of Wimbledon and the money brought in, Brits are underperforming
Look at Italy and Spain. They have more far more male players in the top 100 than Britain, but they don’t have the income from a grand slam. The LTA gets about £40million annually from Wimbledon.
How many home-grown British players have we had top ten in the past 40 years? In the women, just Jo. Jo Konta is a product of Australian tennis. Men? Tim Henman and Andy Murray. Greg Rusedski was a product of Canadian tennis.
The LTA thinks it is morally obliged to develop players. Forget that. It is morally obliged to develop the game. It should exploit the interest that Raducanu has sparked and plough money into clubs.
Let them grow their junior sections and get thousands of kids playing tennis. The LTA has two academies, in Stirling and Loughborough. Fine. But money would be better spent backing coaches in the private sector — and make that funding dependent on success. If coaches need to succeed to put food on the table the culture will change.
Raducanu was moulded into a US Open champion through tough talking and high standards
I’m as soft as old rope away from a court, but get me around tennis and I’m tough. My players know that if they haven’t tried then they should go and hide. Their parents are giving me a lot of money to make them good.
If anything I wish I had been harder as a coach. There are players I should have been honest with sooner. You could see that they didn’t have the appetite. I should have told them to give up the dream.
But it’s harder to be tough with young people now. They won’t accept it. Nor will their parents. They get described as the snowflake generation and there is truth in that.
Emma Raducanu has talked about the importance of the tough love that her parents showed her. She was lucky.