FUZZED: The Brits Beating Themselves Up

Davis Cup is supposedly a team sport, but there are always teams whose fate depends on a single player, such as Rogi or Andy Murray – if they don’t play, their team loses. Switzerland and the UK went down in flames, though Stannie got 1 rubber against Blake.
Let’s talk about the UK’s woes. They had a fighting chance when Henman and Rusedski still played, and as a matter of fact, captain John Lloyd refused to consider a comeback bid by Rusedski for the latest round. As it turned out, since they got creamed by Ukraine anyway, including him wouldn’t have hurt. As the Timesonline said, “IGNOMINY is not exactly a new emotion to the British Davis Cup team.”  The LTA has not figured out a way to produce young champions in decades. Andy had to go to Spain as a youngster to hone his skills, which begs the question, even if he was a talented youngster before that, would he have fallen off the map had he not gone to Spain (after talking to Rafa, of all people)?
The LTA has taken a ton of flak over its failings – constantly accusedof elitism, mollycoddling of untalented players, misuse of money for things like hiring Brad Gilbert, etc. Last month Anne Keothavong, who at 25 recently reached #48th on the WTA tour (the first British woman in16 years to break into the top 50), said, “I still believe there are unprofessional people working at the LTA and it saddens me because I want to see British tennis get even better.” Me thinks she was understating the problem. Me thinks there is a lot of entrenched deadwood within the LTA. Sure it’s there in the USTA (we’re still pathetic on clay) and most institutions, for that matter – but the Brits have a reputation for being especially tied to tradition.
British players besides Murray don’t get much air time because they lose early, but I’ve seen Anne on live stream. Compared to the other pale and pasty Brits I’ve seen play, she’s much fitter and she moves better. Maybe top 30 material, but not enough juice to blast her way higher. British hopes are tied to Andy. A heavy load for any player to bear, and he would be well-advised not to pay much attention to the histrionic media and tabloids over there. Even as they are forever praying for someone to lead them out of tennis darkness and into the light, they are also quick to bash him if they think he’s not behaving in a manner worthy of their attention – if he jokingly flexes his biceps after a win, or makes a juvenile joke. OH, REALLY. At least he’s not gunning people down or beating up his girlfriend like some singers. Jeez. So are they planning to sue him because he’s not feeling well right now and has lost 14 pounds? Here’s a sampling of comments from the Eurosport uk website – most of them went something like this:
“there is a lot of money being wasted on “rich­ kids” out there. They see tennis as, well,­ something to do until the inheritance comes along. Get­ some working class kids out there. they will show­ these lazy b stards how to build a winning mentality”
“PITIFUL KIDS FLOATING IN MONEY + FREE COACHING
HANG­ YOUR HEADS IN SHAME” “YES Russia with very few tennis courts outside Moscow­ {under snow for months}
manage to produce more top­ players than the whole of the UK with clubs &­ courts everywhere”

“money from wimbledon actually hurts UK tennis as it­ subsidises rubbish coaches who damage junior tennis­ with early selection, overplaying and bias…even Murray’s Mum was a top­ LTA coach so she was able to protect the young Murray­ from rubbish coaching and overplaying as a junior..then­ he wisely left for Spain!” “…we end up­ with privately schooled nancy boys faffing around and­ thinking ‘isn’t this jolly fun’ only one­ who came from a state school is alex bogdanovic…”
You get the idea. When you’ve been at the top – er, if you invented Wimbledon – but haven’t produced a great champ since Fred Perry, you’re desperate in a bigger way than if you’ve never produced any champs at all. Australia has gotten mighty anxious about its own tennis doldrums too. Hewitt has been fading for the past few years, and will continue to do so. No one’s stepped up yet. Shucks, we here in the US aren’t exactly sitting too pretty either.

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