‘I absolutely believe in the performance strategy’: LTA chief hits back on Heather Watson for her criticism of the lack of young British talent coming through
- Heather Watson is outraged at the lack of young talent coming through
- No British singles player has made it to the second round of the French Open
- It is the first time that this has happened at a Grand Slam since the French Open in 2013
Heather Watson received a sharp response from the British tennis boss on Wednesday after her outspoken comments in the wake of GB’s French Open singles dropout.
After a full house of first-round defeats, Watson lamented the lack of youth coming through, funding policies and politics within the Lawn Tennis Association.
LTA chief Scott Lloyd gave a robust defense of the strategy, with a swipe at the country’s number 2 woman who was thrown in.
Heather Watson (above) condemned the LTA for picking cherries from a handful of young people
“I don’t recognize much of Heather’s interview,” he said. In particular, I think the ‘politics’ she’s talking about isn’t something I see at the LTA. I’d rather try to get things done. I was disappointed to hear the references to a lack of support given the broad support we continue to provide Heather and our elite players, but they are ultimately responsible for their performance on the field.
‘We have confidence in the group of female players that comes our way. After Jo Konta and Heather, 10 of the next 12 best players are all 25 or younger. I believe in the performance strategy. ‘
His claim about politics is certainly unfair, as every governing body in the sport suffers from behind-the-scenes maneuvering, tennis more so than most.
And confidence in the strategy is not shared by many neutral observers, with only two of the listed young women in the top 250 in the world.
All the top players in Great Britain are over 25 and Watson is not happy with the LTA
A coach with knowledge of the junior scene last week voiced fear that by 2022 no British youth would be able to make the Wimbledon boys and girls singles without a wild card.
Meanwhile, Sportsmail understands Kent’s real-life prospect Anton Matusevich, last year’s Wimbledon junior quarter-finalist, has enrolled in a degree program at University College London. He’s going to do it exclusively online and still plans to pursue his tennis career.
Jamie Murray, an increasingly influential figure, called for British tennis to show more ambition. He said: ‘We are getting excited that Liam Broady is qualifying and we have six players in the main draw in Paris. But really? We are a Grand Slam nation, we should have at least double our resources. I don’t see how anyone can disagree. ‘
It is the first time that a British player has not made it to a Grand Slam since 2013