After a long wait, the British public finally found its hero in July 2013 when Andy Murray ended the 70-year wait for a male British Wimbledon champion, since Fred Perry last triumphed at the All England Club.
This is therefore recognised as a remarkable achievement, and so it should be; however there is one reason that Andy Murray is going to be the last male British Wimbledon champion for quite some time, the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA).
The LTA is Britain’s sole producer of future stars, with one main flaw, it consistently fails to produce British tennis players who can compete with the best on the tour. This flaw is a consistent reoccurrence because this particular governing body has not addressed the problem at hand. In the last ten years the system has changed dramatically, but for the wrong reasons.
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The LTA system of skill and ability measurement operates through a ratings system. Players star at 10.2 and will aim to progress to a 10.1, 9.2, 9.1 and so on; the aim is to reach the pinnacle of British tennis by reaching a rating of 1.1. In order to progress through the ratings ladder a competitor USED to have to play at least 7 matches and win at least around 60% of them against someone of an equal or better rating than them. (www.lta.org.uk)
Granted this seems an adequate and competitive way to find the most committed and talented players in the country, however the system has since been adjusted, which is where I believe, along with many others, that the system is flawed.
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Players now only require four qualifying wins to move up a rating until they reach an 8.1, where they then require six wins with a 60% win/loss ratio. This change shows that it has been made too easy for players to move up a ratings band, removing competitiveness from the British game, meaning that players are being fed a false sense of confidence where they believe they are at a high level.
It also shows that the LTA are not measuring the competition or opponents’ players are facing, making the results of a match often unreliable.
In comparison to the previous system, they have not yet truly reached the ability expected of the highest ratings. The evidence follows with the latest talent that has come through the LTA, such as James Ward, Kyle Edmund and Daniel Evans who are talented players, but can’t compete with the best in the game and show no sign of it.
The system can therefore be analysed through the most successful players since Fred Perry himself; Andy Murray with his recent Wimbledon triumph, and Tim Henman who came so close to a Wimbledon final. Two players who ignored the British Tennis system, Murray who left for Spain at the age of 14 and Henman who broke through under the radar of the LTA through private coaching funded by his parents.
I believe that therefore in conclusion the likes of Andy Murray and Tim Henman are instant proof of the flawed system known as the LTA and present the idea for serious change required in the British Tennis national governing body.