Tennis

John Lloyd hits out at LTA saying it 'has gone backwards' under Michael Downey

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The Lawn Tennis Association " has gone backwards" under the stewardship of Michael Downey, according to former British Davis Cup captain John Lloyd.

World number two Andy Murray spoke of his concern over the direction of British tennis in the wake of the team's historic Davis Cup victory over Belgium, fearing "nothing ever gets done'' by those in charge of domestic development.

The LTA was heavily criticised for the failure to capitalise on Murray's Wimbledon success in 2013, with p articipation falling in the months following his victory over Novak Djokovic and the organisation faced losing part of its funding from Sport England.

Canadian Downey took over as chief executive at the start of last year, and w hile the latest set of figures may be more encouraging, the relatively narrow base at grassroots is widely seen as the main reason why Britain's strength in depth at the top of the game is so poor.

Lloyd - the former British number one player in the mid-1980s and captain of the Davis Cup team between 2006 and 2010 when the team laboured in the Europe/Africa Zone - is in no doubt of where the issues lie.

Speaking to ESPN, Lloyd said: "I am hearing that things aren't changing. After Roger Draper left as chief executive, people were saying that he had made mistakes in various places, and that with the new guy here was the chance to change things, but this just seems to happen over and over again.

"What people tell me is that the LTA has gone backwards under Downey. I am hearing this from people in the tennis industry, so this is from players and coaches.

"People in the business who love British tennis say that nothing is changing, and you can see Murray's frustrations with his comments. He is saying that he can't be bothered to listen to the same old stuff. Unfortunately, it is the same old stuff."

Lloyd believes Murray was right to go public with his concerns.

"When you're the top player, it's easy to think that you shouldn't be stirring up problems, everything you want is being taken care of, you're the man," Lloyd added.

"Andy's comments are enough to send vibrations down the spine of the LTA. If the top player says he is unhappy, everybody in British tennis is going to listen.

"You can be sure that Murray's comments would have scared the life out of people at the LTA. It's same old, same old."

Much is often made about how much revenue is generated by the Wimbledon fortnight, yet Murray is the only British winner since Fred Perry in 1936.

Lloyd believes the situation represents a "tragedy".

He continued: " Wimbledon always say that it's not their job to talk about British tennis and players, the job is to put on a great tournament. Wimbledon just keep on giving the LTA millions each year, with no input, and it's a tragedy.

"I look at Wimbledon and think why aren't they speaking out about the LTA when they have a chance to? If you're giving that amount of money each year, and you've got nothing to say about how it is spent, that's mind-boggling.

"If Wimbledon had a say in how the money was being spent, you have to think that things would be better.

"With the LTA, it's a failed business with a failed business plan that just keeps on failing.

"It's sad that Wimbledon pass the buck and say that it's not their job. My question to the top people at Wimbledon would be, 'Are you happy with the results?'

"You can't mask what's happening in British tennis by looking at the success Andy has had and the Davis Cup team has had, because that's nothing to do with the LTA.

"You have to look at what is happening behind that. Take Andy out of the equation, and you can't say that British tennis is successful, because it isn't."

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