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Dave Beans

Why Are The British So Useless At Tennis?

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Our facilities are supposedly up there with the rest of them...£500m spent over twenty years...Is it crap coaching, lazy kids? Its only when they go abroad (such as to the US & Spain) that they become half decent...Its a bit of a puzzler..

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/tennis/article-1289080/WIMBLEDON-2010-Our-girls-chokers-says-LTA-chief-Nigel-Sears-exactly-then.html

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Our facilities are supposedly up there with the rest of them...£500m spent over twenty years...Is it crap coaching, lazy kids? Its only when they go abroad (such as to the US & Spain) that they become half decent...Its a bit of a puzzler..

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/tennis/article-1289080/WIMBLEDON-2010-Our-girls-chokers-says-LTA-chief-Nigel-Sears-exactly-then.html

I doubt many kids get a chance to play it at a young age, and it does seem to me to be a bit of "toffs" game in the UK

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I think it's a bit more complex than the toffs thing. And anyway toffs do produce the odd good sportsperson, eg David Gower, Andrew Strauss, Tim Henman and Virginia Wade.

Since about 1996 the UK has consistently had one representative in the men's top ten, Rusedski, Henman, Murray. That would suggest we haven't been quite so useless for 15 years.

I think that is about where we should expect to be in view of the weather and the number of other sports at which we contend.

Prior to world war two we were really quite good. We won the Davis cup 9 times, second only to the US' 12.

We produced Fred Perry, who used to get beaten regularly by Dan Maskell in practice but Maskell couldn't compete in the big tournaments because he was a pro.

Outside of the US and Australia (where are they now?) world beating tennis champs are rare. Sweden, Switzerland and Spain produced none prior to Borg, Federer and Nadal.

All that said there clearly is something of an issue as no Brit has won the ladies singles at Wimbledon for > 30 years or mens for > 70 years.

Why hasn't the UK been able to produce the results that Golf has given us?

I think the answer lies with the LTA and the All England Club, from which the LTA springs.

The All England club, probably, only really cares about getting the money in and it's not overly fussed about British tennis and hence the LTA is over resourced, fat, lazy, unimaginative and idle.

Perhaps they're a bit like the FA and the MCC.

These organisations operate in a context in which they can make money in the absence of international sporting success, unlike other nations. And so the focus is on making this money rather than achieving sporting success.

This seems the most persuasive suggestion I can come up with. (Errr ..... it's the money dummy.)

I wonder if it's right?

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I think it's a bit more complex than the toffs thing. And anyway toffs do produce the odd good sportsperson, eg David Gower, Andrew Strauss, Tim Henman and Virginia Wade.

Since about 1996 the UK has consistently had one representative in the men's top ten, Rusedski, Henman, Murray. That would suggest we haven't been quite so useless for 15 years.

I think that is about where we should expect to be in view of the weather and the number of other sports at which we contend.

Prior to world war two we were really quite good. We won the Davis cup 9 times, second only to the US' 12.

We produced Fred Perry, who used to get beaten regularly by Dan Maskell in practice but Maskell couldn't compete in the big tournaments because he was a pro.

Outside of the US and Australia (where are they now?) world beating tennis champs are rare. Sweden, Switzerland and Spain produced none prior to Borg, Federer and Nadal.

All that said there clearly is something of an issue as no Brit has won the ladies singles at Wimbledon for > 30 years or mens for > 70 years.

Why hasn't the UK been able to produce the results that Golf has given us?

I think the answer lies with the LTA and the All England Club, from which the LTA springs.

The All England club, probably, only really cares about getting the money in and it's not overly fussed about British tennis and hence the LTA is over resourced, fat, lazy, unimaginative and idle.

Perhaps they're a bit like the FA and the MCC.

These organisations operate in a context in which they can make money in the absence of international sporting success, unlike other nations. And so the focus is on making this money rather than achieving sporting success.

This seems the most persuasive suggestion I can come up with. (Errr ..... it's the money dummy.)

I wonder if it's right?

I was being simplistic, but we simply dont encourage our kids to play these individual sports.

When I went to comp longer ago than I care to remember, we had 6 tennis courts and I can never ever remember anyone using them at all during my time there. Shocking TBH

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I suppose a point worth bearing in mind is that because of the wealth distribution of the US and the weather, tennis is accessible to people from the socio economic backgrounds of the Williams sisters and Andre Agassi, which probably isn't the case in the UK.

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I do think money, resources and weather are involved.

I know 3 people who were quite good at tennis between 12-18 years old (played tournament level, but never won anything). All of them were at best okay and at worst really quite bad at every single other sport I ever played with them - for example none of them got near the school first teams in anything. I know that isn't necessarily indicative of not being naturally good tennis players - but most other good sportsman I know (I played Football to a very high standard, so I'm mostly talking about Footballers) were naturally pretty good at a lot of things (golf, cricket, basketball, baseball, rugby in particular).

The one thing the 3 had in common was parents who were willing to spend money on them having tennis lessons. Quite a lot of tennis lessons (at least once a week for almost the entire period they still played).

Most other people I knew that seemed to be very good at most sports and maybe excellent at one simply never played tennis, save on pot holed courts at school for a few weeks each year. Public courts were in bad condition, but worse always full (usually of little kids who couldn't play). Mostly they didn't bother to try.

So these 3 players not only got to actually play (they played a couple of times a week without their trainer) they got decent training. I've often wondered how good some of my other mates would have been in comparison if they had been given the same time and resources.

Having lived in Aus and the US I can see it is very different there. In many schools kids get to play a range of sports, but not just to tick curriculum boxes, they are given good training (even if they are rubbish) and observed - the ones that show a natural flair are invested in by the school - or local club - not to the same extent that the 3 I mentioned got invested in by parents, but enough to identify the potential.

The same problem doesn't exist with, say, Football for obvious reasons.

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I do think money, resources and weather are involved.

I know 3 people who were quite good at tennis between 12-18 years old (played tournament level, but never won anything). All of them were at best okay and at worst really quite bad at every single other sport I ever played with them - for example none of them got near the school first teams in anything. I know that isn't necessarily indicative of not being naturally good tennis players - but most other good sportsman I know (I played Football to a very high standard, so I'm mostly talking about Footballers) were naturally pretty good at a lot of things (golf, cricket, basketball, baseball, rugby in particular).

The one thing the 3 had in common was parents who were willing to spend money on them having tennis lessons. Quite a lot of tennis lessons (at least once a week for almost the entire period they still played).

Most other people I knew that seemed to be very good at most sports and maybe excellent at one simply never played tennis, save on pot holed courts at school for a few weeks each year. Public courts were in bad condition, but worse always full (usually of little kids who couldn't play). Mostly they didn't bother to try.

So these 3 players not only got to actually play (they played a couple of times a week without their trainer) they got decent training. I've often wondered how good some of my other mates would have been in comparison if they had been given the same time and resources.

Having lived in Aus and the US I can see it is very different there. In many schools kids get to play a range of sports, but not just to tick curriculum boxes, they are given good training (even if they are rubbish) and observed - the ones that show a natural flair are invested in by the school - or local club - not to the same extent that the 3 I mentioned got invested in by parents, but enough to identify the potential.

The same problem doesn't exist with, say, Football for obvious reasons.

Is Tennis (half decent standard) played by ppl who aren't good at team games?..There are sportsmen, as you say, who can cross over between sports ..For instance Ian Botham played professional football, and I think Phil Neville could have played Cricket for Lancashire.

Seeing an interview with Boris Becker a few days ago, said that we had excellent indoor facilities, but just throwing money at the problem obviously isn't solving the problem.

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Is Tennis (half decent standard) played by ppl who aren't good at team games?..There are sportsmen, as you say, who can cross over between sports ..For instance Ian Botham played professional football, and I think Phil Neville could have played Cricket for Lancashire.

Seeing an interview with Boris Becker a few days ago, said that we had excellent indoor facilities, but just throwing money at the problem obviously isn't solving the problem.

I'm not saying money is the issue - it just happens to be one of the ways around the issues for some people. The major issue is actually playing.

Maybe things are different for the current generation of school kids - but when I was at school (I'm in my early thirties) despite living in a fairly affluent area - other than the 3 I mentioned- I honestly can't think of anybody that got to play tennis in more than a 'muck about' situation. They certainly never got to play against competitive, decent players or under the observation of decent coaches.

It is the same with Golf - how many people do you know that got to play seriously before they were in their twenties?

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Well, I know I'm gonna put some people's noses out of joint (again), but what the hell. The answer is simple. It's the same answer as why our footballers are rubbish (and why we fail to form a convincing national team whilst poorer, less resourced nations do fine):

Our sport oriented children simply lack the dedication.

I speak as one who spent a while in the computer games industry. During brainstorming creative sessions my ideas for new games were continually criticised for being "too difficult" for children to master. I suspect teachers come across the same problems in the classroom. So we dumb down computer games and dumb down lessons. Unfortunately, we can't dumb down sport without the results being seen immediately. Sure, we're slowly reaping the results of dumbing down education, but our approach to immigration and timelag effects have masked this.

But that is essentially the problem. We simply aren't willing to be pushy with our kids like foreigners are, largely because it's too much trouble. So the kids that do sport wind up being largely those that are too lazy to do studies. They do sport because it seems like play. But they soon find out in order to succed internationally, it's just as tough as studying, and guess what? It's all too much trouble, and the parents really don't need the hassle of brow-beating their children to a glorious future.

There. Incendiary enough for you?

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I'm not saying money is the issue - it just happens to be one of the ways around the issues for some people. The major issue is actually playing.

Maybe things are different for the current generation of school kids - but when I was at school (I'm in my early thirties) despite living in a fairly affluent area - other than the 3 I mentioned- I honestly can't think of anybody that got to play tennis in more than a 'muck about' situation. They certainly never got to play against competitive, decent players or under the observation of decent coaches.

It is the same with Golf - how many people do you know that got to play seriously before they were in their twenties?

I have just taken upo golf in my forties and wish I had started when I was three

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Our facilities are supposedly up there with the rest of them...£500m spent over twenty years...Is it crap coaching, lazy kids? Its only when they go abroad (such as to the US & Spain) that they become half decent...Its a bit of a puzzler..

http://www.dailymail...actly-then.html

They're not useless at tennis. There useless at WINNING.:rolleyes: Except wars, that is, tho' Afghanistan may prove to be the exception.

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It is the same with Golf - how many people do you know that got to play seriously before they were in their twenties?

I know kids who have golf scholarships. That means free coaching and rounds. How often do they play? No very. Their parents won't drive them there. The fact is at an early age kids need pushing. Some of that is laziness. Some a need to be supported.

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Well, I know I'm gonna put some people's noses out of joint (again), but what the hell. The answer is simple. It's the same answer as why our footballers are rubbish (and why we fail to form a convincing national team whilst poorer, less resourced nations do fine):

Our sport oriented children simply lack the dedication.

I speak as one who spent a while in the computer games industry. During brainstorming creative sessions my ideas for new games were continually criticised for being "too difficult" for children to master. I suspect teachers come across the same problems in the classroom. So we dumb down computer games and dumb down lessons. Unfortunately, we can't dumb down sport without the results being seen immediately. Sure, we're slowly reaping the results of dumbing down education, but our approach to immigration and timelag effects have masked this.

But that is essentially the problem. We simply aren't willing to be pushy with our kids like foreigners are, largely because it's too much trouble. So the kids that do sport wind up being largely those that are too lazy to do studies. They do sport because it seems like play. But they soon find out in order to succed internationally, it's just as tough as studying, and guess what? It's all too much trouble, and the parents really don't need the hassle of brow-beating their children to a glorious future.

There. Incendiary enough for you?

I don't think that is incendiary. There is some truth in it. Some.

I think it falls short as an explanation.

First of all our Rugby, Cricket, Football etc teams are some of the best in the world, we punch well above our weight. Secondly, I know a lot of hopeful sportsman and they definitely do not lack dedication. I do think you are right that we don't invest enough in our kids though (not necessarily money) - however, in other countries parents aren't the only ones expected to do this.

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I think it is horse_shit as an explanation.

First of all our Rugby, Cricket, Football etc teams are some of the best in the world, we punch well above our weight.

Rugby? C'mon. Imagine how difficult it would be for Britain NOT to punch above our weight :

Calcutta Cup - Britain ALWAYS wins, cos nobody else competes.

"Six" Nations - chances of Britain winning are evens, cos HALF the competition IS Britain.

Three-Nations - bit tricky this one. We 'only' ( :P ) have a 1 in three chance of winning that one!

Honestly, why not just set up an international competition featuring England, Wales, Scotalnd, N Ireland, The Faulklands and call it "The Five Lands". We'd (Britain) would still win every time! I guess that ould make you feel good about British sport?

Cricket? You've gotta be kidding. Again, we feature cos the tournaments are restricted to so few nations. You might as well say the American's punch above their weight in American Football!

Speaking of Americans and Football, is this the same sport where we came runners up in a group topped by a nation who regard Football as something of a sideshow?

Secondly, I know a lot of hopeful sportsman and they definitely do not lack dedication. I do think you are right that we don't invest enough in our kids though (not necessarily money) - however, in other countries parents aren't the only ones expected to do this.

I suggest you google search for "sports grants sponsorship". As I said above I know of children who have golf scholarships. You will always hear coaches asking for more money. It's their pockets it winds up in.

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Rugby? C'mon. Imagine how difficult it would be for Britain NOT to punch above our weight :

Calcutta Cup - Britain ALWAYS wins, cos nobody else competes.

"Six" Nations - chances of Britain winning are evens, cos HALF the competition IS Britain.

Three-Nations - bit tricky this one. We 'only' ( :P ) have a 1 in three chance of winning that one!

Honestly, why not just set up an international competition featuring England, Wales, Scotalnd, N Ireland, The Faulklands and call it "The Five Lands". We'd (Britain) would still win every time! I guess that ould make you feel good about British sport?

Cricket? You've gotta be kidding. Again, we feature cos the tournaments are restricted to so few nations. You might as well say the American's punch above their weight in American Football!

Speaking of Americans and Football, is this the same sport where we came runners up in a group topped by a nation who regard Football as something of a sideshow?

Are you Alistair Campbel? You seem very adept at being extremely selective in your 'stats'. I can use your trick and go and find dozens of instances of many nations playing Cricket (and being shit at it) and Rugby (and being shit at it). England are included in the tournaments because they aren't shit at it. Other nations are shit because they don;t invest the necessary resources as there isn't a cultural appetite to do so - entirely backing up my point.

As for Football:

We are ranked 8th (or were in April) in the FIFA World Rankings - the USA 14th - they aren't the newbies you seem to insist that they are.

What about Cycling, Rowing?

I suggest you google search for "sports grants sponsorship". As I said above I know of children who have golf scholarships. You will always hear coaches asking for more money. It's their pockets it winds up in.

I suggest you make at least a vague attempt to read posts and contemplate meaning. I already stated it isn't necessarily about money itself.

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Well, I know I'm gonna put some people's noses out of joint (again), but what the hell. The answer is simple. It's the same answer as why our footballers are rubbish (and why we fail to form a convincing national team whilst poorer, less resourced nations do fine):

Our sport oriented children simply lack the dedication.

I speak as one who spent a while in the computer games industry. During brainstorming creative sessions my ideas for new games were continually criticised for being "too difficult" for children to master. I suspect teachers come across the same problems in the classroom. So we dumb down computer games and dumb down lessons. Unfortunately, we can't dumb down sport without the results being seen immediately. Sure, we're slowly reaping the results of dumbing down education, but our approach to immigration and timelag effects have masked this.

But that is essentially the problem. We simply aren't willing to be pushy with our kids like foreigners are, largely because it's too much trouble. So the kids that do sport wind up being largely those that are too lazy to do studies. They do sport because it seems like play. But they soon find out in order to succed internationally, it's just as tough as studying, and guess what? It's all too much trouble, and the parents really don't need the hassle of brow-beating their children to a glorious future.

There. Incendiary enough for you?

Oh dear, I agree with Sledgehead(a little bit, anyway). :unsure:

There is also a mentality thing. Brits are losers at sport in general.

I play less one-on-one sport these days, but have regularly beaten people in different sports who are much more physically gifted than me. All you need to do is stay in the game until the "crunch" moment comes, then they crumble(and get very cross).

If it goes to penalties on Sunday, we'll probably see our footballers exhibit this perfectly.

I have a theory that our education system plays a role, not sure quite how. Beating a private school educated Brit at sport is harder, not sure why, something to do with inner confidence?

This could explain why our footballers always crumble but our rugby players and cricketers sometimes keep it together.

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Back on the tennis issue, I think another point is that both Henman and Murray have been a bit unlucky as to be active while both Sampras and Federer were playing. If Henman and Murray had been playing in less locked down eras they might have been able to sneak in and nick a cheeky Wimbledon like Leyton Hewitt did in 2002 or Jan Kodes in 1973.

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The main drawback to sport for me is that it is just so balls-achingly boring.

Maybe that's the problem british kids have with it too?

Nothing to do with effort, strength or skill.

I mean, what could be more heart-stoppingly tedious than snooker or darts?

Yet I have an elderly maiden aunt who is obsessed by it. Mystifying, all I can think of is that it's of a piece with her former career as a stats. lecturer and general asperger behaviour.

And ball-games. I used to get shit at school for being unable to give a toss (despite really trying, because that's what kids are like, eager to please) whether the damn thing went this way, that way, or out the park altogether. All the running about and fighting is quite good fun, of course, but just when it's getting good, you get arrested and sent off. What's the point in that? Only sneaky hit-and-run weasels get to stay on the pitch.

And you're supposed to stay in more or less the same spot for like, hours. Worse than detention, at least it doesn't rain in there.

I'd shovel shit into barrows all day, sun or sleet, with a smile on my face, dig massive holes, shift bricks, battens, sheets, here to there, there to here, love it, time flies, not an interminable torment like being in an office, or driving.

Because something's actually getting done.

I'd rather break my own legs with a mash hammer than get roped into "sport".

Go all day on a bike (till I fell off sideways with 'bonk'), love it. At least you're going somewhere.

Sailing, canoeing, even fishing (a bit too static for me, but there's the incentive of an edible result).

Walk, scramble or climb anywhere, for as long as possible, hills, woods, the shore, caves, even old mines (with a crazy relly who was into gangue minerals, I just sort of assumed as an ex-miner he knew what he was about :ph34r: )

It's the sheer pointlessness of competitive "sport" that does my head in.

My mind just wanders off in disgust, no matter how hard I try, and believe me, I really have tried. Just can't take it seriously, too ... boring.

I'd rather cut the grass, do the washing-up, or clean the bathroom.

Quite partial to watching team sports, though. Strange.

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"It's the sheer pointlessness of competitive "sport" that does my head in."

You misunderstand.

The point was that they were invented by the people that didn't have to do the chores so that they might have some idea of how to do them if they had to.

As a youngster I played a lot of sport.

The lessons I learnt doing it have been a great help now I have to do a lot of chores.

And I'd far rather my kids are having fun playing sport than bitching at me and getting in the way while pretending to help me with the chores.

And there is another point to it all, as an alumnus of Slough comprehensive once pointed out to me,

"Tennis? Well you have to be able to play tennis. What happens if you get invited to someone's house in the country and there's a court .....?"

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One reason is bevvy and the lazy culture in this country. Seems to happen especially with football.

You need dedication to be the best. You however can still make a career of it and not be all that dedicated. Many Brits go for option 2.

How many future super star next big thing Italian footballers spend every second weekend getting wrecked and staying out till 4am ? I would hazard a guess the answer is near to zero.

The UK comparisons ? I would hazard a guess at least half of them.

That is the issue with Sport in general in this country. Not tennis in specific though. Although it has been shown that in certain sports if the intense dedication and training is put in place the youngsters can be kept away from the usual temptations. Gymnastics, swimming, rowing and cycling come to mind.

The next potential super star 13 year old tennis players in this country ? Need to be taken away to anywhere but their local town with all their pals around. The tempation is just to much for most to handle. That is why Murray has done so well. If he spent his 16/17 year old days in Dunblane with all the locals ? No danger he would be where he is now. Unless of course he is one of those who could resist the temptation. Unlikely.

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I don't think that is incendiary. There is some truth in it. Some.

I think it falls short as an explanation.

First of all our Rugby, Cricket, Football etc teams are some of the best in the world, we punch well above our weight. Secondly, I know a lot of hopeful sportsman and they definitely do not lack dedication. I do think you are right that we don't invest enough in our kids though (not necessarily money) - however, in other countries parents aren't the only ones expected to do this.

The reason we produce few tennis players of note is that we do not generally play tennis. It is the same reason we do not produce many handball players. That said, if handball was a popular sport amongst the well to do that our journalists and BBC people come from, we would be sitting through two foreign teams play handball in preference to a World Cup match rather than two obscure tennis players.

I think our cricket team do over-perform. It is one of the few major team sports in the world and it is a minority pursuit here.

Rugby, I would disagree. The biggest country in the world where rugby union is the major sport is New Zealand, with a population of four million, after that we are looking at pacific island nations. It is a very minor sport in Australia and only played by one section of South Africans. Rugby league is the major sport in a country of 6.7 million people and one of the major sports in Australia, consequently Australia dominate - in the way they would dominate rugby union if their RU team was the standard of their RL team.

The coverage Wimbledon receives is sycophantic drivel. I had the viewing figures for the Wimbledon final quoted at me earlier. I wonder how the figures are for the French Open? Obviously low as it is largely followed by socially aspirant ladies rather than sports fans.

We had Greg Rusedski. Do many people think he would have played tennis (or even been welcome to do so) if his family had stayed in Dewsbury? He is clearly an athlete, maybe he would have played football or had a few games with Dewsbury Rams.

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The reason we produce few tennis players of note is that we do not generally play tennis. It is the same reason we do not produce many handball players. That said, if handball was a popular sport amongst the well to do that our journalists and BBC people come from, we would be sitting through two foreign teams play handball in preference to a World Cup match rather than two obscure tennis players.

Exactly my point. However, I was suggesting that one of the reasons we don't is because it remains relatively inaccessible to most. So our 'best' players come from a very small pool. My disagreement with Sledge is that I don;t think this is just down to laziness and bad parents - I think the state, schools, clubs etc. do very little to help in practical terms - the scholarships etc are not offered to many people. In Aus, this isn't the case.

Sports we play a lot we tend to be quite good at. It must be remembered that not constantly winning cups doesn't mean we are useless.

Maybe we don't have the cultural appetite or desire to do anything about tennis, but that doesn't change the fact that this is a major cause - and we keep asking 'why'?

I think our cricket team do over-perform. It is one of the few major team sports in the world and it is a minority pursuit here.

Rugby, I would disagree. The biggest country in the world where rugby union is the major sport is New Zealand, with a population of four million, after that we are looking at pacific island nations. It is a very minor sport in Australia and only played by one section of South Africans. Rugby league is the major sport in a country of 6.7 million people and one of the major sports in Australia, consequently Australia dominate - in the way they would dominate rugby union if their RU team was the standard of their RL team.

Fair enough. Although my point was more that, even if we are one of the least good of the top nations, the fact that Rugby is accessible for many more people, means that we can compete - there is no way it could be claimed we are ranked on the world stage in Rugby anywhere near as low as we would be in tennis.

The coverage Wimbledon receives is sycophantic drivel. I had the viewing figures for the Wimbledon final quoted at me earlier. I wonder how the figures are for the French Open? Obviously low as it is largely followed by socially aspirant ladies rather than sports fans.

We had Greg Rusedski. Do many people think he would have played tennis (or even been welcome to do so) if his family had stayed in Dewsbury? He is clearly an athlete, maybe he would have played football or had a few games with Dewsbury Rams.

Quite.

How many kids never even try to play tennis?

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Exactly my point. However, I was suggesting that one of the reasons we don't is because it remains relatively inaccessible to most. So our 'best' players come from a very small pool. My disagreement with Sledge is that I don;t think this is just down to laziness and bad parents - I think the state, schools, clubs etc. do very little to help in practical terms - the scholarships etc are not offered to many people. In Aus, this isn't the case.

Sports we play a lot we tend to be quite good at. It must be remembered that not constantly winning cups doesn't mean we are useless.

Maybe we don't have the cultural appetite or desire to do anything about tennis, but that doesn't change the fact that this is a major cause - and we keep asking 'why'?

Fair enough. Although my point was more that, even if we are one of the least good of the top nations, the fact that Rugby is accessible for many more people, means that we can compete - there is no way it could be claimed we are ranked on the world stage in Rugby anywhere near as low as we would be in tennis.

Quite.

How many kids never even try to play tennis?

Way back when, I used to play "Short Tennis"..plastic rackets with foam balls. I even played at the Somerset Championships, mind you I was a bit shite. Young kids don't have to be pushed into the full game as it were, (but as they say, get um the younger the better), but they can try something like Short Tennis first, before they are pushed into the real thing..

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