Saturday 4 July 2009

What would they do?

WimbledonWhat could Malcolm Willstrop do for squash with £25 million? Or Neil Harvey? Or any of our top squash coaches?

I'd pondered this ever since I found out that this was the pile of surplus cash the Wimbledon tennis fortnight generates for the Lawn Tennis Association each year ...

Left: photo copyright AELTC

So over the past decade, the LTA - charged with developing tennis players in the UK - have had around a quarter of a billion pounds (couldn't decide on italic or bold for that - no HTML attribute quite does it justice) to spend. And have produced ... ?

So it was great to read this week Malcolm Willstrop's thoughts on exactly this subject. He rightly sees the class issue as central to Britain's pathetic record in producing top tennis talent (the one issue that the not-very-great and not-very-good running tennis in this country were most reluctant to give credence to - or discuss seriously - whenever I heard or saw them interviewed over the past few weeks).

Most fascinating was reading of Mr Willstrop's unsuccessful efforts to partner with the LTA to bring tennis facilities to Pontefract.

Given the relatively minuscule budgets that have been used (and continue to develop) develop world class squash players in the UK, it seems that those running tennis might do well to stop looking at other countries' systems for producing players and recognise that there might be something to learn from another sport closer to home.

Read the article.

It's Manchester - again!

Pleasingly, I hadn't sighted that old phrase 'the Wimbledon of squash' floating around the squash press over the past couple of weeks: that is until I received promo emails advertising that the British Open will this year be held again in Manchester.

The email mentions that "despite the difficult economic landscape over the past twelve months which has affected many major sports" the BO is going ahead. Which is of course great news (given the event's troubles not too long ago).

But the National Squash Centre again? A great venue in a number of respects - but a braver choice might just pull in more than the regulars.

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