What British Tennis Players Must Do To Succeed


Belgium’s former Davis and Fed Cup captain Julien Hoferlin thinks British players are too “spoilt” to succeed.

He should know, having spent the last few years working for the British Lawn Tennis Association and coaching British No.2 Dan Evans.

And if the performance of home players at Wimbledon this year (Andy Murray and Heather Watson excepted) is anything to go by, he has a valid point.

In the singles event, of the 11 British players in the main draw, only three (Murray, Watson and Naomi Broady) reached the second round.

The remaining eight crumbled in their opening matches, each trousering £27,000 in first-round loser’s prize money, and scuttling off home, tails between legs.

It’s inexcusable. As Britons, they should benefit from an enormous home advantage both in terms of crowd support and expertise on grass courts.

But peruse the scorelines and this home advantage amounts to nothing. In fact, most of those eight first-round losers looked like mere cannon fodder. Half of them didn't even win a set.

Yet, remember this when the excuses come flooding in (as they always do): Great Britain is a Grand Slam nation; the LTA is awash with cash. 

So why don't home-grown players progress further? Unfortunately, the lion’s share of these British first-round losers were charity-case wildcards. And in Grand Slams, instant annihilation is often the best that such a wildcard can hope for.

Perhaps the problem is that, as wildcards, these Brits turn up at the All England Club with no expectation to win a match. Dangled the carrot of £27,000 in loser’s prize money, they just roll over, take the cash and run.

Maybe it's time to end this whole embarrassing British wildcard fiasco at Wimbledon. Surely it’s better to give wildcards to players who were once high-ranked but whose rankings have since dropped out of direct acceptance; at least spectators will recognise them.

Hoferlin's (or 'the Hof', as he was sometimes known) criticism of his former charge could be directed at many other British players:

“He has the potential to make himself a top-60 player, but he makes no sacrifices for his sport.

“He doesn’t understand that tennis has to be his priority. For him, it’s just a brief interlude in his life.”

That sounds like a player who has his priorities all wrong. Professional tennis can never be an interlude. If you want to be successful, it must be a way of life. You must eat it, drink it, sleep it.

Maybe Dan Evans' case is symbolic of a spoilt generation, as a whole, which hankers for instant success but isn't willing to put in the requisite hard work to achieve it.

However embarrassing those first-round losses are, at least the British players can console themselves in knowledge that they didn't perform as abjectly as the England World Cup football team. The latter compete in the richest football league in the world and still can’t win a World Cup match.

So what odds are being offered for the two Brits left in Wimbledon? Murray is second favourite to win overall at 4.33. Watson is much lower at 201.00