Matchdebating: British tennis could have a bright future

Britain hasn’t been a world leader in tennis in the last few decades.

We’ve had Tim Henman struggle to get past various Wimbledon semis, numerous false dawns, and although time is still on his side, Andy Murray seems incapable of beating the Rafael Nadals and Novak Djokovics of this world when it matters.

But it does look as though British tennis has as bright a future as it has had in a long time.

Three of the four semi-finalists at the boys tournament at the US Open were British, with Oliver Golding coming through to take the crown.

Obviously sport is riddled with people who showed promise early in their career, before ending up doing pretty much nothing with their careers.

But the fact that we had so many Brits in the semi-finals, and one going on to win it, can only show that the potential is there. It is now up to the players, and their coaches and support networks to make sure the young talents get the best out of themselves.

After all, previous winners of that particular tournament in the past decade include Andy Murray, Gilles Muller, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet. All four have gone on to play at the highest level of senior tennis.

Their performances can’t be classed as flukes either. Golding reached the junior Wimbledon semi-finals in 2010, while George Morgan from Bolton, one of the Flushing Meadows semi-finalists, won the boys doubles title at Wimbledon this year and reached the Australian Open singles semi final.

British women’s tennis also seems to be on the up. Elena Baltacha climbed into the top 50 of the WTA World Rankings this week, while Heather Watson and Laura Robson are two young talents who are on the up.

For the first time since 1990 there are three British women’s players in the top 100: Baltacha, Watson and Anne Keothavong.

I don’t think it’s unrealistic that at such a young age both Robson and Watson should climb the rankings, and given the lack of depth in women’s tennis at the moment, where for a while nobody seemed to want the honour of being number one in the world. why couldn’t one of them have a decent run in a Grand Slam tournament in a few years time?

I’m not going to lie and claim we’ll win the Davis Cup ten times in a row.

But I do see a better future for British tennis, and I think we’ll have more reason in the future to watch Wimbledon (and for some of us, other tennis tournaments, which do exist) more in expectation than in hope.

 

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