Emma Raducanu has assured British tennis bosses that she will play in the Billie Jean King Cup in future, despite skipping next month’s qualifying round for the World Finals against France.
Further down the sport’s food chain, however, there are more problems for the Lawn Tennis Association, with the head of its flagship academy in Loughborough, Nick Cavaday, having quit.
Prior to leaving the Miami Open Raducanu said she intends to return to the GB team fold once she has found more consistent fitness.
Aside from anything she needs to be available in the next twelve months to fulfil entry criteria for the Paris Olympics.
‘Of course I would love to play the Billie Jean King Cup. It’s just this scenario is not the best for my body. I really need to look after myself and do what’s best for me on the match court,’ she said about missing the tie in Coventry on April 14-15.
Emma Raducanu has reassured British tennis bosses that she plans to represent Great Britain in team competitions in the near future, despite opting out of next month’s Billie Jean King Cup
‘I would love to play the Olympics.’
The fact that she is the only top 100 female singles player demonstrates how Britain continues to struggle to create any kind of elite production line.
It has not taken long for the LTA’s expensive academy schemes to unravel, with major changes already being forced upon them nearly five years into the ten-year plan unveiled in 2018. The bold aim stated then was that British talent development would be the envy of the world by 2028.
Of the two main academies the one in Stirling is already being closed down.
Now Cavaday is leaving its counterpart in the Midlands to pursue other coaching opportunities amid plans to expand its intake from what the original scheme was.
The LTA are looking not just for a new boys’ coach, but one for girls as well. Nearly five years after being launched by then Performance Director Simon Timson – who less than two years later left for a job at Manchester City – there are few signs of any upsurge in the fortunes of GB juniors.
This wider situation has been largely camouflaged by two one-offs in Raducanu and Jack Draper, plus Andy Murray’s remarkable persistence and the rise of Cam Norrie, whose talents were honed mostly overseas.
Quite why the LTA thought that centralized UK-based academies run and lavishly funded by the governing body are the answer is a mystery. There is nothing in the history of doomed past attempts to suggest they are likely to create a pipeline of elite performers.
Raducanu urged that she followed medical advice on her ‘existing injuries’ before backing out
Unfortunately – and scarcely believably – there remains nobody on the main board of the LTA with any experience of elite tennis to properly question the executive.
So now another search is on. Of Cavaday’s departure a LTA spokesperson said: ‘We wish him well and would like to thank him for his important contribution to the academies’ development. In order to ensure continuity for players at Loughborough we’re currently recruiting for a Head of girls’ tennis and Morgan Phillips has been appointed interim head of boys’ tennis.’
Cavaday, who will leave in April, did not wish to comment.
After a day at the Miami Open – where no player GB player qualified – which saw Raducanu, Andy Murray and Kyle Edmund beaten, the seeded Norrie and Dan Evans are left in the draw.