By Nick Harris
16 June 2010
For the first time in the 133-year history of Wimbledon, there will not be a single English man in the men’s singles competition, a fact that the renowned American tennis coach, Nick Bollettieri, describes in his sportingintelligence column today as “staggering” and “sad”.
Two British men will take part in the men’s singles – Scotland’s Andy Murray and Jamie Baker – but never before in England’s showcase summer sporting event has the British contingent of men failed to include a single English representative.
No English men qualify by ranking, none have made it to the latter stages of qualifying and none have earned wild cards.
Writing in his column for this website today, Bollettieri says of the absence of English men: “That is staggering. Jaw-dropping. Sad. And a challenge.
“Yes, there will be two British men, and we wish Scotland’s Andy Murray and Jamie Baker the best of luck.
“But to have no English men in the most quintessentially English sporting event on the planet is unbelievable.”
Bollettieri will be the guest speaker at an LTA coaching conference in London this weekend, and he backs the LTA’s chief executive, Roger Draper, to find a way to improve the fortunes of British tennis.
The US veteran coach, who helped a record 10 players to the world No1 ranking, including Andre Agassi and Maria Sharapova, and who currently works with Britons including Heather Watson, says: “I believe Roger Draper is a man who listens to new ideas and welcomes them . . . I believe I might be able to help British tennis . . . Can we bring about change? Yes, we can.”
In the Wimbledon seedings announced today, Roger Federer retains his No1 seeding despite slipping to No2 in the world rankings, while Murray is No4. In the women’s singles, the Williams sisters, Serena and Venus, are seeded No1 and No2, creating the possibility of a fifth all-Williams women’s final in SW19.