Davis Cup Betting: We lose because we're not good enough
"If managing the England football team still carries the moniker created by Graham Taylor of “the impossible job”, then it’s nothing compared to running Britain’s Davis Cup side."
Ralph Ellis offers a frank estimation of the Davis Cup defeat to Lithuania and considers the wider malaise of British tennis.
For a good number of years, being Britain's Davis Cup captain was just about the easiest job in sport. You got out your team sheet and pencil, wrote down the numbers one and two, put the name Tim Henman against the first and Greg Rusedski against the second. Next you put both names down again after first writing the word "doubles". Then you sat back and waited to be hailed as a tactical genius once the two players had won the tie.
Times have changed. Now, if being manager of the England football team still carries the moniker created by Graham Taylor of "the impossible job", then it's nothing compared to running Britain's Davis Cup side. No more Henman and Rusedski, and mostly now Andy Murray can't be bothered either. His brother, who has done so well that his name escapes me for a few moments, is sliding down the rankings. The result is defeat against Lithuania and calls for the head of the current captain John Lloyd.
The Lawn Tennis Association an nounced an immediate and far reaching enquiry into the latest defeat. But I'll save them the bother. We lost because we haven't got any decent tennis players, apart from Murray who is too locked into his own career, and we're not likely to get any for a few years to come either.
That is why Henman, sensibly, is giving a very big swerve to calls for him to take over the job when Lloyd is made the latest scapegoat for the LTA's failure to invest the millions they make out of Wimbledon into any sort of structure that gets kids playing tennis. Henman has told the Sun's Charlie Wyett today that he isn't interested. "Maybe in three years, or maybe in 13 years, but not now," he says. "I'm enjoying my family and my golf and not having any structure to my life. At the moment I don't want the responsibility."
And who would? Taking over this team is like being put in charge of Darlington but being asked to play in the Champions League. And it won't get any better. The nearest most of our kids will ever get to playing tennis will be on their Wii. And you can win matches at that while you are still sitting on the sofa. It's far more fun than going out for hours in the cold hitting a ball against a wall (that's if you can find a wall which doesn't have a "No Ball Games" sign on it.)
Meanwhile the only chance of some Davis Cup success is to try backing Russia at [9.0] to be shock winners. They host Argentina in the quarter-finals in July with a 17-match unbeaten home run behind them. In Nikolay Davydenko and Mikhail Youzhny they have two players in the top 13 of the current world rankings - the only other country who can boast that are holders and [4.5] favourites Spain.
Five things you might not know about Tim Henman
When it comes to family background you'll know all the stuff about dad being a lawyer and his great grandmother Ellen Stanwell-Brown being the first woman to serve overarm at Wimbledon - but did you know that mum Jane is a dress designer who produced tennis outfits for Fred Perry?
His maternal grandmother Susan Billington was also a Wimbledon tennis star in the 1950s - and was the last person to serve underarm at SW19.
He made his first visit to Wimbledon at the age of six - and still has at home, framed, a picture taken by his Mum of him looking up at Centre Court.
At school he suffered from osteochondritis, a painful bone condition described in the medical dictionary as "feeling like you are undergoing a heart attack."
He invested his tennis winnings in developing a property business in partnership with his agent Jan Felgate andproperty developer Philip Moross, whose projects included Old Essex House, a listed house once owned by the Earl of Essex, which they renovated and sold in 2005 for £3.2m, making a £2m profit.
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