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New LTA chief defends £40m Roehampton ‘white elephant’

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Roger Draper, the new chief executive of the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), has defended the organisation’s £40m Roehampton tennis centre development.

The facility has received criticism from several quarters, including former Davis Cup captain David Lloyd and the former manager of men’s training at the LTA, Mark Petchey, for being a waste of valuable resources and a long shot for developing future champions.

“Most of these people who say it is a white elephant haven’t been there and don’t understand what it is,” Draper told Sports Management magazine.

“They just assume that £40m must equal a white elephant and so at the moment it’s like a duck on a shooting gallery. If people don’t understand what we’re trying to achieve, it’s going to be very difficult to convince them otherwise.

“As a sport, tennis is used to being knocked and criticised – negativity seems to be the national position, so we’ve got to prove the doubters wrong.”

Draper also said that the structure of British tennis has to change, but he feels that the sport is ready to embrace it. “I think there is a real will and desire to make British tennis successful,” he said. “I think most of the negativity comes out of frustration, if we can just channel all the commitment, energy and passion in the right direction, then we can achieve whatever we want.”

Read the full interview with Roger Draper in Sports Management Q3 2006. Visit www.leisuresubs.com or call +44 (0)1462 471913 to subscribe.

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Roger Draper, the new chief executive of the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), has defended the organisation’s £40m Roehampton tennis centre development.
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