LTA Plans To Resurrect British National Championships

WASHINGTON, May 19, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

According to a BBC report over the weekend, the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), the governing body for tennis in Great Britain, intends to host its first British National Championships since 2002 later this year.

In recent weeks, national competitions are being held across Europe as restrictions imposed following the global coronavirus outbreak for playing tennis have been eased.

The proposed British National Championships event, to be contested during autumn on an indoor surface, would include men’s, women’s, juniors and wheelchair events. The National Championships were previously dismissed due to a dwindling interest after Tim Henman’s retirement in 1999.

However, with no ATP, WTA or ITF events for the foreseeable future, a resurrected British National Championships could potentially attract some well-known names that would provide for formidable competition. On the men’s side, that would include former World No. 1 Andy Murray and current Top 50 players Dan Evans and Kyle Edmund. For the women, there’s World No. 14 Johanna Konta along with No. 50 Heather Watson.

“The LTA is committed to ensuring that whatever events are staged, they take tennis to the widest possible audience and they focus on addressing the needs of our performance players,” the federation said in a statement.

“We will also ensure they are sustainable for the growth of tennis in the long term and finally, in line with our responsibilities as the governing body of our sport, they are compliant with all the protocols necessary for the current situation.”

Meanwhile, a British men’s competition that is being organized by Jamie Murray, which would be played during the timeframe normally occupied by Wimbledon, remains a possibility as well as a British Closed Women’s Championship. Each would be played without spectators.

Gabriela Sabatini: Turning 50 and celebrating with coffee

On the occasion of turning 50 last week, Hall of Fame great Gabriela Sabatini was asked by WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen how she is directing her energy these days. Her answer may surprise you.

“… I discovered my passion for coffee, for the coffee world. I took a course in Switzerland about coffee. I bought a nice machine. I like the whole concept of coffee, it’s a whole world, good coffee.

“Once you start discovering the good coffee, the good quality coffee, the specialty coffee, which these days you find a lot of them. When I go to New York, even in Argentina, in Switzerland, every time I see new places for specialty coffee.

“I just love the concept of going to a coffee place. I could stay for hours. And also, I like making the coffee. I like to practice. I have a coffee machine and I like to practice and practice and try to make the perfect coffee. There’s so many little details in coffee that you need to learn. But I still need to take more courses. BUT I would like to keep improving and get to know even more. But yeah, I spend a lot of time with that.”

Behind The Racquet – Michael Chang

American Michael Chang won more than 600 matches during his 15-plus years on the ATP Tour that began when he was just 16. He reached a career high ranking of No. 2 in 1996, captured 34 singles titles and won one major, the 1989 French Open. When he beat Stefan Edberg in the final, he became the youngest male player to win a major championship at 17 years, 95 days old. Chang was inducted in the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2008.

Last week, Chang, now 48, wrote a first-person essay published in the Instagram series Behind The Racquet in which he admitted that had he known how long he would play professionally he would have changed his training habits.

I think that there’s probably one thing I would change about my time on tour – my mentality,” he said. “When you’re on tour, you have invincibility, to some degree. You don’t realize how quickly the time goes by. I think sometimes you’re out there playing and you’re thinking, ‘Okay, I’m done with this year. I have next year on the tour.’

“I turned pro slightly before my 16th birthday. I retired just before my 32nd birthday. Those years just went by in the blink of an eye. Looking back, I could have enjoyed some moments a bit more, such as tournament victories. I think sometimes you win a tournament and if it’s a smaller tournament, you don’t really think twice about it. You kind of just say, ‘Okay, it was a great tournament, I won it. Next week.’ I probably would have taken more time to enjoy being ranked number two in the world.

“I also might have changed my mentality in certain aspects of training. Had I known that I was going to play professionally for over fifteen years, I probably would have approached training differently. Today, players on tour have great longevity thanks to how they take care of their bodies. This process is much more advanced now and is very beneficial to a lot of the older players. Many guys in the Top 10 can now play through their mid-to-late 30s. You surely didn’t see this in my generation.”

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#LegendaryBTR- “I think that there’s probably one thing I would change about my time on tour- my mentality. When you’re on tour, you have invincibility, to some degree. You don’t realize how quickly the time goes by. I think sometimes you’re out there playing and you’re thinking, ‘Okay, I’m done with this year. I have next year on the tour.’⁣ ⁣ I turned pro slightly before my 16th birthday. I retired just before my 32nd birthday. Those years just went by in the blink of an eye. Looking back, I could have enjoyed some moments a bit more, such as tournament victories. I think sometimes you win a tournament and if it’s a smaller tournament, you don’t really think twice about it. You kind of just say, ‘Okay, it was a great tournament, I won it. Next week.’ I probably would have taken more time to enjoy being ranked number two in the world.⁣ ⁣ I also might have changed my mentality in certain aspects of training. Had I known that I was going to play professionally for over fifteen years, I probably would have approached training differently. Today, players on tour have great longevity thanks to how they take care of their bodies. This process is much more advanced now and is very beneficial to a lot of the older players. Many guys in the Top 10 can now play through their mid-to-late 30s. You surely didn’t see this in my generation. ⁣ ⁣ Coaching is not very difficult since I was a thinking player. I didn’t have the size or the power, I had to think my way through matches. As a coach, I dissect a player’s style and create strategy, this is similar to what I did on tour. A more difficult aspect about being a coach is sitting in the stands, knowing that I cannot do anything more for the player during the match. If I see a pattern taking place that is hurting my player and he is not picking up on it, it’s difficult to watch.⁣ ⁣ For me, whether I’m out helping Kei, my daughter, or a club player, it’s just a matter of enjoying it and helping players improve. It is rewarding to see the satisfaction on their faces when they say, ‘I understand that, I got it and wow, that works.’” @changtennis⁣ ⁣ Go to behindtheracquet.com for extended stories, podcast and merch.

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Happy 60th Birthday – Yannick Noah

On the occasion of his 60th birthday, L’Equipe spoke at length with Yannick Noah, the last French winner of Roland Garros, in 1984. In the words of the French sports daily’s tennis writer, Quentin Moynet, Noah is “a guy who is ready to be buried with his racquet.”

Says Noah: “Mon rêve, c’est de mourir de rire. – My dream is to die of laughter.”

What they’re saying

Sam Querrey, who won the Home Court Advantage exhibition tournament Sunday in Rolling Hills, Calif.: “If the tour is going to continue to be suspended, I hope more of these events pop up. There’s a lot of people that love tennis, hopefully other people can see what the Douglases did and couple replicate it because it’s really amazing.”

What they’re writing

Steve Tignor and Joel Drucker of  Tennis.com, in their weekly “The Rally” column, debate: “Is Dominic Thiem’s player relief-fund reaction justifiable?” Just how is tennis compensation best determined?

What they’re sharing on social media

Elise Mertens / All I need …

ATP Tour / Gaël Monfils back on the court

Tennis Hall of Fame / Q and A with Kim Clijsters this week