No need to court tennis controversy

PUBLISHED: 12:57 02 July 2009 | UPDATED: 16:04 11 May 2010

LIKE most of the great British public, I only really watch tennis for about two weeks of the year. If I ve got a bit of time on my hands, I might occasionally stretch that to five weeks, taking in the French Open and Queens Club, but usually it s just Wim

LIKE most of the great British public, I only really watch tennis for about two weeks of the year.

If I've got a bit of time on my hands, I might occasionally stretch that to five weeks, taking in the French Open and Queens Club, but usually it's just Wimbledon fortnight, then back to the more important sports.

I'm sure sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe, the government minister for sport, must be a much bigger tennis fan than I.

Otherwise he wouldn't be making the comments he did last week.

Following the failure of all bar two of the British players to get into round two of Wimbledon, he said: "In UK Sport's world-class performance, no compromise approach, if people don't perform, they don't get the money.

"I'm getting tired of the excuses, we need to find a way now to be successful. If you look at the Olympics last year, look what UK Sport are doing - we put funding in and we have world-class performances."

I take it Mr Sutcliffe isn't referring to the (heavily funded) British Athletics team, which managed a colossal total of one gold medal at the Beijing games?

In my opinion, his words are typical of the misguided attitude we have to sport in this country, i.e. if we throw enough money at something we will automatically get results.

As an individual sport, tennis relies on individual talent and will to win. While coaching certainly helps, I don't think any trainer or manager can instil this into a player. You can have all the academies and training schemes you like, but you can't guarantee world class players.

Andrew Murray's talent is not something which was coached into him, and if we don't have others with similar ability that it is not necessarily a failure on the part of the Lawn Tennis Association or its staff.

It seems to me that if Mr Sutcliffe doesn't have anything constructive so say, he would be better off not saying anything at all. Certainly his views must have seemed like a big kick in the teeth for all those who give up their spare time to provide tennis coaching for youngsters in this country.

I notice a lot of the national papers are making a big fuss about the amount of people the BBC took to the Glastonbury Festival this year.

Apparently 407 corporation employees were at the festival to broadcast sets by Blur, Neil Young, et al.

Am I the only one who fails to see why this is a big deal? I watched a bit of the coverage and thought it was excellent, so if it cost a fair bit then that (literally) seems like a reasonable price to pay.

Perhaps we would get better television if the BBC was left alone to spend the money that is given, rather than being put under constant scrutiny.

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