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Why our tennis aces often slip through the net'

PUBLISHED: 16:04 01 July 2009 | UPDATED: 11:32 12 August 2010

A TENNIS coach hailed Andy Murray s success at Wimbledon for encouraging youngsters to play the game, but claims the sport is too expensive for most to become professional. Kent coach Michel Suleau, 50, who teaches youngsters from across south-east Lon

A TENNIS coach hailed Andy Murray's success at Wimbledon for encouraging youngsters to play the game, but claims the sport is "too expensive" for most to become professional.

Kent coach Michel Suleau, 50, who teaches youngsters from across south-east London and north Kent, says the tennis system in Britain needs to change to get more talented youngsters performing at the highest level.

A coach for more than 25 years, Mr Suleau, said the number of members joining the Gravesham Tennis club when Wimbledon starts increases every year but champions are hard to find.

He said: "Membership always increases when Wimbledon begins, and because Andy Murray has done incredibly well, his success has definitely brought more youngsters to the club.

"A country needs someone like Murray to get more people to play the game. Since the rise of Murray more have come through the ranks, and if he did get to the final, it will boost the sport and would be fantastic for this country.

"But the problem here is that it is just too expensive. It is a sport for rich people. It is not for everybody.

"In Britain the most successful tennis players have been Tim Henman, and that is because his parents had money, Murray, who was trained in Spain, and Rusedski, who was coached in Canada."

Mr Suleau, who pays £1,000 a month for his son to be coached in Scotland, says the tennis system in France allows more youngsters to come through.

"In France, 98 per cent of the tennis clubs are council clubs. The councils chose a committee to run it, and then the council fund it. This makes it more affordable.

"Also tennis coaches in Britain are self employed, whereas in France, they are on a salary, paid for by the clubs. So here, because you need to make a living, coaches will take on more players, which unfortunately means the quality of the coaching drops drastically.

"There is no difference between the French and English, we have two arms to legs and a head, it is just the system that is wrong. More youngsters play the game so we have more talent to choose from.

"Things are slowly getting better, but how long it will take to change I don't know. The system is at fault and needs an overhaul.

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