Six British singles players entered the main draws at Roland Garros and not one made it past the first round. Heather Watson who was a junior champion herself had this to say following the exits:
“I don’t see who’s next,”
“I feel like we’ve got a good little group of players right now, but little. I don’t see who’s going to be top 50.
“I think personally that more players need to get help rather than just helping your selected players.”
“I feel like the more people you help, the more competition there will be,”
“It’s not just the talented people that get through. If you give the hard workers an opportunity, too, you’ll have more of a pool of players.”
This was something I wrote about a while ago at the back-end of last year, the lack of British players participating at Junior Grand Slams is a worry and the numbers don’t seem to be improving across the board.
It was something I explored following a tough year for British tennis with WTA Birmingham being downgraded, ATP Finals leaving London and the LTA making a loss. Tennis should be thriving off the back of the success of the Murray brothers but British tennis has stood still, of the £40 million they get from AELTC only £1 million goes to Tennis Scotland with Jamie Murray saying at the time “were a country, not a county”
There are plans to bring in around 90 tennis venues around the UK over the coming years but right now the numbers are worrying.
The singles numbers at Junior Grand Slams do not make for good reading since the beginning of 2019…
33 of 768 singles players were British – 4.2%
15 of 640 singles players were British (if you exclude Wimbledon 2019) – 2.3%
Since the beginning of last year these numbers are worry, of course we haven’t had junior events at Wimbledon and the US Open this year but I couldn’t see that number improving too much.
It is good to see players given the opportunity at Wimbledon but it is also important to see what is happening outside the home slam too and there isn’t much.
Australian Open 2019 – 7/128 were British
French Open 2019 – 0/128 were British
US Open 2019 – 1/128 were British
Australian Open 2020 – 4/128 were British
French Open 2020 – 3/128 were British
It isn’t good reading at all…
Outside of the junior major bubble there are only two British players under 19 ranked inside the top 1000 and they are Jack Draper and Emma Raducanu.
The juniors taking part in the last few majors this year under the British flag are Matilda Mutavdzic on the girls side, Arthur Fery and Felix Gill on the boys side.
It isn’t about winning a junior slam but creating more opportunities and support for players. I never think winning a junior slam should be used as an indicator going to the main tour. Soo many players have won a junior event but not come close to winning a title, some haven’t won a junior major but have won plenty of majors. Heather Watson for example was a junior champion at the US Open in 2009 but in nine attempts has never won a match in the main draw at Flushing Meadows.