APOLOGIES to all but I am afraid it is time for the annual tennis story in this column.
As you are all probably aware by now I am not the biggest fan of the art of hitting a ball over a net only for some annoying so-and-so to hit it back, but every year I feel duty bound to offer my ill-conceived thoughts on what has happened at Wimbledon.
I have to admit that I missed the men’s singles final due to covering a certain Super League game at Castleford – sadly I cannot offer such a good excuse for missing the ladies final or indeed 99 per cent of the two weeks worth of racket wafting in London SW19.
But I am led to believe that for British tennis this was a fortnight to remember with the largest number of homegrown players progressing to the second round for six years and two even going on to contest finals.
For one Jonathan Marray it produced a trophy in the men’s doubles – a first win for a Briton in the event since 1936.
Sadly for Andy Murray it brought a singles final defeat – and still a Briton hasn’t won this trophy since 1936.
But as ever the Lawn Tennis Association were eager to say that they would be making the most of the ‘Murray effect’.
Like my Wimbledon story, the LTA proclamation is an annual event which usually is all about explaining how their massive funding – aided by the Wimbledon tournament attendances – has once again failed to unearth any top class British talent.
This year they can be a bit more buoyant in that a fair few players have obviously improved and they have two finalists to boast about, but you have to feel that the pressure is on and by this time next year there will have had to have been a significant improvement in numbers playing the game at a good level for the LTA to escape being asked more awkward questions.
But when the LTA refer to the ‘Murray effect’, I do wonder what was their effect was on Murray?
Did he not decide at 15-years old to move to Barcelona and study at the Schiller International School and train on the clay courts of the Sánchez-Casal Academy rather than stay in Blighty?
Not that you can blame him.
Whatever the LTA claim they are going to do, they cannot stop it from raining, which surely severely reduces the chances of doing much coaching on outdoor courts in this country.
Maybe they should be looking to the ‘Marray effect’ as the Liverpool-born 31-year-old, who is based in Sheffield, more definitively carries a Made In Britain tag and use him as the shining example of what they can produce – and also find out what kind of cagoule he uses to train in the rain.
My own conclusion is that given the names of our two finalists the LTA might be best spending some time trawling through their lists of players for people with surnames like Merray or Morray – it might work!