LTA look to Canada for success

With a small-pool of talent, Britain's Lawn Tennis Association hope for boost under Canadian Michael Downey.

    LTA look to Canada for success
    Despite the success of Andy Murray (L), the LTA has not been able to convert cash into world talent [AFP]

    Britain are turning to the top official in Canadian tennis to improve their fortunes on the world stage.

    Michael Downey was hired as the chief executive of Britain's Lawn Tennis Association on Tuesday, ending his nine-year tenure as president and chief executive of Tennis Canada.

    Despite being extremely well funded, mainly due to the profits handed down from Wimbledon, British tennis has little top-level talent outside Andy Murray, who this year became Britain's first men's singles winner at the All England Club since 1936.

    This is a huge privilege for me, at a fantastic time for British tennis

    Michael Downey, LTA chief exec

    The 38th-ranked Laura Robson is the only Briton in the women's top 50.

    "This is a huge privilege for me, at a fantastic time for British tennis," said Downey, who was formerly the regional president for Canada's largest brewery, Molson Canada.

    "We have a tremendous opportunity in front of us, and it is an honour to be able to lead the work of the LTA in getting
    more people playing tennis."

    Downey will take up his new role on January 6 replacing Roger Draper, who announced in March that he was stepping down. 

    In 2012, the LTA invested $109 million but with little tangible reward. Murray, who has been brought through largely outside the LTA structure, is the only British man in the top 150 in the rankings.

    The LTA said that Canadian tennis enjoyed significant growth at the grassroots and elite level under Downey, with more than 1.2 million people playing tennis at least twice a month.

    "We set out to recruit a CEO with true success in business, with exceptional leadership credentials and ideally with significant knowledge of tennis," LTA chairman David Gregson said.

    "Michael demonstrably fits the bill perfectly and was the unanimous choice of our recruitment panel."

    Gregson said Downey's annual salary will be $480,000 - less than half of what Draper was earning.



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