Susan Egelstaff: Is this Scottish tennis investment too little, too late?


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THE news earlier this week that Tennis Scotland will receive a £12 million package from the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) is important.

As it stands, when it comes to indoor tennis facilities, Scotland is significantly underserved, rendering the sport almost unplayable for a large part of the year for the majority of the population.

As well as educating coaches, working in schools and clubs, and developing tennis programs around the country, the money will be used to develop a range of new indoor facilities across Scotland.

LTA chief executive Scott Lloyd revealed the funding boost on Monday in Stirling, saying the investment is intended to build on the accomplishments of Andy and Jamie Murray and Gordon Reid, both of whom have won Grand Slam titles in the past decade.

There is nothing to laugh at with such a large amount, but there is one obvious question that stands out: why did it take so long on earth for Scotland to obtain this money to upgrade tennis facilities?

Andy Murray has captivated the Scottish public, in particular. Given that he played his first Wimbledon tournament in 2005, 15 years ago, and won his first Grand Slam title almost eight years ago, it is an insult to everyone who believes that capitalizing on his success is an investment.

The money would have been made available long before now, if that were really the case, something his mother Judy has constantly pushed for throughout his career.

It is clear that the LTA has not deemed Scotland a priority because Scotland has had to wait until now to obtain that degree of funding, considering the tens of millions it receives from Wimbledon each year.

Also Tennis Scotland Chief Executive Blane Dodds admitted to making the announcement earlier this week that the investment had been long overdue, and he was not incorrect.

Murray has sparked an interest in Scotland in tennis that 20 years ago would have been unthinkable. The 32-year-old has made tennis a popular sport in this nation by winning three Grand Slam titles and reaching six more finals, as well as two Olympic gold medals.

So it seems downright absurd that this money is just coming now. Even the most optimistic observers will probably agree that, at best, Murray has a few years left in his career, especially given the news this week that he may need another hip replacement. And so there has been a decade of a genuinely world-class player motivating the next generation in this country, but there have been incredibly small chances for that generation to pick up a racket themselves.

How successful this investment will be remains to be seen. Obviously, making the sport more available is an efficient way to maximize participation, which in turn makes the identification of talent even more possible.

There is also a risk, however, that this investment is too little, too late. Wasting a decade of Murray’s career in terms of indoor courts without much to show for it is a monumental error. When he was just breaking into the elite, the time to really capitalize on Murray’s popularity would have come, not when he was approaching the end.

Better late, I guess, than never. But let’s just hope that the sport won’t regret doing it any sooner.

AND a little more.

It seems that without a new round of accusations surfacing about Mo Farah, no more than a few months would pass.

More details about Farah and former coach Alberto Salazar, who is currently serving a suspension from the sport for doping violations, was reported by the BBC program Panorama earlier this week.

Host Mark Daly announced during the program that he had found documents revealing that the four-time Olympic champion had repeatedly denied U.S. anti-doping authorities that before the 2014 London Marathon, he had received injections of the infamous supplement L-carnitine, before then changing his story and acknowledging that he had actually received the injections.

There is no evidence that, because L-carnitine is not a controlled drug, Farah’s acts violated the Anti-Doping Code. But it does indicate that Salazar, and, by implication, Farah, stretched to the very full the boundaries of what was lawful.

As bad as these disclosures may represent on Farah, this story raises the question once again of where lies the line of what is and is not permissible.


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