Monday, September 19, 2011

Leon Smith: Britain is an admirable match

Posted by Admin On 10:17 AM

Leon Smith will watch Wednesday's Davis Cup draw believing his British team can think themselves a match for anyone in Europe/Africa Zone Group I. It is a far cry from the nadir last March when Britain, then captained by John Lloyd, were beaten by tennis minnows Lithuania to put them only one beat away from the bottom division of the rivalry.
They avoided that humiliation with victory over Turkey, and wins against Tunisia, Luxembourg and, this weekend, Hungary have earn Smith's side promotion back to the Davis Cup's second tier.
Most significantly, they now have a team that have experience of winning Davis Cup matches, with James Ward established as the number two singles player to Andy Murray and boldness a record of seven wins from nine matches.
Britain has a comparative wealth of resources in doubles, meaning Murray should no longer have to play in all three rubbers, with two-time grand slam quarter-finalists Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins currently in pole position.
A decent draw for Britain could put them on course for a return to the World Group in 2013, and Captain Smith said: You've got to aim for it, but I think the significant thing is just to see how the draw goes.
It's where we want to get to. We wanted to get to Group Me, it's better for everyone. The good thing is we can be spirited. If Andy plays and if our doubles players are fit and playing well, then we've got a chance against anybody.
It's still not where we want to be but it's a start. We'll have a good time to look forward to and the players should now be frantic to be part of that team. A feature of every Group II tie has been the vast gulf in resources between Britain and their opponent, with the Lawn Tennis Association's annual budget of £65million dwarfing Hungary's outlay of £300-400,000, for example.
Smith knows there are no shortcuts to success, though, and he added:If you look at Group I, there are some outstanding nations there. Money does not buy you success, that's the bottom line, there's so much more to it.
We'd love to be (in the World Group) but there's a process to go through. Where we should have been winning matches at this level, now it's going to be a lot tougher. Smith combine his Davis Cup captaincy with his role as head of men's tennis for the LTA, and he was keen to stress that, though some progress has been made, there is still a long way to go.


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