Just not tennis

So, Britain or Scotland (whichever your viewpoint is) finally had a Wimbledon finalist.

Yes, Andy Murray make it to the showpiece Sunday final , the first time a British player had reached a Wimbledon final since the 1930s.

But the hopes of many were dashed again by the true tennis legend and now eight-times Wimbledon champion that is Roger Federer. Normally expectations are well and truly put out in the quarter-finals or at best, semi-finals. But, this year of all years the British public (or certain sections of it at least) had cause and reason to hope and dream.

it was exactly that, and the realists among us knew it.

I have to say as much as I am a keen sportsman and will watch and follow just about any sport that is on and happening, in recent years I cannot get into Wimbledon. I used to a little as a kid and in my teenage years when a gang of us would be out most nights on courts emulating McEnroe et al, being questioned and chased off courts we apparently shouldn’t have been on (i.e your local sports ground!)

However as time has gone on, the ‘spectacle’ that is the All-England Club Championships no longer has the allure it once had, in my eyes at least.

There’s a few reasons for that.

No one gives a monkeys about tennis here in the UK until Wimbledon approaches or a Davis Cup Euro/Africa zone 17 fixture against the might of Uzbekistan in Eastbourne hits the news (even then Murray has to be playing). Tennis is very much off the radar.

The game has become staid and in many ways predictable, with pretty much the same old faces  there at the end to battle it out at the major tournaments. Admittedly experience and quality rises to the top at the end of such tournaments (less on the odd occasion one of the top seeds comes a cropper i.e Rafa Nadal exiting early on this year). But that tells you something about the state of tennis in the UK.

Tennis has been and always will be an elitist sport. You can try and introduce it to schoolchildren but in the end, unless you have oodles of cash to pay for actually getting on a court (if you can find a public one that is open and in operative order), for coaches, rackets, forget it.

And you only have to look at the pompous characters watching on Centre Court, or Court  No 1. Yes, them with their little Union Jack flags, picking at their £8.50 punnet of 5 strawberries, half-yearning for those days of Sir Cliff entertaining the crowds and a glimpse of Virginia (Wade).

Strawberries. Not just for Wimbledon

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) has pumped absolutely millions into tennis at grassroots level and in schools in recent years – or so it says. Really? And what progress has been made. Where has it got them? Where are the up and coming rising stars from our local neighbourhoods?  Where are the local courts that are brimming with kids banging forehands at each other, night in, night out?

Normally the first (and in my mind, most humorous) thing to look out for in the first week of Wimbledon is how may Brits (male and female) have made it to Day 2, 3 or (god forbid) Day 4, before falling by the wayside and heading back to their coach and the grass courts of mummy and daddy’s back garden to ‘work on their technqiue’.

A Brit (or Scot) into week 2? Almost unheard of. Anyone who can make it into the second week with Murray (providing he does) must be the next best thing for GB tennis and will become a favourite on Henman Hill (if only he could improve his ranking of 428).

So as the the roof on Centre Court is put back across, and we see tennis courts across the land see a bit of action for a few weeks until the football season starts (or even before that),  remember the day you saw a gallant Brit (or Scot) in a Wimbledon final as part of what is a momentous year of sport.

But don’t get too carried away.

I hope you have made the most of it. It took ‘Tim’ (Henman) how long to reach the quarters (or was it semis?) before he got found out for what he really was.

Don’t expect to see another Brit in the same final or anywhere for a good few years yet, as it won’t happen. At least whilst tennis in this country is in the position it is in and enjoys the pompous status it currently enjoys.


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