FUNDING CUTS, COMEBACKS, WITHDRAWALS: TENNIS IN THE COMMONWEALTH

By Leigh Sanders

British No. 2 Alex Bogdanovic’s career looks in jeopardy after the 25-year-old was told he is one of eleven players cut from the list to receive the highest level of support from the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) next year.

Alex Bogdanovic

Alex Bogdanovic

He is ranked No. 164 in the world, 97 places above British No. 3 Dan Evans who has been retained on the LTA’s high priority list. But the LTA appear to be growing impatient with his lack of progress and had already informed him in June that he was unlikely to receive a wildcard entry to the 2010 Wimbledon championships following his eighth consecutive first-round exit this year.

He is, however, still eligible for a reduced level of support. Bogdanovic had his financial support cut in 2004 after the LTA questioned his commitment but he recovered to reach a career-high 108 in 2007. The news comes following his recent exclusion from the British Davis Cup Team after only one victory in eight singles rubbers.

British No. 7 in women’s tennis, Naomi Broady, has also been left off the list despite finishing 2009 with three straight ITF titles and a career-high ranking at No. 309. The 19-year-old hit the headlines in 2007 when she had her funding cut after posting “inappropriate” pictures and messages on a social networking website.

*The venues for the opening round matches of the 2010 Davis Cup World Group have begun to be announced. The ties, played March 5-7, have given India a tricky encounter as they travel to Moscow to face the formidable Russians. The Indians lead 2-1 in head-to-heads and they will hope for progression to the quarterfinals as the Commonwealth’s only hope in the top band of Davis Cup countries. It is India’s first year in the top group since 1998.

*Belgian former world No. 1 Justine Henin has been handed a wildcard for the Sydney International in Australia next month as she makes her return to the tennis circuit.

*Britain’s Anne Keothavong has announced her return from knee ligament damage will be Team GB’s Fed Cup match up with Portugal in February. “To make my comeback from injury at the Fed Cup will be tough,” the 26-year-old told BBC Sport, but hopefully we can perform well and move GB into the World Group.” She joins Elena Baltacha, Katie O’Brien and doubles specialist Sarah Borwell in being selected.

*Casey Dellacqua has recovered from injury to secure a wildcard for the 2010 Australian Open after winning Tennis Australia’s 2010 Australian Open Wildcard Playoff. The 24-year-old returned from shoulder surgery to recover from a 1-6, 2-5 deficit to beat upcoming star Olivia Rogowska 1-6, 7-6(9), 6-3. Alicia Molik was also in the draw but fell at the quarterfinal stage. In the men’s draw, Nick Lindahl defeated Bernard Tomic to book his place at the 2010 extravaganza.

*The 2010 South African Open in Johannesburg has been hit by a host of shuns after registration for the event closed on Tuesday. Defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France will be missing as a tough schedule including Davis Cup play after the Australian Open means he can not return to defend his title. South African tennis fans will be angered that their No. 1 star Kevin Anderson has also decided to miss the event, instead choosing to play in Challenger Events of lesser stature in Dallas and Hawaii. Anderson infuriated his countryman a few months ago when he refused to play in South Africa’s crucial World Group Davis Cup Playoff against India and this certainly won’t heal those bridges. However Tsonga’s compatriot Gael Monfils and Spanish Davis Cup hero David Ferrer have confirmed they will play the event at the Montecasino Entertainment Resort.

*The latest ‘Active People Survey’ in Great Britain has shown an increase across all age groups of people participating in tennis. Those playing tennis weekly and monthly as well as club memberships have all seen increases. Yorkshire, in particular, saw a huge rise in the number of weekly participants. The stats will please the LTA who rank increasing participation highly in their ‘Whole Sport Plan.’

*Tennis Canada has announced the addition of promising junior Steven Diez to its National Team Program. The Toronto native will now represent Canada on the world stage.

*The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) of Great Britain was in mourning this week following the passing of three of its highly respected names of past and present. Board member Sir Robert Phillips sadly lost his long battle with cancer this week and passed away in the early hours of December 22nd, aged 64. His distinguished career also saw him serve as Deputy Director-General of the BBC and most recently as the Chief Executive of the Guardian Media Group. This followed the sad news that Dick Robinson OBE had also passed away aged 93. He joined the LTA board in 1954 and served as Chairman in 1973. Another former LTA President, Ron Presley OBE, has also lost a long battle with cancer and has passed away aged 78. He was one of the first men to serve as a Past President in 1995 when the category was first introduced.