Roger Draper - CEO, Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) Share PDF Print E-mail
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Roger Draper is the CEO of the LTA. He’s one of the new breed of sports leaders who are applying direct experience of competing as an elite athlete and first-rate business skills and experience to achieve radical improvement in the way sport is run.

He has wide experience in the ‘business of sport’, this has included 3 years as CEO of Sport England, leading a major review and reorganisation of the £500m spent on sport in the UK, involvement in the 2012 bid and Team England’s 2006 Commonwealth Games campaign.

By Martin Laurence

How do you feel that your experiences as an athlete have benefitted your decision making as a sports business professional?

There are many similarities between sport and business, and many principles that translate from sport to business.

In both, you need to focus unrelentingly on a simple vision. You need to excel in planning, and seize the opportunity. Both also require world class execution.

How concerned are you that British Tennis has failed in recent years, to produce a substantial group of of high ranking players, highlighted by poor performances in the Davis Cup?

We recognise that in the men's game, we are very fortunate to have Andy Murray as one of the world's best players, but Andy aside, the pace of improvement has been slow, and we share people's frustration about that.

We are seeing improvements in the women's game, and encouraging results at the junior level.

However, turning around the performance game in this country, something that we have struggled with for generations, will take time, and the only way we can achieve that is by transforming the structures and support for our best players from the very bottom of the pyramid.

We're committed towards identifying and developing our most talented players, so we've introduced a nationwide talent ID system, and we're investing in a national performance network of clubs and coaches.

I am convinced that we now have the system and structures in place to deliver success at the top level of the sport, but this will not happen overnight.

The nation has been without a leading women's professional for a number of years, what has the LTA done to ensure that girls and women are participating in the sport at both grass roots and elite level?

I think we do have world class female players. Both Anne Keothavong and Elena Baltacha have reached the top 50 in the world, and their progress has encouraged and inspired younger players like Heather Watson and Laura Robson to try to catch them.

Both Heather and Laura have won junior grand slams. They're both working hard and doing the right things in order to make the world's top 100, and behind them, there's a group of younger players all determined to succeed.

Their example should encourage more women and girls to play tennis, but we acknowledge that like many sports, we need to do more to encourage teenagers in particular to stay in sport.

Our main priority is to grow participation and to help more people play tennis, and encouraging women and girls to play the sport is at the heart of this strategy.

We know that tennis has the biggest proportion of armchair fans of any sport on television, and through programmes like cardio tennis, which is a combination of tennis and aerobic exercise set to music, and the allplay campaign, which is designed to help more people play tennis by making it more simple to find a playing partner, a court or a coach (www.allplaytennis.com) we'll be hoping to turn more of those armchair fans into players.

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