View Full Version : Clijsters guru to make British switch

Sep 3rd, 2002, 12:50 PM

By Tom Fordyce
BBC Sport Online

Buried in the bad news for British tennis emanating from the US Open was one small ray of light.

While Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski were going out to Juan Ignacio Chela and Pete Sampras, the Lawn Tennis Association were putting the final touches to an appointment which could have a major impact on the future of British tennis.

Although the LTA stress nothing has been signed yet, they are close to announcing a deal to bring in Kim Clijsters' former coach Carl Maes to head one of their new tennis academies.

Maes is the man who discovered Clijsters when she was just 12 years old and guided her into the world's top five before their partnership ended earlier this year.

The split was amicable, and came about mainly because Maes thought he had done all he could for his fellow Belgian.

His expertise lies in working with talented youngsters and bringing them to the point where they can turn professional - exactly what British tennis is crying out for.

Both Henman and Rusedski are at a stage in their career where Maes would be of little help.

But Henman's shoulder injury, and the resultant concerns that he might not be fit for the Davis Cup tie with Thailand at the end of this month, have highlighted the lack of depth in British tennis.

Henman and Rusedski turn 28 and 29 respectively in the next few days.

Even assuming that both players return to full health in the next few months - which is by no means certain - they are in the autumn of their careers.

Behind them there is precious little sign of young talent coming through to fill their shoes.

In the junior event at Flushing Meadows, there are just three British boys involved, and not even a single girl.

Maes is expected to head up the proposed LTA academy in Welwyn.

The four academies - the others will be in Loughborough, Bath and Leeds - form the central plank of the LTA's plan to develop tennis in Britain.

Prime Minister Tony Blair has already agreed to be an ambassador for the LTA's City Tennis Club initiative.

Maes' appointment, if confirmed, would be designed to take on some of the kids encouraged into the game by the scheme and develop them into serious players.

Clijsters for one is convinced that Maes is the right man for the job.

"Carl is terrific with kids, he knows what it takes to reach the top and how to coach and guide them," she told reporters.

"I believe he will be a wonderful asset for tennis in Britain. He helped me to be independent. He worked hard with me.

"There were fun times, but when we were serious, he was serious too. He knows tennis at every level.

"He called and told me he was taking up the post, and he seems really inspired."

Both Henman and Rusedski came to British tennis more through circumstance than as the result of a coherent talent-spotting and coaching programme.

Henman comes from a family with a rich tennis heritage. He was also brought up in a house with its own tennis court.

Rusedski took up a British passport in 1995 having benefited from the coaching system in Canada, the country where he grew up.

Sep 3rd, 2002, 12:51 PM
is he trying to commit suicide ??????

Mercury Rising
Sep 3rd, 2002, 12:55 PM
He should stay in Belgium goddammit :(