Michael Downey: British tennis must build on Murray success

Michael Downey

Michael Downey has begun his tenure as chief executive of the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) by saying he will help grow the sport in the UK.

The Canadian, 56, took charge last week after nine years as Tennis Canada's president and succeeds Roger Draper, who left in October.

"We used to talk about tennis in Canada and not the federation," said Downey.

"That is what we should be doing at the LTA. It's about us helping others grow the sport; that's what I want to lead."

Andy Murray lifts the Wimbledon trophy
Andy Murray's Wimbledon victory sparked an upturn in participation figures

One of Downey's first challenges will be to ward off threats of a £10.3m funding cut by Sport England if the LTA failed to increase participation.

Since Andy Murray won Wimbledon the LTA has reported an upturn in people playing the sport, pointing towards a 100% year-on-year increase in July 2013, with 36,000 players registering on its website.external-link

That progress is something Downey wants to harness.

"Over the first month or so it's about learning so I'm going to spend a lot of time with people at the National Tennis Centre," he said.

"But I'm also going to get out and meet people at Sport England, The All England Club, participation coaches, because I've got to understand how tennis is driven in this country.

"It's about getting out, getting my hands dirty and understanding what's going on in tennis."

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