LTA chief pinpoints key statistic to highlight rise of British players

Delight for Ryan Peniston

The success of Ryan Peniston’s at this year’s cinch Championships at The Queen’s Club and a rising tide of British winners across the summer grass court events have highlighted a positive momentum in the sport in the UK, according to LTA CEO Scott Lloyd.

Peniston, who benefits from the LTA’s NTC Access programme that assists players ranked 100-200 in singles and 31-100 in doubles, providing cost-free access to courts on all three surfaces, coaching, trainers and the LTA’s tournament bonus scheme, beat world number five Casper Ruud 7-6 7-6 at The Queen’s Club on Tuesday and backed that up by reaching the quarter-finals following a win against Francisco Cerundolo on Thursday.

And Lloyd credited the role of the LTA’s enhanced Tennis Performance Competitions Calendar as a key part of the development of British players like Peniston by allowing them to play more, high-quality matches.

The LTA’s Performance Competitions Calendar, with the number of events rising from seven men’s events and eight women’s events in 2019 to 16 for both men and women in 2022. This is in addition to the grass-court season playing opportunities already in place.

It has ensured that British players have more competitive opportunities on home soil, cutting down on travel costs and helping to promote a rankings boost for a host of players.

LTA chief executive Scott Lloyd
LTA chief executive Scott Lloyd

“I saw Ryan play at our Challenger event in Ilkley back in 2019 and he was ranked around 360 in the world then,” said Lloyd in an interview with the BBC.

“He’s now coming through, he’s up in the top 150 and so he’s made real progress. He’s a very talented player and it’s lovely to see him winning some matches.

“The Performance Calendar here in Britain, the domestic calendar, is giving British players across a range of age groups playing opportunities throughout the year.

“We’ve doubled our investment for 2022 in that respect and players are taking advantage of it. They are winning matches, they’re winning tournaments and that’s helping their ranking trajectory.”

Sonay Kartal is one player who has reaped the rewards of extra tournaments in the UK, with four title wins in ITF W25 events in England this year helping her to boost her ranking from the low 800s at the start of 2022 to a position where she is now close to breaking into the top 250 in the WTA rankings.

“Not only does the extra tournaments in the UK help their match count but getting match experience on court, learning how to win, learning sometimes how to lose too,” added Lloyd.

“That all helps their experience and so far it’s been very well received by the players and they’re taking advantage – it’s so far, so good in that respect.”

Peniston is one of seven British players in the Queen’s Club draw, and Lloyd believes it is an exciting time for British tennis.
He said: “It’s been a great tournament, the weather has helped, the quality of play has been right up there and it was so nice to see so many British players competing this week as well.

“We’ve got a really good crop right now, not just in the men’s but in the women’s too.

“We’ve got more men and women combined in the top 200 since 1984, things are looking up.”