Henman says Davis Cup captaincy would be “steep learning curve” for Smith

TIM Henman has said the appointment of Leon Smith as Davis Cup captain would be a “steep learning curve” for Andy Murray’s former coach.

Photo: Andrew Hayward (cc flickr)

Speaking to me in Cardiff on Thursday, the former British number one said Smith could be just the sort of coach that Britain needs right now to head up the team.

But he also criticised the current crop of players below Murray for not “maximising their potential.”

Henman, who ruled himself out of contention for the job to spend time with his young family said: “It is not an appealing job to take.

“What do all the best coaches have? The best players.

“The bottom line is that the current players are not good enough.

“I think that there are guys that have not been successful because they have not maximised their potential.

“If Leon does get the job then he knows the players well.

“It would be a steep learning curve for him. But he’s a great coach, and it would be a great experience for him.”

Smith coached Murray from the age of 11 for five years, between 1999 and 2004. He is currently the Lawn Tennis Association’s head of player development for men’s tennis.

Last month Murray called on the LTA to allow the players to be involved in the appointment. He said: “It’s very important the players are comfortable with who the captain is.”

Smith saw the current world number four through his formative years, and Murray is said to have remained in contact with since.

He was Murray’s coach when the Scot got his first call-up to Davis Cup duty.

As one of the leading coaches in the UK, Smith could be in the frame as the man best placed to persuade Andy Murray to play more often for his country.

BBC reports Leon Smith in line for Davis Cup captaincy

The vacancy arose after John Lloyd resigned following Great Britain’s embarrassing 3-2 defeat to Lithuania last month.

At the time the LTA chief executive Roger Draper said that there is a “great opportunity for some young British coaches to come through.”

That was widely interpreted to have ruled out Greg Rusedski who had expressed an interest in the job.

The unconfirmed reports that the LTA will parachute a name unknown to the public into the role suggest Draper will follow through on his words when they are expected release their review into the disappointing result next week.

The loss leaves Britain facing a relegation play-off against Turkey in July. The loser will drop down into Group III – the lowest tier in the Davis Cup competition.

Leon Smith has been confirmed as captain of Great Britain’s Davis Cup team.

Tim Henman was in Cardiff to promote Robinsons’ ‘75 kids for 75 years‘ competition. See write up in the South Wales Echo’s Park Life supplement next week.

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