Tennis Association UK
His single-minded approach turns out to work less well in a corporate structure, for he has antagonised numerous groups within the LTA: the strength and conditioning unit, which he has little time for; the more experienced coaches, who have their own way of doing things; even the players, most of whom have lost out financially in the stringent funding cuts announced at the end of last year.
This week, the LTA has been assessing the prospects of the 19 high-performance centres around the country, which are also likely to be slashed back until there are only half a dozen still receiving financial support by the end of this year. Brett, however, is understood to be taking no part in the process – another sign of his growing dislocation from the day-to-day running of British tennis. In fact, he left the UK at the end of last week to spend a fortnight in San Remo, as he is entitled to by a clause in his LTA contract.
As and when a more traditional office-based head of performance is brought in, the candidates will include Peter Keen, formerly head of performance of British cycling, who has recently been advising the LTA on the restructuring of its player funding policy. Another option might be Steve McGregor, a sports scientist with a diverse CV that includes spells with Aston Villa and Manchester City football clubs, plus contributions to the fitness regimes of golfers Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood. McGregor has also been used by Downey as a consultant over the past few months.
The LTA’s change of direction could also benefit Leon Smith, formerly the head of men’s tennis, whose influence outside the Davis Cup has waned since Brett’s arrival. After spending the second half of last year shuttling between the high-performance centres at Stirling and Nottingham, Smith has been looking to return full-time to Scotland in the same “national coach” position once occupied by his mentor Judy Murray. But he may now find himself in the running for a bigger job.
Others that left the LTA...
Left by mutual consent after GB lost to Ecuador to be ousted from Davis Cup world group. Then ran rugby league for a decade before being appointed chief executive of the All England Club in 2012.
Now technical director of FFT (Federation Francaise de Tennis). Tried to upgrade British club structure in line with the French model, especially where junior coaching was concerned, but his proposed reforms met with little enthusiasm in the shires.
Tim Henman’s former coach backed the idea of regional high-performance centres. Now running JTC (Junior Tennis Coaching), a programme based in Northwood and Chiswick, whose highest-profile graduates are the Croatians Donna Vekic and Borna Coric.
A strong supporter of mini-tennis and graded low-compression balls (red, green and orange for the different age groups), Martens was Roger Draper’s right-hand man during four years at the LTA before leaving to join the Royal Belgian Football Association as general secretary.
Sears, whose daughter Kim was the centre of attention in Saturday’s “royal wedding of Scotland”, spent four-and-a-half years at the LTA working under Martens before quitting to take up a role as Ana Ivanovic’s coach. Now working as a commentator with BT Sport.
Smith, who had been Andy Murray’s coach as a teenager, saw out the tail-end of the Draper era before losing much of his influence when Brett came in. A notable success as Britain’s Davis Cup captain, he has been keen to find a new position as “national coach” of Scotland.