The LTA is considering resurrecting the British National Tennis Championships last played in Bolton in 2002 with Alex Bogdanovic, a teenager who never fulfilled his potential, and Anne Keothavong, who did, emerging as Britain’s national champions.
I think it’s a very good idea to bring back the Nationals, Tim Henman
First played in Telford in 1983 the event not only highlighted but gave home fans an opportunity to gauge the talent available in the country and, for the ensuing decades, it did just that.
Chris Bradnam and Jo Durie were the inaugural champions. Over the following years Andrew Castle, Jeremy Bates, Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski featured strongly as did Anne Hobbs, Sarah Loosemore, Annabel Croft, Claire Wood and Sam Smith in the women’s event.
A lack of interest by broadcasters is being given as a reason for the event being cancelled indefinitely. The news that it might now be revived is excellent and should be welcomed even if only to give home grown players a chance to test their talent amongst themselves, while giving fans a chance to see what they are made of.
The lack of high-profile and international events brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic which has also seen the tour review being extended to the end of July, is one of the reasons for the event’s possible revival this autumn at a venue yet to be decided.
If that were to be the case then a strong field could be expected with the likes of the Murray brothers, Jo Konta, Heather Watson, Dan Evans and Kyle Edmund. It would also apparently feature not only men and women, but competitions for juniors and wheelchair players.
Andy Murray has already indicated he would play as it would be an ideal step towards his return to fitness having not played since last November when he was side-lined with a pelvic bruise.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Tim Henman told Simon Briggs: “I think it’s a very good idea to bring back the Nationals,” the former British No.1 and world No.4 s “aid. “I have great memories of the event and of beating Greg! It meant more opportunities for tennis at home and some good match-ups for players in all categories of events.”
“It will be great if the Nationals come back,” added Rusedski, “as it was always one of my favourite events.”
The battles between the pair of them were the highlights of the Nationals as both were vying for bragging rights over the other. Henman last played it in 1997 while Rusedski stopped after the 1996 tournament.
“In 1995, I remember being 6-1 3-1 down to Greg in the final,” Henman recollected, “and coming back to win in three sets. The following year was an odd one. I beat Jamie Delgado in the semi-finals, then flew to Hanover to play a night match against Yevgeny Kafelnikov as a reserve in the ATP Finals, before flying back the following morning to play Greg again. I won 6-7 7-6 6-4.”