Annacone initially described his task as a “broad-stroke overview.” He intended to utilize his time across all levels of British tennis, working as much with the 12 to 15-year-olds as the more senior players who were trying to make positive inroads into the professional game.
Britain’s Davis Cup defeat against Lithuania earlier this year put the status of British tennis sharply into focus. With Andy Murray deciding not to play and Alex Bogdanovic ignored after too many failures, the British team lost to a trio of teenagers and now must play a relegation tie in Eastbourne a week after Wimbledon to avoid dropping into Euro/Africa Zone Group Three. . . the lowest level of the competition.
Like British Davis Cup Captain John Lloyd, Annacone resigned as team coach soon after the tie in Vilnius and his days at the LTA to some, seemed numbered thereafter.
However, Annacone said: “I have really enjoyed my time at the LTA, working with the players and coaching team. Over the past few years, I think we have laid solid foundations for an exciting and successful long term future for men’s tennis in Britain, and I am proud to have played a part in that.
Annacone will continue to work with Leon Smith, the LTA’s Head of Men’s tennis, until the end of his contract. He continued: “The coaching team set up is now in a very strong place to support our talented players, and I hope that by giving plenty of notice, I can ensure a smooth transition after my departure.”
Smith, also the new British Davis Cup captain and a former junior coach of Andy Murray, is seen to be starting a new era of less high profile coaching at the LTA following the highly paid but subsequently short lived hirings of Brad Gilbert, Carl Maes and Peter Lundgren. Smith said: “Both Paul and I recognize that there is still a long way to go for us in the men’s game, but thanks to Paul’s contribution, we are heading in the right direction, and we will continue to make the most of his experience and expertise in the coming months.”
LTA Player Director, Steven Martens, said: “We are enormously grateful to Paul for his contribution to the men’s game in Britain. His work with our players and coaches both here, and at tournaments and training camps all over the world, will have a positive impact on the men’s game for many years to come.”