China has several times grabbed the tennis headlines as several of its women players have performed well at the highest level. Li Na hit the top 10 after reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open this year, with Zheng Jie also reaching her second major semifinal at the same event after previously reaching the final four at Wimbledon in 2008.
But what of the men? They have made no impact at all, but according to captain Lu Ling that will change in around two years from now. That is a brave statement coming after a 4-1 Davis Cup defeat by Kazakhstan at the weekend and there presently being just one player ranked inside the ATP World Tour top 400.
"The popularity of tennis in China still lags far behind," said Gao Shenyang, deputy director of China’s tennis management center. "To be honest, we are in an embarrassing talent drought. The grass roots tennis training system is more focused on the score than on players' body and basic skill. Lacking such necessary elements in tennis will block further development. The level of Chinese tennis coaching also lags far behind as they still cannot find the discipline of the game. Due to the low level, Chinese male players don't have a high ranking so that they could only take part in a few low-class tournaments, which makes them lack experience and confidence."
In order to remedy the situation, Gao revealed that more experienced foreign coaches will be invited and more young players will be sent abroad to learn and practice
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