An angry Dan Evans has claimed he took aim at “elitist” British tennis to help fellow “working-class people” after his fiery defeat left only two British singles stars left at the French Open. “I just don’t think there’s a chance for people from working-class backgrounds to get into the sport and get a chance if their parents don’t have money,” said the British No 2.
The Brummie stated in his pre-tournament press conference that Emma Raducanu’s US Open success had “papered over the cracks” in the sport. And he said there should be “soul-searching” and changes to the development system after 10 British players failed to get through qualifying. There are no British women singles players in the top 100 – and none here with Emma Raducanu injured.
LTA chiefs Leon Smith and Michael Bourne were watching Court 7 yesterday as the No 20 seed lost his cool in the Paris heat to go down 6-4 6-4 6-4 to Aussie wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis. And he then re-directed his fire from the Spanish umpire to class inequalities back home.
“I voice my opinions because I want younger children, working-class kids to get the support they deserve,” Evans said. “In any other sport, when people voice their opinions about a system, it goes forward, but in tennis, because we’re so elitist in England, it doesn’t get put forward. I’m doing it for working-class people like I was.
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“No-one ever just comes from nowhere. In Britain. it’s always: ‘Yeah, he was good when he was young’. Ten times out of ten they’re from a very nice area most likely. I just don’t think there’s a chance for people from working-class backgrounds to get into the sport and get a chance if their parents don’t have money.
“That’s why I do it. I’m just asking for things to be a bit different, more people to have a chance to get funded. It’s not personal. If you’re taking it personally, then maybe you’re guilty of what I’m saying.”
But after losing in the first round here for the fifth time, Evans admitted: “I’ve got my own battles to deal with right now on the court. It’s shocking how I played today. It’s not good enough.”
Evans led 4-2 30-0 in the second set before he was foot-faulted and double-faulted for crossing the centre line with his back foot. He then lost the next four points – and then ranted at umpire Jaume Campistol before getting a code violation for slamming his water bottle into the clay.
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“I’ll be getting fined, obviously, for breaking the water bottle. I have never had a foot fault like that before. It obviously threw me quite a bit. I sort of lost all trust in where my feet were. It’s a very minor thing, but it became a pretty big thing in my head. But they find a way of getting involved.
“Whoever it is up in the chair, they find a way, and they’re good at it. They get involved plenty. It’s frustrating. Breaking a water bottle is not that big of a deal. Disruptive, wrong, a few other things you could say about it.
“That’s not anywhere near the reason why I lost. I was bottom drawer from start to finish, and he was decent.” British No 1 Cam Borrie will face French wildcard Benoit Paire on Monday while Jack Draper plays Argentine Tomas Martin Etcheverry.
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