Paul McNamee has seen many days of glory for Australian tennis over the years, but on Wednesday he spoke out both in sadness and in anger after Australia's horror day at Wimbledon.
"It was a grim day for Australia - it's the worst day I've ever known in ... living memory," McNamee said after Australia's male contingent were all blitzed in the opening round at SW19 for the first time in 74 years.
The tennis legend, who won the Wimbledon doubles title twice and was part of two Australian Davis Cup wins in the 1980s, told ABC Local Radio it was time to stop avoiding the plain truth about the state of Australian tennis.
"I think unfortunately, this day has been coming for a while," he said.
"We've escaped the truth I guess with the odd player doing well here and there, Lleyton (Hewitt) carrying the flag, and Sam (Stosur) obviously having some good results and Bernard Tomic coming through.
"But I think it's camouflaged a deeper problem where we really haven't brought enough (young) players through."
Asked if he thought tennis was in crisis, he replied: "I don't think you can call it anything else when you have results like these."
McNamee said he believed Tennis Australia's whole philosophy of coaching was wrong and was resulting in the sort of disappointing results being seen at Wimbledon.
"They (Tennis Australia) have got an A-Z policy where they like to take complete control of athletes (and their coaching), and that's not the way our champions were made," he said.
McNamee cited the likes of Rod Laver, the winner of 11 grand slam titles, including the Grand Slam itself - all four major championships in a calendar year - on two occasions, who was coached for much of his career by Charlie Hollis.
He also pointed to Pat Cash, who won Wimbledon in 1987, and was coached for most of his career by Melbourne coach Ian Barclay.
"(But) Matt Ebden, who lost today, I've seen him with three different coaches already this year," McNamee said.
"...we need to have mentors one-on-one with the players and try to bring them through the transition from juniors to seniors."
McNamee said it was also time to acknowledge Australia's performance in the Davis Cup was not up to scratch.
"The signals have been there for a while, we haven't been in the World Group of the Davis Cup for six years now," he said, contrasting the performance with Australia's record of 29 wins in the competition, behind only the United States with 32.
"To not be playing in the World Group when we've had some pretty good players is regrettable."
McNamee previously ran unsuccessfully for the presidency of Tennis Australia, but said it was now for younger people to put their hands up to challenge those in charge.
"There's a lot of good people working at Tennis Australia ... but we have to accept that the system is broken and the philosophy isn't working," he said.
Earlier, Tennis Australia's Todd Woodbridge, told ABC's Steve Pearce that the day was very disappointing.
Woodbridge won the Wimbledon doubles' title nine times, and 16 grand slam doubles titles overall, and he was a mainstay on Australia's Davis Cup team in the 1990s. He is now Tennis Australia's head of professional tennis.
"I'd have loved to have four guys win in the first round, but it just didn't happen," Woodbridge said.
"But I have to reiterate, that a year ago (at Wimbledon) we had the best tournament that we've had (in some time)."
"We'll have tournaments like this and we'll have good ones, my role is to continue to get that depth rolling through so we don't have this happen.
"We know underneath us that we've got more kids with more ability that are solid players coming through, you've got your (Benjamin) Mitchells and you've got your (James) Duckworths and (Jonathon) Coopers and underneath them (Thanasi) Kokkinakis and (Blake) Mott.
"We're actually rolling through a group of players so that sort of thing doesn't happen again, but that still takes time."
Woodbridge said the loss for Bernard Tomic against Belgian outsider David Goffin would come as a wake-up call for the young Australian.
"It's been a great run for him up to now, in the sense that every step has been impressive," he said.
"He has to reflect, he has to regain focus and work on the things in his game to get better again.
"In some ways that's happened to every player, and most players it's happened to earlier than it has to him."
"He's not the first one to go through it, and no doubt he won't be the last."Tags: sport, tennis, melbourne-3000, vic, australia, united-kingdom, england First posted June 27, 2012 13:07:02