Tennis

Draper steps down as British tennis CEO

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LONDON (AP)

One of the top officials in British tennis is stepping down in September, ending a seven-year tenure in which he was often criticized for failing to improve the country's fortunes at elite level despite record levels of income.

Roger Draper said he made the decision to leave his role as chief executive of the Lawn Tennis Association just as British tennis ''is entering a very exciting phase.''

Andy Murray is the current U.S. Open and Olympic champion while the women's game in Britain is finally improving, with two players - Heather Watson and Laura Robson - ranked in the top 50.

''Now is the right time for me to hand over the baton to a new leader who can build on what has been achieved in recent years,'' Draper said in an LTA statement.

However, Draper has often been attacked by sections of the British media who believe Britain should be more successful in the sport, given the levels of funding it receives.

Last year, the LTA invested 73.2 million pounds ($109 million), more than half of which came from profits from Wimbledon, yet Murray is the only British man in the top 200 in the singles rankings.

However, the LTA said there was an 18-percent increase in the number of adults playing weekly in England in 2012.

Draper's departure comes only three months after David Gregson was appointed as independent chairman of the LTA board.

''His passion and enthusiasm for the sport will be much missed,'' Gregson said of Draper. ''Roger will be staying on as CEO until the end of September, and we shall now start the process to appoint his successor.''

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