Parents plea for LTA to support Bingham's 15-year-old tennis star Phoenix Weir
A tennis player who has held Great Britain’s number one seed across various age groups is not being backed by the sport’s governing body, according to his parents.
Phoenix Weir, 15, from Bingham, who is currently ranked as number one in the Great Britain 16 and under category in singles and doubles, was not shortlisted for the Lawn Tennis Association’s National Academies.
And the decision has left Phoenix’s dad, Alastair, confused, with the father-coach questioning what more his son has to do to be recognised.
“He has won pretty much everything you can win in British tennis,” said Alastair.
“From national tournaments to international tournaments, he has won them all.
“He has won the Fred Perry championships, a very prestigious tournament, twice. He has won the Road To Wimbledon as well.
“We are a family team and we do everything ourselves, but we need to be supported.”
Alastair, who has left his job as a PE teacher to help Phoenix make the next step in the sport, said his son needed financial support.
“We are desperate to get funding,” he said. “We are stunned that he hasn’t been offered a place in the national LTA academy — it was very surprising to us.
“If you are in that academy you are getting thousands of pounds worth of funding to support you.
“Just looking at it, he is the number one and he hasn’t even been shortlisted for a spot in the academy, despite his success.
“We are at a loss of what to do. I have started a Go Fund Me page because we want to give him the same opportunity as the players in the academy.
“Amazingly, since doing this, we have raise more than £5,000 and people have been so supportive.
“It is ironic that the tennis community are backing him but the LTA aren’t.”
To join the academy the LTA states a player must receive a minimum of two nominations from LTA national coaches while also meeting on court requirements, such as reaching the semi-final at an LTA Youth National Series.
“The nominations are nothing to do with rankings, so being number one as Phoenix is doesn’t guarantee you selection,” said Alastair.
“We ultimately want to work with the LTA and we know we can’t do this without them.
“We are very, very shocked and surprised that he wasn’t shortlisted and this is nothing against the wonderful juniors in the academy already.
“But just in the last two tournaments alone, he has beaten two 17-year-old’s and a 16-year-old from the national academy, and he is only 15.
“Despite that, there is no nomination and we are left wondering what he has to do.
“I don’t think he is a better player than anybody in the academy, I just think he deserves the same opportunity to develop into a professional that they have.
“It is very hard for him to see his peers who he has grown up with earn these incredible opportunities to play around the world and play full time in a professional environment, and he isn’t getting any of that.
“I guess the coaches don’t like him, or they would have backed him.”
An LTA spokesperson said: “Our national coaches have been in regular dialogue with the Weirs over many years, and will continue to be so throughout Phoenix’s development.
“Despite not being selected for this year’s National Academy intake, we have endeavoured to ensure his parents have been kept abreast of our rationale throughout.
“We will be meeting them again this week and Phoenix will be eligible for travel grants to help with the costs of competition.
“Phoenix also remains eligible for other means of support at later stages on the LTA Player Pathway and we will continue to monitor his progress.”
For more information and to follow Phoenix’s journey, visit his fundraising page here.