LTA hunts for supremo

The tough task of encouraging more Britons to play tennis - and helping to foster a new generation of home-grown talent - is up for grabs.

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) is hunting a head of comms following Kris Dent's exit. He has become senior director of comms, Europe, for the world's biggest women's professional event, The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. He leaves after four years at the LTA.

The association wants  more Britons to play tennis and to ensure that elite players achieve success in the sport's major competitions. Dent's replacement will operate under a new regime - Roger Draper is to replace chief executive John Crowther next month.

The brief for Dent's successor involves trying to shake off the sport's middle-class image, and inspiring children to choose tennis over video games and football. The LTA also works closely with Sport England and government to secure funding for facilities and tennis programmes.

Dent joined the LTA four years ago as a comms manager and - after a two-week stint at Sport England in 2004 (PRWeek, 5 March 2004) - returned as head of communications.

The search follows claims that the LTA's £40m training centre in Roehampton, Surrey - due to open in 2007 - is a waste of money.

The association has also been attacked for failing to nurture British stars. Neither current number one Andrew Murray nor his predecessor Tim Henman were LTA trained; Greg Rusedski is Canadian born.

At the end of last year, Murray - who trained in Spain - blamed the LTA's Cambridge Academy for ruining his brother Jamie's tennis career.

The association retains Brunswick for corporate comms advice and Exposure for consumer work.

In his WTA Tour role Dent will oversee three senior press officers. He will report to V-P of comms Andrew Walker, based in Florida.

ALSO... Sony Ericsson has hired Four Communications to promote the second year of its sponsorship of the WTA Tour after a four-way pitch (PRWeek, 23 February).

The agency reports to Sony Ericsson head of global corporate comms and PR Aldo Liguori.

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