Great slams Tennis NZ amid claims of a crisis

Last updated 22:31 21/06/2008

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Tennis legend Onny Parun claims Tennis New Zealand is in the midst of its worst crisis for a century.

While some in the sport bask in the glow of Marina Erakovic's rise to fame this year, Parun is keeping it real.

The tennis great a finalist at the Australian Open in 1973 and five-time ATP singles titles winner has made the stunning call because of the Australisation of the sport money being wasted on too many coaches and a lack of resources for New Zealand players.

Parun is pointing his finger squarely at CEO Steve Walker and the board of TNZ.

"TNZ is in the greatest crisis it's been in for the last 100 years.

"I'm really furious about Steve Walker.

"In each centre they have a regional performance coach, funded by TNZ, a coach force (who works at a level under the national coach), as well as the players having their own coaches.

"There's also been the appointment of Peter McGraw from Australia, who Steve has appointed as the director of national coaching.

"So you've got a lot of money thrown into one area which is an absolute waste of time.

"All this money, which could go to juniors, is being diverted to coaching coaches, which is an absolute waste of time."

As well as McGraw, Parun says he has a low opinion of Peter Lumsden, who was recently recruited by TNZ to help out with our top female players in the summer.

"My regard for Peter McGraw is lower than low," Parun raged.

"Steve Walker says he's one of the most respected people in the business but I beg to differ.

"He was a third-grade player in Melbourne who never played on the circuit.

"He's going around coaching these regional coaches, but they're more experienced than he is.

"You have Jeff Simpson on the North Shore, Kevin Woolcott and Glenn Wilson in Christchurch. These are all guys who've played and know much more than him and now he's coaching them."

Walker declined to comment other than to say Parun was entitled to his opinion before claiming the sport was on the up in this country.

"Our overall high performance programme is improving in every area," he said. "Our numbers are up, the rankings of our top five men are up 30 percent over the last 12 months. Our women are up 12 percent, juniors up 35 percent.

"We're really excited about the way things are going and it's just a great shame that Onny wants to find cause to criticise."

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