Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-7-31 9:53:18
Former world No. 1 Gustavo Kuerten said Brazil must capitalize on the Rio 2016 Olympic Games to kick-start the country's flagging tennis fortunes.
Speaking during an event here on Tuesday, the three-time French Open winner urged top tennis officials to use the Games as a platform for the sport's growth in the football-obsessed country.
"We have to improve many things, starting from the base, and create an action plan towards 2016," Kuerten said. "We must make the most of this opportunity to create a definitive structure."
"Brazil could have five players in the (men's) top 100 and three in the women's competition. This number would increasing in time. We have seen flashes of growth but the culture hasn't been nurtured."
Brazil's highest-ranked male player is currently Thomaz Bellucci at 115 while Teliana Pereira (100) is the country's top female.
Kuerten warned that creating new tennis courts was not enough to ensure the future success of the game in Brazil.
More important is the need to invest in a structure that attracts world-class coaches, according to the 36-year-old.
"I want to help to be proactive and give something back to Brazilian tennis," Kuerten said.
"I have a project and we have eight schools around Brazil. My dream is to have 150 or 200 schools. I think it's fundamental for the future of tennis here to look after the most elementary aspect, which is coaching."
During Tuesday's event Kuerten was presented with a framed print by the governing body of men's tennis, the ATP, in recognition of ending the 2000 season as the world's top-ranked player.
He is one of only 16 players - and the only South American - to achieve the feat since the rankings system began in 1973.