The story was looking depressingly familiar when Laura Robson took to Court No1 on Tuesday afternoon, with only Andy Murray left standing after eight Wimbledon first round matches featuring a British interest.
But the 19-year-old is perhaps made of sterner stuff than her contemporaries and lifted the gathering gloom amid bright sunshine on court. She left 78 minutes later having dismantled the Russian No10 seed Maria Kirilenko and with the roar of the SW19 crowd ringing in her ears.
Pat Cash, the former Wimbledon champion, immediately predicted Robson would be a top five player on the women's tour and a Grand Slam winner.
Before Robson overcame Kirilenko with a swashbuckling display and became the first British woman for 15 years to beat a top 10 player at Wimbledon, the knives were again being sharpened for outgoing Lawn Tennis Association chief executive Roger Draper.
He will step down in September after seven years of fending off criticism over a lack of depth among elite British players and a failure to grow grassroots participation.
As he earlier sat watching British women's No2 Heather Watson lose in straight sets to highly rated American teenager Madison Keys, he could have been forgiven for getting that sinking feeling.
Ahead of Robson's victory, seven out of eight Brits in action had lost their opening round matches.
Later on wildcard Tara Moore became the eighth British player to exit in the first round, finally succumbing over three tough sets to the Estonian Kaia Kanepi despite being ranked 148 places below her.
Like Murray, who left Scotland for Spain at 15, the Australian-born Robson did not begin as a product of the LTA system, but has been funded by them for many years. She moved to the UK when she was six and recently employed Murray's former trainer Miles Maclagan on a temporary basis after parting company with her coach.
In truth Draper, paid £640,000 a year and not easily given to self-doubt, is right to consistently argue that Wimbledon alone is not the only barometer by which he and the LTA should be measured.
Following her impressive victory an unflustered Robson, exhibiting something of Murray's single-mindedness, said she did not let the perennial debate about British tennis bother her.
"I've always been one to just focus on myself and not worry about everyone else's expectations."
Other measures of UK tennis success provide cause for concern. Not least the fact that there are still no British male tennis players in the top 200 in the world apart from Murray.
Just before Wimbledon, the grassroots quango Sport England repeated its warning that the governing body could have its funding pulled if it failed to hit participation targets.
In December, when it announced a public funding round worth £7.1m a year to the LTA, it in effect put the governing body on "special measures" and said the cash would be pulled if it did not improve within 12 months.
Since 2005, despite the LTA's annual revenues of £60m, the number of people playing the game has fallen from 457,200 to 424,300 according to Sport England's figures.
The headlines mask changes behind the scenes that insiders insist will lead to the long overdue culture shift required among those charged with investing the £30m-plus bounty provided by those who throng through the gates at Wimbledon every year.
Through that investment, the LTA must not only ensure a steady stream of talent flows through the system capable of challenging the hungry, talented youngsters from a growing spread of countries, but grow grassroots participation.
In an ideal world, as with British Cycling over the past decade, the elite and the grassroots form a virtuous circle where one drives the other. It is a formula that has continually eluded Draper in his seven years in the role.
While he can claim credit for the commercial success of the LTA and some partial success at the elite end of the women's game, where there are two British women challenging to be in the top 50, for too many people tennis remains a privileged, middle-class sport.
Certainly, the 484,000 spectators streaming through the gates at Wimbledon this year would be forgiven for not recognising the LTA's claims that it is democratising the sport.
While the queue for Pimms at the bar and towels at the gift shop is several deep, a stand promoting British Tennis is notably less crowded.
Critics have long claimed that the LTA's millions have been squandered on a pampered elite of players who are not up to scratch, overpaid foreign coaches and a bloated executive. Those excesses are summed up, they claim, by the gleaming £30m National Tennis Centre in Roehampton, south-west London, and Draper's huge pay packet.
At grassroots level, they say not enough is being done to make the most of park courts or to enthuse those who may not be the sport's natural constituency.
But there are some green shoots and recently appointed chairman David Gregson is highly thought of.
The LTA points to its schools programmes, to an Allplay campaign designed to encourage use of park courts, to variants of the game such as its "cardio-tennis" fitness regime and some recent improvement in participation figures to claim it is belatedly making progress.
For all that they failed to come up through the LTA system, the hope is that Murray and now Robson can become standard bearers for a new breed of British tennis player that does not see failure as an option.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
image: © marianne bevis