Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


Lawn Tennis Association excited by Judy Murray appointment


Judy Murray's unique perspective as coach and parent at the highest level in tennis makes her a very valuable asset to the Lawn Tennis Association, according to head of men's and women's tennis Leon Smith.

Earlier this month Murray, the mother of world number four Andy and doubles specialist Jamie, was appointed as Fed Cup captain, with a wider role working with Britain's leading junior girls and mentoring female coaches.

Murray and Smith first worked together more than a decade ago when she was national coach for Scotland and he was an up-and-coming young coach, and he was a major figure in the fledgling career of Andy Murray.

Smith told Press Association Sport: "I know Judy particularly well. She was my mentor for many years so I've lived and breathed her coaching style.

"I'm really excited about this appointment because she will bring a lot of energy, experience, passion and expertise.

"She can actually go from the start of the journey, with very young girls and their coaches and parents all the way through to the Fed Cup team, so it's a real pathway that Judy can help with.

"Judy's in a very unique situation, and it's one that I'm delighted we can really tap into. We've been using Judy for quite a while for advice and support but in this role she can have a lot more contact time with coaches, parents and players."

Murray will see some of the top British players in action in Auckland at the start of the new season and then travel on to Australia before heading home to prepare for her first Fed Cup assignment in Israel at the start of February.

In Elena Baltacha, Anne Keothavong, Heather Watson and Laura Robson, Britain has one of its strongest Fed Cup teams for a long time, although with 15 teams going for the two promotion spots available from Europe/Africa Group I, advancing to World Group II will be far from easy.

Murray said of the women's game in Britain: "I think it's in good shape. Last year Elena finished close to top 50. That was her best ever year. Same with Anne Keothavong.

"Both are 28 so coming more towards the end of their careers but playing some of their best tennis, which is very exciting.

"And then having the teenagers Heather Watson and Laura Robson. It's impossible to say just how far they can go but I think both of them will get into the top 50 and have the potential to go beyond that."

Murray is returning to her coaching roots after devoting a lot of time in recent years to the battle to make tennis more accessible, and that is a cause she remains passionate about.

"We need to invest a lot in growing the game to get more people playing," she said. "Because the more people we have playing at the base of our pyramid, the more chance we have of getting more players through.

"That's very, very important. I won't have as much time but I'm still very committed to trying to help make that happen."