It was sports day at Singlegate Primary School in Colliers Wood, south-west London, yesterday and in the playground next to the sports field some of the children were practising their skills.
Tennis did not appear to be part of the programme, but one boy was trying to master a half-volley struck through his legs with the racket held behind his back. It may have had something to do with the fact that Andy Murray, who had demonstrated the shot to perfection 24 hours earlier en route to victory in the Aegon Championships at Queen's Club, was standing just yards away.
Murray, his brother, Jamie, and mother, Judy, were at the school for the launch of Set4Sport, a programme created by Judy which shows parents ways they can play with their children that develop the skills required for playing sport. The programme is backed by the Royal Bank of Scotland in an extension of its sponsorship deal with Murray, which is believed to be worth more than £2m a year.
Wimbledon is only five days away but most of the questions Murray fielded were about the exhibition shot he had played towards the end of his victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at Queen's. He said he had come up with the shot in practice over the last 18 months but had never tried it in a match before.
"It was fun," Murray said. "Out of all the various trick shots, I've never missed that one in practice. I don't know if it's just a lot easier than it looks or whether it's just a shot I have a good feel for, but I got a good reaction to it.
"The only other person I've seen doing that shot was [Goran] Ivanisevic at Wimbledon. He serve-and-volleyed and the ball came straight back to him and he played a half-volley between his legs back deep.
"People enjoy seeing stuff like that, like when [Roger] Federer hits a through-the-legs shot or Rafa [Nadal] gets to an unbelievable ball on his forehand or someone does the splits. It's fun to watch the way athletes move, to see how high someone like Tsonga can jump and how hard guys are hitting the ball. It's such a power game that it's fun if you can throw in those reactions and skill shots."
Federer, among others, has hit even more spectacular winners than the Murray special, in particular the "hot dog" or "tweener", in which the ball is struck between the legs with the back to the net, usually after chasing back to retrieve a lob. Murray has hit some fine backhands and forehands from similar positions but has never attempted one between the legs.
"I'll do one for you at Wimbledon," he promised. "If I get the chance, I'll do it. Most of the time, if it's an important moment, it's not normally the right shot to hit, unless you really have to do it. Most of the time you can get back and put up a lob or try and use your wrist.
"If you run back and shape to hit a forehand or a backhand it's very difficult for the guy at the net to read where you're going to hit it because you don't often see guys with their back to you and hitting shots like that. But I practise through-the-legs shots and different variations of them, so maybe I'll try one at Wimbledon."
Judy Murray believes that her sons' skills owe much to the games they played when they were children, such as "beat the goalie", one of the activities featured in the book accompanying the Set4Sport programme, in which the child stands between two markers and has to avoid being hit by balls thrown towards him or fend them off with a racket.
"Whether he was dodging out of the way of the balls or whether he had a racket in each hand batting them back, Jamie loved it," she said. "He developed unbelievably quick reactions at the net, which you can see when he's playing now. We weren't doing it for that reason. We were just doing it because it was really good fun.
"When I was playing with them then I wasn't coaching tennis, I was just a mum who liked sport. But looking back, they developed great hand-eye co-ordination at a very young age and I'm absolutely sure that stood them in good stead for whatever sport they were going to play, but in particular for a sport like tennis, where you really do have to be incredibly well co-ordinated to play it well."
She added: "I came from a very sporting family. Both of my parents played a lot of sport. I grew up loving sport and I wanted my kids to grow up loving sport as well, so it was pretty much second nature for me to play with them in the house or in the garden, dreaming up your own games with whatever piece of household equipment you had lying about."
Set4Sport is a new programme from Judy Murray in association with RBS, showcasing easy ways for parents to play with their children. See www.Set4Sport.com
The rich lists: Career prize money
After winning 17 ATP titles since turning pro in 2005, Andy Murray has picked up about £10m in earnings.
* Royal Bank of Scotland His long-term partnership with RBS provides him with about £2m per year.
* Fred Perry Murray promoted Fred Perry's clothing line from 2004 to 2009, earning about £1m per year.
* Adidas After switching from Fred Perry, Murray agreed a £3m-a-year deal.
* Head With his long-standing racket sponsor, Murray receives an estimated £1m per year.
* Tag Heuer Agreed a deal in 2006 with the watch manufacturer worth an estimated £250,000 per year.
* Highland Spring Murray had a four-year agreement (worth about £1m per year) until the partnership ended earlier this year.
Career prize money for leading male tennis players
1. Roger Federer £38.6m
2. Pete Sampras £26.4m
3. Rafael Nadal £25.5m
4. Andre Agassi £19m
5. Novak Djokovic £18.9m
14. Andy Murray £9.8m
Career prize money for leading female tennis players
1. Serena Williams £20m
2. Venus Williams £16.9m
3. Kim Clijsters £14.5m
4. Lindsay Davenport £13.5m
5. Steffi Graf £13.4m
How much do the top footballers earn in one year?
1. David Beckham £24.4m
2. Cristiano Ronaldo £23.2m
3. Lionel Messi £19.5m
4. Kaka £15.3m
5. Ronaldinho £14.6m
6. Thierry Henry £12.8m
7. Wayne Rooney £12.2m
8. Frank Lampard £10.4m
9. Zlatan Ibrahimovic £10.4m
10. Samuel Eto'o £9.2m
figures from 2010
Richest football managers
1. Fabio Capello £37m
2. Sir Alex Ferguson £27m
3. Carlo Ancelotti £25m
4. Giovanni Trapattoni £20m
5. Arsène Wenger £19m
6. Sven Goran Eriksson £16m
7. Roberto Mancini £16m
8= Steve Bruce £11m
8= Mark Hughes £11m
But they are still a long way behind... the richest men in British sport
1. Alisher Usmanov £12.4 billion
Has a 27 per cent stake in Arsenal and made his money in steel and mining
2. Roman Abramovich £10.3bn
Chelsea owner has made his fortune from oil and property
Sanja VlaisavljevicReuse content