Judy Murray reveals key to future of Scottish tennis after failure to capitalise on Andy Murray's success

With no public indoor tennis facilities built in Scotland between 2006 and 2016, Judy has called on the Lawn Tennis Association to invest in the sport

Paul Newman
In Melbourne
Saturday 19 January 2019 19:13
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Tennis players pay tribute to Andy Murray

Judy Murray, the mother of Andy and Jamie, believes that building more indoor tennis facilities will be crucial to the future of the game in Scotland. Judy is concerned that Britain has failed to capitalise on the success of her two sons and is seeking support from the Lawn Tennis Association for a project she has spearheaded to build a tennis and golf centre near her family’s home city of Dunblane.

Judy Murray pointed out that no public indoor tennis facilities had been built in Scotland between 2006 and 2016, which was the period when her younger son in particular enjoyed his greatest triumphs.

“There had been two indoor courts built in Glasgow at David Lloyd in Rouken Glen, which is a commercial club, so that pre-supposes that you have the money to join,” she said. “There are four at Gleneagles hotel, which is a five-star hotel, but there is pay-and-play access there.

“Since then in the last year there has been four indoor courts at St Andrews University which has been entirely funded by the university. That’s been it. Between 2006 and 2016, which is when Andy and Jamie ended up as world No 1, there was nothing.”

Murray said that it was very hard to build the game “in a country like ours where the weather is terrible” without indoor facilities. “If our courts are constantly flooded or covered in snow or you are playing in a howling gale, kids are not resilient any more so we need indoor facilities,” she said.

“It’s not just on the playing side. If we want to raise the level of coaches and see coaching as a career, you need to be able to work all year round. Really it’s just the commercial clubs where you have a chance. You need a cover, otherwise you are cancelling on a regular basis and it’s not attracting people to the game.

“The indoor facilities is one thing. I think public facilities in general is another thing. I think we’ve done a little bit better on that in terms of outdoor public facilities. We need courts in state schools. It’s really just the fee-paying schools that have them. To capitalise on the excitement, the buzz and profile that we have had in Scotland, we haven’t been able to capitalise on it in relation to facilities.”

Murray is also disappointed at the failure to develop a large enough workforce to help children to enjoy tennis. “I think probably five years ago now I realised we weren’t capitalising on it and needed to build a bigger workforce to deliver more activity to more people, because it’s not just about kids,” she said. “For me the adults are every bit as important because adults will get their kids going and adults will create things for kids to play in.”

She added: “My biggest wish, I think, is that there is a bricks-and-mortar legacy for Scotland and I can use that as a workforce-building centre for Scotland and people can come to me rather than me going out to them. Because if you don’t invest in people, we’re not going to get very far.

Jamie and Andy Murray's success deserves more investment according to Judy Murray 

“For me the real legacy is in our players and our grass roots of the game because 99 per cent of players in any country will be recreational and one per cent may be the ones who make some kind of career out of it. You have to cater for the masses.”

Murray has been involved in a project to build a tennis and golf centre at Park of Keir, south of Dunblane. The proposed facility would provide indoor and outdoor tennis courts for community use, but there is currently a shortfall of about £6m in the funding for the tennis part of the development.

Considering the success of Scottish tennis in recent years – despite the lack of funding – Murray thinks the project deserves investment.

Judy Murray applauds her son Andy at the Australian Open

The LTA has so far failed to back it financially, but Murray insisted: “There’s still time to rectify that, and I think if I can get my centre going, if I can find support from the government and the LTA to build it debt-free, I still think there’s no reason why we can’t do this all over again.”

She added: “It shouldn’t be such a struggle. There should be something to show for what both Andy and Jamie achieved, no question about that.”

The LTA responded to Murray’s criticisms by pointing out that it was proceeding with a £15m joint-funding initiative launched two years ago in co-operation with sportscotland, the national agency for sport north of the border.

The LTA's goal, in partnership with Tennis Scotland, is to double the number of covered courts in the country – whether indoors or under canopies – to 225 by 2027 with the aim of increasing the numbers of people playing the sport.

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