The Murray window is closing, but just in time, Tennis Scotland seems to have shot through it. A long-standing grievance of the family has been the inability to properly capitalize on the continuing achievements of Andy and Jamie, with mother Judy vehemently condemning the governing bodies for their inertia.
In particular, Andy’s popularity has turned Scottish eyes on tennis like never before, and there seem to be plans to create a proper legacy at last that will ideally pave the way for the next competitors desperate to succeed him.
Although a new national tennis academy is being constructed in Stirling and plans are in place to develop ten new indoor facilities – five of which are expected to break ground later this year – the news came that Tennis Scotland has actually seized the ankles of the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) and managed to pull out of its wallet £ 1.5 million a year, doubling its funding.
That’s still not a massive sum, given how much money the LTA makes from hosting Wimbledon alone, but it at least helps Tennis Scotland to step on in their attempt to build a proper Murray legacy.
“We all have the same ambition to make a real difference on the back of what Scottish tennis players have achieved on the world stage,” said Chief Executive Blane Dodds.
It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This is a significant boost in support at a time when all you ever hear about is cuts and efficiencies.
Is it overdue? Completely. Absolutely! I couldn’t believe how poor the sales were when I first came into the organisation.
“We have to be serious and invest appropriately if we really want to capitalize on this age of world-class Scottish tennis players. We are lucky to have one of the world’s largest tennis tournaments, Wimbledon, which brings in a massive amount of money.
“So it was about working with the LTA through this and getting the correct answers. Our goals and plans were seen by them. Now, we are in line with their strategic vision, which has made investing easier for them. It took a long time, but this is a big step forward.
The promise of new indoor courts is timely, given the soggy start to the year. And this extra money would help to get the coaches to operate indoors.
The legacy I am looking for,”The legacy I’m going for has to be across the board,”must be across the board. It can’t just be about creating players of the world class. It must also be about bringing more people to play the game.
While the Murrays were playing, we doubled our membership, but we need to be able to play year-round.
Because of the weather and the lack of indoor facilities, that’s restricted right now. But the multi-million pound investment fund we have put in place would make that possible across Scotland.
We will need to look at tennis performances. If we are serious about bringing more people to play the game, then to ensure our younger players are the best they can be, we need to have a world-class training program.
The third aspect is the resources we have announced that will carry us to the next level. This means a huge improvement in services and facilities, more personnel and coaches, the growth of coaches, and more cooperation with schools and clubs.
The national academy’s first cohort included just one Scot, Matthew Rankin, but it is hoped that more would follow. And it should discourage future prospects, as the two Murray brothers had to do, from pursuing their careers abroad.
“It’s a real world-class academy based in Scotland,” said Dodds. We now have a choice for children who are ambitious and excited about tennis, rather than moving abroad or to the south.
Two years ago, if there had been a world-class talent coming in and asking for help, then we would have had to say we had nothing for them.
“Now we have a world-class program on our doorstep that we can be proud of and know will be successful. And we have the resources to implement it properly.”