THE creation of a major indoor tennis centre in Edinburgh is the top spending priority to capitalise on Andy Murray’s historic Wimbledon triumph, according to one of Scotland’s leading coaches.
Marcel du Coudray, head of coaching at Merchiston-based Tennis Academy Scotland, estimated it would cost between £5-15 million to build a enclosed stadium suitable for training the country’s next generation of champions.
Tennis courts have been included in the designs for a proposed National Performance Centre for Sport at Heriot-Watt University. And as a call was put out to make tennis more widely available to people from all backgrounds, he said the Lothians needed as many as 30 covered courts across multiple indoor venues to allow juniors to develop their games all year round.
The comments came as the Scottish Government’s sports agency announced a £5.8m investment in improving tennis facilities and widening access to the sport, in the wake of Murray’s historic win.
Sportscotland and Tennis Scotland, the sport’s governing body, announced the four-year investment stream to grow participation rates, increase the sport’s accessibility, and provide suitable environments to develop athletes to performance levels.
Mr du Coudray, who has coached former world no.3 Nikolay Davydenko, said: “One of the visions for the next few years is to build an indoor centre.
“It’s in the formative stage, but Sportscotland and other role players are looking at certain venues. We have a lot of courts, but people don’t want to play in the rain or when it’s dark. They need to be covered.
“If we can get another five to eight indoor centres that would be absolutely spot on, with one of those dedicated to performance. It’s ambitious, but why not dream big?”
City culture and sport convener Councillor Richard Lewis said the council was preparing a tennis strategy to create a better pathway for talented players. And Tennis Scotland is planning to write to all clubs across the Lothians encouraging them to open their doors to new members, particularly youngsters.
Spokesman Dave McDermott said: “We want to really try and seize the opportunity by making tennis accessible to all because we’re never going to have a better chance.”
About 250 courts exist across Edinburgh and the Lothians, with more than 90 of them available to the public.
The Lawn Tennis Association identified Edinburgh as a priority area for investment earlier this year. Scotland’s premier tennis authority confirmed three new hard courts were being built at Leith Links starting this month. The new facility is expected to be finished by late September.
Three replacement courts are also being created at Liberton High School to form a community tennis park that will be open to local residents. Floodlights are on track to be installed at the Meadows tennis facility later this year, while new or improved courts for Musselburgh, Tranent and Haddington are in the pipeline.
Mark Gaffney, co-organiser of the week-long East Lothian Open Tennis Tournament, said clubs across the Lothians needed to shed the sport’s elitist stigma and actively seek out talented junior players to capitalise on Murray mania.
He said more slow-surface courts were also needed, adding: “A lot of it tends to be artificial grass, which is very fast and maybe in the developmental stages of the game can be quite tricky for kids. They’re not getting many opportunities to play more rallies, more shots.”
Since 2008, Tennis Scotland’s membership has increased from 32,715 to 47,657 – a rise of over 45 per cent.
The new Sportscotland investment is designed to improve tennis facilities in Scotland, both in clubs and courts in public parks, and increase the sport’s accessibility for those looking to emulate Scotland’s Wimbledon champion. In addition, the new money is aimed at enhancing the regional development team at Tennis Scotland, which will work to further increase participation, develop closer links between schools and places to play tennis, opening up better pathways for the sport, and work with local authorities to prioritise the rejuvenation of park courts.
Speaking at the Gannochy National Tennis Centre at the University of Stirling, Sports Minister Shona Robison said: “Andy’s win was an emotional moment for Scotland and the whole country has been inspired by his brilliant performance.
“We want to see more people playing tennis and having access to top quality facilities to get fit, try something new, and have fun.
“This money is all about making sure the right facilities are there to help people get more active, as well as helping to create the tennis stars of the future to keep those Wimbledon wins coming.”
Stewart Harris, chief executive of sportscotland, said: “Andy’s Wimbledon victory was a defining moment for Scottish sport, and we are working collectively to capitalise on his incredible success.
“Today’s announcement will make it more accessible for people in Scotland to play tennis in improving facilities.
“It’s important that we take this unique chance to help grow the game in Scotland by providing more and better opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to play, and to assist the young players of today to emulate their hero from Dunblane.”
Chief executive of Tennis Scotland, David Marshall, said: “Never in the history of the game has tennis enjoyed such a level of profile in this country, and today’s announcement greatly enhances Tennis Scotland’s ability to take advantage of what is a huge opportunity to significantly increase levels of participation throughout the country.”
Roger Draper, chief executive of the Lawn Tennis Association, said: “Andy’s victory has inspired a nation, and this is a great opportunity to get more people playing tennis in Scotland.”
Andy Murray’s mother, Judy, has said that tennis should have been included in next year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, saying it would have been “huge” for the new Wimbledon champion to take part in his home country.
Centre has ace plan
THE club where Wimbledon champion Andy Murray regularly practised as a youngster will consider erecting a plaque or memorial in his honour.
Officials at Craiglockhart Tennis Centre, which is hosting the Aegon Junior International this week featuring Scotland’s best junior players, will investigate how best to pay tribute to Murray’s landmark success at SW19.
The Dunblane player trained on the centre’s tennis courts from the age of nine before travelling to Spain to develop his immense talent at the Sanchez-Casal Academy.
Anna Myatt, tennis development officer at Craiglockhart, said: “Murray’s win was well deserved. The important thing is to make sure that children are following in his footsteps.”
Andy a knight riser?
ANDY Murray deserves a knighthood after becoming the first Briton to win the Wimbledon men’s singles in 77 years, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.
The Scottish tennis star claimed the coveted title on Sunday after overpowering world No.1 Novak Djokovic, winning 6-4, 7-5, 6-4. And Mr Cameron made his view known on the two-time Grand Slam champion becoming Sir Murray, saying: “Honours are decided independently, but frankly I can’t think of anyone who deserves one more.”
Murray is expected to be given Freedom of the City of Stirling. First Minister Alex Salmond suggested a reception for the Olympic gold medallist could also be held in Stirling Castle, near Murray’s home town of Dunblane.
The new champion admitted he had only slept for about an hour on Sunday night, saying he feared going to sleep in case it all turned out to be a dream.
So Where were you?
As well as being roared on by the crowds on Centre Court at Wimbledon and on Henman Hill, Andy Murray’s history-making Men’s Singles Championship final against the world No.1, Serbian player Novak Djokovic, was seen by fans wherever they were around the world:
Kirsty Cameron: I was working but thankfully my manager allowed me to watch, never missed a Wimbledon final in years, and it was fantastic! Well done Andy Murray!
Lorraine Moorhead: “On holiday at the pool bar in Marmaris – we were on the edge of our seats – the entire place erupted – so well fought and so well deserved to our Scots man Andy.”
Julia Hope: “Butlins at Skegness – fantastic!!”
Elaine Faulds-Rankin: “Ward 27 in The Western General, we procured a TV!”
Stuart Pearson: “Festival square was fantastic, good day out.”
Ruby Fowler: “I watched it very late into the night way Down Under in Australia. may have been here 40 years
but once a Scot, always a Scot.”
Lorraine McKay: “I dragged my son away from his X Box at the last game I told him to come and watch history being made – he was glad he did lol.”