Leader: Capitalise on our tennis heroes

Gordon Reid kisses the championship trophy after beating Belgium&#39s Joachim Gerard.  Picture: Darrian Traynor/Getty

Gordon Reid kisses the championship trophy after beating Belgium&#39s Joachim Gerard. Picture: Darrian Traynor/Getty

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SCOTLAND has a new sporting hero, a grand-slam tennis champion of dazzling skill. Gordon Reid yesterday won the men’s singles wheelchair final of the Australian Open in fine style.

The bubbles were still fresh in Reid’s champagne when there was more cause for celebration. Jamie Murray became the first Brit in 82 years to win the tournament’s men’s doubles title after he and Brazilian Bruno Soares beat Daniel Nestor and Radek Stepanek in the final.

Hopefully, today – perhaps even by the time you’re reading this – Jamie’s brother Andy will have secured his own final victory over friend and rival Novak Djokovic.

It is impossible to overestimate the joy Andy Murray continues to bring to Scotland. We’ve watched him grow from a gangly, awkward – sometimes spiky – teenager into a world class athlete, with a fine line in deadpan wit.

Murray unites Scotland whenever he competes. That’s no mean achievement, these days.

But beyond the pleasure he gives us (and our neighbours south of the Border) Murray does something else. He makes us think about sport, about the benefits it can bring to those who participate, and the way in which we prepare talented youngsters for possible careers.

Andy Murray has been a passionate advocate for his sport and we believe he deserves a hearing when he says we could do more to support youngsters who show talent for tennis, and other sports. He had to travel to Spain as a youngster to get the training he required to become one of the world’s greatest players. We should do all we can to ensure greater opportunities are available here, at home.

Reid’s success surely boosts the case for greater investment in grassroots tennis. He contracted transverse myelitis – a disease affecting the spinal chord – when he was aged just 13. Overnight, he lost the ability to walk.

This devastatingly cruel twist of fate might have stopped most of us in our tracks, but Reid refused to give in, training in the sport he loved and becoming a world beater.

The Murrays and Reid are all great role models for young Scots. We should make the most of that fact and invest in the sport at which they excel.

Meanwhile, let’s cheer on Andy this morning.

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