Judy Murray has renewed calls for a Scottish national tennis facility, claiming there has never been a better time to capitalise on the sport’s popularity.
The mother of world No 1 Sir Andy and former doubles No 1 Jamie Murray had previously fronted plans to construct a world-class centre in the family’s home town of Dunblane but proposals were shelved in the face of local protests.
However, speaking at a junior tennis masterclass at David Lloyd Edinburgh, Mrs Murray said now was the perfect opportunity to take advantage of a growing national interest in the sport.
“We have a huge opportunity at the moment, we have for the last ten years because we’ve had so many players playing at such a high level that interest in the game and in the sport has never been higher,” she said.
“I’ve always said that Andy and Jamie won’t play forever and when they stop playing, where’s the leverage and where’s the buzz going to come from, so we really need to capitalise on it now.
“We need to be aiming to have a national centre and a national academy of our own at some point, but in order for that to happen, you need numbers of quality junior players and quality junior coaches.”
Mrs Murray, 57, faced a public inquiry into proposals for the centre at the Park of Keir near Dunblane last year after Stirling Council rejected the plans due to the loss of vital greenbelt land.
She believes Scotland risks losing a generation of talent due to inadequate facilities.
“We need to have a lot more public courts across the country for an academy to take shape,” she said. “These need to be indoor and outdoor as well, that’s vital, we have some terrible weather in Scotland but relatively few indoor courts compared to the population that we have and to make this a strong sport for Scotland, we need to make it a 12 months of the year sport.
“A love of tennis doesn’t just happen automatically, to kids and adults, if they want to try any sport, they don’t just rock up and join a club straight away, they need to develop a love of it.
“We have to create the workforce and create the player base first because you can’t have a national academy with just three or four international players of different ages and different sexes, it just doesn’t work.
“That’s why so many of our top junior players leave the country to go and train at these bases overseas and that’s why we’re trying to train coaches to develop themselves and deliver more effectively. In turn that gives more kids the chance to get playing and then in time we have a good base for a national academy.”
She hopes her new role as coach consultant for David Lloyd Clubs will help encourage more children to take up the sport.
“My aim is to get children engaged and active through sport and enjoying tennis in particular”
Meanwhile, Andy Murray missed out on a doubles meeting with brother Jamie when he and Dan Evans were knocked out in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
Murray and Evans, who both also exited the singles tournament in round two, were beaten 6-4, 6-3 by Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau.