With Day-Glo trainers, sparkly tops and woolly hats, Scotland’s tiny tennis champions of the future were being put through their paces at Dunblane Sports Club yesterday.
Not yet the height of the tennis net, and with beanbags balanced on their tennis rackets, they were responding to their coach’s instructions of “Andy [Murray] says jump”, “Andy says skip”. The youngsters, aged around five and under were oblivious to the fanfare surrounding the town’s most famous son.
Watching from the sidelines was Brian Melville who first coached the future Grand Slam champion at the club.
“He had terrific, natural ability, things you couldn’t coach. He tried his hardest even when he was too small to hold a tennis racket properly.
“I followed Andy’s career and saw him become a legend. Andy might think this is the end of the book, but it’s a new chapter for him.”
In nearby Dunblane High Street, still decorated with bunting in the Wimbledon colours of purple, green and yellow, butcher Graham Fleming was putting three steak pies in his shop windows with pastry letters spelling out ‘Thank you’, ‘ Andy,’ and a third decorated like a tennis ball.
“I feel sorry for Andy in that tennis has been his whole life, not just his adult life. Sports people retire early but this injury has brought it forward for him. I wasn’t expecting this at all,” said Mr Fleming.
“But Andy put Dunblane back on the map, in people’s minds for a positive reason. He will bounce back I’m sure of that.”
The theme of Murray creating a positive image for Dunblane, after the tragedy in March 1996 at Dunblane primary school which saw 16 children and their teacher killed by a gunman, was universal.
Pamela Mackie, 38, creative director of the town’s Rubber Chicken Theatre Company and who is expecting her fifth child, said: “People used to say, ‘Oh, you’re from Dunblane’ in a negative tone of voice. We’ll never forget what happened that day but now it is not the sole focus.
“Andy has changed the perception of the town. Even daft things, like tourists getting their photos taken by the gold post box makes people smile.
“All my children know who Andy is and it means I can tell them, ‘You can be anything, you can achieve anything.”
In 2012 the Royal Mail painted the postbox gold in honour of Murray’s Olympic gold medal.
Lesley Anderson, owner of Point Nouveau bridal salon, said: “I was driving to work and was actually quite upset at the news. He’s still a young man and it’s injury that’s done it for him. He’s a shining star and an ambassador for youngsters.”
Last word goes to Shirley Erskine, Murray’s maternal grandmother, who was attempting to keep low-profile.
“It’s very sad, we’ve seen him battle. At this point we just don’t know what’s going to happen, but we just want to see Andy pain-free and living his life.
“One thing I do know is that Andy’s not just going to sit there and play dominoes. He’s got his life ahead of him.”