Andy Murray: How Evening News charted his rise

Andy Murray at 14. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Andy Murray at 14. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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So, WHAT were you doing on April 13, 1994? Here at the Evening News the first report was being compiled and published about a promising young tennis player called ... Andrew (not yet Andy) Murray.

How promising? Well, Andrew was aged just six years old when he became the youngest to taste victory in a first-round tie at a Scottish ranking tournament – the Waverley Open at Suffolk Road, Edinburgh.

Andy Murray with brother Jamie in Scotland's under-12 tennis team

Andy Murray with brother Jamie in Scotland's under-12 tennis team

A star was born and presented to an unsuspecting readership thanks to our then correspondent, Gordon Scott’s, ability as a tennis talent spotter and in the ensuing years we have continued to chronicle the development of the young master right up to becoming the grand slam master as he proved when winning the latest Wimbledon men’s singles title.

Not that such exalted success wasn’t predicted or planned for; in a feature article on Edinburgh’s “most influential women”, Gloria Grossset, then secretary of the Scottish Lawn Tennis Association, told us in October, 1998: “I see my role as ... helping the Association produce a Wimbledon champion.”

Many might have been sceptical about such a claim but Andrew Murray was fast making his way up the ranks.

In fact, on June 29, 1998 we had reported on the Scottish under-12s victory over England at Craiglockhart noting: “Ten-year-old Andrew Murray was undefeated.”

Into the Millennium, things gathered pace and we gave a Scottish tennis renaissance some perspective, noting: “Recent advances have seen Alan Mackin gain selection for the Davis Cup team and Andrew Murray win the Orange Bowl in Florida – the unofficial under-12 world championship.”

Winning in the USA was to become a habit and on September 13, 2004, Murray followed in the footsteps of Pat Cash, Stefan Edberg, Marcelo Rios and Andy Roddick to claim the junior slam title at Flushing Meadows prompting Craiglockhart-based Director of Tennis, Matt Hulbert, to tell us: “I think it is the start of something special for tennis in Scotland.

“It is brilliant for all the youngsters to have a real role model. Andrew is somebody from within their own patch they can measure their own progress against.”

We should have known because perhaps the first real insight into just how effective Andy Murray could become was given to us a year earlier when Leon Smith, then an up-and-coming coach but now Davis Cup supremo, helped preview the 2003 Wimbledon Championship over lunch in the Murrayfield Hotel and compared his pupil, then 17, to Andre Agassi and Lleyton Hewitt.

Leon told us: “Maybe I am being a bit biased because I work with him but what Andrew Murray has is an incredible return of serve.

“Look at Lleyton Hewitt or Andre Agassi and that is the key element of their game. Also, tactically Andrew is very, very alert. He’s also very good at making really, really quick decisions.”

As more and more of the starlet’s background was emerging, the family connection with Hibs was revealed by the Evening News.

The catalyst was Murray’s inclusion as Great Britain’s youngest ever Davis Cup competitor for a match against Israel in Tel Aviv.

A call to Andy’s grandfather, Roy Erskine, let the cat out of the bag regarding some sporting pedigree other than the fact mum, Judy, was Scottish champion in 1981.

Mr Erskine told us: “I was at Hibs for three seasons under the managership of Hugh Shaw, playing a few first-team games including an East of Scotland Shield Final.

“So, if Andrew gets to make his Davis Cup debut I’d hope it is something to do with having that competitive spirit in his genes.

“Andrew was a super centre-forward who liked to use his height to advantage and for a while I thought of him as a great football prospect. Then tennis claimed him as it was always going to do because that is where his heart lies.”

In the wake of Novak Djokovic clawing back three initial match points on Sunday before Murray prevailed how visionary was this prediction?:

“Determination is probably his (Murray’s) strongest suit” insisted Mr Erskine on March 3, 2005.

From Davis Cup glory came victory in his first ATP tour event – the SAP Open in San Jose, beating Lleyton Hewitt.

It was time for the Evening News to re-visit Murray’s competitive roots by interviewing the man in charge of the tournament which yielded that inaugural win.

Peter Nicolson said: “Andrew came along to the second-ever Waverley Open and the impact was immediate through his obvious abilities.

“The Waverley Junior Open was a launchpad for Andy Murray’s Californian conquest (and) the secret of his current success is the way he was pushed hard by a crop of outstanding young contemporaries including his brother Jamie and Jamie Baker.

“Partly because he was always chasing the more intensive competition, usually giving away a year or so in age, which is a lot at that stage of development, his name isn’t on our singles trophy. He was planning ahead even then.”

Andy Murray may have missed out on the Waverley Open but Wimbledon 2013 is surely a decent substitute!