JUDY MURRAY has been living the dream on the Algarve, but if past experience is anything to go by there are more than a few who will begrudge her the fun she is having in the sun.
It is fair to say that through no fault of her own, the mother of world No.1 and Grand Slam champion tennis players Jamie and Andy splits opinions. For the most part, her critics seem to fall into three categories.
Firstly, there are those in the sporting establishment who resent her repeated challenge to the way sport is organised and promoted; criticism of an array of governing bodies having featured in her autobiography Knowing The Score, which was published last year.
Secondly, more locally, there are meanwhile some neighbours in the communities she grew up in who seem envious of the success she and her sons have enjoyed.
Finally, there are those who first encountered her on television as a Wimbledon spectator and formed the impression that she was an extreme example of pushy parenting. Those doing so failed, of course, to appreciate properly that long before she was a “tennis mom”, Murray was an international player and coach in her own right.
Murray could not have done what she has down the years without a fierce sense of purpose, but she has never lost sight of the fact that first and foremost, sport is a way of keeping the population healthy while enjoying the process. That is reflected in her latest project, an involvement with newly created facility The Campus at the Quinta do Lago resort. The venue has been famous as a golf refuge for decades but is now seeking to provide a wider range of activities and, as pleasant as it is to get some sunshine on her back, it represents something of a busman’s holiday.
“This is just a fun thing for me to do. We came out to have a look at the place and obviously it’s brand new, so it was a chance to be involved from the start and shape a team here,” she explained.
“So, we came out for a couple of days at the beginning of October and spent two days with their coaching team here.”
It feels as if there is a bit of a quid-pro-quo here as Murray takes her methodology to the Iberian Peninsula, the area of the world in which Andy developed his talents as a youngster, and her eagerness to do so reflects her general outlook.
“There’s probably not a lot of coach-development opportunities in Portugal and I’m all for sharing everything I’ve developed, the way that I work making tennis more doable and more fun with big numbers,” said Murray.
“If you can encourage big numbers it becomes cheaper, so if we have 18 on the court and you can show them how to deliver a session for an hour for that number, then it becomes cost effective.”
While the resort is very much up-market, it already has an extensive programme for introducing local youngsters to golf, delivered under the watchful eye of Brian Evans – father of former Scotland rugby internationals Max and Thom – and Murray would like to see something similar happen on their tennis courts.
“I think it’s for a mixture of both holiday-makers and locals – it’ll be up to The Campus how they promote it,” she said.
“I would definitely like to see them doing that [similar to the golf for local youngsters] and that’s the thing about investing in work-force and showing them how to deliver the big-number activity, making it fun.
“So, I’d encourage them to make links with the local schools and I think they have those already. In general, everybody needs to work hard to make tennis more accessible to more people and it needs to be affordable.
“I like the idea of helping form a team that can deliver really good quality and they have a huge British and Irish clientele, so I guess that’s why this maybe makes sense for me to be involved.”
Making the sport accessible to as many as possible would fit with the “Everyone for tennis, everywhere for tennis” slogan that is being used to promote the newly-formed Judy Murray Foundation, which aims to bring tennis to rural and disadvantaged areas, with early targets including Greenock, Inverurie and the east end of Glasgow. Seeing the operation in Quinta in full flow, with mountain biking and the highly enjoyable new racquet sport Padeltennis also featuring heavily, can meanwhile feed into planning for the ambitious, albeit locally controversial Park of Keir development that she has championed close to her home town.
“I think there are lots of ideas you can get in terms of how the business operates,” she observed.
“Obviously they’ve got the weather here and for me it’s nice to be able to work in the sun and it’s nice to challenge myself and do something else in another country.
“My involvement at the moment is to train the coaches and spend four holiday weeks here in a year, and that appeals to me: coaching in the sunshine, working with great people and doing what I love doing.
“I also like that the environment they’ve created here in a short time has a real family feel to it. That appeals to me as well. It’s like everyone’s in it together.”
So far, there have been many thousands of beneficiaries of that attitude as well as Murray’s boys, but as she aims to extend opportunities to millions more, there was no evidence of any lack of energy as she encouraged a group of 30, 40 and 50-somethings of varied degrees of talent, to bring out their inner 12-year-old on the day The Campus was launched at Quinta.
For most parents, the dream would have been completed the day her younger son matched his big brother by becoming a Wimbledon champion. Murray’s, however, is to help provide the opportunity to do so to as many others as possible, which is why she is not ready to put her feet up and bask in the success for a while yet, whether that be in the warmth of the Algarve or on a miserable, winter’s day in Dunblane.
Judy Murray spoke to The Herald as she launched her junior tennis training camp Quinta do Lago. For more info on her camps in 2019 call on +351 289 381 220 or email: [email protected] / https://www.quintadolago.com/en/the-campus/judymurraytenniscamps/
Source : HeraldScotland