Scottish Tennis Academy coach Marcel du Coudray is seeking to bow out of the post on a high when he leads a squad of five boys to the World Schools Championship finals in Doha next month.
After almost eight years establishing and developing an academy which has helped to produce a raft of exciting junior talent, 37-year-old former Mauritius Davis Cup star Du Coudray has decided to explore other options within tennis.
But the global event represents the chance to further enhance a growing reputation for Scottish junior tennis as noted at a high level.
Said du Coudray: “The invite to Doha came after the boys team reached the final of the British Schools Championship last year. Although we lost to Reeds School, from Surrey, the chair of the International Tennis Federation’s junior committee attended and was struck by the high standard.
“She said there was no reason why Scotland shouldn’t send a team to Doha as well as England. Unfortunately, Calum MacGeoch has now moved on to university in the USA but there is plenty of junior talent coming through headed by Ewan Moore who is currently ranked No.1 in Britain.”
Others expected to travel are Edinburgh pair Cameron Bowie and Philip Blythe as well as Douglas McIntosh (Glasgow) and Chris Edge (Cumbria).
Last year’s entry included teams from Australia, Belgium, Chile, England, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Singapore, Turkey, Ukraine and Qatar.
It was in 2007 that the idea of a tennis academy was floated in conjunction with Merchiston Castle School and St George’s School.
“When I arrived to follow up on a proposal by former Scottish national coach Elinore Lightbody 13 sets of parents expressed an interest in signing up their children,” said Du Coudray. “Instead of the five or six expected to follow with applications all 13 took places and although we have had 24 pupils at one stage currently there are 17 players registered and Nathan Lundy has joined as assistant coach with close links now established to the Institute of Sport.
“As well as Ewan being No.1 in his age-group another student, Jacob Fearnley (Dalkeith), is ranked No.2 in Britain so there is a succession process.
“You just never know how many will go on to play professionally, however.
“Top-flight tennis is incredibly competitive and you have to be in the leading 100 to make money. Most people don’t understand how demanding and totally engrossed you have to be to have a chance of making the grade.
“As juniors get older that realisation begins to grow in some cases.”
Last year Scotland had four girls in the Wimbledon junior singles: Anna Brogan, Anastasia Mikheeva, Isabelle Wallace and Maia Lumsden, with some progressing further than English player Katie Swan who in the space of six months has gone on to reach this year’s Australian junior final.
Last weekend, Edinburgh 14-year-old Alexandra Hunter become one of the youngest winners of the Scottish women’s indoor title and is now on course for Wimbledon this year.
Alexandra’s feat was all the more remarkable for being off court for several months with a damaged shoulder joint and she has the opportunity to quickly boost her ranking in upcoming ITF events.
Du Coudray is reluctant to single out individuals but it may be significant that he does name-check 14-year-old Jacob Fearnley while Alex Mikheev is another up and coming held in high regard.
When it comes to what he does next Du Coudray, a former hitting partner of world No.3 Nikolay Davydenko, is more forthcoming.
“It is time for a change of direction. But I certainly intend staying in tennis and I know the academy will continue to flourish especially with Merchiston Castle headmaster Andrew Hunter, a former junior Wimbledon player.”
The position of head coach at the Scottish tennis academy is currently being advertised.
Applications close today (Wednesday).