Sporting Chance: Judy Murray and son Jamie call for tennis to be more accessible

Judy and Jamie Murray have issued a battle cry to ensure that tennis is accessible in order to build upon the famous family’s sporting legacy before it is too late.

Wednesday, 18th September 2019, 6:00 am
Jamie Murray, Leon Smith and Aidan McHugh attend a LTA Tennis Clinic at Whiteinch Primary School on day one of The Murray Trophy at Scotstoun Leisure Centre. Pic: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images for LTA

Grand Slam doubles-winning star Jamie expressed his frustrations this week over Britain’s tennis authorities and their persistent failure to take advantage of the success that he and singles legend sibling Andy had experienced.

The brothers have combined for more than ten grand slam titles and two Olympic medals during careers that have spanned over a decade.

Jamie – fresh from success in the US Open Mixed Doubles at Flushing Meadows in New York – has expressed his disbelief at the fact that Tennis Scotland only receives £700,000 from the UK sports body, the Lawn Tennis Association(LTA) per annum – one per cent of their total budget. Scotland makes up around eight per cent of the UK population and Jamie feels that is not represented in the funding on offer.

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The 33-year-old spoke with broadcaster STV as he competed in the Murray Trophy Challenge Tour event in Glasgow this week.

Clearly frustrated at the situation, Jamie said: “Things could have been better over the last ten years to make the most of what certainly Andy has been achieving.

“Up here, Tennis Scotland are trying their best to take things forward. You’ve got to be patient with planning, certainly for some of the indoor centres they want to get over the line to get built, and that takes time.

“We haven’t always had the best deal from the money that the LTA gets and how they hand that out to Tennis Scotland.”

Leading coach Judy had 
earlier taken to Twitter to express her disappointment at the charges for Edinburgh tennis courts during the Festival Fringe last month.

She wrote: “Walking through the Meadows and public park during the Edinburgh Fringe and disappointed to see these court hire charges. £9.40 an hour. Glasgow’s park courts are all FREE. Come on Edinburgh Council stop taxing tennis. #tennisforeveryone not just those with £££.”

Several of Judy’s followers commented that their local parks in Edinburgh also had hire charges for tennis courts – with many stating that the courts lie empty due to the extortionate costs.

Others state that they want to introduce their children to the game but at almost £10 an hour they feel it is not worth it when kids can barely hit a ball when first starting out.

It is understood that Nicola Sturgeon will meet with Judy and the chief executives of both Tennis Scotland and the Lawn Tennis Association to discuss how better to support grassroots tennis across Scotland.

Judy and Tennis Scotland believe that £5m extra funding is required to fund a network of coaches across Scotland and cash-in on the Murray brothers’ legacy by encouraging youngsters to take up the sport and supporting those who show the promise of a career at the top.