Tennis ace may quit city over training facilities

Anastasia Mikheeva had used the courts for free. Picture: contributed
Anastasia Mikheeva had used the courts for free. Picture: contributed
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ONE of Scotland’s brightest tennis stars is threatening to quit the city in order to hone her skills abroad amid concerns about Edinburgh’s training facilities.

Anastasia Mikheeva, 14, who won the prestigious Nike Junior Under-14s Tour in December, could take her talents to Europe or the United States after struggling to get enough court time following a bizarre charging fiasco that meant her family will now have to pay up to £100 per week to train on elite courts at Craiglockhart.

The tennis starlet had enjoyed free training sessions at the state-of-the-art venue for months until staff spotted a fault on her membership card that incorrectly granted her a 100 per cent discount on court hire.

Since being amended in October, Anastasia’s father, Andrei, has struggled to afford the fees and claims his daughter’s training regime is falling behind her European competitors.

Anastasia was invited on to the Performance Access Scheme (PAS), which nurtures promising sports stars by offering training facilities for free or at knock-down rates, in May following a string of impressive performances.

Her father said: “In Edinburgh the only place which has a professional court surface is Craiglockhart, and you really need to train there to be competitive with the other girls who train in professional academies around the world.”

And he added: “You can see why it is almost impossible to train in Scotland, you would have to leave somewhere as many did.

“Currently we are just about managing and I will be very sad if we have to move. We have had lots of offers from many good places – including England, Spain, USA, Germany and Prague – to come and train there for free because of Anastasia’s level.

“I am really sad that this cannot be organised here because with goodwill in place it does not have to be that way.”

It is understood Tennis Scotland is due to meet the Mikheevs to discuss their fears.

Andrei’s concerns over scarce sporting resources for would-be tennis professionals were echoed last year by Judy Murray – the mother of Wimbledon champion Andy – who spoke of her disappointment at the lack of progress on new facilities since her son’s victory last July.

She said the country was still nowhere near a target of every town in the country boasting tennis courts, and pointed out that in order to encourage youngsters to participate and train regularly new facilities were needed.

It is thought four indoor courts would cost around 
£2 million to build.

A spokeswoman for Edinburgh Leisure, which runs Craiglockhart Leisure and Tennis Centre, apologised for the error that will now leave Andrei out of pocket.

She said: “Through our investigation we recognise that in this case there has been an error with the PAS card for Anastasia and that she has been provided with access at no cost for a period of time when in fact our support for the athletes provides this access at a subsidised rate. We apologise for any confusion this may have caused Anastasia and her family.”

Joker Andy not set to be Murried

ANDY Murray served up speculation he was set for a love match with long-term girlfriend Kim Sears – then smashed the rumours out of the court.

There was marriage mystery yesterday after the Wimbledon champion revealed on Twitter: “We are getting married just after Wimbledon. Should be a great day.”

But given that during the same Q&A session with fans he told of taking drugs and his plans to kill arch-rival Rafael Nadal, many remained dubious.

And Murray – in San Diego on Davis Cup duty – soon put them out of their misery by tweeting: “I don’t smoke grass, I’m not getting married (yet) and I don’t want to kill Nadal.”