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Drawn to the past, but the future will be on display at Brodie's

THE Brodie's Champions of Tennis tournament next month will feature greats of the past but spectators will also be able to catch a glimpse of the future of Scottish tennis.

Marcel du Coudray has overseen encouraging development in youth tennis
Marcel du Coudray has overseen encouraging development in youth tennis

From June 19-22 the likes of John McEnroe, Goran Ivanisevic, Henri Leconte and Tim Henman will draw spectators but an exhibition match between Scottish and South African schools may lead to some recalling the occasion for different reasons.

The man behind the match, Marcel du Coudray - the South African who runs the Merchiston Tennis Academy - will not be in attendance. He will be at Roehampton, London, working with another of his proteges, Anas­tasia Mikheeva, who is having a taste of the big time having been granted a wildcard for the Wimbledon warm-up event there.

He is keen, though, that the Scottish audience attending the most glamorous tennis event in Scotland this year, is shown that encouraging development work is being carried out in the domestic sport.

He naturally advocates caution when expressions like "the next Andy Murray" are bandied around when talking about his 13-year-old prospect Jacob Fearnley, or "the next Elena Baltacha" in regard to Mikheeva, given their shared East European background, but he also accepts it as inevitable.

"There's always going to be expectation when kids are young and do well," he said. "I tell them that it's not about trying to be somebody else."

In Fearnley's case he is currently facing inevitable difficulty in moving up into under-14 competition when he has just turned 13 and peers he had been beating are physically maturing. "It's a big challenge but he is a little fighter and is responding well," said his coach.

As for Mikheeva, the chance of a wildcard to Junior Wimbledon beckons if she performs well in the weeks ahead. "She is a little further down the pathway and she has that strong East European work ethic," Du Coudray observed.

"You can have all the talent in the world but without that work ethic it does not really matter."

Tickets are now onsale at www.championsoftennis.com

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