The sound of a shot cracks the serene atmosphere of a tennis court in Anniesland. It is the result of a disconcertingly powerful forehand from a child. It is evidence of unimpeachable talent. It may also signal the arrival of an unstoppable wave of Scottish tennis excellence.

Maia Lumsden repeats the shot with the facility of a machine-gunner. The 10-year-old from Bearsden is the best in Britain in her age group. She is part of an elite, focused group that includes Jordanhill's James Shemilt, the best boy in Britain at under-10 level. They are members of the David Lloyd Tennis Academy at Next Generation in Anniesland, Glasgow. The programme is overseen by Kieran Foster but the leading coach is Toby Smith, a 34-year-old who has spent a lifetime in tennis and knows precisely what he wants from his charges. Four of them - Maia, James, Wicka Kulik, 9, and Adam McKinistry, 10 - will head to Croatia next week for the Smrikvabowl, the unofficial world championships at under-10 level. Maia and James will then join another young Scot, Jonathan Hendry of Ayrshire, by playing an exhibition event at Wimbledon.

Big things lie ahead for these youngsters in the immediate future. But it may only be the start. Smith, the brother of Leon, who helped Andy Murray in his early days, was the top Scottish junior and his competitive, determined attitude has led him into a remarkable new adventure. He does not intend to fail, having taken the "massive gamble" of leaving a secure job as racket manager at Next Generation to immerse himself in a programme that takes on kids from as young as five and helps them become leading players.

That, at least, is the theory. The practice, though, has been spectacular. Within a year of achieving funding, the David Lloyd Academy has Maia and James at the head of their age group in Britain and others at the academy have been galvanised by their success. There are 10 "target" children who have specific aims and three "rising stars", children born in 2002, who are being gently groomed for competitive sport. "Twenty or 30 kids would be unmanageable," says Smith, who has an attitude to sport that is distinctly un-Scottish. He not only believes in success but craves it. "I want to have the top players in Britain, then the top in Europe and then the top in the world," he adds with a simplicity that is imbued with purpose. "I want this to be a centre of excellence."

It already is. "We have great facilities, the correct court surface to train on, we have the pool, the gym, we have a physical trainer and we have the back-up of advice from such as Judy Murray," he says. "We have really good back-up from a lot of areas." But who can join this elite group? "The bottom line is that it is my decision as to who is worthy of the funding," says Smith. "But if a kid does not come through the system then obviously it is my neck that is on the line."

He is aided by "a very stringent process of talent ID". He adds: "It starts at club level and goes on to Scottish level and then the top kids are asked down to Roehampton and Bolton to be with the top kids in Britain. There is an evaluation of what your potential is at those venues. But if I see something, I will stick my neck out and say: Yeah, I think you deserve funding'."

The potential to be a top 10 British player is "the minimum requirement". Smith has set the bar high for young Maia. "A real goal for her is to be playing at the Orange Bowl in Florida at under 12 in 2010 as a serious prospect," he says. This is the peak for a young player but Smith believes that the success of the first year should merely be seen as evidence that the programme works.

He wants to establish Anniesland as the best option for all youngsters, particularly Scots. "Young players can get lost if they go abroad. But why would you want to leave this?" he says as he surveys Next Generation.

Smith is helped by his brother, Gary, and physical trainer Tommi Orismaa from Finland. There are, therefore, three coaches for 13 children. It is an intense programme for both parties. Smith gave up a comfortable job and has dedicated himself to long hours to make the academy work. "It's been worth it," he says. "I always knew I would have success. If you do something, you do it well so, of course, it was going to work. I now know what needs to be done."

This "can-do" attitude was part of Smith's make-up as a player but it was reinforced by his experience as a coach in the USA after he graduated from Stirling University.

"In the States, it is just work, work, work. If you are successful, good for you. Over here, if you are successful they will knock you down. I liked the American way,"

he says. "I love success. We put in a lot of hours but there is something at the end of it you can measure. It is tangible. There is a ranking structure that cannot be argued with."

The progress at Anniesland can be measured, too. "I went out to the Smrickvabowl three years ago for educational reasons, to see what I needed to do. Last year I went out with some of the kids with Tennis Scotland. This year I am expecting big things. There is no reason for failure. Our kids have better programmes than anyone else," he says without a hint of arrogance.

He believes in his charges, who have benefited from the funding which has supplied a top-class programme. "The financial constraints are massive for a lot of our kids. Without the funding, they would not be at this level. They appreciate it, though," he says.

But what of the accusation that children can suffer from being pushed so early? "It is great fun bringing them through. It is a bunch of wee guys who love their tennis, love playing, love arguing. We always have fun."

There is also a monitoring process. "The kids give me their training diaries at the end of the week," says Smith. "I log this into the computer so we always know precisely how much they've done. They also have to put a happy face, sad face or okay face beside each session. The reason we are doing that is that we want to find out why, when and how they are unhappy. Then we can alter our programme to suit." He has a mission for Scottish tennis. "We have to go out into the world with the feeling that we have the top players. The British Davis Cup team is virtually Scottish so we should be walking about like superstars, not looking at the ground. The opportunities are there, so it is up to the kids to take them. Realistically, we will not get 10 world No.1s. There is a chance, though, a very good chance that we will get something very significant out of this."

The crack of another Maia Lumsden forehand suggests he may be right.