THE valedictory feel ahead of this weekend’s Davis Cup World Group play-off between Great Britain and Uzbekistan in Glasgow is unmistakeable. With significant changes to the format of this famous old competition limiting the amount of home and away ties from 2019 onwards, this could well be the last of these ties to be held at the Emirates Arena – the launching pad for Britain’s historic 2015 success – for quite some time. If not ever.

Thankfully, on the evidence of yesterday at least, Glasgow is not prepared to go quietly. Polite applause, long stretches of silence and some occasional ooh-ing and aah-ing might be the usual soundtrack of lawn tennis on these islands, but in case you were wondering, 3,000 plus local school-kids, all gathered in one place and screaming at the top of their lungs, can generate quite a din. This weekend will be a celebration, not a wake.

The 60 separate school groups who had been bussed to the Emirates Arena for a fun Tennis for Kids day welcomed Leon Smith’s Great Britain team into the stadium in a manner reminiscent of the Beatles at Shea Stadium circa 1965. This was perhaps all the more remarkable considering that, in terms of the singles form of the sport, they are there without their John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Andy Murray, the former World No 1, is over in the USA, understandably prioritising his rehab as he attempts to return to his best following hip surgery in January. Kyle Edmund, the man who has taken his place as Britain’s top singles player, is also prioritising keeping the career which has taken him into the world’s top 20 on an upward curve after recent illness.

And on the face of it, there isn’t too much at stake either. The tie – once viewed as pivotal in whether Britain preserved their place in the competition’s top-rated World Group – will now only determine the fate of our bid for a seeding for February’s play-offs in the re-shaped event. But Glasgow will wrap its arms around a tie which is still charged with plenty of Scottish interest.

Now a six-time Grand Slam doubles winner, Jamie Murray knows the chance to play competitive tennis in Scotland doesn’t come around too often. And when all is said and done, these matches – often played out in epic doubles struggles with his brother to the strains of Loch Lomond and the Proclaimers – will go down as the best memories of his career. Bar none.

“I love playing here,” said Jamie, who spent yesterday helping with his mum’s Judy Murray Foundation outreach project in nearby Dalmarnock. “For me, when I finish my career, these are going to be the best experiences I have ever had. Coming here, playing for our country, the support we get is so incredible. In Scotland we don’t get any world class tennis at all except when Davis Cup comes round, which really isn’t that often. Personally, I had a great run in the summer, great success at Washington and Cincinnati and to win the mixed in New York was really cool again. There is a quick turnaround of course, but it should be a great weekend.”

Smith, brought up in Glasgow, was blown away too – the plan to invite kids secretly having been hatched with Jamie after seeing the French do something similar ahead of the tie in Rouen earlier in the year. Having been a ball boy for a Scottish Open Championships meeting between John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors at Craiglockhart as a teenager in 1989, he knows first-hand the value of being exposed, even as a spectator, to the world class form of the sport at an early age. But ideally he wants these spectators in time to become players.

“It is amazing to get that welcome,” said Smith. “It is something we wanted to do based on the fact it might be our last home tie for a long time – and maybe the last one here, who knows?

“The Emirates Arena does feel like a home venue,” he added, ahead of the fourth tie here, with five preceding it at the Braehead Arena near Paisley. “You get used to surroundings, who you are working with, and you know your way around really well. But it obviously deserves to come here so many times - every time we played here the atmosphere has arguably been the best around from a pure noise level. And live competitive tennis isn’t accessible really in Scotland.

“They used to have a grass court event at Craiglockhart, leading into the grass court season. I think it was Bank of Scotland who sponsored it, if I remember correctly. A lot of the players used to go there and I managed to be a ball kid at one point. It’s those sort of events that do lead you into seeing a path you might want to go down. Hopefully the kids who came here will decide to do that.”

Smith said that Andy Murray agonised over whether to play doubles before eventually thinking better of it, but stressed the virtues of those who are here, not least Jamie Murray. Cam Norrie, a man whose father was brought up in King’s Park in Glasgow, is now our No.1 singles player, with Dan Evans, battling for redemption following his drugs ban, the No.2. Jamie will be partnered by Dom Inglot, with Jay Clarke and Scotland’s Jonny O’Mara are both here for experience. “The most important thing for him [Andy] is carrying on with the rehab,” said Smith. “Because this has been a long chunk. The pull of playing here was so, so strong. But he’s done really well in New York – now he has to go back and do his work again, to make sure it’s safe and good for the next phase of tournaments.

“I know he considered this very strongly. But you don’t just turn up for one day of doubles. You have to travel back from what he’s been doing in the States. It eats into pretty much a whole week of the work he’s been doing for seven, eight hours a day. You add that up and it’s quite a big chunk of rehab he would miss. So it was the right decision. But we will miss him being here.

“Jamie has amazing leadership qualities. And not just when he comes into this week. I think he’s played a really good role with some of our younger players. Yes, it’s normal for him to look at some of the Scottish guys. But, with the doubles players we support, the wider group, he is involved. He will watch their matches – you can get the livestream of Challenger matches – and send back match reports. He has six Slam titles, he’s been No.1 in the world. So naturally, in the team room, people look up to him.”

Uzbekistan are not the minnows you might expect. The bespectacled Denis Istomin, a man who once scalped Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open, is the top-ranked singles player in any team. “He is a very, very good player,” said Smith. “He comes in as the highest-ranked players across the two teams, from a singles point of view. He’s in good form, winning in Chicago last week, a 150,000 Challenger without dropping a set. That will be a test in itself, just by the format of the competition – two tough singles matches for our guys. And then I would have thought they’ll look to play him in the doubles, because he’s their best player by quite some distance. So it’s going to be tough. That’s why, when we look at a tie like this, we prepare our players to be in the best possible condition.