FROM the East End to the Far East, Judy Murray continues to fight the good fight. Whether this means turning up at a primary school in Dalmarnock on Davis Cup week with her older son Jamie to unveil the next phase of the outreach work of her eponymous foundation, or hosting WTA workshops in Wuhan to take her methods into the rural provinces of China, Murray’s missionary work on behalf of tennis continues apace.

Perhaps, at some point, the formidable energy of this 59-year-old will peter out. Or one day, she may grow disillusioned with the obstacles which stand in her way as she seeks to make the sport available for all as well as not weighted against women.

But for now, her mind continues to work overtime. One of her ideas, for instance, is a move to encourage more of the top women to employ a female coach by removing the need for coaches to double as a hitting partner. This could be done by recruiting a pool of male hitting partners to operate at each WTA event on the tour.

“I’m a global community ambassador for the WTA,” says Murray, “because one of my big things is to grow the amount of women coaches in the sport, because we are totally outnumbered. And when you go up to the very top of the game, you are even more outnumbered.

“There are a number of reasons for that. First, the life of a touring pro doesn’t really lend itself to someone who has a family, because you are on the road 35 to 40 weeks of the year. And, unless you are one of the very top players, you can’t afford to travel with an entourage.

“Because you are paying all your own expenses, plus a coach’s fee and coach’s expenses – everything from the food, to a phone call, to accommodation and transport – it is a lot of money. The women, especially the top women, want to be able to hit with their coach but there are very few female coaches who are strong enough to put pressure on a top female player.

“If you think about it, a top female player working with a former female champion makes a lot of sense,

especially an ex player who has been there and done it; a lot of the guys are doing that. If the WTA, in the same way that they provide physios, were able to invest in, say, six male hitting partners at every tournament from a local pool, that would open the door to more female coaches to be on the road with top players.”

MURRAY’S reputation for coaching the coaches may have gone global – she also has a couple of weeks of tuition scheduled at a new Portuguese training camp in Quinto de Lago in the Algarve – but as ever she is starting local.

Building on years of work undertaken first as Scotland’s national tennis coach and latterly through her Tennis on the Road scheme, and armed with a photographic memory of where Scotland’s patchy network of courts are located, the Judy Murray Foundation bills itself simply as “a passionate group of people who share a common goal in helping Scottish tennis flourish”.

These include long-term colleague Kris Souttar, who now carries the grand title of workforce development manager, while there is a tie-in with PEEK, the charity which aims to provide play opportunities to disadvantaged children. The work centres for now on three initial project areas – the East End of Glasgow, the Greenock and Inverclyde area and Inverurie, Aberdeenshire – endeavouring to develop a workforce of local providers who can help take the sport to untouched areas that might have a chance if they can tap into a £15 million LTA fund for new facilities.

“I did it myself, because that is really my way,” Murray says. “I put my money in and my time into it but if I wanted it to grow much beyond what I have at the moment I would need backers. I would also need to find, or develop, another Kris, or another few Krises.

“But to my mind this is the right way to do it. If you want to have a significant impact across an area, you bring all your passionate tennis people across an area together. But the key thing is to have certain people in an area, like Stephanie Norris, the tennis development officer in Greenock, or Kevin Bonarius in Inverurie, who can pull everything together and be the kingpin in the local area who co-ordinates everything.”

THIS, of course, runs far deeper and wider than simply creating the next Andy or Jamie Murray. But if you get a group of engaged, talented children together, a group of volunteers, and some older professionals to learn from, you are at least taking a step in the right direction. So too is anything that allows children to access the LTA-sponsored cumbersome and complex competitions schedule – like the TS Open Tour – and that reduces the daunting outlay which parents must make for coaching, courts and such like.

“What I get tired of is people not listening to me,” she said. “I’ve been there, done it, I still go out and do it, still try to do things the right way. But I also recognise every area is different. In these projects, we are not saying we are coming in to do this or do that. We are coming into listen, show what we do, then wait for you to tell us what they think they can get involved in.

“It has got much harder to get good quality volunteers, just in general, because people have less time. More people work, especially women, and it is often the women who do a lot of the volunteering in clubs. Therefore you need to say ‘what kind of time do you have available? Could you run a cafe which generates a bit of money?’ My mum used to do the Saturday morning coaching when I was little, her and her best pal, and she still goes down and helps run the cafe.

“Everything that I enjoyed growing up revolved around the tennis club and the badminton club, in church halls and things like that. You relied on lifts when you were a teenager, and I loved the social part of it, sitting waiting for your turn to go on court again, learning to communicate with people who are older. Kids are so isolated now, sitting around indoors; face to face interaction and social communication is so valuable. You can’t be on a screen when you have a tennis racquet in your hand. We also need kids to be able to communicate with older people.

“I don’t think individual lessons are as necessary as people think; I think the key is to find a really good group. You can do individual coaching within a group if you are smart about how you do it. If it becomes individual, it becomes boring. I think that is why we were successful all those years ago, because we had an absolute gang of them and they are still great pals, it is amazing.”

IF all of this wasn’t time consuming enough, there is the small business of putting the finishing touches to her long-anticipated base camp at Park of Keir, a controversial complex which will include tennis facilities, a six-hole golf starter course, a community football pitch, various leisure activities and a Murray museum, a destination which may soon be high in the trip advisor listing of Scotland’s tourist facilities.

“We’re at the design stage with that, finalising the design and the business plan,” Murray says. “We’ve started to show that to a number of people who could be potential funding partners. While there will be a certain amount of money freed up from the sale of the housing plot and the hotel plot, there will be a gap and we need to bridge that to keep the six-hole golf and the tennis as cheap as possible. Tennis on its own doesn’t stack up – it just becomes very expensive.

“I could fill 20 Murray museums, believe me. But there will be a number

of different elements to the site, so that is another part which could perhaps be funded by someone or something.”

After Wuhan, Murray was to meet her younger son in Beijing, one of the tournaments where the men’s and women’s events dovetail neatly. That was to be Andy’s last event before ending his season early to prepare as well as possible for January’s Australian Open.

However, after Friday’s defeat in Shenzhen to Fernando Verdasco, who had ended his attempt at the US Open, he decided to pull out of the China Open due to a slight ankle injury. Despite that, it was another positive week for the Scot whose defeat of world No 11 David Goffin was the biggest since his comeback and his mother could hardly be more impressed by the discipline he has shown to get himself back in shape after what has been a trying year.

“Andy has been amazing throughout the whole thing,” Murray said. “He has incredible resilience, discipline, attention to doing everything he possibly can. He has found this rehab specialist in Philadelphia during the summer, who specialises in getting top athletes back on track. So he is going to camp out there, and do everything he can to give himself the best chance of competing at the start of next season.

“To do what he did in New York I thought was astonishing after everything he has been through.”