THE eyes of the tennis world will be trained on Glasgow next week and Judy Murray was never going to let an opportunity like that slip by. It is why just days before the start of the Billie Jean King Cup [formerly the Federation Cup] she is leading a coaching session in the city’s east end with a group of excitable primary school girls who are pretending to be lions, tigers and monkeys and darting across a gym hall floor while their pals pelt them with soft sponge balls.

Few are as evangelical as Murray in her bid to bring tennis to the masses but she won’t be doing it forever. Just as her sons, Andy and Jamie, lest any reminder be needed, are approaching the evening of their playing days, so Judy wonders just how long she can continue what must often feel like a one-woman crusade to promote her sport in the face of ever-mounting challenges. She is in the privileged position of having both her coaching background and her high profile to help in those outreach missions but hopes others will take up the baton when she finally decides to call it a day.

“My interest for the last seven or eight years has been more on grassroots and taking tennis into areas where it traditionally doesn’t exist,” she says, as schoolchildren peer over curiously as they file out for lunch, a few having stopped earlier to ask for a selfie.

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“I’ve done a lot of that far and wide – Orkney and Arran – to share my sport with as many people as possible. But I’m getting a bit long in the tooth now. I’m 63 with five grandchildren so I’ve started to cut back a bit.

“So it’s about finding other people with that passion, energy and drive. And track record too in a way that makes people want to see you and they’re excited to see you, and you’re believable because of what you’ve achieved and created I suppose.

“We need the next generation to step up and make this happen as tennis is competing against so many things now for young people’s attention that it has to work harder than ever before.

HeraldScotland: Judy Murray with primary school childrenJudy Murray with primary school children (Image: PR)

“To be able to deliver something like this within the area with the Billie Jean King Cup taking place just a few miles away is really important. But this kind of thing could be replicated anywhere with a good project plan and somebody with the desire to do it.”

There will be no Scottish woman in the British team set to take on Kazakhstan and Spain at the Emirates Arena, a female role model similar to what Judy’s boys have been to so many over the past two decades. But creating world-class athletes in a demanding, expensive individual sport is not easy.

“Your role models are your shop window,” she admits. “You want people to get excited about them. They’re great athletes, players and warriors; the role models for me are incredibly important in the women’s side of the game.

“So having a leading Scottish female player would be absolutely wonderful. And I’m sure my boys would absolutely love that. But it’s a difficult thing to produce a top player in an individual sport.”

The leading British female player of the era, Emma Raducanu, also misses out on Glasgow with injuries taking their toll.

“I think it will be tough without Emma,” said Murray of Britain’s chances. “The teams who usually win in the Davis Cup and BJKC usually have a top 10 or top 15 player leading them. It’s two singles and a double and with a big support behind them you never know. I’ll keep my fingers crossed!

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“But when we have these world-class events coming to Scotland we have to make sure that there’s a payback to the sport, wider than just going to watch it.

“Some of the schools are going along to watch it and you never know when the spark can be lit for a little kid and them thinking, “I want to do that”. That’s really important.”

The sight of a dejected Andy Murray traipsing out of the Paris Masters this week was not what any tennis fan wanted to see but Judy doesn’t think the end is nigh for her younger son.

HeraldScotland: Judy Murray in the east end of GlasgowJudy Murray in the east end of Glasgow (Image: PR)

“He’s done incredibly well to come back from that injury. He’s worked so hard to give himself a chance to get back to playing on the tour, and he’s still got this huge passion for it, wanting to compete and stretch himself.

“He’s had some great wins this year. I think it’s probably for him, wanting to find a bit more consistency. But as long as he’s enjoying it and feels he’s getting somewhere, I guess he’ll continue to play.”

Tickets for the Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow between 8-13 November are available now at: https://billiejeankingcup.lta.org.uk.