Throughout professional tennis, there are a wide variety of superstars, each different from the next, with a unique playing style and personality of their own. One thing that all these contemporary tennis greats, as well as past legends, have in common: they started the game young.
Take world #2 ranked men’s singles player Andy Murray, for instance. As we all know, the reigning Wimbledon champ and Olympic gold medalist has a storied history in the game, with an impressive collection of championships and even an OBE to his name. Before that, though, he was just a child with a racket and a dream.
Murray was born in Glasgow Scotland in 1987, and on face value, the young Scots path towards tennis greatness may seem as though it was decided at birth. At three, he was introduced to tennis at the local courts by his mother Judy, a highly regarded tennis coach and former player herself. His older brother Jamie is also a pro tennis player and his maternal grandfather Roy Erskine was a pro footballer in the 1950’s, hinting that strong athletic bloodlines run in the family.
Growing up, the Murray brothers were fixtures at the Dunblane Sports Club tennis courts near their home. Andy played his first competitive tournament at five and by eight was competing in the Central District Tennis league against adult competition. However, by the time he was ten years old, he had put tennis aside to focus on football.
“I wasn’t forced to play tennis” he told the BBC in an interview. “I was given the choice. When I was nine or ten. I wasn’t really enjoying playing tennis and I wanted to stop playing.”
Of course, Andy didn’t stay away from the game for long. By the time he was twelve, he had quit football and was focusing exclusively on tennis. “It was an easy choice. He said, “tennis had already been a huge part of my life for nine years!”
Although family support certainly helped Murray, at the end of the day, tennis success comes down to the dedication of the individual, as evidenced by this excerpt from Murray’s BBC interview:
Before I turned full-time professional I used to get up at 8am and start practising until noon. Then I did fitness work from 12 until 1. I had school lessons from 4 until 6pm and then I would go back to school from 6 to 7pm. So I had no time during the day to do anything else. I was knackered by the end of the week. I’d stick to that training schedule from Monday to Friday. On Saturday I practiced in the morning and I have Sunday off.
While most of us could only dream to be born into a naturally gifted tennis family like the Murrays, we could all learn a thing or two from that amazing work ethic!