James V had the tennis court built in 1539 in the grounds of Falkland Palace in Fife, the royal hunting lodge of the Stewarts, who visited the village of Falkland to enjoy a more leisurely pace of life away from the cities. Even then, our high achievers needed a quick escape from the tensions of city living! It is believed that as well as James V, Mary Queen of Scots and James VI (James I of England) also played on the Royal Tennis Court. Completed in 1541, the appearance of the court remains relatively unchanged today. In 1989 the Royal Court at Falkland Palace was once again the setting of a royal game of tennis as it celebrated its 450th anniversary with an international tournament, in which Prince Edward played, watched by the Queen.
A Royal Tennis Court in Perth, built before the court in Fife and no longer standing, was also the scene of much regal tennis playing; as well as a royal murder in 1437. Had it not been for his love of tennis, King James I may have escaped his assassins, but upon fleeing his killers the King hid in the drain under his tennis court, only to find it offered no means of escape, as he had recently ordered the drain to be blocked to prevent him from losing so many tennis balls in it!
Scottish tennis stars
It is not only with real tennis that Scotland is associated. Scottish tennis players who have played in, and won, some of the greatest championships include Donald Budge. It was actually Donald's father who was Scottish, but it could have been those Scottish genes that helped his son become the first of only two men to achieve the Grand Slam in 1938 by winning Wimbledon, plus the US, French and Australian Championships.
Bobby Wilson of Scotland played tennis during the 1950s and was a Junior Wimbledon Champion as well as four times a Wimbledon quarter-finalist and a stalwart British Davis Cup player; whilst Winnie Shaw began her career at Clarkston Tennis Club in Glasgow and was one of Scottish tennis' greatest women champions. Shaw reached the quarter-finals of the Wimbledon ladies' singles in 1970 and 1971 and, with Joyce Hume of Dundee, contested the semi finals of the Wimbledon women's doubles in 1972. She also reached the final of both the ladies' doubles and mixed doubles of the French Open and played twice in the Australian Open semi-finals.
In 1974 Ken Revie of the Broomhill Tennis Club in Glasgow became the first Scot to win both the British Junior Tennis (U18) title at Wimbledon in 1974 as well as the (U21) title in 1977.
Andy Murray is undoubtedly one of the modern game's greatest tennis stars. The man from Dunblane is the most successful tennis player in the history of the country, and is instantly recognisable on a global scale. Murray has spent time at the top of the rankings as the world's top tennis player and has won 45 career titles, including three Grand Slam titles and two Olympic singles gold medals. Murray was also an instrumental part of the British team who secured the 2015 Davis Cup for the first time since 1936, winning all 11 of his matches.
The older brother of Andy, Jamie, may not be as well known, but he also has an impressive tennis resume. Jamie is predominantly a doubles tennis player and was previously ranked the number one doubles player in the world. Jamie has won an impressive 22 career titles, including five Grand Slam titles (three mixed doubles & two doubles) and was also part of the 2015 Davis Cup winning team alongside his brother.
Training the stars of tomorrow
Although Andy may be the son of former Scottish National Coach, Judy Murray, that does not mean that other young players with the potential for success do not have the opportunities to reach their goals.
Since the 1990s there has been a Tennis Academy based at the Gannochy Tennis Centre at the University of Stirling with other Academy venues based in Craiglockhart in Edinburgh, Scotstoun and the West End in Glasgow, Westburn in Aberdeen, and Monifieth in Dundee; all of which provide training for those identified by the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) as having international potential.
Murray started playing tennis aged three and to encourage all youngsters who have never played tennis before, the game of Mini Tennis has been launched. Mini Tennis introduces young players to the skills and tactics of the game of tennis, but modifies the court and ball size. Launched by the LTA to encourage younger players to take up the sport, it has been extremely successful in Scotland and many Scottish clubs are now accredited Mini Tennis Clubs.