When your son – long touted as the next big thing to join the Grand Slam winners’ brigade – finally breaks the shackles to pass the unenviable pressure on to the next worthy talent, you are at liberty to say your two cents’ worth on the virtues of patience and perseverance.
For Judy Murray, seeing Andy hold the trophy after winning the US Open at Flushing Meadows last September was the culmination of many a long and bumpy road; both literally – chartering mini-buses filled with hyperactive tennis juniors and the wee Scottish flag flapping above – and metaphorically; the steep learning curve and the awareness that talent alone is not enough to make the big time.
Speaking at the Australian Grand Slam Coaches’ Conference on Friday, Judy drew the parallels between having a talented tennis junior of her own with the fluctuating fortunes of Australia’s own Bernard Tomic. She attributes the final piece in the Murray mind puzzle to the influence Ivan Lendl had since taking the coaching reins in December 2011.
“The thing that has impressed me most since (Andy) started working with Ivan is the focus, it’s absolutely massive. You see it with Djokovic, Rafa and Federer; the eyes are on the goal – we’re going to do absolutely everything we have to do to get there,” she said.
“I think it comes with maturity. Sometimes you just have to wait until a player’s ready in their mind to do it and maybe that’s something you guys in Australia (are) witnessing a little bit with Tomic.
“Maybe he’s started to turn the corner with that. He’s an unbelievable talent but he’s still young, and they all develop at different times mentally and physically.”
Judy believes it is much easier if the up-and-coming player makes the decision in their own right to knuckle down in a bid to take their game to the next level, as they’re more likely to commit to it. Part of taking that next step is negotiating the tricky transition from juniors to seniors, with even the most glittering of junior careers no guarantee of success at the next level.
“It’s not every junior that becomes a good senior. There can be limitations in people’s games in terms of technique, the mental side, the physical side – but for me, often the difference is they don’t realise how tough the life is to be a full-time player, especially as you’re on the way up,” Judy said.
“It may not be quite so tough when you get up there, but it’s always very difficult to hold where you are and you still have to work incredibly hard.
“It still amazes me to go watch a whole day of Andy training in the off-season in Miami and look at the 7.30am start and you literally finish at 7 o’clock at night. The practice sessions, the gym sessions, the physio sessions, the ice bath – it’s an absolute full-on day, so really for me as the mum who didn’t really know anything but had this huge passion, it was about creating opportunities, always about looking at what does the next stage look like, what do we have to put in place?”
Judy recognised her sons Andy and Jamie had the necessary talent at a young age to succeed, but that talent came with a requirement to take advantage of their opportunities and work exceptionally hard.
“I don’t think you learn to work really hard until you’ve grown up,” she said.
“It doesn’t matter how many opportunities you create if they don’t apply themselves in the right way.”
For all the bus trips south of the border to “conquer England,” Judy realised at the end of the day she could only provide the young players with the opportunity.
“I think you’re very, very aware it’s entirely up to them,” she said.