LEON Smith, the GB Davis Cup captain, insists the new Tennis Scotland national academy at the University of Stirling is a game changer for the sport on these islands and said the ball was now in the court of Scotland’s coaches, clubs and young players to make their case for inclusion. Speaking as he joined forces with Fed Cup coach Colin Fleming to provide a doubles masterclass yesterday for sponsors and partners on a corporate day at the Gleneagles Hotel, Andy Murray’s first coach – other than his mum Judy – hailed the new set-up.

One of just two UK wide – the other is in Loughborough – it will formally get under way under highly-rated Brazilian coach Leo Azevedo this August. While the initial tranche of students for year one has yet to be confirmed, numbers are initially capped at just eight and Herald Sport understands no Scots are likely to be involved. Present yesterday as an ambassador for kit suppliers Dunlop, Smith insisted knowledge sharing events such as yesterday showed just what Scotland has to offer.

“Days like these are important because tennis will come around in about six or eight weeks time, whoosh into the public eye with the grass court season and Wimbledon,” said the 43-year-old. “We are here at Gleneagles with various partners who are supporting or might want to support tennis in Scotland. We need to use events, promotional days and tournaments to get people talking about the sport all year round and get people playing it in accessible, affordable ways in a fun environment.”

Smith, through his role on the LTA’s senior management team, has been closely involved in the academies since their conception. He feels that sighting the academy at the very courts where Andy and Jamie Murray played as teenagers is a symbolic way to build their legacy.

“This is a British programme and it is really important it remains that way,” said Smith. “When Andy has gone out and competed for Great Britain, he always competes to the highest possible standards and with as much passion as anyone can see. He is so big in Scotland, but he is also big in Britain. So people from all over will walk into that tennis hall and think this is where Andy and Jamie trained, see that huge picture of him, Jamie and Colin above the courts. That is inspiring to anyone. Of course people want Scottish people to be part of this programme but then it is the role of the clubs and the regional development centres with the 9-12-year-olds to move in. It is tough to put a target to it, you can’t predict what is going to come of that programme, but it gives a sharp focus to the team to develop coaches and nurture the players in this age group.”