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TENNIS

Andy Murray's edge: the mother of all tennis coaches

Former Scottish touring pro Judy Murray built the foundation of the world-class game employed by her son, who's ranked No. 3 and could end the long British drought at Wimbledon.

June 22, 2009|Chuck Culpepper

Yet as she coached her sons until their early teens, she carefully avoided angst. She realized that her father's chronic instructions as she'd leave home -- "See and win," he would say -- might've muffled her own game into passivity for the fear of losing. So for long tennis trips, she'd purposely fill cars with four kids or minivans with 12 so the rides home didn't groan with one child and one parent analyzing shortcomings. When the teenage Andy would quit the game for patches before he went to Spain at 15 to train in earnest, she'd consider it prudent.

Even now, the introverted Murray wrote, "I think Mum is the one person who gets me." She nimbly could scout his opponents early in his career, including one report that frankly claimed the next opponent volleyed worse than Andy's grandmother. When he texted her -- "I did it" -- from Bangkok in 2005 after he reached the top 100, she merely wept. Rather like Jimmy Connors' mother-and-coach, Gloria, whom Judy admired, she still can hear his fretful voice on an international call and troubleshoot adroitly, partly because, he wrote, "She knows what I like to hear and what I don't like to hear."

All this, 22 years from her toughest 18 months, when she had two babies and felt "the frustration of an active person suddenly surrounded by mashed vegetable," as she wrote in "Hitting Back." She rates those 18 months harder than her tour days, harder than her divorce 12 years ago from a father still close to the sons, maybe even harder than that first childbirth, when the affable Jamie had been "a very big baby with a very big head," she said. "It was horrendous and I thought, Oh, I'll never do that again."

Yet this July or another, all of Britain might just toast that she did.

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chuck.culpepper@yahoo.com

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Wimbledon

When: Today-July 5.

Where: All England Lawn Tennis and

Croquet Club.

TV: ESPN2, Channel 4.

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