Halton tennis director recalls witnessing US Open champ Andy Murray’s raw talent as an ultra competitive 12 year old

Andy Murray
Andy Murray

Halton’s director of tennis always knew Andy Murray had the competitive edge and tactical nous to win a Grand Slam ... because he worked with the newly-crowned US Open champion as a raw 12 year old in Scotland.

Mike James was the national performance officer for Scotland in 1999/2000 during which time he oversaw Murray’s coaching as part of a squad of six boys.

Halton's director of tennis Mike James

Halton's director of tennis Mike James

And the experienced tennis man said it was the kind of hunger on display in the Dunblane man’s epic five-set US Open win over Novak Djokovic that separated him from the rest even then.

“As a 12 year old there were certain things that were in no doubt about Andy,” James said.

“He was highly, highly competitive and he was also a very mature tactician on court and read the game well. His anticipation set him apart and that was helped by his involvement in other sports, he was playing a lot of football at the time as well which helped him with aspects of his movement as well.

“He just had an absolute competitive desire.”

James said 12 is too young an age for any coach to make predictions of future success, though, and Murray was no different.

“It’s very difficult to say he or she is going to be a Grand Slam champion or make any predictions like that at 12 years old, it’s just too early,” he said.

“But it is hugely exciting that he managed to win it and I think it was that motivation and desire that gave him the edge in the end. British tennis is a very close knit environment and I followed his career and progression closely. I went on to coach a Bucks boy called Matthew Brown who was great rivals with Andy so I saw a lot of him in their games as well.”

James credits Murray’s Ivan Lendl as the rock behind his ever-improving game and believes the Scot can now dominate the men’s game.