Healthy Hollywood: Andy Murray's Youth Movement

Wimbledon champ Andy Murray is one of the best tennis players on the planet!

This Scottish-born sensation is ranked sixth in the world and his smashing skills and animated play are always a crowd-pleaser.

The tennis champ celebrated World Tennis Day Monday night in New York at Madison Square Garden. He and his rival, Novak Djokovic, took center court to play an exhibition match as part of the BNP Paribas Showdown, which helps promote tennis and inspire young kids to pick up a racquet.

The event is worldwide and proceeds from the MSG match-up went to USTA Serves, a tennis & education program serving under-resourced kids in the tri-state area.

Healthy Hollywood got an invite to this all-star showdown, which also included a doubles showdown between the Bryan brothers and the McEnroe brothers, John and Patrick. Also there enjoying the tennis, was Andy’s mother, Judy, who is a big supporter of youth tennis programs in the United States and the United Kingdom.

I got a chance to chat courtside with the tennis mom, who believes parents play a key role in helping their kids learn important life lessons from sports.

“Parents and coaches are instrumental in helping kids learn that it’s ok to miss or it’s ok to lose. Kids need to earn from making mistakes, whatever it is you’re doing in your life.

Parents need to encourage them to learn from those mistakes and to look at a tough loss as opportunity to learn from that ‘why did it happen’ and’ what could we do about it.’ As parent, you’re there to help them to do that,” Judy revealed to Healthy Hollywood.

While, Judy is a familiar face at Andy’s matches during the Grand Slam tournaments, she spends a lot of her free time developing youth tennis program and making the game more accessible to all kids. As a former player, she says she played tennis with her two kids (her son, Jamie is also a pro) rather then put them in lessons.

“They grew up learning how to play the game by playing the game. They didn’t learn by hitting the ball in a controlled situation with lots of others kids – they played the game,” states Judy.

Instead of playing tennis at the club, the Murray kids also learned creative way to play at home. They used cereal boxes and cans of beans for nets, and a Ping-Pong ball instead of a tennis ball. And, Judy noticed her son, Andy, had a natural knack for the game at a very young age. “When he was 8, he was winning some under 10 tournaments. He had a good understanding of how to play the game. He read the game very well at a young age. He, also, had good control of the ball and I think the fact he played a lot of different sports helped,” explains Mrs. Murray.

She, also adds, it’s not until a child matures that you can tell if they have what it takes to go pro. “You need to be around 15, 16, or 17, before you know if you can take the day in and day out grind of the training and the traveling and so forth. The talent is one thing, and then they need the opportunity and they need to learn how to work hard.”

And, behind every young successful athlete is a supportive parent. “I think regardless of what sport it is, you’re there as a parent to encourage them to work hard, to try hard and make the most of all the opportunities. Also, teach your kids to try to improve and above make sure they enjoy what they’re doing and are having fun.”

Healthy Hollywood gives two thumbs up to Judy’s wise words. As for her son’s re-match against his Wimbledon rival, well better luck next time, Andy! Novak won in 6-3, 7-5.

For more on USTA’s youth tennis program, check out youthennis.com.

-- Terri MacLeod

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