All-star staff open GB Tennis Academy on campus

3 mins read
Credit: The Herald

A national tennis academy has opened its doors on Stirling university’s campus.

The academy will train eight elite talents, aged 14 to 18, who may progress into Stirling university as tennis scholars.

“A world class team” will run the academy, said Tennis Scotland’s Chief Executive Blaine Dodds.

Leonardo Azevedo will head the staff, an international renowned coach with over 20 years experience, including a stint coaching former world number one, Juan Carlos Ferrero.

On his appointment as head coach, Azevedo told Metro: “It is an honour to be appointed as the first head coach of the new GB National Tennis Academy at the University of Stirling.

“We don’t need to look far from Stirling to be inspired by what is possible .”

Colin Fleming is one of these Stirling talents, who is the academy’s lead performance coach.

Fleming attended the University of Stirling in the 2000s but has trained in its facilities since he began his career in the nineties.

He’s gone on to win eight ATP World Tour doubles trophies, citing Stirling university as a “massive” influence on his career.

Also on the coaching team is Leon Smith, who served as Captain of Great Britain’s Davis Cup team since 2010, and Esteban Carril, who has coached some of the world’s best players both in male and female tennis.

“I’m confident we have put everything possible in place to help young talent thrive in Stirling,” said Dodds.

The campus was chosen for its status as Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence and as a good wider performance environment, Dodds explained: “Stirling has produced some of the finest British talent in history.”

He also cited the £20 million sports redevelopment as a reason for choosing Stirling, as the new facilities will create a “world class setting.”

Stirling’s Director of Sport, Cathy Gallagher, commented that: “This development will mark the beginning of another exciting chapter for sport at the university and within the Stirling area.”

Sports President Gill Thayne reiterated this sentiment: “It’s an exciting time as it once again puts Stirling in the spotlight for tennis.

“It’s brilliant that such great talent will be coming into campus. It just strengthens the sporting excellence that we already have.”

Though not at university age yet, the academy will be “integrated” with Stirling’s International Sports Scholarship programme, suggesting that any successful candidates can continue to train at and represent the university.

The ultimate goal is to make Britain one of the most respected tennis nations in the world. Azevedo specifically made clear that he aimed to find the next Andy Murray.

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