Five things Judy Murray learnt at her first tie as Great Britain’s Fed Cup captain.
It’s important to…
1. Have a great team spirit.
The biggest thing about our trip was the team spirit we had. We were one big team where every one supported each other and we were really pulling for each other on and off the court. We have had such a wonderful trip. There’s been a lot of giggling, a huge amount of fun, and we all left Eilat with a great sense of pride in what we’d achieved, but also the manner in which we’d achieved it. We played a lot of fun games. They included a game called Triangle where we were able to involve the fitness trainer and the team coach, we had a roll-up darts board in the team room with some magnetic darts, then we played a lot of games where you involve everybody in a big circle, one person says something and you keep going round and round until everyone can work out what the logic is. Of course it’s also very important that the support team are involved in the banter as well, and they often bore the brunt of our jokes. But all in all it was a great trip. It was actually very emotional when we all went our separate ways in Tel Aviv airport. I’m already looking forward to seeing my girls in April again.
2. Prepare as thoroughly as possible for each match.
I went over to Auckland, Hobart and the Australian Open to watch and support the girls, and was trying to get to know them a little bit better. I also went to scout our opponents because the draw was made on the 19th January so we were able to watch everybody who we were due to play in our group matches; Portugal, Holland and Israel, and we were also able to obtain some video footage from those players’ matches which gave us a lot of ammunition for preparing the right strategy which really helped the girls to be focused and confident and settled going into every match. The feedback I’ve had from the girls about the analysis was very positive and it was great to see the girls really use those game plans on the court.
3. Have strength in depth in your team.
What a great team we had in Israel. It was the first time we’d had Bally, Anne, Heather and Laura playing together and it made for really quite a strong team. Anne and Bally are playing the best tennis of their careers and they still have a lot of improvements they can make. Obviously the two youngsters coming through, Heather and Laura, are very exciting prospects; very different from each other in the way that they play but great personalities with very bright futures ahead of them. To have four players with that kind of strength in depth helped us in this event because, although we haven’t got a top-20 or top-10 player, we have four players who are fairly similarly matched. To be able to spread two singles and a doubles across all four players means they don’t get tired and we can all get behind each other unlike some of the teams who fielded the same two players across each of their matches.
4. Stay cool on the bench. Be specific and reassuring in your feedback and don’t speak for the sake of it.
I think getting to know the girls better helped me to get through to them better and going out early to prepare helped me even more. To understand how they like to receive feedback and what kind of things they would respond to well when I’m sitting on the bench was very important. I think I got better at it as the week went on. I certainly felt more comfortable with what to say, how to say it and when to say it and how much to say, or not if the case may be. The thing that helped me to stay very cool on the bench in moments of stress was probably having a bag of Kinder Schokobons in my rucksack for that chocolate fix at times of stress.
5. Be the best looking team, for a great psychological advantage.
One of the things that is very important is to always make players feel good about themselves – but I didn’t have to try too hard. We went to the official players’ dinner kitted out in our beautiful Reiss dresses that were selected for us by Annie K (who has very, very good taste, I must say). We decided that we were the best looking team there and that made us feel really good.