© Ella Ling

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Scotland's doing the Highland Fling

   

Mary Carillo of CBS took a stereotype too far when she told Andy Murray moments after his US Open victory that ‘there are bagpipes blowing all over Scotland tonight’. But while there may not have been kilted Scots blowing their bagpipes in celebration in the early hours of Tuesday morning, there were plenty of people doing something reminiscent of the Highland Fling in their living rooms as Murray finally overcame that grand slam hurdle.

The Scottish people have followed Murray’s career with interest, curious at the concept of a world-class tennis player from their own shores.  Before Murray came along, just about the most they had to cheer was when Miles Maclagan, born in Zambia to Scottish parents, took a two set lead over Boris Becker in the first round of the Wimbledon Championships in 1999 before the German fought back to win in five.

Murray has taken Scottish tennis to another level.  Before Monday night, he had already beaten the greats – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic – but now he has ensured he can no longer be billed as tennis’s Colin Montgomerie, the Scot regarded as one of the best golfers never to have won a major championship.

On Monday night, the people of Scotland were willing Murray over the final hurdle in something akin to the 1985 World Snooker Championship final between Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor.  Although the US Open final missed the widespread reach of terrestrial TV coverage, there was still the same feel of households across the country gripped by the late night sporting drama.

And despite the 2:04am finish, many of the Scottish newspapers still managed to plaster the Murray pictures and headlines over the front pages of their morning editions. 

Scottish tennis has never had it so good.  There are more people playing on the courts of Scotland.  Clubs are reporting more interest all-year round rather than just the usual three or four week spell surrounding Wimbledon.  At the courts in Dunblane, where Murray learned to play, children are already talking of the inspiration they feel by watching someone from their small town achieve something incredible.

In this week of Davis Cup ties, it is a shame there is no British tie for Murray to receive a hero’s welcome.  At the Braehead Arena near Glasgow last year, Murray was reduced to tears by the support he received from the Scottish people.  We can only imagine what the atmosphere would have been like had there been a tie at Braehead this weekend.

However, Murray has been invited to the Olympic parade through Glasgow this Friday, although it is still unclear whether he will attend.  He has also been offered the Freedom of the City of Stirling and there have been calls to rename the tennis centre at Craiglockhart in Edinburgh as the Andy Murray Tennis Centre.

In a country which is so often purely focused on football, Murray’s success has provided a welcome distraction from the woes of the national football team who have failed to qualify for a major finals since 1998.  Incredibly, chants of ‘there’s only one Andy Murray’ resounded around Hampden Park in Glasgow during Tuesday night’s World Cup qualifier between Scotland and Macedonia.

But just think about this for a minute.  Murray, who took shelter under the headmaster’s desk in Dunblane primary school on the tragic day when 16 children and a teacher were shot dead in 1996, has become one of Scotland’s greatest sportsmen.  It is quite something.