What an incredible global tennis year it has been, across the ATP and WTA, I salute all the great players and champions who provide us with an outstanding display of tennis to watch, enjoy and appreciate. In this 2016 tennis review I am going to specifically focus on the success of Great Britain, as it has been an outstanding year for them, finishing the 2016 season with 3 World Number ones, Andy Murray, Jamie Murray and Gordon Reid.
Tennis Review - A Sporting Phenomenon
The Murray brothers are simply a phenomenon, when I wrote this word, I thought, is this too strong a statement, so I went to Google, as you do to look up the definition, “extraordinary things, occurrences, or persons”, I came to the decision, without doubt, this describes the Murray brothers perfectly. And of course, you can’t talk about the Murray brothers without mentioning one of the most significant personalities in global tennis, the one and only Judy Murray.
Without doubt, Judy Murray is an incredible mother, but beyond this, she has been a genius in terms of coaching her sons through junior development phases and then positive support, beyond into Global senior tennis domination. I have been privileged enough to see the mother son relationship that her and her boys enjoy, and the incredible devotion they all have to each other. This devotion comes of course from simply the mother son relationship, but it’s the level and magnification of this devotion and relationship that is incredible. But this is not surprising to me, as I know the tennis business, and the Murray trio, together, have not only survived the process of battling through the junior tennis ranks and all the personal sacrifices this includes, they have also together survived the brutal sporting world of tennis, and have, in my opinion transcended to legendary status.
I personally witnessed the very special relationship Judy has with her boys; my wife Bally and I were competing in Palm Springs and we were having lunch with Judy at one of the tables in the player garden, when Andy comes walking through with his team, what happened next was quite extraordinary, Judy got up and ran over to her son and they embraced as mother and son as if no one else existed or was there with them, it was truly an example of the love and tightness Judy and her boys enjoy.
Andy and Jamie have simply had a “Dream Season”; here is a list of their Marque achievements this year:
Andy Murray's 2016 Achievements
- Became world no 1 for the first time in his career
- First ever British player to be crowned number 1
- Andy became most successful player of the Queen’s club tournament winning 5 times
- Won Wimbledon for the 2nd time this year - only British male to do in open era
- Produced his season best for victories - 72 in 2016 with 71 in 2015
- First brothers to simultaneously occupy ATP World No.1 rankings
Jamie Murray's 2016 Achievements
- Jamie Murray won his 1st men's doubles Grand Slam title at Australian Open
- Won second grand slam title (first time) at US Open with Bruno Soares
- Became world number 1 doubles with Bruno Soares
- Jamie and Andy became the first brothers to reach the Aus Open finals (singles and doubles) in the open era
- Received an OBE this year for his service to tennis and charity
- First brothers to simultaneously occupy ATP World No.1 rankings
Top Ten Finish
I can’t write this blog without saluting the amazing achievements of Jo Konta, the British Number one; she is an amazing young woman and a world class tennis player. Jo was ranked 150 at year end 2014, 47 at year end 2015 and her highest WTA ranking in 2016 was World No.9, finishing the year at 10. I am proud to say that my wife Bally and Jo had a very special relationship when we were travelling on the tour and Bally without a doubt had a big soft spot for Jo, I remember one of the years Jo was on her own at the US Open and Bally asked her to join us at our favourite Italian restaurant Di Tony’s. I can honestly say, Jo must be one of the loveliest personalities on the tour; she simply is a very caring and considerate lady. Since the passing of my wife, Jo has agreed to honour Bally and she has become an official patron of The Elena Baltacha Foundation. Even with her gruelling schedule, she keeps in regular contact with me and shows great interest in all the foundation activities and has even this year been involved in personally mentoring one of Bally’s EBAT players through texting, a massive commitment from a top 10 WTA player who would have so many demands on her time.
Here is a list of Jo’s Marque achievements this year:
Jo Konta's 2016 Achievements
- Jo won her first WTA title at Stanford
- She became the 1st British woman for 33 years to reach a grand slam semifinal in Australian Open
- Jo has reached her highest ranking this year and made world top 10 - first British player since 1984
- Reached her biggest final at Beijing which took her into world top 10
- She has won 2016 WTA most improved player award
- Achieved a highest ranking of WTA 9
This brings me onto Gordon Reid, our World Number One tennis wheel chair Champion. Tennis is tough enough, but add the challenges of not being able to walk and having to deal with the daily struggles that this must bring, only makes you respect Gordon even more for proving himself such an incredible athlete, player and Champion. I remember when Bally and I used to get back to the National Training centre in Roehampton, London after an evening out, we would always have to walk along the balcony to get to our room, and down on the court, the wheel chair players would be training hard deep into the evening. Without fail, we always stopped and just watched them train in absolute awe, the determination and skill level they showed was incredible, these athletes show what the human spirit is capable of, against extreme odds.
Here is a list of Gordon’s Marque achievements this year:
- Become year end world number 1
- Gordon won his first grand slam title at the Australian Open 2016
- Gordon defeated fellow Brit Alfie Hewett to take the paralympic gold singles title
- Won both the doubles and singles title at Wimbledon 2016
- 2016 Roland Garros Doubles champion
I cannot finish my blog without mentioning two of the British coaches who have achieved so much and who I can proudly call friends, Leon Smith and Louis Cayer. Leon Smith enjoyed the status this year of being captain of the defending Davis Cup team; I would like to salute him for the incredible achievement of leading the British team to the World title, and on a personal note, for believing in me and supporting me as a coach when I was on the tour with my wife.
And last, but definitely not least, the great and simply incredible Louis Cayer, who is to me and countless others considered as one of the most talented coaches in the world. Louis was a major member of the Great Britain Davis Cup coaching team and his coaching genius would have undoubtedly play a major part in the success the British team enjoyed on their way to the World title. I am placed very well to talk about this man, he coached my wife at the end of her career, and I remember the very special relationship Bally and Louis developed, I know he respected my wife greatly and she him. My respect for Louis Cayer goes well beyond his coaching abilities, he has been an incredible friend, support and mentor to me, and for this, I would like to take this opportunity to thank him from the bottom of my heart.
Exciting Times Ahead
As the Chairman of my wife’s foundation, The Elena Baltacha Foundation, I am involved in a number of events which I will cover in my next blog. These will include a coaching experience for our players with the world class WTA tour coach Nigel Sears, Coach to Ana Ivanovic and the mentoring programme delivered by Anne Keothavong the new Britain Fed cup Captain and BT Sport and BBC commentator, our day with Yonex our foundation friends and of course the players experience with Judy Murray our foundation Patron.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very merry Christmas period with your family and friends.