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Murray brothers bring Battle of the Brits to Scotland for off-season scrimmage
Along with younger brother Andy, Jamie Murray is eager to build on the tennis tradition they first built at home with a face-off against Team England in Aberdeen.
Published Dec 14, 2022
WATCH: Andy Murray toured the International Tennis Hall of Fame museum earlier this year in Newport, Rhode Island.
In early December, Jamie Murray was in Florida, visiting his in-laws and getting in some warm weather training time. Soon after that, Murray would head back home, returning to Scotland so that he could both conduct and compete in a special team event called, “The Battle of the Brits.”
Set to air on Tennis Channel and take place December 21-22 in Aberdeen, Scotland, “The Battle of the Brits” is a competition between Team Scotland and Team England that Murray created in 2020. Jamie and Andy Murray, Aidan McHugh, and Jonny O’Mara comprise Team Scotland. Team England features Dan Evans, Jack Draper, Paul Jubb, Joe Salisbury, and Neal Skupski. A total of six matches will be played—two singles on day one, a doubles and a singles on the afternoon of day two, followed that evening by singles before concluding with the Murray brothers in action versus Salisbury-Skupski.
Speaking to me while in Florida, Jamie said, “We always represent Great Britain, so it’s nice to be able to represent Scotland. Scotland versus England is one of the oldest rivalries ever.”
Murray has been one of the world’s top doubles players for many years, reaching the number one ranking in 2016. He’s won 27 ATP titles, including two Grand Slams and another five in mixed. Naturally, Murray’s capacity for collaboration was one factor in bringing a team event to life. The other was the pandemic.
“We don’t have a national championships in the UK,” said Murray. “So this was a way for the players to have something to prepare for and compete and stay sharp.” The first one was held in June 2020 at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton. Another took place several months later. But the third version, set to take place last year, was cancelled at the last minute due to COVID-related concerns.
We don’t have anything in Scotland, so this is a way to grow the sport. We want to thank fans for all the support they’ve given us. Jamie Murray
Murray’s also excited about the chance to bring top-level tennis to Scotland. “We wanted to put on major tennis events in our country,” he said. “We don’t have anything in Scotland, so this is a way to grow the sport. We want to thank fans for all the support they’ve given us.”
Reflecting on the journey he and Andy took from Scotland to the top of the world, Murray says, “It’s a pretty crazy story. Scotland had no tennis tradition or heritage. We grew up in a town of 6-7,000 people, maybe even less. We were incredibly fortunate to have a mum who was an amazing tennis coach. And to have a family around us who made so many sacrifices, driving us all over the country to play tennis.”
Judy Murray’s instructional wisdom puts a strong emphasis on strategy. One of her cornerstone concepts revolves around a single word: trouble. As Judy has often said, “Make trouble. Avoid trouble. Get out of trouble.” That approach made her students—Jamie and Andy most of all—keen students of the game. “She taught us foundations,” said Jamie. “We learned the game, as opposed to just hitting tennis balls.”
For the left-handed Jamie, Judy’s lessons surfaced best in doubles. “I love playing up at the net,” he said. “My doubles is more about precision and reading the game and reading the plays.”
A brilliant showcase of Jamie’s doubles skills came in 2015, when he partnered with Andy to help Great Britain win the Davis Cup for the first time since 1936.
Said Jamie, “When I think back on my career, I’ve played a ton of matches. The ones you remember most are the ones that have passion. That obviously leads to Davis Cup.
“Everyone has a vested interest in the match. Andy was doing his thing and firmly establishing himself and was at the height of his powers. It was incredible. To play alongside Andy made it all so special. We’re so fortunate to have had this opportunity to play our sport side by side.”
Jamie’s now 36 years old and finished 2022 ranked 36 in the world in doubles. He remains highly motivated.
“I enjoy the competition the most,” he said. “Training hard and working hard on our game and then trotting it out on game day to see what you’ve got. The chance to play in front of people and test yourself against the best players in the world. Lots of the older pros I’ve talked to say to play as long as you can. I’ll do that as long as my body is holding up.”
Next month, he’ll head to Australia. For now, though, it’s off to Aberdeen.