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Raw ambition
By Alistair Magowan

If the LTA were looking for a way to pre-stage the launch of a new look to youth tennis, then Andy Murray's claim that the governing body ruined his brother's career might not have been top of their list.

Andy Murray shows off his keepy-up skills
Murray is backing the scheme to take tennis to the streets

But this, the LTA claims, is a revolution.

Raw Tennis is a bold attempt to give tennis a more urban edge - ditching the whites and plugging in the stereo.

Murray said: "What happened to my brother was six years ago, and the LTA has changed its system since then.

"I don't have a problem with what the LTA is doing now."

Murray turned up to a multi-story car park deep in the heart of London's Soho area in a baggy tracksuit and badly in need of a haircut.

Which meant he fitted in perfectly with the new image the LTA are aiming to give tennis for 10-18 year olds.

While the venue, DJ and clothing provided the style, the substance of Raw Tennis came from a dynamic display of exercises, skills and team games.

No sooner had Murray declared his preference for Usher and 50 Cent than he was on court catching tennis balls in the press-up position and showing off his ball juggling skills.

"Raw Tennis will probably double the amount of kids playing the game because it's a lot more fun than normal," he said.

"Practising new tricks is cool. It's not about being the best in your club, it's about fun as well. It should keep teenagers playing.

"Growing up when I saw Wimbledon it was always the old-boy set-up - it didn't look that much fun for the younger kids.

"But anyone can play Raw Tennis anywhere - in the street, in a back yard or on a football pitch. I'm really happy to promote this program. The LTA have organised it very well."

Anya
Anya likes the fact that Raw Tennis is free

Murray proved annoyingly talented when he showed off his football skills by catching a tennis ball on the back of his neck and between his shoulder and his ear.

And the move away from just hitting the ball over the net is proving popular amongst those who've tried it.

16-year-old Robert said: "I've learnt the tricks just messing around between points in matches and at training.

"I like the freestyle side to it, just trying new things. Spectators are impressed and the showboating side of things gives you a buzz too."

Ruth, 14, from Essex was equally impressed with Murray's skills and liked the style of the new scheme.

She said: "My club prefers it if we wear tennis clothes but I think now this has started we'll be able to wear more normal clothes."

Anya, from East London added: "I think it's a really good idea. Not only is it free but you can wear anything, turn up whenever you like and you don't have to be a top player either."

Dominic
Dominic thinks Andy Murray will be good for British tennis

Admittedly Raw Tennis isn't going to turn youngsters into champions but it should broaden the base from which players begin and improve their skills.

Dominic, a coach from Hertfordshire, said: "I think it's a fantastic idea, especially for juniors who aren't going to be brilliant.

"It really gives them something to work towards with the targets and the skills, it makes tennis a little bit more cool for 10-18 year olds.

"Murray's going to be good for the game. He's got that style about him - cool, laid back but still fun."

Whatever his achievements on the Grand Slam circuit, Murray is already proving a valuable, if raw, asset for the future of British tennis.



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