Venue: Loughborough University Tennis Centre Dates: 29 Nov-3 Dec
Coverage: Watch live across Connected TV, the BBC Sport website and mobile app.
World number two Alfie Hewett won his opening men’s singles match on day one of the season-ending Wheelchair Tennis Masters in Loughborough.
Hewett held off Swedish sixth seed Stefan Olsson to win 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 6-3.
But Belgian defending champion Joachim Gerard came through 6-3 7-5 against Hewett’s doubles partner Gordon Reid.
Andy Lapthorne beat fellow Briton Antony Cotterill 6-1 6-4 in the quad singles, but Lucy Shuker lost in the women’s singles.
The British sixth seed was well beaten by world number two Diede de Groot of the Netherlands, who dropped just one game in her 6-1 6-0 victory.
Hewett, the reigning US and French Open champion, told BBC Sport after his victory: “I wouldn’t say I was pleased. There were a lot of chances for me to take the first set – I was 5-1 up – but my concentration and focus slipped.
“He fought back and after that it was a really tough battle. But I’ve got to give myself credit for fighting. Getting the win in the end is what it’s all about.”
The singles event features two pools of four players, with the top two from each group progressing to the semi-finals.
The quad singles has two pools of three competitors, with the top two players reaching the semis.
Three Grand Slam titles, two Olympic gold medals, one knighthood and a place guaranteed among the greatest British sportspeople of all time – imagine having Sir Andy Murray in your corner…
For the first time, double Wimbledon champion Murray has spoken about his new venture in sports management.
In an exclusive interview with BBC Sport, the 30-year-old Scot explains his plan to recruit and mentor top prospects, while still competing at the highest level himself – and how he will use his own experiences of the pressure and pitfalls faced by an up-and-coming athlete.
‘I was too young’
Murray started playing tennis at the age of three.
Two years later he began competing and his potential was quickly recognised, although on reflection, Murray says, there are aspects of his development he would change.
“I signed with a management company for the first time when I was 12, 13 years old, which to me is ridiculous,” Murray admits. “It’s way, way too young. You don’t need that pressure.
“You’re trying to become a professional and certainly my parents were not experienced in dealing with those situations.
“You can get yourself into trouble by signing long-term contracts that might not be in your best interests. Things like that you can avoid if you’ve got the right people around you.”
“Throughout my career as a professional – and actually when I was a junior as well – I worked with three or four different companies and found a number of people who I liked and trusted,” said Murray. “That’s how it began.
“Then I thought I could look at helping some younger British athletes go through that transition phase from juniors into the senior ranks and mentor them along the way.
“It’s something that interests me a lot. I want to work with the best British athletes, whether that’s male or female.”
Murray set up 77 Sports Management, an offshoot of the group that looks after him. It intends to provide recruits with access to the player himself as well as much of the set-up around him – personnel, sports science, nutrition, facilities, commercial opportunities and more.
“If there’s anything they, their family, or anyone around them wants to ask or talk to me about, then that’s what I’ll do,” he adds.
“I don’t want to be imposing my views or ideas on anyone. But I think that’s one of the nice things about having an athlete as part of the management company.
“Often the people in management companies haven’t played the sport or been athletes themselves, so hopefully that’s a little extra thing I can add.”
‘I need to learn about other sports’
“We’ve looked at a number of different sports,” Murray explains. “You don’t want to throw yourself into too many and try to learn in an instant.
“It takes time to understand a sport. Tennis, we’ll be good on. But there are others we like and, over time, hopefully we can help athletes in various sports.
“This is the only thing I’ve really thought of beyond tennis and something I do feel like, when I finish playing, I’ll still be very, very interested in. I can’t concentrate on too many things at once.
“I’m focusing on getting myself fit and healthy again – it’s been a really tough year on the court, but it’s important to do things away from your sport, to keep your mind fresh.
“I’ve got the tennis, the management company and a young family keeping me busy – that’s enough for now.”
So who are the first recruits?
How would it feel as a young athlete to have a direct line into somebody who has been there, done it? Someone who has won and lost, sampled the highs and lows, pressure and pain, and wants you to use their expertise and support structure for the path ahead?
The first athletes to benefit from Murray’s guidance will be 20-year-old twin sprinters Shannon and Cheriece Hylton, and 17-year-old tennis player Aidan McHugh.
They have impressed Murray not only with their sporting prowess, but their academic achievements too.
Shannon is studying bio-medical science and eventually aims to focus on neuropsychopharmacology, while Cheriece is reading business management. They are due to graduate in 2019.
Before turning his attention solely to tennis, McHugh achieved seven A grades in his National 5s – Scotland’s version of GCSEs – and then four As and a B in his Highers, the equivalent of A-Levels.
“There are things that go into sport other than just the performance, like the education to set yourself up for life after you finish playing,” says Murray.
“That’s actually something I regret not doing myself – I wish I spent more time in education and that’s something I would pass on to others and certainly recommend more athletes do.”
Chris Slegg, BBC London
Shannon and Cheriece Hylton hope Murray can help them make the transition from Blackheath & Bromley Harriers to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Shannon’s breakthrough moment came this summer when she edged out Olympians Bianca Williams and Desiree Henry to become British 200m champion, equalling her lifetime best of 22.94secs and qualifying for the London 2017 World Championships.
Tearfully cheering her across the line at the Alexander Stadium was twin sister Cheriece, a 400m specialist who has been named in England’s 4x400m relay squad for next year’s Commonwealth Games.
Kheredine Idessane, BBC Scotland
The dreaded ‘next Andy Murray’ tag is one I’m sure Aidan McHugh is keen to avoid but, as the double Wimbledon champion’s first tennis client, the 17-year-old Scot could scarcely have a better mentor.
A star pupil at Glasgow’s St Aloysius college, he idolised both Murray brothers growing up and got a taste of potential fame to come by practising with Andy at this year’s Wimbledon Championships.
That inspired McHugh to a couple of good wins in the boys’ event at the All England Club as the highly promising junior began to plan for life on the tennis tour.
Jelena Dokic’s successes during her 16-year tennis career came at a heavy personal price, she says.
The Yugoslavia-born Australian was once ranked fourth in the world, and reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon in 2000, but she claims she suffered years of mental and physical abuse from her father Damir, who coached her from an early age.
Dokic has alleged she was whipped with a leather belt and kicked in the shins if she did not train well, and that she was regularly left bruised and bloodied.
Now 34 and a coach herself, she has released a book and has told BBC World Service’s Sportshour programme about name-calling, being evicted from her hotel and having suicidal thoughts.
‘I hid in the players’ lounge after Wimbledon’
Dokic had a normal relationship with her father until she started playing tennis at the age of six. Then almost immediately the verbal, emotional and physical abuse started. But despite it all, she managed to establish herself in the professional ranks and beat world number one Martina Hingis at Wimbledon in 1999, aged 16, and reached the semi-finals in 2000. She lost to Lindsay Davenport in the last four.
That should have been one of the great highlights, but after the match my father thought I was a disgrace and an embarrassment and didn’t allow me to come back to the hotel.
I had to stay at Wimbledon in the players’ lounge that afternoon and that evening and try to sleep there. I hid on a couch hoping no-one was going to find me, but the cleaners did at 11pm. The referee was called and I had to find somewhere else to sleep for the night – no money, no credit card, nothing.
‘The media thought it was funny’
Dokic’s father was banned from all women’s tour events for six months in 2000 after he became abusive in the players’ lounge during the US Open over the size of his portion of salmon. Earlier in the year, he wrapped himself in a flag of St George at Wimbledon, began shouting at spectators and smashed a journalist’s phone.
People saw what my dad was like, how he was behaving – we all know the incidents at Wimbledon, US Open, Australian Open. And based on that alone, you would think that some people would maybe come up to you and just ask you how you were doing. Just a kind word would have been enough – but it didn’t happen.
And I also didn’t understand the media, because everything that he was doing was seen as funny and a joke. The incident at Wimbledon with the flag, and the US Open. He was the punchline and a headline, but a funny one. It wasn’t funny because a 14 or 15-year-old girl was going home with this person.
Around the same time, Dokic switched allegiance from Australia to Yugoslavia (now Serbia), her father’s homeland. It resulted in a barrage of criticism from those in her adopted homeland.
That wasn’t my decision at all. I love Australia, and I was really grateful to the country for giving me what I got when I came as a refugee as an 11-year-old. I loved playing for Australia and I felt completely Australian – he took that away from me. I was only 17. I was made to do that and show that publicly which was completely not me.
‘He constantly made me feel worthless’
In the book, Dokic has told how she left home in the middle of the night with just a suitcase and her racquet bag a couple of months after signing all her earnings over to her father. She says she was prevented from speaking to her younger brother for several years – reconciling in 2008 – and considered killing herself.
It wasn’t about power, it was for me more a way out because I felt like I was letting a lot of people down. I did leave my brother behind and he was eight years younger, about 11 years old, and I had a lot of guilt and that was kind of the way my dad made me feel – he didn’t let me talk to my brother for about five years, six years, so it was very, very hard on me.
I had this guilt about whether I did the right thing and he constantly made me feel worthless, I lost a lot of confidence and self-esteem and even when I left home, he still put me through hell and really made life difficult.
I just felt everybody would be better off if I wasn’t here. All I wanted was to have a normal life and to be able to play tennis in peace.
‘I don’t speak to my father’
In 2009, Damir Dokic was jailed for threatening the Australian ambassador in Serbia with a hand grenade. The same year, Jelena Dokic returned to tennis having played only one Grand Slam between 2005 and 2008 as her ranking dropped to 621. She eventually retired in 2014. Despite her attempts, she and her dad are not in contact.
I did try to reconcile with him a few times over the years, and it just hasn’t been possible. It’s hard to communicate with someone who thinks they’ve done nothing wrong and has shown no remorse.
I’ve done absolutely everything that I possibly could have done for him and my family – when I left home I gave him all my money and continued to do so for years. But it got to a stage where it wasn’t about tennis anymore; it was about whether I was going to ever be able to live a normal life again after almost committing suicide.
I lived for almost 30 years in some kind of pain, so I think it was time to move on and look forward to the future. I’ve got a lot to be happy about and I just need to leave people behind that don’t have my best interests at heart.
Do I wish sometimes that I had a normal father and a normal family unit and support? Absolutely. But you can’t choose your parents and I’m kind of lucky to be here, luckier than most I still think.
The BBC was unable to reach Damir Dokic for a response.