Olwyn has her eye on the ball

3rd July 2009 at 01:00
Out of the frying pan into the midst of Murray mania

It's out of the frying pan into the midst of Murray mania for Olwyn Roy, a home economics teacher at Inveralmond Community High in Livingston.

This week, instead of checking the consistency of her pupils' souffles, she will have her eagle-eye trained on the tramlines of Wimbledon's tennis courts as one of its most senior umpires.

For 25 years, Mrs Roy has been officiating at one of the the most prestigious tennis championships in the world - ever since she spotted an advertisement for line judges in the tournament programme.

Since then, she has risen through the ranks. She chair-umpires junior matches and has been a line judge at some of the most exciting finals. Last year, she was a line umpire at the ladies' final featuring Serena and Venus Williams; the year before, she officiated at the men's final between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

But she is unlikely to know until the day itself whether she will be involved in any of this year's finals. Watching Murray, she couldn't imagine anyone beating him this year, although that was before his gruelling five-set match against Stanislas Wawrinka.

Mrs Roy has followed Murray's career with interest as she used to umpire some of his matches when he was playing at under-10 and under-12 level. "I could see his potential, but his behaviour wasn't very good then," she said.

As a player - she used to compete against his mother, Judy, in local tournaments - she can understand the frustration when a shot doesn't work.

"But it doesn't mean I'm any more tolerant. As a teacher, I'm a disciplinarian; but as officials, we have set guidelines governing what we tolerate."

Should Murray win Wimbledon this year, she ponders what impact it will have on youngsters' tennis ambitions. The biggest barrier to Scotland producing another champion in his mould is, she believes, the lack of public facilities.

"Tennis is still regarded as a middle-class sport," she says. "In France, even the smallest village has a tennis court."

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