Judy Murray issued a plea for a public inquiry to approve her “world class” centre to breed a new generation of Scots sports stars.
She said her joint proposal with former Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie for a £70 million tennis and golf academy at Park of Keir, Dunblane, would be a “bricks-and-mortar legacy” of the success her tennis star sons Andy and Jamie have achieved.
The plans were rejected by councillors at a meeting in Dunblane last year amid accusations of “nimbyism” by local residents concerned about the Green Belt.
On Monday, Judy submitted a written statement to an inquiry headed by a Reporter from the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division, at the Westlands Hotel in Dunblane.
It stated the centre would enable Scotland to “train a new coaching workforce” that sport needed.
In her statement, the former Scottish National Tennis Coach said: “There is a huge appetite from kids, teens and adults to try tennis and therefore an enormous opportunity to grow the game.
“Of course you need role models to create the excitement and the inspiration but any sport is only as good as its grass roots and our grass roots are very weak.
“History shows that it is not elite success that chiefly inspires young people into sport, but having access to affordable, accessible facilities and engaging coaches at school and in their community.”
The 56-year-old, who grew up in Dublane the daughter of the local optician, said Park of Keir, within easy reach of 70% of Scotland’s population, was the “perfect location”.
She said: “The Park of Keir facility is a family-focused pay-and-play community sports hub aimed at increasing grass roots participation in tennis, golf and football by providing starter coaching and competitions in indoor and outdoor facilities that are local, affordable and accessible.
“It also has a wider goal of getting more families enjoying exercise together and in fresh air through its woodland walks, cycle paths and an adventure playground.
“If a kid or adult is inspired by what they see on TV – whatever sport that may be – we should be able to capture that interest by providing local facilities that have some form of organised activity where people can learn to play the game.
“Nobody rocks up and joins a local club until they know how to play the game and are pretty certain they love that game.
“We need many more public facilities with fun starter activities led by engaging and experienced coaching staff to create opportunities for people to get started.”
She added: “I visit many schools each year, training teachers, students and sports leaders to deliver starter tennis to big numbers in small spaces.
“I see more and more overweight and uncoordinated children.
“This has huge implications for future sporting success and for the health of our nation.
“We must find ways to get kids enjoying exercise at a young age.”
Mrs Murray said that, despite having a US Open champion and an Australian Open champion from Scotland in Andy, the country has no outdoor hard courts for young players to train or compete on equivalent to the type of surface used at international competitions such as the US and Australian Opens.
She said: “The hard courts that do exist in Scotland are tarmac and porous concrete but even these are few and far between. Most clubs in Scotland have artificial grass, which is not an internationally recognised surface and is the worst possible learning surface because of the variation in bounce and speed.
“In the nine years that Andy has been in the top 10, we have had no new indoor courts built in Scotland bar four at the Gleneagles Hotel that opened last year.
“If we have ambition to become a strong tennis nation we must invest not just in facilities, but also in people.
“Our facility will become a coach education centre and a base for developing a Scottish tennis workforce – coaches, trainers, competition organisers, team captains and coach educators – from entry level to world class, and has the backing of both Tennis Scotland and the LTA.
“Our current coaching workforce in Scotland is small in number and poor in quality. We will offer on the job training in all areas because we will run not just best practice coaching sessions but also competitions, conferences and workshops.
“The key is to share expertise and experiences and to pool resources with golf and football to make our efforts go further. This will give all three sports the chance to flourish in the long term.
“The location is perfect.
“Not only is it in our family’s backyard, and therefore a bricks-and-mortar legacy, it is also within an hour’s drive of 70% of Scotland’s population.”
The inquiry could last two weeks.
The Murray-Montgomerie plans also include a four-star 150 bedroom hotel with gym and spa, visitor centre, a “Murray” tennis museum, country park, and 19 luxury houses, the building and sale of which will help fund the sports facilities.
Opponents argue that Park of Keir is a valuable Green Belt site between the two towns of Dunblane and Bridge of Allan, and point out that development of the contentious site has been already been rejected at successive public inquires.
Among other witnesses, the chair of Scottish Golf Eleanor Cannon described the centre as “a hugely exciting opportunity” for a country which was “the Home of golf”.
She said the six-hole trainer course and driving range would provide an “innovative” way into the tough and difficult task of learning the game.
She said: “The British team’s success at the Rio Olympics built on the momentum created around the 2012 games in London and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014.
“The legacy of those great events must surely be an aspiration for more quality multi-sport facilities, and for those facilities to be available to people from every social background.
“We are mindful of the important responsibility… to provide a legacy, and to leave these games in better shape than we found them.”
Local campaign group, Residents Against Greenbelt Erosion (RAGE), which opposes the proposed development, is not expected to give evidence until later in the week.