All eyes may be on Andy Murray at Wimbledon, but the National Trust for Scotland has just served up its own ace at Falkland Palace.
It has just completed a nine-month revamp of the oldest royal tennis court in Scotland.
Built in 1539 during the reign of King James V, it is one of few surviving royal tennis courts left in Europe.
The repair work cost £62,000, with backing from Historic Scotland and an anonymous donor.
Trust surveyor Will Napier said viewing gallery roofs were repaired, a gutter between the court and adjoining royal stables repaired and decoration work carried out.
The courts are now back in use by Falkland Real Tennis Club but the work unsettled more than just the players, as swallows’ nests were removed when they migrated, leaving the birds surprised on their return that their homes had gone.
Property manager Karen Caldwell said, “Swallows are protected and you can’t disturb them when they are nesting but you can remove nests when the breeding season is over and the birds have left.
“Of course when our swallows came back this spring they found that they were homeless cue lots of frustrated flying about.”
The court was left open for the swallows but little rain meant little mud for the nests.
Conservation adviser Lindsay Mackinlay said, “We were initially concerned about the dry weather when they returned as the swallows were having problems making the nests properly due to an inability to find wet mud or soil to construct them.
“However, we had faith that the Scottish summer would not go past without some rain and, sure enough, the swallows have rebuilt their homes and we expect to see young ones fledge this year to take over entertaining the visitors to the court for years to come.
“At least the swallows seemed to have appreciated the rain during this tennis season!” he joked.
Staff are pleased to see old friends back and Karen added, “It is quite a challenge to try and keep the gallery clean when they are nesting, but we are very fond of our swallows and always look forward to seeing them return each year.
“We feel that the cleaning is a relatively small price to pay.”