Schroders Battle of The Brits. 2022 An Attendees Perspective .

As a tennis fan currently based in Scotland. I’ve been in the incredibly lucky position to attend The Team GB Vs US Davis Cup tie in March and three out of the four grand slams over the last 15 years. Seeing Aberdeen chosen as the venue for the first live in-person staging of the Battle of the Brits exhibition event felt like some level of vindication for the city’s cultural and sporting footprint. This cultural and tennis fan has always thought that Aberdeen has much greater potential as an event-hosting city ( outside the oil and gas industry.) So it was pleasing if somewhat surprising that tournament director Jamie Murray and those organizers behind him picked Aberdeen for the event taking place in December 2022. The branding emerged as a brainchild of the Murray brothers as a way for the raft of current British tennis talent to gain some much-needed match practice in the period after the sport’s initial COVID lockdown but before the main ATP and WTA tools resumed in earnest ( behind closed doors.) Given that the two previous Battle of the Brits events were under these restrictions there were clear efforts made to give anyone who might be watching on the various outlets where it was available the chance for some level of added value. Players clipped on microphones during changeovers and were interviewed about the state of the various matches before time was called. No such need for that here though. The various between changeovers entertainment can now happen with a full crowd in attendance. In fact as a huge tennis fan based in the city that was the one thing immediately noticeable about attending the event in person across the full three-session experience. The event may have been delayed a year due to a COVID spike in the city last Christmas but all three sessions were able to settle out 15,000 seat arena in a city not particularly known for its tennis. It was also admirably built with fan engagement and ticket-holder experience in mind. Having recently attended the GB VS USA Davis Cup tie much as this viewer loved the tennis itself the choices made by the stakeholders made in terms of start time whilst also considering match length and possible finish time was frankly baffling on the part of those involved. The atmosphere past midnight at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow was frankly stunning considering it was far past the hour for competitive tennis even indoors by most conventional standards and metrics. The fact the atmosphere was so palpable even at this time can be largely attributed to the fact there was a Murray brother on the court. No such problems here. Reasonable start times for each session. A format that enabled those who have not experienced it to see enough competitive play within each match without them getting stale. And a reasonable runtime of three to four hours per session which is probably enough for those who simply want a taste of top-level British tennis as it comes to their city. There are those like this attendee who go the extra mile attending all of the events in person and reporting back by writing this piece based on his vantage point in the wheelchair-accessible seats. Overall everyone involved did a remarkably good job with the event. One flat match aside the crowd remained respectful yet effectively biased given that this is a Scotland VS England event taking place north of the border. As a huge tennis, It would be nice love to see Aberdeen have a greater sporting and cultural footprint beyond football. Events of this scale do prove that the city has THE potential infrastructure To host events of this scale thanks to the presence of the relaunched P & J Live. it’s just that with the combination of current economic conditions and how far north it is from a location perspective more cultural cachet for the city is unlikely will likely ever happen. It’s a massive shame.
As a fan that has been lucky enough to go to multiple grand slams for a debut in-person event given the brand and conceptual origins as a COVID lockdown event filler the first in-person Schroeder’s Battle of the Brits arrived a lot more fully formed than this attendee expected. Especially given the choice of city and location doesn’t by default have an inbuilt love of the central sport or any hometown heroes to get behind. The Murray brothers are pretty much that for the entirety of Scotland and arguably the UK (beyond occasional spikes of mainstream interest for Laura Robson and Johanna Konta over the last 15 years.) who knows how many of the Aberdeen crowd have a vested interest in following current British #1, Cameron Norrie. Thankfully in the context of this event that doesn’t matter. The Murray family have collectively leveraged their cultural and sporting influence over the UK landscape. They have managed to be remarkably successful when pulling off and gathering together the best of the current male British tennis scene and giving them a showcase in front of a captive and sold-out audience. Any of whom might not have seen or heard of these players before sitting down at the event. There is talk every so often in some quarters of the Murray’s success not translating to further engagement with the sport of tennis on a general public level. This is a criticism that is no doubt also being levied by someone in the aftermath of Emma Raducanu’s fairytale run to US Open Grand Slam glory. ) This did not seem like the case for the crowd at Aberdeen’s P & J live over those two days in December 2022. here’s to many more successful events like this one for the city and sport as a whole.

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