Andy Murray’s ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ mum helps tennis teen conquer USA

WE;VE WON THE CUP! -- Freya Christie (second from left) and Judy Murray (centre) with the victorious British team after winning the Maureen Connolly Trophy in the USA.
WE;VE WON THE CUP! -- Freya Christie (second from left) and Judy Murray (centre) with the victorious British team after winning the Maureen Connolly Trophy in the USA.

Tennis superstar Andy Murray’s mum, Judy, will be gracing our TV screens from this weekend as a contestant on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’.

But before joining the show, Judy had a red-letter engagement, helping Hucknall teenager Freya Christie win a prestigious challenge match for Britain in the USA.

And while in America, Freya has fulfilled her dream of competing at the US Open, making it through to the main draw of the junior girls’ singles and reaching the quarter-finals of the doubles.

It all added up to another whirlwind chapter in the success story of 16-year-old Freya, who lives on Beardall Street in Hucknall with mum Carol.

The challenge match was the 38th renewal of the Maureen Connolly Trophy, which is an annual tournament between the best under-18s girl players on each side of the Atlantic.

Renowned coach Judy Murray, who celebrates her 55th birthday on Monday, was in charge the British team in which Freya lined up alongside 16-year-olds Maia Lumsden, of Glasgow, and Gabi Taylor, of Southampton, plus 15-year-old Katie Swan, of Bristol.

The two-day tourney is named after one of the greatest female tennis players in the history of the sport - American ‘Little Mo’ Connolly, who won nine Grand Slam titles as a teenager in the early 1950s, including Wimbledon three times, before a leg-injury she sustained in a horse-riding accident forced her to quit.

The challenge comprised 12 matches - eight singles and four doubles - at the Connecticut Tennis Centre in New Haven. And the British girls stormed to 9-3 victory, with Freya among the winners.

“What a great trip!” Judy exclaimed in a blog. “It was a wonderful learning experience for the girls. Team competition is so good for these kids.”

By playing in the Connolly challenge, Freya was following in the footsteps of famous former players, such as Pam Shriver and Sue Barker.

Overall, the US lead 25-13, with the next renewal at Eastbourne in June 2015. Inspired by the success, Freya made the trip to Flushing Meadows in New York City days later to make her debut at the US Open.

And she was delighted to get through two qualifying rounds in the junior girls’ singles, beating Veronica Miroshnichenko, of Russia, 6-4 6-2 and then Thereasa Van Zyl, of South Africa, 6-3 6-4.

Freya, who has already played two Wimbledons, was beaten in the opening round proper, going down 6-4 6-2 to highly-rated Slovakian Viktoria Kuzmova. But rich compensation awaited in the junior girls’ doubles with partner Katie Swan.

An easy straight-sets win in the first round against American duo Usue Maitaine Arconada and Kimberly Birrell was followed by a sensational triumph in round two. For Freya and Swan knocked out the second seeds, 17-year-olds Anhelina Kalinina, of Ukraine, and Iryna Shymanovich, of Belarus, winning 7-6 6-4.

That set up a quarter-final tie against Vera Lapko, of Belarus, and Tereza Mihalikova, of Slovakia, which is due to take place on Court Six of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre today (Thursday).

Freya, who is currently number 80 in the junior world rankings and 884 on the senior circuit, has won more than 6,000 dollars in prize money so far this year, according to the latest ITF statistics.