Former pupil Leon Smith returned to Beaton Road yesterday to receive a George and Thomas Hutcheson Award for his achievements in tennis.
The Davis Cup team coach, who was recently awarded an OBE, was delighted to receive the School honour and said: “It’s a huge honour and privilege to accept this award.”
Leon, C1993, brought a surprise for the pupils, staff and friends of the School who had attended the special presentation ceremony in the Helen and Walter Ross Assembly Hall – The Davis Cup Trophy.
In 2015 Leon and his team – which included Andy and Jamie Murray – won the Davis Cup for the first time in 79 years. A phenomenal achievement for Leon, the players and Great Britain.
The dad-of-three told the audience it was good be back in his old school and he was looking forward to going on a short tour of Beaton Road after the ceremony. He said: “This is a great school and it is surreal being back here. I have a very vivid memory of sitting my Standard Grade History exam in this very hall. I have been getting my bearings. The first place I want to go and see is my old Deputy Rector Sandy Strang’s office – I spent a lot of time there!”
He was also delighted to meet up with a number of his former teachers including Director of Sport Mr Lang, Mrs Lang, who is in charge of tennis, and retired P.E. teacher Mrs Park.
He said: “I can’t believe it’s been 23 years since I left here and walked out the school gates for the last time. What’s more amazing than that is Mr Lang is still here.”
During the ceremony Head Boy Callum Young and Head Girl Keziah Abbotts read out the Award Citation which focused on Leon’s tennis career. He began coaching professionally in local tennis clubs around Glasgow from the age of 18 and in 1998 he concentrated on elite players and became national performance officer for Tennis Scotland.
Leon helped set up a tennis academy in Edinburgh two years later and in 2004 re-joined Tennis Scotland as LTA Academy coach and national training coach for Scotland. A year later Leon was appointed the LTA’s national under-16 men’s coach and in 2008 he became the U-18 coach. In 2010 he was appointed the Head of Men’s Tennis.
He answered a number of questions from the school’s tennis team players and told them clay was his favourite tennis surface, Andy Murray was his favourite player because “he puts everything in and is determined to win” and that the support at Glasgow’s Emirates stadium was the best. He also joked that his brothers Toby and Gary, who are also tennis coaches, had never beaten him in a match.
After the official ceremony concluded Leon spent time coaching the School’s current tennis team players and gave them top tips to improve their game. S3’s Robbie Prentice said: “It was great to meet Leon – he is such an inspiration.”
The G&T awards are presented by the Former Pupil Council in recognition of Hutchesonians who are regarded by their peers as inspirational figures, whether by virtue of their academic or professional achievements; triumph over adversity; public spiritedness or the like. Leon was a very worthy winner.
See more photos from the ceremony here.