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Wimbledon: Murray's hometown readies strawberries, cream and champagne

By Phil Gast, CNN
updated 10:35 PM EDT, Fri July 6, 2012
  • Scottish hometown of Andy Murray prepares for big match
  • Murray is the first Briton to reach Wimbledon men's singles final since 1938
  • Dunblane residents will tune in at pubs, homes and a community center

(CNN) -- The Rev. Sally Foster-Fulton doesn't expect worshippers at Dunblane Cathedral to tarry at the close of the second service Sunday.

By then, their minds will have shifted from tithing to tennis in anticipation of local hero Andy Murray's bid to win the Wimbledon men's title.

Murray, 25, is the first British man to reach the finals since 1938.

"It's a huge deal and everybody is over the moon," said Foster-Fulton, associate minister at the Scottish city's landmark cathedral.

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Murray, who reached the final with a grueling win Friday over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, will play six-time champion Roger Federer.

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Dunblane, primarily known for its cathedral and picturesque river, Allan Water, is bursting with obvious pride.

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"This is one of the things in my town (I wanted) to see before I die," said Tom McLean, owner of the Dunblane Hotel. "I wanted to see a British person to go to the finals of Wimbledon. It is double special because he is Scot."

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As he did Friday, McLean will serve strawberries and cream to customers who will pack the hotel's large bar. The dish is a Wimbledon tradition.

"We're going to party like you wouldn't believe," McLean said.

He's also holding something special in reserve for Sunday.

"When (Murray) strikes the winning ball, we will strike open the champagne and the party begins."

Part bedroom community, the city of nearly 12,000 has grown because of its proximity to transportation corridors, said Foster-Fulton, a native of South Carolina married to a Scot.

Many residents commute to Edinburgh, Perth and Glasgow for work.

Dunblane is a bit off tourists' beaten path, but it does receive some visitors.

"It remains a close-knit community with a great heart," the minister told CNN Friday after Murray won his semifinal match.

That heart was nearly broken in 1996, when a former scout leader went on a rampage at a school, killing 16 young children, an adult and himself.

Donations after the massacre led to the opening in 2004 of the Dunblane Centre, a multi-purpose community sports, leisure, arts, meeting and youth facility.

The center is inviting residents to watch the Murray-Federer afternoon match on a big screen.

"The community believes this is Andy's time," said Stewart Prodger, a trustee for the charity that oversees the center.

Murray's success in tennis shows the town has moved forward since the 1996 tragedy, according to Prodger.

"We are no less mindful about what happened in the past," he said. "We are about celebrating the future. Andy is very much a part of Dunblane's success story."

Relatively few people in the city were alive in 1938 when the last British player, Bunny Austin, played in the men's final, losing to American Don Budge.

Fred Perry was the last Briton to win the singles title, in 1936.

McLean, of the Dunblane Hotel, knows Murray's work will be cut out for him Sunday.

"Andy has beaten Federer lots of times, but Federer is the ice man," McLean said. "He is so cool. Andy is going to have to raise his game."

Foster-Fulton watched some of Friday's match, but went grocery shopping when the match tightened. "I couldn't cope," she said.

Sunday morning, she will lead services at the cathedral, which is affiliated with the Church of Scotland.

Asked whether there will be any sports-centered supplications, the minister said, "Quiet ones, anyway. It's tempting."

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