Why Great Britain's Davis Cup winners should be celebrated while we still have the chance
More important than retaining the trophy is ensuring last year's remarkable victory has a positive long-term affect on grassroots tennis in this country
When Andy Murray receives his Lifetime Achievement award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony - which will happen as soon as he retires - the montage honouring his career is certain to include the audacious lob that won Great Britain’s first Davis Cup for 79 years.
Not only was that backhand one of the most remarkable shots Murray has ever hit, it was also the perfect ending to what will always be one of his - and British tennis’ - greatest successes.
The world No. 2 was, of course, integral to the victory, achieving a 100 per cent record on the court and leading the team with distinction and humility off it.
He won all eight of his singles rubbers - joining John McEnroe and Mats Wilander as the only players in the tournament’s history to have done so - and added three more victories alongside his brother Jamie.
But the triumph - orchestrated by the impressive Leon Smith - was also a team effort.
The older Murray sibling is one of the best doubles players in the world - he followed runner-up finishes at Wimbledon and the US Open by winning this year’s Australian Open - and actually outperformed Andy in their quarter-final match against France’s Nicolas Mahut and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at Queen's in July.
Great Britain would never have even made that stage, however, were it not for Jamie Ward's career-best victory against American John Isner - who was ranked 91 places higher than him at the time - in the first round last March.
Now, three months after Murray landed his lob and collapsed to the Flanders Expo clay before being swamped by his elated team-mates, the champions begin their title defence against Japan in Birmingham this week.
Download the latest episode of the Betway Insider Podcast, featuring an interview with Great Britain Davis Cup hero James Ward
Rather than enjoy a celebratory homecoming, though, coach Smith says their only objective is to win.
It is not in Smith's character to suggest otherwise, but he will know that a campaign anywhere near as successful as last year’s is unlikely.
The reason for that is simple: Andy Murray cannot be relied upon to once again carry the team this time around.
Nor should he be expected to.
Murray will lead the team this week as dutifully as ever, but he will be doing so having not played competitively in the five weeks since he jetted home immediately after losing the Australian Open final to be with pregnant wife Kim.
And while new daughter Sophia will probably help the deep-thinking and occasionally self-torturing two-time grand slam winner improve, he is not going to be at his best for this tie.
That is why Murray should not play in the doubles - which would mean playing three-best-of-five-set matches in as many days - in addition to the singles.
He only did so last year once it became obvious Great Britain had a genuine chance of winning the Davis Cup for the first time since before the start of World War II.
But there is not the same urgency this time around.
And even if a Japanese side led by world No. 6 Kei Nishikori is overcome, Murray probably wouldn't play in the quarter-final in July given that it takes place straight after Wimbledon and before the Olympics.
With that run of tournaments bookended by the French Open in May and the US Open in August, it would be unrealistic for the 28-year-old to prepare and perform at his peak in all of those events.
Missing out would be a disappointing, but pragmatic, decision.
That is OK, though.
More important than Great Britain retaining the Davis Cup is the long-term effect last year’s victory has on tennis in a country that has produced a negligible amount of top-class players for as long as anyone cares to remember.
That is why, the day after triumphing in Belgium, the team used their new-found platform to lament the state of the sport in the UK and, in turn, its governing body.
The Lawn Tennis Association have responded with the 'Davis Cup Legacy' project, which was launched this week and aims to "inspire the next generation of children and their families to pick up a racket".
Ten thousand children will be given the chance to learn to play tennis for free, according to the LTA, while 1,000 "Legacy Coaches" have been recruited to join Smith and former pros such as Annabel Croft and Greg Rusedski to help "shape the future of junior tennis".
PR spiel aside, the move is a progressive one.
But it is just the start.
Because while Great Britain might not win the Davis Cup this year, having to wait 79 years for the next one would be unacceptable.