THE obvious joke as you sit down for a coffee and a chat with Blane Dodds is to enquire how long it will be until he is unveiled as Stewart Regan’s replacement at the Scottish Football Association. The chief executive officer of Tennis Scotland has only have been in post since January 8 but then his time in the top job at Scottish Golf which immediately preceded it was hardly known for its longevity.

Dodds, a six handicapper at Kilmacolm Golf Club, lasted 16 months in all there, a period which saw him pursue an ambitious programme of measures designed to bring this ancestral Scottish sport up to speed for the modern age. These included the no-brainer money spinner of charging foreign golf tourists £10-a-year to purchase a license to play golf in Scotland, centralising the booking arrangements across all clubs and increasing in the affiliation fee which all club members must pay from £11.25 to £24 per annum, releasing resources which could theoretically be used to boost the high-performance end of the sport for aspiring young Scottish golfers. Who knows he might even have been able to keep some of the more fiscally challenged Scottish courses in business.

But in a scenario which Regan may or may not recognise, Dodds merely found that the clubs had their own ideas and it was hard to carry them with him. Three months down the line from suddenly jumping ship to take up a similar role at Tennis Scotland, where he had previously been chairman, the 50-year-old is content to keep his counsel on most of this - the identity of his replacement in the top job at Scottish Golf should become known in the next few weeks and he feels no need to rock the boat – but it would be wrong to paint him as a man who feels chastened by events, or one who regards himself as a failure for being unable to convince the sport’s rank and file about what was in everybody’s best interests.

His biggest sin may simply have been asking too much too soon, but with a bit of luck golf’s loss will be tennis’s gain. A former Scottish No 2 who boasts 100% from his one on-court brush with Tim Henman, tennis is Dodds’ first love. Who doesn’t like to feel wanted?

“The tennis CEO role wasn’t really an option when I took the golf role but the golf role came along and I really saw that as a fantastic privilege and opportunity in such a widely-recognised sport,” Dodds told Herald Sport. “Scotland is the home of golf and I genuinely thought I could bring a lot to the table. The timing wasn’t perfect when the tennis opportunity came up, but there is a limited window here to make a significant difference to one of the major sports in Scotland. I was getting a lot of persuasion and encouragement that I should be leading tennis and it was nice to feel wanted.

“How could I turn down the opportunity of being reacquainted with my first love?” he added. “I have always been involved in tennis as a player and a coach, a non-exec director and a volunteer. And this idea came around at a time when Scotland has some of the best players in the world, the Davis Cup captain, some very exciting young players like Aidan McHugh coming along. It is also a year where we have had some big changes, in terms of support from the LTA and capital funding.”

Tennis Scotland was previously a byword for lethargy and inactivity but Dodds’ energy and contacts have helped assemble a team of people who have at leat half a chance to capitalise upon the remains of what has been a startling era for Scottish tennis. Leon Smith, Great Britain Davis Cup captain, has a key seat on the board, where he advises on all aspects of performance. Judy Murray, who previously coached Dodds’ daughter in tennis, will soon have her own tennis centre at Park of Keir to base herself from as she coaches the next generation of coaches and parents. Working in tandem with the University of Stirling, it could also serve as a base for major competitions.

Colin Fleming, a former top 20 doubles player and Davis Cup colleague of Andy Murray’s, holds the position of national coach, with one of his predecessors in that role, Ellinore Lightbody, returning to the organisation recently to help create a clearer pathway for our most promising young players.

Then there are the players themselves; Andy Murray, battling a serious hip problem but still hopefully with some big years ahead of him; a world class doubles player in Jamie Murray; former wheelchair No 1 Gordon Reid, recent Australian Open boys’ semi-finalist Aidan McHugh and women’s No 1 Maia Lumsden, who has reached the semi-finals of the Scottish Championships at Scotstoun this weekend.

Previously a CEO of North Lanarkshire Leisure, Dodds is well placed when it comes to the partnership deals required to unlock the long-awaited £15m of funding from the LTA and sportscotland which was announced last year for indoor tennis centres. Scotland currently has just more than 100 of these - one for every 48,000 people compared to one for ever 24,000 in England, where the climate is far milder. The small print includes ensuring that every facility links to the local network of schools, universities and clubs.

His back pages dealing with the David Lloyd group also come in handy when it comes to his relationship with his counterpart at the LTA, David Lloyd’s son Scott. The two CEOs started on the very same day, with the two men already in discussions about the possibility of Stirling hosting one of two UK-wide national performance academies. “It is difficult to compare the two sports [tennis and golf], but with the success we have had over the last year in terms of the capital funding from the LTA and sportscotland, the change I see in those relationships moving forward, I can see there is a huge appetite for change in tennis,” he says. “Everyone is looking for more funding and more investment. It is pushing at an open door.

“I really enjoyed my time in golf and met a lot of fantastic people,” he adds. “There are a lot of similarities with some of the issues which are around. I have kept in touch with a lot of people, and if tennis as a sport can work together with golf to have any kind of synergy and mutual benefit then we will look at that.”

One of the first completed building projects from that LTA and sportscotland money could be a base for four indoor courts on the old Rankin Park site in Inverclyde. “We have got that £15m fund and we have had 20 expressions of interest which has been a great response,” Dodds says. “If there are others out there, forward-thinking local authorities, clubs or trusts, we would be delighted to hear from them.”

As for that Regan comparison, let’s just say Dodds has enough on his plate. “I will stick with tennis thanks,” he jokes. “But when you are running any organisation and you have multi stakeholders, a board and a long list of partners, members and affiliated clubs, it can be quite a complex structure. Being a chief executive of a sport in this country is a great challenge but I enjoy it. There is always a huge range of views. Part of the battle is to get a consensus, a momentum for change, a momentum for a way forward which will deliver.”