The WTA Coaching Carousel Is the Best Part of the Off-Season

Hey guys! Are you enjoying the off-season? You know, reading some books, catching up with friends and family, maybe getting outside every now and then?

Haha, j/k, I know you’re all still glued to your computers watching the IPTL and any other exo you can get your greedy, tennis-starved hands on. You’re all monsters, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Personally, I’ve been salivating over the WTA coaching carousel. Can we discuss?

First of all, after the best seasons of their respective careers, Eugenie Bouchard and Simona Halep both decided to split with their respective coaches, Nick Saviano and Wim Fissette. Some may call this surprising, but they had their reasons.

Halep, it seems, was eager to get back to her Romanian roots and find someone who understands her mentality. She claimed there were no hard feelings with Fissette. TikiTaka translated her comments:

About my next coach…first of all, I want to clarify a thing. I consider myself 100% a product of the Romanian tennis because until February this year I was coached only by Romanians. Definitely my next coach will be Romanian (note: Daniel Dobre is the speculated name in the Romanian press). I want to work again with a Romanian, I feel well and he have similar mentality. From what I’ve realized this year, coaches from abroad have different mentality and I like to have next to me a person who thinks almost like me.

For me, it is important at a coach to be a good pedagogue, to understand my way of being. I’m pretty picky as a player and for a coach it’s difficult sometimes. This year we didn’t talk much before the matches, I wanted to be alone, I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but I had results.

You’ve gotta love that she knows what she wants. I just find Simona to be endlessly fascinating, you guys.

As for Genie, there isn’t any deep insight into her choice to split with Saviano besides the generic “mutually decided to part ways” statement, but their relationship has always seemed a bit intense and tumultuous, albeit in a this-is-just-how-we-roll way.

Meanwhile, somewhere around this time, the not-at-all-successful relationship between Thomas Hogstedt and Sloane Stephens came to a quiet and completely unsurprising end.

So, if you’re keeping tabs, we currently have a coachless Halep, Bouchard, and Stephens on our hands.

Well, Halep acted first and she acted swiftly, snatching up Romanian Victor Ionita to act as her full-time coach, and then hiring Hogstedt to be a coaching consultant, initially only for the first three tournaments of the year. That sounds like a smart thing to do in order to help Ionita make the transition to tour life–after all, Hogstedt has coached pretty much everyone in the WTA not named Williams, so he’s pretty valuable, I guess.

(Apparently she’s serious about that whole Romania thing.)

Today, rumors that had been circulating for a while (i.e. a couple of days) were confirmed: Stephens has hired Nick Saviano.

Personally, I love this. Saviano is a no-nonsense figure, and Sloane is just chock-full of nonsense that is getting in the way of her talent. Sloane could certainly use a bit of Genie’s edge, and maybe Saviano will be able to make that happen. (God speed.) Saviano and Sloane have worked together in the past, so I have a good feeling about this. (I STILL BELIEVE. I CAN’T HELP IT.)

However, Stephens is not the American woman who has made the most interesting coaching change this off-season.

No, that award goes to Madison Keys, who came out of left field to assemble one of the most interesting coaching crews there is: Lindsay Davenport and Fissette.

I KNOW. Apparently Davenport will handle the American tournaments, Fissette will be Mr. Europe, and they’ll both take care of the Slams. (Do you think they’ll have a coin toss for AO warm-ups? I do.)

I am so very intrigued by this decision. First of all, I am a Lindsay Davenport KAD, so I’m really excited to see her join the coaching ranks. Her game was similar to Madison’s–powerful, go-for-broke, not the most variety–so I’m hoping she can help Madison harness her power and use it for good, not evil.

Fissette, meanwhile, has had the most success coaching Halep and Kim Clijsters, players who are not-at-all similar to Madison. Maybe this arrangement will be the best of both worlds? Or maybe it will be a case of too many cooks in the kitchen? STAY TUNED.

Meanwhile, there’s someone who isn’t on the carousel but is playing plenty of games of her own: Miss Popularity, Agnieszka Radwanska.

Radwanska has announced that in addition to her regular coach, Tomasz Witkorowski, she will have a super-duper-special coach to consult this. She claims that this person is a former Grand Slam champion with coaching experience, but won’t say who it is yet, because, well, Aga.

My hope is that it’s one of the Martinas. Or maybe Kim Clijsters? Better yet, MAYBE IT’S JUSTINE. (If it’s a guy I am going to be so bummed.)

Bouchard still does not have a coach.

(2015 is going to be such a blast.)



Lindsay is an author, a filmmaker, a long-winded blogger, and a huge tennis fan.

3 Responses

  1. SA
    SA December 8, 2014 at 7:58 pm |

    god i love the wta. this is one of the many reasons why.

  2. SA
    SA December 8, 2014 at 8:01 pm |

    oh, and i CANNOT WAIT until we see martina in aga’s coaches box. like can the AO get here now so we can see it?

    do you know if martina and lindsey will still be keeping their tv gigs?

  3. RZ
    RZ December 9, 2014 at 12:42 pm |

    Thanks for this post Lindsay.
    In addition to the coaching carousel, I’m always highly entertained by the doubles teams divorces and weddings that take place in the off-season.

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