Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Bouchard Speaks about Coaching Change in Antwerp

by Savannah

The WTA has posted the first public remarks by Eugenie Bouchard on her hiring of Sam Sumyk. The interview appears on its official web site.

I've just started working with Sam. We've spent some time training in Montréal the past week or so, and now we're here for our first tournament together. I really respect him as a coach - he's done great things. Nothing is guaranteed, but I hope he can help me improve and help me reach my goals.

"When I was looking for a coach I wanted someone who's played or who's been coaching someone who'd been there, getting to No.1 or winning Grand Slams, and he's done that. He's what I wanted."

How exactly did the two link up? "My fitness trainer, Scott, has been friends with Sam for a while now. They've both been on tour for a while. After the Australian Open was done, Scott found out that Sam wasn't going to be working with Vika anymore, and he suggested we meet. The rest is history."

And what have they been working on so far? "We work on a few different things I hadn't worked on before. I like his mentality and his approach. We haven't been working together very long yet, only a week, so we'll see how it goes, but I'm excited to play this week in our first tournament together.

"But generally I'm keeping my game style. Each coach has their own philosophy and their own ideas. I want to keeping playing the aggressive way I like to play, but we'll be changing a few things here and there. I'm always trying to improve, and that's the point of a new coach - hearing a new voice."

The complete article can be found HERE

Her remarks are the exact opposite of those made by Simona Halep after firing Wim Fissette. Halep, you will recall, said she needed someone who understands her and is coming from a Romanian perspective.

Nothing official or unofficial has come from Victoria Azarenka's camp but there are rumors that she and Sumyk parted back in December. Meilen Tu, Sumyk's wife, is said to still be working as Azarenka's agent.

More updates as warranted.


Karen Williams said...

The part I liked is when she said that she wanted a coach who had brought a player to No. 1 etc. You can tell that the parting between her and Saviano did not go down well. Clearly she wants someone who has taken a player from nothing and risen up the ranks & won GS. However, she needs to be aware that part of hiring a new coach is you have to be willing to listen. She has already indicated that she is going to keep her aggressive gamestyle. Already the partnership is going to fail because she knows what she wants and no coach is going to tell her otherwise.

Sam took Vika when she was a racquet throwing little brat and turned her into a calm, confident, clean ballstriker. He used her anger and her emotions and channelled it into her game. He made her believe in her talent and he moulded her. Its the same thing that Carlos did with Li and is what Hogstedt did with Sharapova. All these players were willing to listen and adapt and change. Even the great Serena Williams knew that there were things that she needed to work on and she changed. No clue what is Genie's problem but she will forever be changing coaches and if Halep does not settle down she will be in the same position as well.

Savannah said...

Great comment.

Randy Burgess said...

I think it's too soon to tell. A lot depends on what happens in matches when Bouchard tries to use what her coach is telling her. If something new to her works on court, that may go a long way to influence her willingness to change. Remember two things: 1) she hates losing, and 2) she is very very young.

As for her comments, undoubtedly she & other players in the limelight must feel huge pressure in this age of sports + social media to somehow control their own images. The crap athletes have to go through now! - vs. decades ago when yes, they had to worry about the press to some degree, but they never had to create an image via twitter and so forth. Of course they get more $$ now - those on the top at least - but even so.

So I think, wait & see. There's a lot more to a relationship, including a coach-player relationship, then just the initial comments & initial mindset.

Randy Burgess said...

P.S. Also I don't think we should read too much into the "aggressive mindset" quote.

Aggression is good. Serena has an aggressive mindset. Halp. Billie Jean King did. All good players do. A mindset is one thing, how you execute it is another.

Right now, Bouchard thinks "aggressive mindset" means Hit the Ball Hard, then Harder. As Savannah has pointed out, she has no Plan B. But if her new coach is able to explain to her that there is more to aggression than just ball-bashing, she may just be smart enough to listen.

Or not. I don't know. But as you pointed out, Karen, other "difficult" players have learned from their coaches & succeeded. Time will tell w/Bouchard whether she can be one of them.

Karen Williams said...

Randy great insights. I think what pushes Bouchard more than anything is her ambition. She is hungry and she wants to get to the pinnacle of tennis. That is to be commended. But at the same time she seems to be like most athletes very rigid in her views. I am hopeful that somewhere deep inside there is a part of her that is willing to listen. In addition, she seems to have the same issues as Wozniacki in that there is the ever present parent who is micro managing her career. In this case it is her mother. I don't believe the separation between her and Nick was caused by Genie but more about her mother and what the mother wants for her. That kind of pressure can be overwhelmming for a young player. The worst part is that the mother is no Yuri or Richard/Oracene. She craves the limelight and seems to be one of those parents who live vicariously through their children. Her comments about the diamond racquet trophy in Antwerp really made me pause. It was not about Genie doing well but about what her mother wanted, i.e. the trophy.

Savannah said...

Huh. Karen I didn't know that Mme Bouchard is a tennis parent of the worst kind. I didn't hear what she said about the Diamond Trophy which is indeed one of the most beautiful in tennis.

I'm not doing another post about Mlle Bouchard. I did think that Antwerp was a must win for her. That she was so easily exposed by Barthel and didn't even challenge an obvious bad call speaks volumes about her attitude to "lesser" tournaments. Some thought she was ducking Dubai because of the level of competition there but she's now accepted a WC into the tournament.

It's going to be interesting to see the MD in Dubai. She does well in tournaments where she gets an easy draw.

Karen Williams said...

Savannah, her mother did not do an interview. It was Genie herself who said her mother wanted the trophy. Like you I am waiting to see what happens in Dubai, IW and Miami

Savannah said...

She withdrew from Dubai after accepting a WC. I guess we'll have to wait for IW and Miami.

Randy Burgess said...

Karen, Savannah - you guys should definitely check out an article from 2 days ago (Feb. 12) on Bouchard and Vika and Sam. I found it by accident when Googling - I was trying to find the quote Karen mentions about the trophy.

The title is "Genie, Sam, Vika, Tennis Drama and the Diamond Games," by a writer living in England named Abigail Johnson who I don't know. The site is readsource.com, which I also don't know.

Here's a sample quote from the article -

"We’re going back to look at the major holes in Eugenie’s career now – the details that are largely overlooked. The first is this: that even though she has gone deep at a handful of majors, her draws at these events have been weak in comparison to those of her peers. It’s not her fault – but by winning against lower-quality opposition, she has been practically gift-wrapped a path to the top of tennis . . . And she doesn’t really seem to realize it."

And another sample quote -

"And then there’s the third unseen problem in Genie’s game: Her lack of a Plan B. Determined though she may be, all Bouchard seems to want to do on that tennis court is whack the ball and whack it hard, and what she hasn’t come to terms with is that there are girls out there who can do that better, or who have her sussed. When she’s up against them, she has no other game plan to resort to, and is written down for a loss the moment she walks out for the match."

Here's the link - curious to know what you think:


Savannah said...

Very well written blog post. Naturally I agree with everything she said! :)