This "off season" resembles a round of musical chairs more than anything else. Coaches are being hired and fired. One pro has hired a guy to travel with him and be his friend (and probably be his road manager). Borna Çoriç has hired Andy Murray's old coach Miles Maclagan. Milos Raonic lost his coach and as I type this I haven't heard of him hiring a new one.
Those changes are not what got me to break my "off season" to post a rant. The change that has pushed me over the edge is the one Madison Keys made. The official line is that she stopped working with Lindsay Davenport, her husband Jon Leach and Lisa Raymond because Lindsay couldn't travel and manage family time and broadcast committments. Surprise surprise. We all know that Lindsay has nannies to handle the children and maids to handle her housework but if they want to make it seem that she and her investment banker husband live like the hoi polloi that is their right.
As regular readers know Madison was my one to watch in 2015 for the WTA. You also know that all she did was tread water during the year, that her game didn't improve and her on court demanor didn't either. When I read she dumped Lindsay I was curious as to who her new coach would be and what it would say about her vision of her career and how she wanted to achieve it. So imagine my surprise and head scratch when I read who her new coach would be. My verbal response was "why"?
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Jesse Levine, to my knowledge, made no appreciable mark on the ATP tour. There was some snark about him not being able to decide if he was a citizen of the United States or Canada.
Here is a summary of his career via Wikipedia:
Career record 31–64 (at ATP Tour level, Grand Slam level, and in Davis Cup)
Career titles 0
Highest ranking No. 69 (October 1, 2012)
Here, from the same source, are his Grand Slam results.
Grand Slam Singles results
Australian Open 2R (2008, 2013)
French Open 2R (2012)
Wimbledon 3R (2009)
US Open 2R (2009)
As part of the announcement of Levine as coach it was said that he hit with Madison before she went on her run at Charleston where she lost in the final to Angelique Kerber in three sets after beating Kateryna Bondarenko, Andreea Mitu, Lauren Davis and Lucie Hradecka by very comfortable margins. Not exactly a Murderer's Row she beat was it? But that was enough to get Levine a job.
We all know the adage "those who can't do teach" and maybe Levine will turn out to be the one to move Madison's career forward. She can't have been happy with a year that saw her win no titles, unable to defend the one title she had won in 2014. She also had a major emotional break down on court.
Levine's hiring makes me wonder if there is some kind of a USTA plan to have American players paired with American's. John Isner hired the loathsome Justin Gimelstob and now Keys has hired Levine. I guess no top tier coach was available, willing or wanted by US players.
If Levine turns out to be what Keys needs I won't hesitate to say she made the right choice and that my initial misgivings were wrong. As of today though I see nothing he brings to her game and the choice baffles me. I don't see this choice moving Madison to the next level. Instead I see her ranking staying about the same.
Sorry guys. This is a bad choice for a "rising star".
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