Another coaching split for tennis star Eugenie Bouchard, as the Rogers Cup draws near

Eh Game
Another coaching split for tennis star Eugenie Bouchard, as the Rogers Cup draws near
Another coaching split for tennis star Eugenie Bouchard, as the Rogers Cup draws near

During the time Genie Bouchard and coach Sam Sumyk worked together, the 21-year-old Canadian tennis star’s record was four wins … and 13 defeats.

Bouchard will be working with Serb Marko Dragic at the Rogers Cup next week. (Instagram)
Bouchard will be working with Serb Marko Dragic at the Rogers Cup next week. (Instagram)

When they began, she was ranked No. 7 in the world. Right now, with the Rogers Cup starting on Monday, she is down to No. 25.

And so after less than six months – and for the second time in nine months – Bouchard has made a coaching change. Whether it was her decision, his decision or a mutual decision is still to be determined. Bouchard's agent, Jill Smoller, confirmed late last night that Sumyk is out.

Last November, Bouchard and respected coach Nick Saviano parted ways (her idea, according to her; his idea, according to most). It had for the most part been a splendid 2014 campaign – with the obvious exception of the year-end championships in Singapore when it was clear something was afoot and where Bouchard did not win a match.

Bouchard spent the off-season without a coach and, from the inquiries Eh Game made at the time, didn’t even approach many of the likely available candidates. She arrived at the Australian Open with hitting partner / interim coach / insert-your-job-title-here Diego Ayala in tow, a coach she was familiar with from his work with her as a young junior at the Saviano Academy.

Once the Australian Open was done, and while her Canadian Fed Cup teammates were up the road in Quebec City playing the Czech Republic, Bouchard and Frenchman Sam Sumyk began working together, after his surprise parting of the ways with Victoria Azarenka.

The ill-fated pair on the practice courts at the French Open in May. (Stephanie Myles/opencourt.ca)
The ill-fated pair on the practice courts at the French Open in May. (Stephanie Myles/opencourt.ca)

The tipping points in favour of Sumyk, whom Bouchard did not really know but who had worked with her (now former) conditioning coach Scott Byrnes, seemed to be his “name value”, and the fact that he had taken Azarenka to the world No. 1 ranking and two Grand Slam titles.

Whether it worked, or it didn’t, the one thing that can never be sugarcoated is results. And the pair did not produce them.

We're left to guess the deeper, hidden meaning – if any – in some of Sumyk's cryptic Tweets.

Since early February, when the two made their debut at a tournament in Antwerp, Belgium, Bouchard has exited in the first round from both the French Open and Wimbledon, and failed to put together back-to-back wins since their second tournament together at Indian Wells last March.

Bouchard was out in the Los Angeles area, where Sumyk resides, about three weeks ago. Perhaps that's when it ended. Before that, she was in south Florida; perhaps that's when her new, temporary relationship began.

What’s next? Bouchard has been working with Marko Dragic, a Serb she was hitting with over the off-season in Florida. He is a former coach at the Saviano Academy. He's not her new coach, rather an interim solution through the US Open. Despite the fact that she practiced with him for several weeks late in the offseason, she went to Australia with another "temporary" hitting partner, the more experienced Ayala.

We wrote a little about Dragic back in December, during Bouchard's last coaching search.

The mysterious commute to upstate New York – specifically, to the dazzling urban berg that is Plattsburgh – for training the last two weeks now has an explanation: it seems Dragic either lost or didn’t have his passport, and therefore couldn’t cross the border into Canada.

 

Bouchard arrived in Toronto Thursday evening and in a late switch, it was announced that she would be the player attending the Rogers Cup women’s draw on Friday instead of the originally scheduled Maria Sharapova.

You have to give the lady credit for not avoiding the eye of the hurricane; with the news of her coaching change already leaking out, and the Toronto media in attendance at the draw – probably in even larger numbers now –  at a downtown hotel around 5:30 p.m. Friday, there won’t be any way of avoiding the issue.

Let’s just hope the hitting coach located his passport. It seems he has; Montreal's Tennis Canada media-relations chief Valérie Tétreault told her other employer, TVA Sports, tonight that Bouchard had been working with a new hitting partner at Uniprix Stadium the last few days.

 

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