After months of uncertainty, Genie Bouchard finally signs with a new agent

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After months of uncertainty, Genie Bouchard finally signs with a new agent
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As Genie Bouchard breezed through another win at the WTA Tour event in Eastbourne Tuesday, a 6-3, 6-1 victory over No. 15 seed and world No. 27 Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania, Eh Game has learned that the 22-year-old Canadian has finally signed with a new agent.

Rogers with star client Shaquille O'Neal at Georgetown University in 2015. Rogers has added Genie Bouchard to his stable of clients. (Pic from Georgetown University)
Rogers with star client Shaquille O'Neal at Georgetown University in 2015. Rogers has added Genie Bouchard to his stable of clients. (Pic from Georgetown University)

The winner of the Bouchard sweepstakes is … PRP, a small Las Vegas-based firm owned by long-time Andre Agassi associate Perry Rogers.

Our understanding is that Bouchard had a deal in place with Tony Godsick, the agent of Roger Federer, Juan Martin del Potro and Grigor Dimitrov – or at least an understanding – only to decide to go with Rogers in the end.

The 22-year-old’s representation history has been tumultuous in recent years. For most of her early career, she the amiable Sam Duvall and Lagardère handled her business but she jumped to the giant agency IMG at the end of 2014, where Serena Williams agent Jill Smoller handled her affairs.

But by the end of the one-year deal, during which IMG renewed her expired Nike contract for a reported five years and multimillions and added endorsements with companies such as Rolex and Beats earphones, the relationship proved unworkable.

Even though IMG continued to represent her interests beyond the end of the deal that expired in Dec. 2015, and the two sides continued to discuss an extension, the end of the relationship was announced this spring.

Roger Federer agent Tony Godsick (in the blue sweather, seen here at the Australian Open watching Genie Bouchard's fellow Montrealer Félix Auger-Aliassime at the Australian Open in January), looked to be set as Bouchard's new agent. But she has chosen Perry Rogers. (Stephanie Myles/opencourt.ca)
Roger Federer agent Tony Godsick (in the blue sweather, seen here at the Australian Open watching Genie Bouchard's fellow Montrealer Félix Auger-Aliassime at the Australian Open in January), looked to be set as Bouchard's new agent. But she has chosen Perry Rogers. (Stephanie Myles/opencourt.ca)

Since then, Bouchard has been agent-shopping. Another big firm, CAA (which represents countryman Milos Raonic) was rumoured to be in the mix. But Godsick, the long-time IMG agent who left in 2013 and took his biggest client, Roger Federer, with him to set up his own shop called Team 8 Global, always seemed to be the frontrunner.

As a boutique agency, his commission structure is higher than many of his competitors, a factor that may have worked against him with the notoriously thrifty Bouchard clan. He is said to have been eager to add a female player to his exclusive client list but for reasons unknown, Bouchard went elsewhere.

Godsick did not responded to a request for comment. Rogers' associate, Colin Smeeton, confirmed to Eh Game via e-mail Wednesday that the company has indeed signed Bouchard and he's "looking forward to working with her," without providing any additional detail.

Rogers, a former ATP Tour board member, was best known as the childhood friend of Agassi who made good.

He was the co-founder of Andre Agassi Enterprises with the star back in the mid 1990s when both were in their mid-20s. He handled Agassi’s business and charitable affairs and after Agassi married Steffi Graf, took on hers as well. But the lifelong relationship turned ugly back in 2008, with Rogers filing a lawsuit against Graf for a relatively modest amount of unpaid fees, and never truly recovered.

Once again against Begu, Bouchard's serve was hugely effective. (Reuters / Peter Cziborra Livepic)
Once again against Begu, Bouchard's serve was hugely effective. (Reuters / Peter Cziborra Livepic)

A lawyer, Rogers bounced back well with a new blue-chip client, former NBA giant Shaquille O’Neal. He still represents O’Neal, as well as Kyrie Irving of the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers and others. With the addition of experienced tennis agent Smeeton in 2006 (while at the SFX agency, Smeeton handled the interests of both Andy Roddick and Justin Henin per his bio on the company’s website), he found his way back into the tennis business.

On the tennis side, PRP represents Americans Bob and Mike Bryan as well as Sam Querrey. But Bouchard clearly has a much higher profile than any of those players.

At the same time, the Canadian presents a challenge in terms of how much additional earning power she will be able to generate in the coming years, especially given her results since her breakout year in 2014 haven’t exactly increased her attractiveness to potential sponsors.

The Nike relationship, which will always be her biggest earner, is a long-term one and unless she jumps ship to a rival upon the expiration of that deal (she endorsed adidas until 2012), the former agents who negotiated it will always reap the financial benefits.

 

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