The Aussie coaching legend weighs in on the difficulties that an underappreciated segment of the tennis population is facing. During the last few months the financial fate of tennis players, the tours and their events have been spoken of and discussed from myriad perspectives, but we’ve not heard too much from the coaches’ point of view, perhaps because it is difficult for these critical but often overlooked assets in our sport to speak without calling out their employers or the tours, which could potentially jeopordize their tenuous job security. Or, perhaps, tennis coaches are just not given very much consideration by a general public that deifies coaches in other sports, such as football and basketball.
Today in a piece published at the website Tennis Majors by French journalist Carole Bouchard, we read thoughts from many of the coaches, who shared a common story of financial difficulty.
Tennis on hold because of the #Covid19 pandemic, we investigated the situation of the #ATP and WTA coaches, as many are without income during this time. A feature by @carole_bouchard. #LongFormhttps://t.co/p9gK4Sadp6
— Tennis Majors (@Tennis_Majors) April 29, 2020
“There is no security for being a tennis coach,” said coach Darren Cahill, the current coach of Simona Halep and the former coach of Lleyton Hewitt and Andre Agassi. “99 percent of the coaches at the moment are not getting paid. And it’s just like the players as well: unless you’re one of the top players and have contract money, they’re not getting paid either. So being a coach on the WTA or the ATP at the moment is incredibly difficult. For the moment, the coach is not protected at all.”
The pandemic has made things extremely difficult in the world of professional sports right now, and these difficulties are highlighting issues among the coaches that were long in place but didn't seem quite as urgent. Unfortunately for tennis and the coaches, the financial woes may just be beginning. A business that relies on large groups of fans coming together to cheer on their sporting heroes will be one of the last to recover from the Coronavirus pandemic, and while governments are now easing restrictions and eager to start rebuilding their battered economies, a sport like tennis, based on international travel and mega spectators, is certainly a long way off from getting its mojo back.
Tennis has been struck harder than other big sports, whose coaches are typically under contract. That’s typically not the case with tennis where the contracts are sometimes by the week and often dependent on prize money, of which there is none these days.
Some coaches, like Thomas Drouet of France (Wang Qiang’s coach) and Sam Sumyk, former coach of Victoria Azarenka, Garbiñe Muguruza and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, have called for something akin to a union.
Coaches, facing the weakness of their status, call for a union https://t.co/U39D6eFAFj
— Brad Gilbert (@bgtennisnation) April 29, 2020
“A change of system should have happened a long time ago already,” Sumyk told Bouchard. “There should be a common force in our profession, perhaps we would call it a union or a platform, which would defend our interests and provide us with some security.”
When you think of the many lower-ranked tennis players that are struggling financially during the pandemic, spare a thought for the coaches. Many of them will end up far worse off than their players, end there is currently no relief in sight and not much spotlight being shined on their difficulties.