Tennis: it’s a fair for coaches

djokovic on the flooor

Both employees and principals, coaches evolve on a thread. Warning, job at risk.

Recently, the transfers section has been running at full speed. Federer who separates from Annacone, Vajda’s hours which would be counted with Djokovic, Tsonga who falls in love with the Ascione-Escude duo, Monfils who is still looking… To coach on the circuit is to live a fragile condition as a couple, where you don’t always know who’s wearing the panties. The player pays but the coach, employee, is supposed to impose his way of doing things. Of course, this is not without friction.

Telling the truth, even if it means being fired

Toni Nadal is an exception. To keep “(his) independence and (his) authority”, Rafa’s uncle never wanted to hear about salary. He can afford it, being a business manager elsewhere. The other coaches are often seized with schizophrenia, torn between having to be demanding and safeguarding their jobs. Should you tell your player-boss the harshest truths, knowing that he could turn against you and say stop? “The relationship is a bit distorted, admits Lionel Zimbler, coach of Benoit Paire. At times, the player may not accept criticism and stupidly say to himself: “I pay him, what is he bothering me? “But if you miss him when he’s kidding, your player eats you. I’ve seen coaches in perpetual pain.

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Ultimately, a reputation as a coach would rather be an asset on the job market. To listen to Nicolas Mahut for example: “Those who stay on the circuit are those who dare to say things. When you pay for plane tickets at the other end of the world to a trainer, you are more attentive. You don’t invest so that we take the gloves off with you.” This applies to the private sector. But it also happens that the Federations make coaches of the seraglio available. What can modify the speeches and the attitudes, the player like the interested party being aware that an alternative solution will always be possible. Although it still exists, the clap in the hand becomes marginal. The coaches, under self-employed status, invoice services, weekly or monthly. Part of the remuneration is fixed, the other indexed to tournament results. For a Top 30 coach, count around 10,000 euros monthly.

Contract, to have one or not

tennis raquet

Problem, in the event of divorce, the contracts are not always respected. “It happened to a lot of coaches not to be paid as they should have been, especially on the side of South American players but also in France, slips a foreign member of the corporation. The coach is not in a position of strength. He will be grilled if he goes against the system and complains. The higher the level of the player rises, the less he is used to paying for things. The more the agent will polish his pumps too. On the other hand, the very big ones don’t forget anything and are always legit.”

In France, the dispute between Jeremy Chardy and Frederic Fontang, separated in 2011, ended in court. “I was paid on a percentage, recalls the technician. As long as it was a percentage of not much, it was fine. When Jeremy broke through, it became a problem.” Fontang ended up losing his job but won his lawsuit for wrongful breach of contract, Chardy having to pay 180,000 euros. He now takes care of Vasek Pospisil (32nd in the world), as a service provider for the Canadian federation, thirty weeks a year. 

The temptation of the buddy-coach

The life of a player being that of an itinerant, spending more time with his trainer than with his family, the easy choice is sometimes to favor affinities. Hiring a friend from the middle, or a former colleague with whom we have already shared card games and hotel lobbies, turns out to be quite common. “It’s first of all not to be alone far from home, says Mahut, but also because it will cost less. It’s not a sign of ambition, rather the opposite.” In such a configuration, there is little chance of upsetting technical habits, comfort, or beefing up speech. Unlikely to climb the leaderboard. But everyone is quiet.

Djokovic and Ibrahimovic straight to the point

The class, it is not forgotten. Yesterday at the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy (POPB), it was top-of-the-range Federer, chiseled volleys and smoking legs, far from the one glimpsed this season (only one title in Halle). But that’s not enough to go the distance against Djokovic (winner 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the semi-finals), especially when he wants to win back. Either regain the title at Bercy, abandoned in 2009, but above all the place of world No. 1 to Nadal. While waiting for the closing gala at the London Masters, the intentions of the Serb, undefeated since the final of the US Open, have gained strength. A big thank you to David Ferrer, defending champion, executioner of Nadal (6-3, 7-5), after nine defeats in a row against his compatriot. A very beautiful day, therefore, for Djoko, who even had the right to the visit of his friend Zlatan Ibrahimovic, for a small exchange racket in hand. So, a good arm, Ibra? “The forehand is not bad. He has the potential to be PSG’s best tennis player.”


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