Google Down the Line!: Matt Cronin gives insight on WTA coaching-go-round as told through Vaida + Ana

Monday, February 23, 2009

Matt Cronin gives insight on WTA coaching-go-round as told through Vaida + Ana

Matt Cronin for has insight into some recent rides taken on the WTA's coaching-go-round by two lady ballers with very similar games:

Nicole Vaidisova is again being coached by her former coach and step dad again, Alex Kodat. She let go of David Felgate, who could do nothing with her outside of practice. But neither could Kodat prior to their emotional split. Her confidence is near nil. Coaching changes are both under and overstated in tennis. Take Ana Ivanovic’s recent hire of Craig Kardon, who coached Martina Navratilova and Jennifer Capriati, among others. If memory serves us correctly, when Capriati stopped working with Kardon, she went back to her dad, Stefano, and then to her brother, Stephen. She, Like Vaidisova, liked to her keep her family close. So did Mary Pierce, who also worked with Kardon. Pierce did dispense with her father Jim as a coach, but toward the end of her career, was primarily coached by her brother, David. And what of AI? Neither of her parents coach, but her mother runs a very tight ship and is extremely aware of the ins and outs of her daughter’s career. How long does Kardon last, and will he really have Ivanovic’s full attention?
Well, no surprise Vaida went back to her stepdad after her horrendous results recently. I mean, the only tourney appearances the girl makes these days is on the scrawny arm of The Worm. Kodat knows her game and personality very well and was the person who coached Vaida to two Grand Slam semifinals (Roland Garros '06, Aussie Open '07), two major quarterfinals (Roland Garros '07, Wimbledon '07), and a Top 10 spot. I don't think you can argue with those results, though I hope Kodat finally fixes the ferociously funky technique on her backhand side. Not pretty.

And what of Kardon's effect on Ana? Well, she had great results with Sven Groenefeld and he was only part-time. I imagine even if there isn't tons of closeness between these two (and she's been public about liking some distance with her coach), she could still get the best out of this relationship. Much of it depends on her attitude: if she can lighten up on herself and not expect perfection, Ana might just get out of her Serbian Slide with Craig's help.

Let's just hope she doesn't call on any old advice. *crosses fingers*

(images via Getty)


  1. I don't really understand what Cronin means with the bit about Ana. I don't think she should be compared with players whose families were all about tennis. Ana's family has nothing to do with tennis, her mother isn't even on all her practices.

    I think Kardon's good influence was already showing in Dubai, with Ana playing much better, and having a high quality tight match against an inspired Serena. There are still problems in her game, but she seems more relaxed on court, which is a plus. And she had only been working with Kardon for a week. I'm curious to see how she does in Indian Wells+Miami.

    As for Vaidisova, it has been extremely sad to watch her lately, so I hope Kodat at least makes her care for tennis while on court. That would be a first step..

  2. if nikki v. dumps radek, then results with follow. i'm so disgusted by the talent that is being wasted here. i remember then that nikki was being hyped as shrieka's rival, who could blame them then, nikki had the results to back it up. she was the never the same player again after she recovered from the viral infection (can't remember if it was mono) ang when she started dating radek, ugh.

    as for ana, no one in her family plays tennis so i don't think she should be mentioned with the others in this article. she was just fine with a part-time arrangement with sven, got to 3 slam finals, won RG then got to no. 1. i think after that she needed a coach on a more permanent basis, someone that can monitor her progress full time and not someone that she has to share with other players. craig is doing a nice job with her so far, she seems mentally stronger in her dubai matches that i have seen.


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