Caroline Wozniacki has fired her coach, Ricardo Sanchez, after two months. Sanchez responded by saying, "Wozniacki ... she must be more aggressive." He continued by adding, "Wozniacki should be a racehorse, not a pack horse." Perhaps if Coach Sanchez called his student a "pack horse" sooner, Wozniacki would have displayed her aggressiveness on the court, not off.
This relationship seems to be lacking clear communication. This seems to be why Sanchez said he was "deceived from the start."
The larger question here is what defines a productive and successful coach-player relationship?
It starts with a coach who understands the goals and values of the student and who reinforces these in a method that is most suitable for that individual. It flourishes with a coach who is a leader and a team player who puts the needs of the student first. It evolves and grows with a coach who understands the ends, but focuses on the means to achievement. We can ask the question, "How many coaches does a player need," but to do so trivializes an important qualitative issue in to a self-serving quantitative discussion.
In professional sports, the coach often takes the fall for disappointed athletes. In this case, however, this coaching relationship was doomed from the start.
Steve Kaplan is the owner and managing director of Bethpage Park Tennis Center, as well as director emeritus of Lacoste Academy for New York City Parks Foundation and executive director and founder of Serve & Return Inc. Steve has coached more than 1,100 nationally-ranked junior players, 16 state high school champions, two NCAA Division 1 Singles Champions, and numerous highly-ranked touring professionals. Many of the students Steve has closely mentored have gone to achieve great success as prominent members of the New York financial community, and in other prestigious professions. In 2017, Steve was awarded the Hy Zausner Lifetime Achievement Award by the USTA. He may be reached by e-mail at StevenJKaplan@aol.com.