Guess who was on court at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida Tuesday morning?
You guessed it – old pals Genie Bouchard and coach Thomas Högstedt.
This was confirmed to Open Court by multiple sources, as Bouchard made just a brief pit stop in Miami on her way home from Las Vegas before heading across the state to get back to work.
With only three weeks to go until the 2017 season begins, the 22-year-old Canadian has very little time to waste as she finally returns to the training court in earnest.
The two are already well-acquainted. The advantage to that is that they can hit the ground running. We were told Wednesday that nothing is formalized yet; the pair is trying it on for size. But we were also told that it was a done deal. The different between the two versions is probably financial. 🙂
Certainly, if it turns out that a reunion can’t work, Bouchard would be between a rock and a hard place with just two weeks of pre-season remaining.
Hogstedt, who was let go by Bouchard in early April when the Canadian reunited with old coach Nick Saviano, ended things with American Madison Keys after the WTA Tour Finals in Singapore in late October.
He brought Keys into the top 10 for the first time in her career.
He brought some welcome stability to her set-up after a very unstable 2015 season, uncertainty which obviously was reflected in her results on the court.
The two had their differences the first time around; even outwardly, you could see during some of the on-court coaching consultations that Bouchard wasn’t all that convinced by the Swede’s relentless positivity. So it’s probably not a perfect solution – if indeed such a solution exists.
As for Frenchman Cyril Saulnier, who coached Bouchard in 2016 when Saviano wasn’t on the road – and even sometimes when he was – well, he’s officially out of the picture. An excellent coach, Saulnier was also a calm presence in a rather chaotic situation and deserved better than to not know where he stood, just a few weeks before the season, before finally getting the word at the end of last week. It’s a tough business.
Theoretically, Bouchard was supposed to be in Asia playing in the exhibition IPTL League right now. But although no official announcement was ever made – not by the IPTL, not by Bouchard’s management or Bouchard herself via social media – that participation never happened.
We’re told that the league tried to cut her fees down, and Bouchard wasn’t going to hop on a plane with only a promise of payment (understandably). Perhaps, in the end, she wasn’t all that keen on playing anyway.
Whatever the reasons, the elimination of that commitment is a blessing in disguise for Bouchard. She will now have an extra two weeks to catch up on her training after doing very little of anything since mid-September.
We’re told Högstedt was also in Las Vegas last week, discussing the parameters of the reunion.
A priority for him has been coaching the two daughters of former South African rugby star Ruben Kruger – Zoe, already big and tall at age 14 and Isabelle, 11. The girls already have an agent and are considered very promising.
In fact, there were weeks during their 2016 collaboration where Högstedt was not available – most infamously, that week in early April when Bouchard arrived in Charleston with new/old coach Nick Saviano.
As the two resume their collaboration, that might mean Team Genie may well need an associate coach to fill out weeks on the schedule. Or it might not.
But with so little time to work with, perhaps the “devil you know” is better than the one you don’t.
Bouchard did spend a few days with longtime Andre Agassi trainer Gil Reyes in Vegas, although training female players certainly isn’t Reyes’ specialty. But she has spent little time on court over nearly three months, since that dramatic second-round loss in Quebec City. She played one match in Linz, another in Luxembourg, and a hit-and-giggle in Turkey on Oct. 30.
With all the globetrotting the last few months, she has some catching up to do.
We’ll update with any more news.
Here’s some video of a year ago, when Bouchard was being put through her paces in the very same spot.