July 12, 2024

Open Court


Bouchard says fitness trainer faciliated Sumyk deal

Timing is everything. And in the case of new coach Sam Sumyk, it couldn’t have been better for Genie Bouchard

Speaking at a press conference in Antwerp Tuesday (Bouchard won’t play until Thursday, likely the evening session), Bouchard said fitness trainer Scott Byrnes was the catalyst for her relationship with new coach Sam Sumyk.

Quotes from Bouchard here, on the WTA Tour site.

No poaching involved, Bouchard says (our word, not hers). It just happened to work out that right after the Australian Open, as Bouchard’s search for a full-time coach began in earnest, Sumyk and former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka stopped working together.

She said Byrnes got wind of it, and the rest happened quickly. You couldn’t write a more perfect script.


“Generally I’m keeping my game style. Each coach has their own philosophy and their own ideas. I want to keeping playing the aggressive way I like to play, but we’ll be changing a few things here and there. I’m always trying to improve, and that’s the point of a new coach – hearing a new voice,” Bouchard said.

The Canadian said that Byrnes “has been friends with Sam for a while now. They’ve both been on tour for a while.”

Their relationship, actually, was a little more collaborative than that; they were colleagues, as recently as a few years ago, when Sumyk was coaching Azarenka and Byrnes was her fitness trainer.

Byrnes also was a fitness trainer for Sumyk’s first big client, Vera Zvonareva, before and after he worked with Azarenka. It may even have overlapped; Azarenka official began working with Sumyk at the beginning of the 2010 season; just a few weeks before that, here’s Byrnes (no hair!) working with Zvonareva at IMG Academy in Florida.

All of which to say, it’s far from a casual, “seen ya around on the WTA Tour for a few years” relationship.

Which is probably good for Bouchard, because the tw can skip the “getting to know you” phase. Good for “team bonding”.

On an unrelated note, Antwerp tournament director Kim Clijster, not surprisingly, had kind words about Bouchard.

“Eugenie Bouchard played so well at the Slams last year. I played the legends in Paris and saw her working out in the gym, and she had so much determination and discipline – she stood out just with that, and add to that her great results. She’s just the total package for the tournament, the fans, the sponsors and everyone. I’m glad we can have her here, and that the fans can get to know her. I’m excited she’s here. She’s young and has such a great career ahead of her.”

Clijsters also was at that Necker Cup week-long vacation-exhibition in November. It’s likely that’s where Bouchard wa$ convinced to enter the February event.

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