July 11, 2024

Open Court


Stephens-Groeneveld alliance shortlived

After just over three months, American Sloane Stephens and coach Sven Groeneveld have parted ways.

And thus, the 26-year-old American, currently ranked No. 11, returns to the situation she had for all of 2019 before hiring the experienced Dutch veteran – essentially coachless.

Stephens basically lit a fire under her entire team after a 2017-2018 period during which she won a major, made the final of another and signed numerous and lucrative sponsorship deals off the court.

Agent John Tobias, who had been working with her forever, was gone.

Kamau Murray, the likeable coach from Chicago with whom she had her greatest success, ended up on a bit of a string at the end of the 2019 season.

And, eventually, he was also out of the picture.

****Ooooh, but wait – there’s a part II to this saga*****

Coachless to start 2019

Stephens made the announcement on her Twitter account Monday morning.

The American began the season without a coach before bringing on Groeneveld, who has an illustrious resumé.

She had a terrific run to the semifinals in Madrid, in their first tournament together. And she got to the quarterfinals at the French Open with a very friendly draw.

But since then, not so much.

Stephens has won just one match leading into the US Open.

She was beaten by Rebecca Peterson in D.C., a tournament that Groeneveld skipped.

Marie Bouzkova (who went on to the semis) beat her in Toronto. And after beating Yulia Putintseva in Cincinnati, she lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova, who reached the final.

So she ran into a couple of players on hot streaks. But she’s still more than good enough to player to defeat them, even so.

Meanwhile, Murray (and assistant coach Othmane Garma, who also was part of Team Sloane during her successful period) joined Monica Puig’s team in January.

Chemistry? Didn’t seem so

Groeneveld seemed to be the coach with the best resumé who was available at the time, when Stephens decided after four months that she probably needed a full-time coach again.

It didn’t appear that the two had particularly great chemistry. And that’s a fairly significant thing. But when you take on someone without knowing them all that well, you can only find out by doing.

You can look at Madison Keys and coach Juan Todero, the way they related to each other last week in Cincinnati, and see what that relationship can do to help a player reach her full potential.

What’s next?

Stephens now heads into the US Open, which she won in 2017 and is her home-country Slam, with things in a bit of disarray again.

Which probably means she’s going to get on a roll.

Stephens reached the quarterfinals a year ago, losing to Anastasija Sevastova, and has 430 ranking points to defend.

The American, as you can see from the photos in this piece, has gone through a ton of quality coaches.

It seems likely that the solution, if there is a problem, has to come from within.

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