June 18, 2024

Open Court

MORE TENNIS THAN YOU'LL EVER NEED

WASHINGTON, D.C. – When you look at it, there is an extremely large group around 19-year-old Coco Gauff.

Physio, hitting partner, both parents, new coach Pere Riba …

And, new in Washington, D.C. as Gauff begins her summer hard-court season: veteran coach and TV analyst Brad Gilbert.

That’s a couple of new voices to get used to, as Gauff embarks on a “home” run, in a sense, through D.C., Montreal, Cincinnati and the US Open this summer.

There is, however, no magic potion for the forehand, which Gilbert was working on a little Saturday afternoon at the Mubadala Citi DC Open.

Here’s what it looked like.

Gauff did an extensive telephone interview less than a week ago with the Washington Post, talking about the new relationship with Riba and her plan going forward. But there was no mention of Gilbert coming on board.

Gilbert wrote on Twitter that he was “working for the tournament” but he did acknowledge our Tweet about this coaching development.

Here’s Gauff during her pre-tournament media conference, when Open Court asked her about it. She said it had “just started”, but didn’t offer any specifics as to what it IS, exactly.

(They take away the microphone after your first question, so a follow-up isn’t as easy as it sounds. Also – apologies for the hum – big AC units).

On Saturday, there was some “coach coaching the coach”, with Riba (who had been with Zheng Qinwen for a long time, moving over a few months after Gauff parted ways with her previous coach, Argentine Diego Moyano, before the clay-court season). Gauff and Riba are on a “trial” through the US Open, Gauff told the Post.

In between, Pops is always there.

The other two coaches also spent time during the practice session going over to talk to Gauff’s parents.

So there’s … a lot going on.

The concern, of course, is that it’s not as though anyone is going to “fix” anything in a couple of days. And Gauff was already listening to a new voice in Riba. So along comes Gilbert to drop more nuggets on her, another different voice.

In the middle of the season like this, it’s going to be a challenge for Gauff to take in all that new information, while not having her brain explode on the match court.

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