You’re likely familiar with the adage that while it’s one thing getting to the top, it’s another thing staying there.
What about nearly getting there? Ask that question to last year’s Roland Garros singles finalists, Coco Gauff and Casper Ruud.
While still in her teens, the 19-year-old Gauff has established herself as a formidable competitor. Over the course of five years as a pro, she’s on the path to building a versatile brand of all-court tennis. One major reason for this is that Gauff frequently plays doubles and is skilled in all parts of the court, showing an aptitude for volleying rare among many contemporary pros. Ranked sixth in the WTA singles rankings, Gauff also stands at third in doubles. Over the course of May, Gauff and her doubles partner, Jessica Pegula, reached the finals at both Madrid and Rome.
Gauff’s singles match record during the European clay court season is 3-3. Then again, in 2022, it was 4-3 just prior to her six-victory run at Roland Garros. All three of this year’s losses came to players ranked lower than Gauff – No. 24 Anastasia Potapova in Stuttgart, No. 42 Paula Badosa in Madrid, No. 38 Marie Bouzkova in Rome.
Reflecting in Rome the week after the Badosa match, Gauff said, “It was a tough loss for me. I think you could see that it just wasn’t my day, my game, not how I like to appear on court. I’ve been working really hard since then.”
Gauff also admitted that it’s been tricky adapting to life without having Diego Moyano as her coach (it was an amicable parting, Moyano leaving for his own personal reasons). This spring, in addition to being coached by her father, Corey, Gauff has been training with Jarmere Jenkins, a former hitting partner for Serena Williams. Said Gauff, “He’s helping me out I would say more so in a hitting partner type of role. Obviously giving me advice here and there. So, yeah, he’s been great.”
There have been various reports that Rick Macci, the man who’s coached such stars as Jennifer Capriati and the Williams sisters, might coach Gauff. Analyzing Gauff’s game, Macci told me, “Her backhand is money in the bank. She has one of the best serves on the tour. She can volley.” But rather than travel with Gauff week after week, Macci seeks to create an immersion course to zero in on Gauff’s forehand: two months away from competition, either mid-year, or, more realistically, following the end of the season in November and December. “I could make this her best shot,” said Macci.
Speaking about her search for a new coach, Gauff recently said, “I do think tennis is a unique sport in that aspect. I feel like in basketball and other sports, I don’t know how that process goes, but I feel like they go through a lot more people before they even reach the players. I don’t know how much the players have a say in that anyways, whereas in tennis you have pretty much 100 percent say in who you bring on. It’s definitely a different process than I’m used to. Now that I’m older, I feel like I’m more involved.”