MIAMI, Fla. – The first indication that there might be problems in the collaboration between Genie Bouchard and veteran coach Harold Solomon came during her first-round qualifying match at the Miami Open last week.
Solomon was there – but he wasn’t sitting with Bouchard hitting partner Robbye Poole and trainer Scott Byrnes.
He was over on the other side of the stands.
For her final-round qualifying match the following day, Solomon wasn’t there at all.
And it was Poole who came out for the on-court consult when Bouchard struggled (and eventually lost to) Rebecca Peterson of Sweden.
Solomon also was a no-show for Bouchard’s doubles match later in the week.
Since then, Tennis.Life has confirmed that Solomon and Bouchard parted ways. We’re told it happened two days before the Miami Open.
We have no reliable information as to whether it was Solomon’s decision, Bouchard’s decision, or by mutual agreement.
“I appreciate what you need to do for you job, however I will not be speaking to anyone about my relationship with Genie,” Solomon wrote via text in response to an inquiry.
The former top player and veteran coach is currently out of state. So any clay-court preparation ahead of Bouchard’s participation in the WTA Tour event in Charleston this coming week, or coaching assistance at that tournament, obviously will not occur.
Solomon and Bouchard worked together on a fairly regular basis during the last off-season, with Bouchard commuting from Miami beach to the courts Solomon’s academy uses at a club in Fort Lauderdale. He did travel to Australia for the first Grand Slam of the season. But he did not continue on to Taiwan for a small event Bouchard played in after the Australian Open.
Poole, who was Serena Williams’s hitting partner for several years, performed the coaching duties.
Unless Bouchard comes up with a quick solution, it appears that will be her only option going forward. And that’s obviously far from ideal.
Racket testing continues into April
Solomon was back for Indian Wells, where Bouchard was given a main-draw wild card and where she continued to test various racket models, in the wake of the end of her contract with Babolat at the end of 2017.
Bouchard had been testing out several during the offseason. She played with a Head model at Hopman Cup to start the season before returning to her trusted (but now non-remunerated) Babolat for the Australian Open. Two months later, she still hadn’t committed to a racket for the season.
Just a few days before her first-round loss to qualifier Sachia Vickery at Indian Wells, Bouchard and Solomon were out with a Wilson Ultra, a blacked-out model that looked to be a Yonex, and Bouchard’s trusty Babolat.
Bouchard discarded the Yonex after only a few minutes during this testing to return to the tried and true. She played with the Babolat in the singles, and the Wilson in the doubles.
For the Miami qualifying Bouchard used the Yonex – now no longer blacked-out, in both singles and doubles.
Yonex is well-known for paying above market value and outbidding other companies if it wants to add a player to its stable. It’s entirely possible that might be the direction Bouchard chooses, although we’ll see what she plays with in Charleston.
With a number of withdrawals from the original entry list (nine in all), plus wild cards, Bouchard managed to squeeze into the final spot in the main draw for the Volvo Car Open.
Her fellow Montrealer, Françoise Abanda, just missed out by one. She’s the No. 1 seed in qualifying this weekend.
Solomon in the the opposite camp
If the appearance of Solomon at Bouchard’s first-round match seemed odd, given the recent split, it makes sense given Bouchard’s opponent in that match.
American Allie Kiick, who is coming back from several knee surgeries, is a longtime student of Solomon’s.
And so he was there to support Bouchard’s opponent – just a few days after they split. The odds of that happening were infinitesimal. But there they were.
It didn’t seem to affect Bouchard. She roared through the match with Kiick as if it were her best days, with consistency and aggressiveness and urgency.
The nerves kicked in during the second match against Peterson.