In a move that might come as a shock to Genie Bouchard’s fans, but is not a surprise, the 25-year-old Canadian no longer has a coach – or a trainer.
The former world No. 5 and 2014 Wimbledon finalist parted ways with coach Michael Joyce Friday.
And Tennis.Life has learned that trainer Scott Byrnes also is gone.
Bouchard has not trained in 39 days now – ever since a tough loss to Nao Hibino of Japan in the first round of qualifying at the Miami Open.
She is not entered in any tournaments during the clay-court swing.
Bouchard is on the entry list for the French Open, which begins May 26.
With a ranking of No. 81, that’s an automatic entry. But there’s no way to know whether she will make that date.
Joyce’s announcement via Twitter was terse.
Genie and I have mutually decided to end our professional relationship at this time. I wish her all the best.
— Michael Joyce (@mikejoyce73) April 27, 2019
There has been no corresponding announcement so far from Bouchard, no public thank you for his work and recent patience of the sort that is typical courtesy in these circumstances.
Rehabbing the ab
A little more than 24 hours ago, Bouchard announced some (real) news on her Twitter account.
Her fans had been begging her for weeks for an update on why she had seemingly fallen off the face of tennis earth – although remained a regular presence on Instagram.
She was enjoying time with friends, hitting the beach, shopping, eating the finest cuisine Miami had to offer. She even went to Disney World.
But there was no tennis.
And while Bouchard finally gave a reason for her absence, she did not indicate any sort of timeline for her return.
Hey guys, I’m still working on my rehab for my ab. Thank you to my fans for your continued support. I see your messages. Hope to be back soon 😘
— Genie Bouchard (@geniebouchard) April 25, 2019
The abdominal issue is something that has recurred during Bouchard’s career as far back as her junior days, typically exacerbated during stressful times.
It’s not an injury that generally has prevented her from practicing, though. It’s something felt primarily on the serve.
Team Genie from limbo – to lost
In the meantime, both Joyce and Byrnes had essentially been in limbo, not knowing what the immediate or medium-term future held.
Even in a highly insecure business where coaches and trainers come and go – and too often play musical chairs from player to player – this was other level.
That’s especially true right in the middle of the season.
They had jobs. And yet, they didn’t have jobs. Now, they don’t have jobs.
Joyce had just returned from an extended trip to Europe, where he put on coaching clinics and made appearances when he made the announcement.
Along with coach Nick Saviano and hitting partner Tom Burn, Byrnes had been an integral part of the team around the Westmount, Que. native during the shining moments of her career in 2014.
By the end of that 2014 season, both Saviano and Burn were gone.
Byrnes left right around this time, during the 2015 season. He went on to work with Madison Keys and then Jelena Ostapenko.
Byrnes, who (ironically) now is based in Montreal after marrying a Québécoise, returned to Team Bouchard in late Feb. 2018.
And with the addition of Joyce last fall, it appeared the Canadian finally had a stable, supportive team around her for the first time in a long time.
She was able to train a full off-season without being on the search for a coach. And there was a definite boost in the new arrival, as Bouchard clearly liked Joyce and appeared fully engaged to wrap up 2018, and start 2019.
The 46-year-old California native is an accomplished coach who worked with Maria Sharapova for many years. More recently, he coached Victoria Azarenka and Johanna Konta.
But now he, too, finds himself on the job hunt in the middle of the season.
A year ago: massive Fed Cup performances
The news comes a year – almost to the day – after Bouchard pulled off one of her most impressive wins in recent years.
Coming in to the Fed Cup tie against Ukraine without any sort of decent form, Bouchard won her first match against Kateryna Bondarenko. And then, on the second day, she pulled off a 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (5) comeback win over the very capable Lesia Tsurenko. It was a match that was as draining mentally as it was physically – on both women.
Absent from Fed Cup play for three years, playing in her hometown, it was a triumph that seemed as though it might be a springboard to a return to form.
But it wasn’t to be. Bouchard played just one match during the 2018 clay-court season.
Down 0-6, 1-2 to Dalila Jakupovic of Slovenia in the first round of the French Open qualifying (her first time in the qualifying of a Grand Slam since Jan. 2013) she retired with the same abdominal issue she referred to her “update” Tweet.
A year on, it’s unclear whether she will get on the clay at all. Or, indeed, what the future holds.
When she gets healthy again, Bouchard not only will have to start up again after a long layoff, having lost significant ground both in the rankings and to her opponents.
She’ll also return without an agent, or a coach, or a physical trainer.
The Canadian has been through a lot of tough times in the last few years.
Arguably, these are the toughest times of all.