MIKE DICKSON: There is a danger that coaches will be put off working with Emma Raducanu if she keeps sacking them after Torben Beltz became the latest to be ditched by the Brit
- Emma Raducanu axed Torben Beltz despite good start to the clay court season
- Her search for wisdom is underway again as campaign reaches a crucial stage
- Despite a fortnight of exceeding expectations, there was no stay of execution
- The danger is that, with every change, coaches may decide to swerve the role
Emma Raducanu’s restless search for pearls of tennis wisdom is underway again, just as her season heads into its most important phase.
German Torben Beltz on Tuesday became the third coach since Wimbledon to part ways with the US Open champion, despite her relatively promising start to the current clay court season.
After cushioning his departure with warm words she spoke cryptically of the desire to ‘transition to a new training model’.
Emma Raducanu’s restless search for wisdom saw her sack her former coach, Torben Beltz
In practice one option being explored is spending more time with veteran Italian mentor Riccardo Piatti, who runs his own academy just across the French border not far from Monte Carlo.
Piatti has an impressive CV that includes work with the likes of Novak Djokovic and former world number three Ivan Ljubicic. It was to his camp, where he has a large staff, that she went at the start of this month after a disappointing exit at the Miami Open that looks to have sealed Beltz’s fate.
Ever since her visit the tennis grapevine has been humming with suggestions that the German was not long for his job. Despite two weeks in which she has probably exceeded expectations on the clay there was no stay of execution.
Beltz (left) lasted just five months in the job, and the timing can be seen as odd to outsiders
Last week Raducanu made the quarter finals in Stuttgart before putting in a strong performance against world number one Iga Swiatek.
So the timing will, once again, be seen as distinctly odd to outsiders. That was the case when she got rid of Nigel Sears after making the fourth round of Wimbledon, and even more so when she did not renew her deal with Andrew Richardson, his left-field successor who was by her side for the astonishing win in New York.
Piatti, 63, would not be likely to travel a great deal but will be at the French Open, the first of three Grand Slams which take place within four months.
In the immediate future she will be helped out this week at the Madrid Open by Iain Bates, head of women’s tennis at the Lawn Tennis Association. After parting with Richardson it was another Bates from the LTA, Jeremy, who temporarily stepped in when Richardson was deemed surplus to the next stage of her development.
From a young age, Raducanu has been happy to glean information from a variety of sources
James Ward, another former British Davis Cup player, has also been in the mix recently, acting as a hitting partner.
The norms of tennis thinking around coaching have long since needed to be suspended around Raducanu, who from a young age has always been happy to glean information from numerous sources.
During her formative years father Ian was known to talk of certain coaches being the right fit to coach certain strokes. In some ways that is not unlike having a specialist putting coach in golf, although it is not conventional thinking in tennis. He is said to believe that most expertise can be extracted from a coach within the first six months.
One concern is that the chopping and changing creates a lack of stability around someone who finished A-levels a year ago and is still adjusting to the demands of an unprecedentedly swift rise.
There is a danger that, with every change, coaches will decide it is not work risking the job
It was not even that there had been any falling out with Beltz, a proven coach known for his amiable nature.
‘He has a huge heart and I have enjoyed our strong chemistry during the time together,’ she said.
The danger is that, with every change, more coaches with the requisite experience will look at the prospect of working with her and decide the precarious nature of employment is not worth it.
But then this the most individual of sports, and what works for the many does not necessarily meet the requirements of the few.