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Sly Black fills Murray’s role as Sloane’s coach

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By Editorial Team

Today Sloane Stephens heightened the wave of coaching rumors on the WTA Tour with the announcement of Kamau Murray’s suspended duty as head coach. It was later confirmed that Kamau will not be traveling with Sloane to the Australian Open.

Sloane maintains that Kamau (2018 WTA Coach of The Year Nominee) remains in her camp of influence, however she mentioned that Kamau had advanced plans to put in more time growing his XS Tennis Program in the south side of Chicago. Sloane can definitely relate as she also makes effort through her non-profit charity to grow education through tennis in disadvantaged neighborhoods of LA.

It can be safely assumed that Sylvester Black of Jamaica will step into a more full-time role of head coach during the Australian Open and possibly well into the first half of the 2019 season.

Sly has been a trusted advisor to Sloane over ten years as she developed from the juniors as a top prospect. Sly also ran a successful tennis academy within the US before leaving the country due to visa issues.

Sly played an important role in Sloane reaching the finals of the WTA Finals in Singapore last month. He was called on court by Sloane for coaching assistance while down late in the second set. Sly was able to comfort Sloane and give her quality instruction which enabled her to advance to the next round in dramatic fashion.

Diversity is a challenge at the coaching position on the pro tour as top players have the luxury of selecting the best fit for themselves. However, as the sport grows in popularity among minorities and top ranked players are developed within inner city programs, black head coaches will be more prevalent in professional tennis.

For now, expect to see more of Sly on tour with Sloane as she prepares to make a run at the Australian Open title next month.   

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Battle of the ages: Venus vs. CoCo

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By Editorial Team

In addition to becoming the youngest player to enter the main draw of Wimbledon via qualifying, Cori “CoCo” Gauff has earned a prim-time match-up against one of the greatest grass court players of all time in the first round of play.

This match is not only a first, but also a sharp contrast of current generation talent versus veteran grand slam champion. Venus just turned 39 this month and must now face the 15 year old dynamo that goes by CoCo making this a true battle of the ages. Ironically, as in a Hollywood movie, these two are respectively the oldest and youngest players in the tournament.

Venus can sure respect Cori’s hustle in advancing her career at the ripe age of 15. Venus shares a similar start, but was able to win 5 Wimbledon titles with the last win in 2008.

Coming off of a great 2017 season, Venus (unseeded this year) has struggled lately with injuries and fatigue late in matches. This year has not rolled out favorably for Venus after several on-off coaching relationships and hitting partners. Taking on a more independent role of seasoned veteran, Venus is going at it alone on tour. She has a strong management team in place, but they appear to be more assistants than highly experienced coaches giving her instruction.

In contrast, Cori has a tight-knit team around her not to mention her father as head coach. There have been several assistants offering advice, but Corey remains the largest influence on Cori’s progress.

Progress is exactly what they have made – and in short record time. Just last year Cori was making her way toward the Roehamption Championship title as the world’s number one ranked junior. It seems as if Cori has a trusting relationship with her Dad and is able to take constructive criticism in stride. Hard work has been Cori’s mantra since the beginning of her junior career, and that hard work and preparation has landed her here at Wimbledon with a main draw match against Venus Williams.

The odds heavily favor Venus, but nothing is out of the question for Cori. Given the fact that she has played each qualifying round with a “nothing to lose” attitude, it can only be assumed that she will continue to do the same in her first round match.

The big stage is also a factor as Cori has not played on such a large WTA Tour center court yet in her career. This will definitely be a learning experience for Cori. It may be a little ambitious to expect Cori to figure out the atmosphere and surroundings all within a 2 out of 3 match. Cori is undefeated at Roehamption (ITF Juniors and WTA Qualifying), but it remains to be seen if she can muster a win against a declining, but a still very capable Venus Williams on her favorite surface.

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