Female tennis coaches are scarce: besides Elise Tamaëla (34) there are only five others in the top hundred of the women’s circuit. Recently she helped Kiki Bertens as interim coach in Charleston at her biggest tournament victory.

With Elise Tamaëla as interim coach, tennis star Kiki Bertens won her biggest tournament win in Charleston. Now she is reunited with Raemon Sluiter in Stuttgart and Tamaëla in Istanbul accompanies her pupil Aleksandra Krunic. The 34-year old Tamaëla flourishes in a circuit with which she has no affinity. “I love the game, but I do not like the tennis world.”

Tamaëla never qualified as a player for a Grand Slam tournament. “I think I have the record number of failed qualifications.” She worked as a physiotherapist until Krunic asked her in 2016 as a coach. Promptly the Serbian rose more than a hundred places and Tamaëla as coach of Bertens turned out to be an excellent replacement for Sluiter, who assisted his sick mother.

She already received apps during the Bertens party in Miami against Venus Williams. “The match was live on Fox Sports, many people have apparently looked. I do not think it’s anything that anyone can hear me. I was fined $ 500 when I said to Krunic: “Get your shit together”. That match was live on American television and in the United States shit is an abuse. ‘

Positive Coaching

‘It goes without saying, I follow my intuition and I feel a lot’

– Elise Tamaëla

Tamaëla, as coach of Bertens, impressed with her positive coaching and sharp analyzes. Every word was right, although she could not prevent Bertens from losing Venus Williams again after three match points. A week later, the chemistry between the two was palpable during the gravel tournament in Charleston, where Bertens conquered her fifth WTA title.

Tamaëla: ‘It goes without saying, I follow my intuition and I do a lot on feeling. I tried to move in the feelings of Kiki and to respond to them. I had daily contact with Raemon, I continued his work. Kiki was very anxious at a match point against Venus Williams and of course, she should have won.

“Yet I found the self-criticism too negative. I told Kiki that she got match points on hard court against one of the greatest players of all time. Get something positive out of that. A week later, it succeeded against Keys, after she lost a match point and survived. Kiki can beat anyone on clay. ‘

In Charleston, Tamaëla made an unintentional split when Bertens and Krunic met in the second round. ‘Krunic thought that I also had to clap for points from Bertens’, says Tamaëla. “That was not so difficult, because Kiki played much better.”

Laughing Tamaëla tells that she has not even attended training as a coach. She never reached the top hundred and was therefore not admitted to the shortened trainer course of the KNLTB for former professional players. Tamaëla: ‘I did a coaching course in Indian Wells, I will soon receive my license.’

Evil to worse

Tamaëla was glad that she had left tennis after having been attacked in 2011 by the father of the Danish Karen Barbat. She had encouraged fellow countryman Daniëlle Harmsen during an ITF tournament in Versmold in Germany, when she suddenly received a punch from Mihai Barbat, father and coach of Karen Barbat.

“It went from bad to worse,” she said in 2011. “When he started making racist remarks, I called:” Are you fucking crazy “or something? Then I woke up on the floor. ”

Barbat was eventually suspended for two years. Tamaëla suffered from dizziness for some time and stopped a few months later. To her dismay, she had to answer to the International Tennis Federation (ITF), because Barbat casually stated that he had to defend himself. “Laughing, of course, that man did not track,” says Tamaëla.

“That girl later apologized for the behavior of her father. I thought it was pathetic for her. But I still have a $ 500 fine at the ITF. Because of that f-word. I was beaten unconscious, taken to the hospital and he is a victim? Everyone I tell this story says: have they gone crazy at the ITF? ”

‘Women switch effortlessly from partner to partner in doubles, loyalty does not count. ‘

– Elise Tamaëla

Man’s world

Now she is one of the few female coaches in a man’s world. Tamaëla: ‘Bizarre that only six players in the top hundred have a woman as a coach. Women want to travel less because of their family. I also think that tennis players do not dare to appoint a woman as a coach. In women, the stereotypical image still prevails that they need the authoritarian approach of a man. ‘

The first full-time job as coach of Tamaëla is also the last. “I do not want to travel for forty weeks. The women’s circuit is impersonal, not social. Players have become companies, it is only about winning. There is a lot of jealousy. There is hardly any contact between the two, it is all for the women. Women exchange effortlessly from a partner in doubles, loyalty does not count.

In Bertens she found a kindred spirit in that respect. “Kiki does not like the tennis world either. She is calm, like me, does not call out aloud what she would all be entitled to. We played games all day, keezen, a dutch board game. You have to create that family atmosphere yourself. Otherwise, I like to take a book. ”

“Do you know what I’m missing? Just say: good morning, how are you? Those simple norms and values ​​are lacking, it goes against everything I stand for ‘

Elise Tamaëla

Simple standards and values

Tamaëla denounces the hypocrisy of the WTA Tour, which promotes the division. ‘The WTA gives the wrong example. The tournaments are all about the top players selling the tickets. I understand that because they bring in the money. But the rest now feel second-class citizens. At a tournament, Krunic got the question: are you a tennis player or a qualifier? Do you feel the difference? It is ridiculous that even the tournament directors already make a distinction?

“Do you know what I’m missing? Just say: good morning, how are you? Can I help you with something? Those simple norms and values are missing, it goes against everything I stand for. In my first season with Krunic, she was completely anonymous as a player outside the top hundred. We would be happy if she could train somewhere.

‘In my second year, Krunic reached the third round at the US Open and suddenly got an app from the supervisor, who told her when to play. She replied that it was a redundant announcement. You did not send an app last year when I was the number 150 in the world. If you win, you have friends, Aleksandra pokes through that right away. ”

Original Article has been translated

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