WTA Coach Of The Year Curse: Pegula And Witt Preserve Striking Trend

WTA Coach Of The Year Curse: Pegula And Witt Preserve Striking Trend

by Nurein Ahmed

Forget the "Netflix Curse" because the WTA Coach of the Year award might actually be the unwanted accolade for the men and women bestowed with coaching responsibilities on the WTA Tour.

This week, Jessica Pegula's surprise announcement of ending her partnership with coach David Witt sent shockwaves all over the tennis world. It was untimely and certainly out of the blue. Pegula and Witt have been working together since the summer of 2019.

And despite a dismal start to 2024, there was no substance to a potential parting of ways. But that was until Pegula decided that Witt, a former coach of Venus Williams, was no longer part of her plans going forward - a decision that the 50-year-old said he "never saw coming."

Sports, like every business, is dependent on end results for the perpetual existence of relationships. Pegula, who is currently out of action due to a neck injury, is probably worried that she has stumbled far too many times at the deep end of tournaments and that she might now need a different voice.

Still, under Witt's tutelage, the Buffalo native has enjoyed her most productive years on a tennis court. She rose to a career-high mark of World No. 3 and won all four of her WTA titles with her compatriot in her coaching box.

Pegula reached six Grand Slam quarterfinals in the four and half years they worked together, and Witt was named the WTA Coach of the Year in 2022 after a stellar season saw the 29-year-old win a WTA 1000 title for the first time and qualified for the WTA Finals.

However, Witt's firing has actually preserved a worrying trend of coaches who have won the WTA Coach of the Year and did not last a long time while working with the same player and ended up losing their jobs.

In 2018, Sascha Bajin scooped the award after helping Osaka win a maiden Grand Slam at the US Open. But he was relieved of his duties after the Japanese star added a second Grand Slam at the start of January - the Australian Open.

A shocking revelation emerged in her newly-released biography on why the former World No. 1 decided to give Bajin his marching orders. Craig Tyzzer oversaw Ashleigh Barty's reign as World No. 1 and was named coach of the year in 2019.

The two permanently ended their working relationship after Barty retired from the sport in 2022 at the age of 25. Piotr Sierzputowski was the successor of the award in 2020 after guiding compatriot Iga Swiatek to a maiden Grand Slam at Roland Garros. They split a year later.

Conchita Martinez was next in line to be voted the WTA Coach of the Year after overseeing Garbine Muguruza's resurgence in 2021. She split with her countrywoman just a year later. Witt became the latest coach to walk down the same itinerary after winning the Coach of the Year in 2022.

With this emerging trend, Iga Swiatek's current coach, Tomasz Wiktorowski, might be anxious and probably doesn't stare at his phone at night because he was the 2023 WTA Coach of the Year. A curse or a coincidence?


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