The former coach of Eugenie Bouchard, Nathalie Tauziat currently works with 15-year-old Bianca Andreescu, one of the most promising junior players in Canada right now and the world’s No. 4-ranked junior girl.
A former top player herself, reaching a career-high of world No. 3 and finishing as runner-up at Wimbledon in 1998, Tauziat has worked with Andreescu for one year. She was in Toronto last week as the guest speaker for the annual TPA National Coaching Conference, and we spoke with her about Andreescu, Canadian tennis, and coaching.
On Canada’s current crop of junior players:
I think they are really good. Last year the boys won the Junior Davis Cup and the girls finished third in Fed Cup. I think they really have a good generation. And the girls, with Bianca, Charlotte [Robillard-Millette], and Katherine [Sebov], these three girls could be pretty good on the tour later. Right now, they have to manage the transition well for when they are going to arrive on the tour. It’s a different level so we really have to be careful. My job with Bianca is to manage that and help her stay focused on tennis.
On working with Bianca:
It has been very good, we’ve had some great results. I really enjoy to be with her, she’s a nice girl. I give to her and she gives back to me, she is always respectful. I always tell her, that I will tell her truth. After a match, if she’s played a bad match and I don’t tell her, I’m not a good coach. Or if I see something wrong with her attitude I tell her right away because I want her to improve quickly. I also try to keep her on the ground.
On what Bianca is like as a player:
She is very good. She can do many things, she has good hands and she’s a very powerful girl. She’s only 15 so she’s still young but that’s good, she’s fresh and she is really focused on tennis right now. She has big goals and she is doing many things to reach these big goals. She is an intelligent girl, and I hope it’s going to happen.
On their goals and plans for Bianca:
The goal of the year is to win a junior Grand Slam. But she has two years to win a Grand Slam, she is still only 15. We are also going to start to try some tournaments on the ITF, like the $10,000 and $25,000 events. So first we will start with the $10,000 and I want her to win one and then we will go to $25,000 and we will do it step-by-step. But the most important goal for her is to win a junior Grand Slam and I think she can do it.
On being involved in Canadian tennis right now:
Louis Borfiga [vice-president of high performance] has done a good job with Tennis Canada and now I’m more involved than ever and I really understand what he’s doing and I’m very happy to be a part of it and to help them. I’m really happy to help them and be part of the result of that. I work a lot with Sylvain [Bruneau, Fed Cup captain and Tennis Canada national women’s coach] and Andre Labelle [head of the Toronto national junior training program] and if I can help them more, I’m very pleased and very happy to do it.
On becoming a coach:
I always wanted to coach even when I was a player. I always liked to be around the kids. I have a tennis club in France and when I still playing, when I was home and had time I tried to help the teacher and be with the kids. I always said after my career I would like to transfer my experience to the kids. I always loved to coach and tennis is my passion so I stayed in tennis.
On former players who transition into coaching:
I think they love tennis, they realize that’s what they are the best at. They like to find a way to stay on the tour and be around the sport. When you stop playing the most difficult thing is you miss the ambiance, you are used to being on centre court and everyone cheering for you. When you come back as a coach on the tour, you bring back a little bit of this ambiance and that’s what we love.