HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC, USA - Corey Gauff, the father and coach of teenage sensation Coco Gauff, was named the Touring Coach of the Year at the recent Professional Tennis Registry (PTR) International Tennis Symposium.
Corey, who played junior tennis in Florida, became an NCAA Division I athlete in basketball at Georgia State University, and has overseen 15-year-old Coco's dazzling junior career and her spectacular transition to the WTA Tour over the past 12 months. This time last year, Coco was ranked World No.579, and had dipped her toe into only six professional tournaments - but a phenomenal series of results has seen her rocket to a career high of World No.51 this week.
Teen sensation Coco’s father and coach, Corey Gauff was named PTR Touring Coach of the Year at our awards banquet! Congratulations, Corey and thanks for speaking at the Symposium! pic.twitter.com/FlIcYsCgHY— PTR Tennis (@ptrtennis) February 13, 2020
Coco's WTA journey began in Miami last March, where she scored her first main draw victory over fellow American teenager and regular doubles partner Catherine McNally. A run to the fourth round of Wimbledon as a qualifying wildcard - including a first-round upset of five-time champion Venus Williams and a third-round comeback win over Polona Hercog that would draw the highest peak TV audience of the tournament on the BBC - catapulted the teenager into stardom, sparking a wave of "Gauffmania" that has yet to let up.
This is partly because her results have yet to let up. Away from the Grand Slam spotlight, Coco proved her ability on the indoor courts of Linz, becoming the youngest WTA champion in 15 years as she took her maiden title as a lucky loser - in a run featuring her first Top 10 scalp over Kiki Bertens in the quarterfinals. And in 2020, she's already posted a second run to the second week of a major, this time scoring a first Top 5 win en route as she ousted defending champion Naomi Osaka from the Australian Open in the third round.
Throughout her spectacular rise up the WTA rankings, Coco has routinely credited Corey for his coaching, singling out key pieces of advice that have adjusted her mindset or her tactics. Following her upset of No.1 seed Aliona Bolsova in Wimbledon qualifying, Coco ascribed her "mental growth" since losing in Roland Garros qualifying to some wise words from Corey: "My dad was like, you're 15 and playing Grand Slams. There are many people who dream of playing them so you should just enjoy yourself. And once you enjoy yourself you'll be able to have good results. I finally listened to him, I guess."
Four months later, Corey was again instrumental to another of his daughter's milestones. Despite being up 5-0 in the third set of the Linz final against 2017 Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko, two championship points had slipped away - and the Latvian was threatening a resurgence. But a judicious on-court coaching session would enable the teenager to gather herself to close out the match.
"He gave me the best advice," said Coco afterwards. "I guess he didn't really tell me how to play - just to stay calm and stay focused - even though I wanted him to tell me how to play, he didn't need to tell me what side, what spot to hit to because I was already up 5-2 in the third set. After the match, he told me that he knew that I already knew what I needed to do to win, but he was just trying to calm me down. I think he could tell that I was a little bit anxious, because it was close to the end of the match. He calmed me down, and it worked."
PTR is the largest global organization of tennis teaching professionals with more than 16,000 members in 131 countries. It has the greatest percentage of multicultural and women members of any such organization. PTR is dedicated to educating, certifying and serving tennis teachers and coaches around the world in order to grow the game.