Jamaican tennis coach Sylvester Black coached and worked with Cori ‘Coco’ Gauff, who, at just 15, was a sensation at this year’s Wimbledon.
Her first match at the London-based Grand Slam tournament saw the young American beating Five-time Wimbledon champion and tennis legend Venus Williams before she succumbed to the eventual champion this year, Simona Halep in the round of 16.
Speaking with BUZZ from Vietnam, Black said: “Coco’s father called me to see whether she had potential. At the time she was just 6 years old and I drove to Atlanta from Tampa, Florida to find out whether she had what it takes.
“She was tiny and determined. Her talent was plain to see but more importantly she said back then she wanted to be the best tennis player in the world.”
Impressed, Black decided to take a second look at her and told her parents that he would commit to working with her. Two weeks later Coco and her mother, who quit her job, came to Florida to begin training at Black’s tennis camp.
“Everyone was surprised at her performance at Wimbledon but not me. I saw it coming. Back in 2012 when she was eight, she won the Little Mo Tournament and at 10 she became the youngest national champion. By 13 she was the youngest girl to make the US Open Junior finals. She won the 12 and under Orange Bowl in 2016,” said Black.
The Jamaican coach worked with her for five and a half years and credits her growing success to her determination, mental toughness and technique.
“Every challenge we gave her she delivered and we were able to keep her on track. We were very proud when she won the junior French Open and made her professional debut at the ITF Women’s Circuit in May 2018.
“At Wimbledon, people talked about her attitude, comportment and maturity but she was always a nice kid, disciplined and an incredibly hard worker. She was a joy to work with,” said Black, who heads up High Performance Tennis Academy in Boca Raton, Florida.
Black has also coached US Open winner Sloane Stephens and his High Performance Tennis Academy has been described as the most successful junior program in North America in the last 10 years.