At 18 years of age it’s so easy to get caught in the glare of the celebrity headlight when fame comes knocking – even the miniscule 15 minutes of Andy Warhol inspired fame many of us have had in our lifetimes.
So one could be forgiving of Emma Raducanu’s recent blip after the euphoria of New York.
Young Emma was wanted by everyone – from breakfast broadcasts to late night chat shows.
Her amazing achievements at the US Open had thrown her, quite literally, into a world of faux-celebrity created by clickbait hungry media where you are glitz and glamour one day, but forgotten the next.
The British call yesterday’s news ‘fish and chip wrapping’ a nod back to the day when that traditional of British delicacies was wrapped in yesterday’s newspaper for the hungry purchaser to take home and keep warm.
Indian Wells and a first match defeat brought her – and much of the fawning media – back to earth faster than William Shatner’s recent trip into space.
Was it a blip – or was this amazing achievement a one-trick pony?
Everyone will hope it was and is the former, but that will not stop many questioning both Emma and those advising her.
This week, Raducanu pulled out of the WTA’s Kremlin Cup in Moscow, explaining it was a ‘tournament schedule change’.
So was this decision based on post Indian Wells, a 18-year-old wanting a break from the circus that the WTA Tour can sometimes be, a bit of both – or, is there still confusion within the Raducanu camp?
The London Daily Mail asked this question on Friday as news of Raducanu’s withdrawal leaked out on social media, rather than any official statement.
Apparently an eagle-eyed fan had noticed her name had suddenly disappeared from the entry list.
Raducanu, said farewell to her coach Andrew Richardson, who was her mentor though that US Open triumph just prior to Indian Wells, and is still to find a replacement.
She also, perhaps more tellingly, dispensed with physio Will Herbert.
Lawn Tennis Association coach Jeremy Bates was parachuted in as a temporary replacement, but Bates also had other players to look after, including fellow Brit Katie Boulter.
Getting the right coach going forward is paramount and one does wonder if this appointment will be Emma’s or her IMG management team – or both.
The lack of a coach right now is probably one very good reason why Moscow has been cancelled, but with other indoor events booked to round out the year – and with Australia literally three month away – appointing a coach and a backroom team is now an urgent requirement.
No matter how good young Raducanu is – or can be – she cannot do it all alone – at the highest level of any professional sport, and especially in a singular sport such as tennis – a solid backroom team is essential.
Failure to find that ingredient will determine whether Emma Raducanu is indeed a champion – not just of today, but also of the future – or becomes just another Tour competitor, flitting between top 50 and top 20 in the WTA rankings.
Until that is resolved, the media will continue to report on those concerned as to her future.
This week Maria Sharapova’s former mentor Michael Joyce weighed in after Raducanu said: “I don’t know what’s going on, I don’t know what’s going to happen next but I’m sure my team and everyone will try and find a solution. I wasn’t joking. If anyone knows any experienced coaches.”
If she goes to the Australian Open and goes out early, people will say it’s because of the coachMichael Joyce
Joyce told The London Sun newspaper: “I was really surprised with the wording of the statement that was released when Emma announced she was splitting with Andrew Richardson, saying she felt she needed someone with Tour-level experience.
“I didn’t like the statement. If you have a good coach and it works well, then you’d think you would want to stick with them. Why would you want a big-name coach?
“She’s a great player but it’s going to be a tough job for the next coach, as expectations are high.”
Joyce said it could be hard for a new coach to form a meaningful relationship because Raducanu already had a strong reputation due to her US Open success.
“If she goes to the Australian Open next year and goes out early, people will say it’s because of the coach,” he said.
It’s a tough one for whoever comes in and works with Emma as they won’t have that relationship and they will be under a lot of scrutiny.”
Interestingly Joyce did advise Raducanu to speak to Sharapova for tips on how to cope at this level.
Whether Raducanu can emulate the success of Sharapova is down to many things: her physical and mental ability to not only play but survive the gruelling tour schedule, and her management: her coach, physio, manager, publicist – and also the support of her family.
So much, at 18, to understand and take in.
Winning the US Open has proved Emma Raducanu has the ability as a tennis player to reach the pinnacle of the sport.
But getting to the court at every event is an ‘event’ in itself and without the right team behind her she might, sadly, be doomed to fail.
Missing Moscow and these year ending indoor events might also be a blessing in disguise.
Get it wrong now and the consequences could be fatal.
Get it right, from that coach to that physio to that mentor, and the world awaits, Ms Raducanu.