He’s the wunderkind of youth tennis: Belgian teen to take over as coach of national team

Emma Raducanu, the Belgian wunderkind-turned-whippersnapper’s wunderkind, turned professional this week. She lost 3-1 Wednesday to 19-year-old Italian qualifier Kimberly Jermain, putting her bid to reach the main draw of the U.S. Open this month in jeopardy.

But the story of her rise, and the preparations under way for her junior debut, were far bigger than just the loss.

Raducanu announced Wednesday that she will be the new head coach of the national women’s tennis team. As a 15-year-old, she won the prestigious U.S. Open juniors championship – the first time a non-American won since 2004 – and went on to become the world’s youngest-ever No. 1 junior player.

Only women’s teams in the United States have known true dynasties, and Raducanu’s will be the next to go down.

She announced the news to Belgian players after the loss. Earlier Wednesday, she announced that she was leaving Roger Rasheed’s Tennis Academy to join Michael Schuurs’ One4One Academy in France. A few hours after her loss, she posted on Instagram, announcing that she had been named head coach for the USA’s national team.

“I cannot put in words how I feel right now,” she wrote. “This is a beautiful moment for me and my family but even more for so many other players and coaches.

“Truly amazing to be able to be part of something so big and spectacular in tennis.

“As a coach, I will do my best to show my players how to win the tournament not just one match or even one player. I truly hope to bring new experiences to this project.”

Sebastien Boucher-Fournier, the head of the USTA Fed Cup women’s program, tweeted that Raducanu had confirmed her appointment.

Former U.S. Fed Cup player Whitney Osuigwe responded that she was already being coached by Raducanu, while another – Lauren Gray – pointed out that Raducanu will be heading a team whose previous head coach was Cici Straka.

— Marcus Kwesi O’Mard

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