Tennis Prose



Gottfried Recalls Chang’s 1989 Roland Garros Triumph

It was a surprise to learn Brian Gottfried played a role in helping coach the 17 yr old Michael Chang to his shocking 1989 French Open triumph. The former world no. 1 and 1977 French Open finalist recently revealed some insights in working with Chang in the late 1980s…

“I started working with Michael when the USTA started their player development program in about 1987 or 1988.  Michael was the first pro selected for the program and I was the first coach hired by Stan Smith.  So I was working and travelling with Michael along with his dad.  After a short time, Jose Higueras was hired and a few other players were selected like Todd Martin, Mal Washington, Jim Courier and Pete Sampras, and Jose and I would work out the schedules to travel with them.  It just so happened that Jose was with Michael when he won the French.  Some players would then better connect with Jose and some with me.  So Courier and Martin connected with Jose and spent more time with him and Mal spent his time with me, and moved to Ponte Vedra.”

“I actually saw Michael for the first time when he was 12 at the Sport Goofy event at Disney World (Orlando).  He was a player who took the ball very early and played flatter and through the court more than when he was a pro.  His foot speed and his heart were two great assets of his and I spent a lot of time trying to get him to hit through the ball like when he was 12 rather than with so much spin like when he was on tour.  I believe this would have taken pressure off of using his legs as much as he had to.”

Chang ended up becoming no. 2 in the world and just one match away from no. 1 (US Open final loss) and won 34 singles titles spanning from 1988-2000.

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