Auction launched by Andy Murray’s former trainer Dani Vallverdu to help fund coaches

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Two Wimbledon final tickets or a private lesson with Andy Murray! Auction launched by Scot’s former trainer Dani Vallverdu to help fund ATP Tour coaches amid coronavirus crisis

  • An auction has been set up to help raise money for professional tennis coaches
  • There are ongoing uncertainties about the return of the sport after coronavirus
  • Andy Murray’s former coach Dani Vallverdu is leading efforts to raise awareness
  • Auction items include a lesson with Murray and bids are at £25,000 already 

Dani Vallverdu has twice sat in Andy Murray’s box during Wimbledon finals, and was in there the day he finally broke the drought of host nation male singles winners.

He recalls that agonising 13-minute game against Novak Djokovic in 2013 in which Murray fought to serve out the match, one of the most stomach-churning passages of British sport this century.

‘It felt more like seventeen hours at the time,’ he says, remembering how it was sitting next to co-coach Ivan Lendl.

Dani Vallverdu, former coach of Andy Murray, is hoping to raise money through an auction

‘It was maybe the first time I felt Ivan was nervous. He was quite stiff and quiet. Normally he would tell a couple of bad jokes when it was tight, but not that time.

‘It was the length of that game I remember most, but also the joy in the locker room afterwards. Having known Andy for so long it was a fantastic feeling that he had done it.’

The eventual happiness made the nerve shredding at the end all worth it, but the experience is a reminder that the coach’s life is not as comfortable as it might look, even when you are working with a top player.

This year’s strange, ‘phantom’ Wimbledon has now come and gone – the men’s final would have been on Sunday – and the game still faces uncertainty about when it may come back and the whole caravan can start earning a living again. 

Amid that hazy picture the fate of coaches is often overlooked, and they were conspicuously absent from Wimbledon ‘s generous handout on Friday.

Vallverdu, along with Ivan Lendl (left), watches on in the 2013 Wimbledon men's singles final

Vallverdu, along with Ivan Lendl (left), watches on in the 2013 Wimbledon men’s singles final

So Vallverdu, who now works with both Stan Wawrinka and Karolina Pliskova, has spent some of his lockdown teaming up with the ATP Tour to raise funds for his peers who have been forced to the breadline.

They have tapped some of the sport’s biggest names to donate auction prizes to help out tour coaches, the majority of whom have been starved of income this year. At least one is known to have taken on work as a pizza delivery man.

Among the experiences on offer is an hour’s lesson with Murray at Wimbledon during next year’s Championships, with two men’s singles final tickets thrown in. The bidding has swiftly headed towards £25,000 for the privilege.

‘For most coaches you only get paid for the weeks that you work and provide services,’ says Vallverdu, who came up with the idea. ‘The money does not go down that low in tennis and from about a ranking of 40 downwards the pay probably isn’t that great. 

‘Most are living from paycheck to paycheck at the best of times and right now maybe 80 per cent are struggling. I’m not in that percentage so I am lucky. In some countries there are still a lot of restrictions even on working at local clubs so a lot of people are struggling.’

The latest round of prizes is intended to further boost a hardship fund that ATP-accredited coaches can apply to, with the hope of extending it to those who work on the WTA Tour.

The items include an hour’s lesson with Murray during Wimbledon tournament next year

The need will be all the greater if the planned restart calendar for this year is further cut amid the myriad problems posed by trying to get a truly international sport back to some semblance of normality.

‘The great thing is that everyone we have asked has been very supportive,’ says Vallverdu. ‘If it turns out we have only a handful of tournaments possible the rest of this year then more coaches will need help.’

For now next month’s US Open goes ahead and conference Zooms with players this week will try and bolster support for the idea of travelling to New York.

‘Personally I am not that confident that the US Open and other tournaments in America are going to happen,’ says Vallverdu. ‘I think some kind of decision will happen in the next two weeks.

‘I am optimistic that unless there is a big change then the tournaments in Madrid, Rome and the French Open will take place in September, but beyond that there is a lot of uncertainty.’ 

For more information on auction items, visit: givergy.us/atp-coaches

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