New Zealand Tennis Director Christophe Lambert leaves to coach Bianca Andreescu

Christophe Lambert will fly out of New Zealand next week to start work with Bianca Andreescu.

Abigail Dougherty / Other

Christophe Lambert will fly out of New Zealand next week to start work with Bianca Andreescu.

Tennis New Zealand is looking for a new high performing director and Christophe Lambert will be moving on early next month to take over as coach of Bianca Andreescu.

Lambert, who took over from Simon Rea in March 2020, was previously Tennis NZ’s national coach, but he will leave next week to take over as coach for the 2019 US Open winner.

“Christophe had an opportunity that was too good to pass up. So I’m very happy for him with this opportunity,” said Tennis NZ CEO Julie Paterson.

“When he told me about it, I thought it would be a big step for him.

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Lambert said he was excited about the new challenge of helping the 22-year-old Canadian.

“Bianca asked me to coach her and I agreed. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Lambert said.

Bianca Andreescu won the US Open in 2019 but has been suffering from injuries most of the time since then.

Frank Franklin II/AP

Bianca Andreescu won the US Open in 2019 but has been suffering from injuries most of the time since then.

Lambert worked with Andreescu when she was younger during his time at Tennis Canada and they have been in contact over the years since.

“It wasn’t every week or every month. It’s always nice to have people call you when you’re up, but when she was depressed, I checked on her and shared my opinion.”

Paterson said that with Lambert gone, Tennis NZ will look at their high-performance structure to decide what kind of person they want to see.

“We are going to test our current team, which is working with high performance. Look and see where our gaps are and see what we need to do to replace that role.

“It will happen within the next four to six weeks. Since this is one of our top management roles at Tennis NZ, this also needs to be discussed with the board, so it’s not a quick replacement.

“I’ll be working on it for the next two to three weeks and we have a coaching cover that will last until mid to late January.”

Lambert was not replaced as national coach when he moved to the high-performing director position, although due to Covid-19 and the border situation, there was less need for a full-time coach traveling the world with the country’s top young players.

But since the borders were reopened, Lambert has spent a lot of time traveling, and Paterson said that will also be taken into account when scheduling the next meeting.

Tennis NZ still primarily operates within the structures Ree created to develop, identify and develop players, although some changes were made to it under Lambert’s leadership.

Whoever comes is expected to continue what has already been established rather than starting from scratch.

“The Board of Directors is very committed to our high performance development approach across the country,” said Paterson.

“We continue to review and review as we go, but at this point we don’t see significant changes.”

New Zealand hasn’t had a singles top 100 woman since Marina Erakovic dropped out in 2015, while you have to go back to Brett Stephen in 1997 to find the last male kiwi. in the top 100 singles rankings.

New Zealand’s high-performing directors and coaches have come and gone since then, and there is still no sign of any Kiwi making it into the top 100 anytime soon.

New Zealand’s tallest female singles player is Monique Barry (897) and the tallest male singles player is Ruby Statham (528). The highest ranking among juniors is Jack Luthit (#47 in the world).

But to be fair to Lambert, the fruits of his labor won’t show for at least another couple of years, and there are a few young players who are showing promising signs.

But it’s clear that Tennis NZ’s previous plans didn’t work out, and time will tell if the current model is successful.

“When Simon took over five years ago, he always pointed out that this was a long-term strategy, not a quick fix,” Paterson said.

“People need results today, but creating an opportunity for a New Zealand player to reach the top 100 will take a long time.

“We have to remain committed and patient to know that it takes time to create a system that allows the best players to have the best opportunities.”

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