Mental strength helped Bianca Andreescu win U.S. Open, former coach says

An Edmonton tennis coach says she’s proud of her role in developing Bianca Andreescu, who defeated Serena Williams at the U.S. Open on Saturday to become Canada’s first Grand Slam singles champion.

Lan Yao-Gallop, who coaches at the Saville Community Sports Centre, spent two years working as a national coach for Tennis Canada in Toronto. There she taught a group of four girls that included Andreescu. She gave the girls lessons and travelled with them to international tournaments.

At 12, Andreescu was a less consistent player, Yao-Gallop told CBC’s Radio Active on Monday. But she was always a great hitter and fearless competitor. 

Yao-Gallop still has the training plans detailing the skills the pair worked on together. 

“It just paid off in the end, on a big stage,” she said.

Lan Yao-Gallop, a tennis coach at the Saville Community Sports Centre, spent two years coaching Bianca Andreescu for Tennis Canada in Toronto. (Terry Reith/CBC)

Yao-Gallop watched the championship game at home with her 12-year-old son, screaming, “she did it!” when Andreescu won.

‘Mentally, she is so strong’

Mental strength has played a role in the teenager’s recent success, her former coach said.

“Mentally, she is so strong and she has so much belief in her shots and her game,” Yao-Gallop said. “I’ve seen her change and become more mature and that’s very special to me.”

Bianca Andreescu, of Canada, serves to Serena Williams, of the United States, during the women’s singles final of the U.S. Open tennis championships Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, in New York. (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Associated Press)

Andreescu, 19, who practises meditation, said she visualized beating Williams the morning of Saturday’s match.

Mindset, she has said, “separates the best from the rest.”

Victory inspires young athletes

Yao-Gallop said Andreescu’s victory will motivate the young athletes she coaches to try harder and dream bigger.

“She is such a good role model for young girls,” she said.

Tennis Alberta executive director Peter Ogilvie said world-class performances always generate more interest in the sport.

“We’re thrilled with how this inspires young athletes,” he said. 

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