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Davenport Parts Ways With Coach, Rick Leach

Davenport, coach part ways

By Charles Bricker
Staff Writer
Posted March 24 2003

KEY BISCAYNE Lindsay Davenport has dismissed her new coach, four-time Grand Slam doubles titlist Rick Leach, after only three months.

"We've parted ways," said Leach, who is playing doubles here with former Davis Cupper Don Johnson. "I thought Lindsay was playing well, but she didn't think she was. I was happy with the way she was playing, but she's looking for something different."

It seemed like a perfect match after Robert Van't Hof, Davenport's coach for seven years, decided to get off the travel grind and spend time with his family in a thoroughly amicable split.  Leach's younger brother, Jonathan, is Davenport's fiance, and Leach's father, Dick, was the longtime tennis coach at Southern California, where Van't Hof was an All American.

Davenport came to Key Biscayne with a 15-4 record and apparently fully recovered from knee surgery that cancelled the first six months of her 2002 season. She won at Tokyo in February by defeating Monica Seles in the final, but she lost in the round of 16 to Justine Henin-Hardenne at the Australian Open and in the round of 16 at Scottsdale earlier this month to Ai Sugiyama.

Davenport is here without a coach but with a hitting partner, former USC player Adam Peterson. She said the coaching relationship with Leach had become complicated because of her romantic relationship with his brother.

For Leach, it was a matter of one door closing and another opening. Two days after Davenport terminated their professional connection, last Wednesday, Johnson called and asked if he wanted to play doubles at the Nasdaq. He couldn't guarantee a spot, but Leach would have to fly here from Los Angeles if he wanted to play.

"I got here on Thursday and didn't have a credential. The security almost didn't let me in," he said.

They got into the draw and defeated Michael Llodra and Nenad Zimonjic
7-6 (5), 6-3 Sunday in their opening match.

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