“It’s still pretty surreal.”
That’s how WTA touring coach Scott Webster looks back on the moment that his player, Australian Storm Sanders, won the US Open Mixed doubles title this past September with fellow Australian John Peers. It was the first Grand Slam doubles title for Sanders and Peers as a team, and while a motivational and skilled coach typically fuels every great tennis player’s success on the courts, Webster believes their success lies in the hard work they put in every day.
Webster, who began training with top WTA player Sanders a few weeks before the start of Wimbledon and was formerly a hitting partner for ATP top-20 doubles player John Peers. “At the end of the day, it glued together; it’s even extra special that I was helping both of them.”
The Grand Slam title was won in absolute gripping fashion, with Peers and Sanders squeaking out the win in a third set tie-break. Webster says while he was feeling intense emotions of his own, the look of shock and excitement on Storm’s face tells it all.
“Her winning a Grand Slam was a pivotal moment, and one of her goals was always to win one. She looked absolutely shocked,” says the Volkl VIP coach. “I’ve seen her go through the ranks over the years; it was such a relief!”
In celebration of the team’s victory, the tournament organizers surprised team Sanders and Peers by throwing a player party at the bottom of Arthur Ashe Stadium; and after that, Webster and Sanders enjoyed shopping together in NYC the following day.
“It just went our way in the end,” says Webster about the victory which still feels very fresh to him.
Although their coaching partnership only began this summer, Webster and Sanders have known each other for many years as they grew up sharing the court at the national academy training center in their home country. A strong tennis player in his own right who played four years of division I college tennis and earned an MBA from Durham University in the UK, Webster followed a career in coaching rather than competing as a player. When hitting with his new C10 EVO racquet, he says he’s unbothered by the fact that he’s younger than practically all of his peers on tour at 26 years old.
“This racquet is golden; I still love playing and wish I could be out there playing myself,” says the Volkl VIP about his enjoyment of the game he grew up playing. “I didn’t really have a plan after school, and I got lucky to be asked to travel as a coach with Storm.”
When asked what his strengths are as a coach, Webster says: “I’ve always been able to adapt, so it’s just about openness with the player and being open to [their style].”
Webster attributes renowned strength and conditioning coach Len Cannel and the MAC Academy in Boston, MA as having lasting impacts on his coaching style.
You can spot Sanders and Webster at the WTA’s San Diego Open next week.