It’s the story of Frédéric, Jérémy, Jean-Jacques, Étienne, Olivier, Alain, Jacques and Ken. A team which looks like an UFO in French tennis.
His coach, Frédéric Fontang, met Jim eleven years ago and decided to pass his knowledge on him since he wanted to stay in his home town, Pau. With the passing years he has built around Jim a big team with three physios of Pau, a physical trainer from the South of France too, a mental coach from Paris and an American agent. Most of them are people he had met during his own career (Fontang was ranked 59th in 1991). They don’t belong to the inner circles of French tennis and bring the required innovation touch. Fontang built this team with the idea to keep working with people sharing the same values, no matter if it was working or not at first.
He is the project manager. He brings up questions which might help Jim to progress, for example how to better finish his matches or to improve his stance on the FH side, and each member of the team has to make his contribution to that issue then. Real teamwork.
Everything is quantified with clinical precision. Every two months there is an update with the mental coach. Every 5-6 weeks the three physios meet for a debriefing. When he’s in Pau, Jim goes to a different physio every day. And each physio now follows him on the tour during 4 weeks.
The 1st physio, Jean-Jacques Peyroutou:
He’s in charge of the "mechanical aspects". The hip was one of the focus points lately, for example, and each team member brought his own competence on that topic. Jérémy likes to take his time, that’s why it took him some time to be at his best. He’s extremely nice. An emotional guy who needs this "cocoon".
The 2nd physio/ostheo, Étienne Labat:
He’s the last recruit and was together with Jim this year in Johannesburg and Munich. Jim’s lucky charm, maybe?
His area: stretching and relaxation. And it helps, Jim hasn’t been injured for a while. They don’t work on symptoms anymore, but on becoming more competitive. Jim is "adorable" in everyday’s life on the tour. Very endearing.
The 3rd physio, Olivier Sourbès ("the poet"):
He works with a special method which he calls the "physiological chain", whatever it means. It might seem complicated to have three different physios, all the more since they all have strong personalities, but it’s not a problem because they trust each other. Jim visits all of them according to a very accurate schedule when he’s in Pau (for example he sees Sourbès every Wednesday and Saturday at set times).
The physical trainer, Alain Jacquet:
A real specialist who started working with Fontang in 1988 with immediate effects. Jim has the same qualities as Fontang in his opinion, he’s very even-tempered, with the spontaneity of the attacking player on top of that. Actually a showman, but still reserved.
Stamina tests made in Pau showed that Jim produces lactates above 18 km/h only, which is quite unusual for such an explosive player.
"In the French system everybody gets the same ‘grub’. Jérémy gets ‘caterer food’."
The mental coach (and even more), Jacques Hervet:
He has worked with foreign Juniors and Fontang wishes he would have been his coach. His main goal is to settle into a positive coach-player dynamic like Passos-Kuerten, Edberg-Pickard, Toni Nadal-Rafa. He’s an adept of the durable management to avoid phases of euphoria or distress.
He stresses that coaches in the French system often are alloted to a category of age. While the approach with Jérémy is to work with a stable structure in order to anticipate.
The agent, Ken Meyerson:
He was already Fontang’s agent in 1989 and is very close to Fred’s family.
"I love Chardy." He had already noticed him when he won Wimby in 2005 and really liked the match against Nalby last year in Roland. His charm offensive worked and Jim signed with them so he’s now part of a team based in Miami with Roddick and Gonzo.
His company has been just bought up by Lagardère Unlimited.