Canadian in middle of coach's bitter feud
'She Didn't Pay Money'; Shaughnessy's Manager Suing Her Long-Time Partner
Michael Traikos, National Post
Published: Friday, August 17, 2007
TORONTO - Meghann Shaughnessy does not play doubles with long-time partner Anna-Lena Groenefeld anymore.
The reason is because Shaughnessy's coach and manager, Rafael Font de Mora, is suing the 22-year-old Groenefeld for US$1-million.
Font de Mora, who admits to being a "demanding and strict" coach, said he severed ties with his former pupil because she did not live up to the rigid standards of a professional tennis player. He is trying to recover lost earnings from their three-year contract.
"I want to get out what I put into my players, so I demand the same effort," said Font de Mora, who coached and managed Groenefeld from March, 2003 until April, 2006.
"She breached so many things of the contract. She didn't pay money."
Caught in the middle of what has become a bitter public and legal feud is Shaughnessy, who was once romantically involved with Font de Mora, her on-again, off-again coach since she was 14.
The American player, who was defeated 6-3, 6-2 in a third-round match to Svetlana Kuznetsova at the Rogers Cup yesterday, declined to be interviewed.
"They don't play doubles, because it makes it very uncomfortable," said Font de Mora, "but they're still friends. Meghann is very neutral. She's supportive of Anna-Lena as a friend and she's supportive of me as a coach."
In the three years that Font de Mora coached Groenefeld, the German climbed from 444th in the world rankings to a career-high 14th. But he suddenly walked away from his student after she lost an opening round match to 96th-ranked Aravano Rezai at the 2006 U.S. Open.
Groenefeld is now coached by Dirk Dier.
In a lawsuit filed in April, Font de Mora cited Groenefeld's increasing weight gain and refusal to practise as reasons for breaking the coaching and managerial contract.
"She had to adhere to a standard of performance, a standard of training and a standard of diet," Font de Mora said.
"She absolutely let herself go and sabotaged her marketability and her performance on the court. You work for years and invest all this money into developing contracts and developing endorsements and then she just gets around the wrong people and does the wrong things and her performance affects everything."
Since the acrimonious split, Groenefeld has failed to advance past the first round in 16 of the last 21 tournaments. She has reportedly blamed Font de Mora for her struggles, claiming that the Spaniard is coaching her opponents on how to defeat her.
"Someone is coming up to me and telling me, 'Yeah, he gave them all the tactics how she had to play me today,' " Groenefeld told
********************. "When you know that, it's always in your head and you just can't throw it away."
Font de Mora said allegations that he interfered with Groenefeld's matches are unfounded.