WTA coach/hitting partner Poole arrested in Florida
WTA coach/hitting partner Poole arrested in Florida
By Stephanie Myles May 18, 2019 - 16 minute read SAVED
Robbye Poole, who was a longtime hitting partner for Serena Williams and has worked with a number of other pro players, was arrested in Florida on May 5 in connection with a hit-and-run incident.
He will be formally charged in court on June 6 on several counts, including violations of Florida statutes 316.027 (2a) and 316.062(1).
The most serious of them is the first, which requires the driver of a vehicle involved in a crash to immediately stop as close to the scene as possible.
The drive must remain there until they have provided name, address and driver’s license to the driver of the other vehicle, or a policeman on the scene.
Also, the driver is required to render such assistance as is required or asked for by the other person if they need to get to the hospital.
It’s considered a third-degree felony (the least serious degree of felony).
Palm Beach Daily News first with the news
The story was first reported by the Palm Beach Daily News on Wednesday. Since then, tennis.life has examined the related documents for this, and other cases in Florida court involving the 32-year-old Poole.
According to the court documents, Poole was involved in crash on Friday, April 26 in Palm Beach, shortly after 11 p.m.
The driver of the other vehicle, a 53-year-old man, informed the police that the other driver had left the scene without providing his details or offering any assistance. The driver was transported to the hospital by the fire and rescue department. There, he was treated for neck and back injuries
Surveillance cameras offer clues
The police identified Poole, whose full name is Sylvester Robert Poole, and his white Ranger Rover via municipal surveillance cameras. They located the SUV in the parking garage of his apartment in West Palm Beach a short while later.
According to the documents, two police officers met with Poole in the lobby of his apartment building.
“Poole denied that he was driving the vehicle at the time of the crash. And he provided officers with a very convoluted story as to where he was, and how the vehicle could have been involved in this traffic crash. It appeared as though Mr. Poole was attempting to deceive officers and obstruct their investigation.”
One officer noticed a “fresh laceration” on the top of Poole’s head. The 34-year-old explained it came when he cut himself shaving.
There was damage to the Range Rover, which was impounded.
Poole was hitting partner to Williams for three years, during which time she won four majors. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)
The next day, the police department was contacted by attorney Anthony Barbuto, who told them he was representing Poole.
The documents state that Barbuto arrived at the police department, and “wanted to negotiate the best possible deal with little to no notoriety in regards to this case.” Barbuto was told that it would be “in the best interest of his client to turn himself in.”
Which he did, on May 5.
“Resisting an officer” among the charges
Video from the apartment building security cannot identify Poole driving into the parking lot because of the tinted windows. But the arrest warrant alleges additional video shows Poole exiting an elevator with that wound on the top of his head that was consistent with skin found on the SunPass transmitter on the windshield of his car.
It was after that that the “defendant attempted to deceive officers conducting their initial investigations and obstructed them in the performance of their duties.”
So a charge of “resisting officer without violence” was added.
Poole is out on $3,000 bond.
Ongoing domestic violence charges
Poole is going to be a busy man over the next month in dealing with the Florida court system.
He has another case pending in another court. This one involves restraining order filed in Domestic Relations/Family Court in Florida on April 11, 2019.
There’s a hearing for that case on June 25.
According to the Palm Beach Daily News, the details of this case are tabloid fodder.
The women in question, a 42-year-old married woman with children, said she is a former tennis student and former lover of Poole’s,
In the petition, she mentions alleged incidents going back to Dec. 2017 in which Poole allegedly, “beat me so badly that I needed 10 stitches to close the wound and plastic surgery to later address the scarring.”
In the petition, the woman claims that in the wake of her attempting to end the relationship, Poole “repeatedly stalked her (including when she was with her children), threatened to ‘expose her and ruin her,’ and threatened to send compromising pictures of her to her husband.”
She also accuses Poole of stealing all of her racquets, smashing three of her cell phones, and taking “a video of himself in her backyard with a knife to his throat threatening to kill himself.”
Court case during 2018 Australian Open
Poole was at the Australian Open with Canadian Genie Bouchard, while his case came for a hearing in the Florida courts in Jan. 2018. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)
As it happens, the current restraining order involves the same woman at the center of a court case involving Poole early in 2018.
According to the court documents the woman, who had been out with friends, was waiting for an Uber when Poole pulled up and offered her a ride.
In that arrest affidavit, the women states that the two had previously been involved, but that he had provocative photos of her and threatened to show them to her husband if she ended the relationship.
Poole was charged with simple battery. He pleaded not guilty at a hearing Jan. 8. At the time, the same woman who filed the current restraining order signed an affidavit asking the state to drop the charges. She also stated that she didn’t want to testify.
Poole, who was living in a hotel in West Palm Beach at the time, asked for a continuance for the arraignment hearing Jan. 22. He was going to be out of the country.
New job with Bouchard
As it happened, the American had just begun a job as an associate coach/hitting partner with Canadian Genie Bouchard. And he was at the Australian Open with her.
In the end, the case was not prosecuted, even if the state of Florida believed it had “probable cause”, pending Poole’s successful completion of “a diversion program in lieu of judicial disposition”.
But the woman in question, who did not want to testify back in Jan. 2018, has returned with the new restraining order filing.
Bouchard continued to work with Poole. Her association with then-coach Harold Solomon was short-lived, and Poole took over coaching duties.
He was her on-court coach when she attempted to qualify at the Miami Open a few months later.
Poole took over coaching duties for Bouchard after the sudden departure of Harold Solomon a few months into the 2018 season. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)
From Williams, to Bouchard, to …
Poole was an All-American at Ole Miss, although his professional career didn’t go that far. He played the Futures circuit through 2011, but his career high ranking stands at No. 414.
He is a contemporary of, and a friend of fellow American John Isner, who played college tennis at the same time. According to this piece at his alma mater, Poole said he even lived with Isner after he graduated as he was trying to make it as a pro.
Poole was a standout for Ole Miss, just over a decade ago, although his pro career didn’t pan out.
Poole was working as a teaching pro in Chicago when Williams asked Isner if he had any recommendations for a hitting partner to replace longtime associate Sascha Bajin.
And Isner recommended Poole.
Their first tournament together was Indian Wells in 2015. That was Williams’s first trip back to the desert since that execrable incident back in 2001. She won Miami, and then the French Open, and then won Wimbledon.
Poole was living at a condo Williams owned in Palm beach at the time.
Dream gig with Serena Williams
He was Williams’s hitting partner for three years, and was prominently featured in the 2016 documentary about her.
Serena Williams and Poole, suited and booted, before the 2016 Wimbledon champions ball (Serena Williams Instagram)
The relationship appeared to end without fanfare. Williams now has Jarmere Jenkins as a hitting partner.
Poole returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach for the women’s tennis team in the fall of 2017.
But that didn’t last long, as he landed the job with Bouchard late in the year.
That lasted only a few months.
As early the spring of 2018, Poole was very prominent along with Williams’s current coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, in the entourage of young American Cori Gauff.
Gauff, still just 15, is a phenom who won the junior French Open girls’ title that year at 14.
It’s unclear what, precisely, Poole’s role was on the team at that time. But he was very much present as Gauff won that French Open title.
Longtime association with Gauff
As Mouratoglou called all of her supporters onto the court to have their photo taken with Gauff and the trophy, Poole went back more than once.
In an article in Midland in January, Poole is referred to as coaching Gauff, although her main coach is her father. Gauff talks about her serve, which is modeled after Serena’s.
In an article on the Tennis Recruiting Network, also from that Midland tournament, Gauff said had been practicing with him at home in Florida since she was 11, and had met him through Mouratoglou. She hit with Poole for a week when he was still working for Williams, and that junior French Open was their first tournament working together.
“He brings a lot. He’s good with scouting reports and he’s a very good hitter. … I always enjoy practicing with Robbye. He’s fun, he’s a nice guy.”
Gauff said Poole also helped with tweaks to her serve, which she said is modeled on Williams’s.
Poole was prominent in the entourage of young American Coco Gauff, as the 14-year-old won the junior French Open a year ago. It appears he later coached her for a short period.
It appears her agent was swift to downplay the relationship upon publication of the original story in the Palm Beach Daily News.
Because even though Gauff’s name does appear inadvertently elsewhere, there is a correction at the bottom of the piece.
“This story has been updated to remove a reference to a player who, according to her agent, was only temporarily coached by Poole.”
Just a few days ago, Gauff announced a new team on her Instagram account. It includes former Adrian Mannarino coach Jean-Christophe Faurel, and hitting partner Courtney Scott.
Scott is a former college player who was the assistant coach for the women’s team at Notre Dame.
Poole is currently listed as a staff member at a company called Edge International, headed by longtime Florida-based coach Rick Macci and billing itself as “a unique partnership of coaches, agents, consultants, lawyers and managers.”
In his bio on the company website, Poole says worked with Bouchard for four months, “before he decided to join forces with junior Cori Gauff. While Gauff had Robbye on her team, she reached world #1 in the junior rankings at age 14. She won the Junior French Open in June with him by her side.”
At the US Open last fall, Poole was working with another friend, fellow American Chris Eubanks. Eubanks and Gauff played the mixed doubles together there.