British No. 1 Dan Evans ended a five-match losing streak on Tuesday but faces a search for a new coach after splitting with Mark Hilton.
Evans beat Italy’s Salvatore Caruso 6-2 3-6 6-3 in Antwerp to register his first win since the US Open after trips to Rome, Hamburg, Paris and St Petersburg all ended in defeat.
Despite struggling to notch up wins in recent weeks, Birminham-born Evans has hit a career-high ranking of 28 during this season and seemed settled with Hilton.
However, their working relationship has, amicably, been brought to a close – in large part due to Hilton’s desire to have greater job security with British tennis’ governing body, the Lawn Tennis Assocation (LTA).
‘We stopped by mutual consent last week,’ said Evans. ‘Hilts is going to go back to the LTA.
‘There was a secondment agreement with the LTA and then I didn’t want to carry that on for one reason or another and I simply asked him if he wanted to, and he wanted to go back into the LTA so he wanted to stick with the federation and for security that’s understandable. So that’s basically it.
Mark Hilton on his split with Dan Evans
‘After discussing our plans for 2021, Dan and I have made the mutual decision to part ways at the end of November. Both of us are very proud of our collaboration this year, helping Dan achieve a career-high ranking of No.28, seven wins over Top 20 players and reaching his first ATP 500 semi-final. I’m looking forward to takingthe experience I have gained over the last three years at the highest levels of the ATP Tour and re-investing that back into the LTA’s Men’s Tennis team for the benefit of our British players and coaches.’
‘There’s nothing more to it than that, we didn’t fall out it was just simply he didn’t want to go privately with me. Which is perefectly understandable in his situation.
‘I can hand on heart tell you I’ll still be playing golf with him and still speak to him. So before you get your normal stuff there’s no issues there at all. It’s a decision we came to and we are both fine with.’
Hilton, 39, had a previous spell with Evans that was brought to a halt after he tested positive for cocaine in 2017, while he has also worked with compatriots Liam Broady and Kyle Edmund.
‘I wouldn’t say it’s a blow,’ added Evans. ‘Hilts is… it’s a bit of a decision for him. It’s not an easy decision, he has family, he is married, maybe he didn’t want to travel so much, I don’t know.
‘The job which he will go back into with the LTA is maybe not so stressful. It’s a bit less travelling and that’s maybe what he wanted to do.
‘There’s a good deal of security there working for the governing body and maybe a few months down the line he thought he might have got sacked. It can happen, you know.
‘I totally understand, I put him in a difficult position asking him to do that and his answer was simply no and listen that is perfectly fine.’
Evans will now be on the lookout for a new coach and revealed he already had one contender in mind to see him through the Australian summer at the start of next season.
‘I have had one conversation and that’s with an Australian guy, Chris Johnstone, he is in Australia and logistically that would work for pre-season and the Aussie summer,’ said Evans.
‘I have asked if he would be prepared to do that and do a trial. And we’re gonna jump on a call this week. Listen, it might not be right for him either. It might not be right for me. So we are just gonna jump on a call and see.
‘I know him a little bit, he coached George Loffhagen so we will see what that holds . It’s not simple stuff now with the pre-season, no-one really knows what will happen.
‘Like it might not be an option to take [Kieran] Vorster [Evans’ fitness coach] to Australia either, I might have to use someone out there, who knows, I don’t know what the parameters are gonna be, I heard it’s three people so hopefully it is, but who knows.’
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