British Davis Cup stalwart James Ward has revealed the secret anguish that contributed to a very difficult second half of 2015 for him. His coach, Darren Tandy, has been battling cancer.
Ward's Season Hits High Point At Wimbledon
Ward had an impressive start to the year, defeating John Isner in a thrilling five set Davis Cup rubber in Glasgow in March. That included a 15-13 score line in the final set and some impressive shot making, including a lob over the six foot, ten inch American. David Ferrer's withdraw from Wimbledon helped open the draw for the Brit as Ward progressed into the third round much to the fervid support of the British crowd. Ward nearly made the fourth round, as he battled five sets against Vasek Pospisil before the Canadian finally got the better of him. This performance guaranteed the Brit entry into the final Grand Slam of the year as Ward hit the top 100 in the rankings for the first time.
Tandy's Health Issues Revealed
Darren Tandy flew all the way from Australia for the Davis Cup tie in March and watched his player score the win of his career by defeating Isner. It was over the American hard court swing after Wimbledon that Tandy received the devastating news of his cancer diagnosis. To make matters worse, Tandy suffered a stroke during the U.S. Open where Ward was playing as a direct entrant. As soon as Tandy was well enough to travel, the Australian returned home to Perth, Australia to continue to try and fight the disease. Ward meanwhile was trying to stop the slump that he suffered following the high of his Wimbledon result.
Ward Rebounds After Diagnosis Made Public
After Tandy released the news of his illness on social media in October, that appeared to release Ward from the pressure of carrying the news alone. Ward then dropped back down to the Challenger Tour level to attempt to get some wins and confidence. He would break an eleven match losing streak with a win in Belgium. Ward then flew to India to take part in the Bangalore Challenger. The Brit was seeded second and won the title. It was his fourth career Challenger title and certainly put him back in contention for the second singles spot on Great Britain's Davis Cup roster.
Although he missed out on the first day as Kyle Edmund was debuted in the Davis Cup final, Ward would have played the vital fifth rubber had it been needed. This writer had deduced as much, noticing that Ward was not present on the team bench during a good portion of the fourth rubber. He did return close to the conclusion of the win by Andy Murray that would give the Brits the title in that rubber against David Goffin.
Ward for his part, refused to use his coach's health to blame for his bad run, saying "I am not using it as an excuse for what happened after Wimbledon but obviously it did not help. The most important thing is Darren’s health and it has been an upsetting and worrying situation."
Whilst Tandy is fighting the illness, he has been in contact with Ward. It would appear though that their working relationship is at least on hold for the foreseeable future. That means the Brit is currently without a coach. This may change by the time the new season starts in January.