Craig Boynton Podcast

The transition from playing to coaching in tennis is rarely a smooth one. A lot of individuals try to get every last drop out of their on-court careers, while others are prefer to dip only a toe in the coaching waters to gauge their true interest and commitment to the new profession. But on this episode of the Podcast, host Kamau Murray chatted with someone molded in a similarly unique way.

Craig Boynton knew much earlier than most that he was destined to be a coach. Playing collegiately at TCU, he realized he was acted better as a teammate than he did as an individual, and he had an enlightenment of sorts.

"I can see someone about to go into a pothole, and be able to maneuver them around it. But I couldn't do that with myself."


Boynton dove into coaching head first when his playing career ended, starting with a job at the esteemed Saddlebrook Club in Florida. It was that site where he got an apprenticeship into pro coaching. With top end talent like Jim Courier and Jennifer Capriati training there regularly, Boynton was able to study their tendencies & the coaching that went into to such great players. As he explained to Murray, he got to consider what he would do in certain situations if he were their coach. Most times, Boynton admits, his initial thoughts were wrong. But it was that fertile ground of tennis talent that made the up-and-coming coach better each day, through exploration and learning how to manage and teach the game's best.

One American male beginning his tennis career started training at Saddlebrook around the time Boynton was starting to find his voice. John Isner was just beginning his tennis journey, and he found the perfect guy to help him get out of his own way and do what he does best.

"I was leaning on him pretty hard about moving on, and not letting one bad point turn into five," the coach recalls. It took a long time, but the moment it all came together was against Tomas Berdych in 2009, when Isner failed to capitalize on multiple match points in the second set. He quickly found himself in a hole in the third before turning the page, and winning the decider.

"He saw me in the locker room and he said, 'never batted an eye, did I CB?'"

It was a moment that meant more to the coach the longest match in tennis history did at the following Wimbledon, because it symbolized a lesson being successfully transferred and put into action from a teacher to a pupil.


Boynton went on to coach a couple of other Americans after his time with Isner, each of whom made their mark on the game. He guided Steve Johnson to a brief stint as the top-ranked American, and he did it by accentuating the positives as opposed to focusing solely on the negatives. With Sam Querrey, Boynton was in the coach's box for some of the biggest men's upsets in Wimbledon history. In consecutive years, he knocked off defending champions Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, and gave an inside scoop that Querrey is as hilarious as Larry David if you get to know him.

After several decades of coaching under his belt, his most gifted student might just be the current one. Hubert Hurkacz did not receive the hype that several of his contemporaries were afforded, but that hasn't stopped him from beating a great deal of them on the court.

"He's got the full package of just about everything you want. He just doesn't have the sizzle," Boynton stated. "Who cares about the sizzle? You know what's sizzle, winning the tournament."

Hurkacz is currently ranked No. 11 and has yet to even approach his peak, which bodes well for the Polish player with the positive outlook. He's proven to be a great student, and the trust he's put into his coach's plans will continue to pay tremendous dividends.

Murray has spoken to many different coaches on the Podcast, but few have mirrored his own inner belief in being destined to help others play great tennis at such a young age. And anytime you can hear two big-time coaches talk shop, trade battle stories, and offer their own perspectives on what works and what doesn't, you should definitely take advantage of it. Boynton has experienced many highs and lows in a profession that demands so much of its participants, but as this episode reinforces, there's no other job he would rather be doing.