Last Updated on February 14, 2023
One of the new generation tennis players on WTA Tour and former world no.1 junior, is twenty-two years old Claire Liu.
Claire Liu was born on 25th May 2000 in Thousand Oaks, California in a family of Chinese emigrants. Her father Longbin and her mother Wen are both biochemists. He is currently a director at CHDI Foundation, a pharmaceutical company established in 2017 and she also works in the field.
They started playing tennis recreationally when Claire was very young, which led to her picking up a racket and start hitting balls around the house.
She took her first tennis lessons at age of five in a tennis camp at Cal Lutheran and honed her game on the courts of the USTA’s West Coast training center in Carson, California, located around 50 miles away from where she grew up.
That speaks of her desire to play tennis and her dedication to this sport. She has been making headlines on the tennis court since she was fourteen, when she became the youngest woman since Anna Kournikova to win an ITF Pro Circuit title.
Later, she won the Junior Wimbledon title playing doubles and next year the Junior Wimbledon singles title, and became the first American girl to do so, since Chanda Rubin in 1992. The fact that she is doing well at Wimbledon is that in season 2018 she is the only one who managed to take a set of the future champion Angelique Kerber.
That year she graduated at the secondary school, Century Academy, where she was distant-education student. As for her tennis idols to look up to she said:
“Definitely, Li Na was my inspiration when I was younger. Kim Clijsters too. Now, it’s the Williams sisters. They would always be my role models, they are physically and mentally strong, and in possession of a lot of self-belief.”
Who Is Claire Liu’s Coach?
At the beginning of season 2017, while she still liked the game, a lack of confidence had reduced her passion to puss herself, so she decided she needed a change. That led to appointing a new coach, Chris Tontz, who is still her trainer.
Chris Tontz was born on 27th October 1973 in Baltimore, Maryland. He grew up in San Diego as one of ten siblings. He played collegiate tennis for UC Irvine before pursuing a professional career, most successful playing doubles, winning two ITF and one Challenger tournament.
After six years playing pro tennis, he retired in 2001 and started coaching. He is USPTA certified professional coach and was coach of Nicole Gibbs and Sloane Stephens.
Then he started working with Claire. “When I got Claire, she was down on what she could do on the court. But taking ownership that she would need to improve her confidence and work harder on the mental aspect of tennis, has really helped her elevate her game.” said Tontz
Under his mentorship Claire won the 2017 Junior Wimbledon singles title and same year she made Grand Slam debut both in singles and doubles. She also won two ITF Circuit tournaments. Another two ITF titles came in season 2019 which led her into top 100 players on WTA list.
After the Covid break season, in 2021 she won her sixth and seventh ITF title. Last year she finally broke the ice in Challenger tournaments as well, by winning two titles.
As a result, she reached the top 75 in the World. Constantly good results at WTA tournaments, led her to her career-best ranking of World no.52 on the last WTA ranking from 30 January 2023.
Former Claire Liu’s Coach
Claire’s previous coach, since she was five years old was Mike Gennette.
Mike Gennette played collegiate tennis for 4 seasons at the California Lutheran University and was a four-year starter. As a sophomore, he won the Golden State Athletic Congerence doubles title.
He also played on a USTA Pro Satellite Tour. Then he was hired and named the head coach of the university men’s tennis team in 1994 and named the head coach of the women’s team in 2017.
He is loyal to the university program for thirty-five years. Gennette is a certified USPTA pro 1 and certified by the USTA in Sport Science.
Beyond both Cal Lutheran and the USPTA, Gennette owns and operates the Total Tennis Academy, which manages tennis programs in the five surrounding cities and park districts, and runs various summer camps.
Among his accomplishments as a coach, he was named Player Development Coach of the Year in 2016 and the USPTA California Division Pro of the Year in 2017.
The first tennis lesson Claire ever had was with Gennete and their collaboration lasted for eleven years. “When Liu was eight, she had great footwork and court awareness. She was able to hit an on-the-rise drive, on the run, with a change of direction. And she could do it consistently. She was just better than the rest, with more skills to fall back on.” Mike said about his trainee.
He did a great job with Claire, teaching her the basics of the sport and developing her to best junior girl tennis player. Mike led her to her first professional title in March 2015 at an Orlando clay-court tournament. The next year under his guidance she won the Junior Wimbledon title playing alongside compatriot Usue Arconada.
“Ever since I was five, I have been working with Coach Mike. He was the first person to open my eyes to the hard work and dedication it would take to make it big. To this day, I do the same drills that I started when I was 7. He was the one who introduced me to this amazing game, and I can’t thank him enough for that.” said Clair about her first coach.
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Claire Liu’s Achievements With Different Coaches
We have collected in the table the data about the trophies won by Claire Liu under the guidance of various coaches.
|Coaches||Years of Completion||Titles|
|Chris Tontz||2017 – ongoing||2022 Clarins Open Challenger|
2022 Veneto Open (doubles) Challenger
2021 Charlottesville Open ITF
2021 Charleston Pro ITF
2019 Landisville Open (doubles) ITF
2019 Florence Open ITF
2017 Caserta Open ITF
2017 Naples Open ITF
2017 Junior Wimbledon Championship
|Mike Gennette||2005 – 2016||2016 Junior Wimbledon Championship (doubles)|
2015 Orlando Open ITF