Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Canadian chosen as WTA Newcomer of the Year

Eugenie "Genie" Bouchard of the Texas Wild warms
up before a World TeamTennis match against the host
Sacramento Capitals in July. Photos by Paul Bauman
   It didn't take long for the Genie to come out of the bottle.
   Eugenie "Genie" Bouchard, 19, of Canada was named the WTA Newcomer of the Year today after soaring from No. 144 in the world at the end of 2012 to No. 32 currently.
   Bouchard, the No. 1 Canadian and teenager in the world, played in the Sacramento suburb of Citrus Heights twice in July during the World TeamTennis season.
   Since Venus and Serena Williams in 1997 and 1998, respectively, the only American to win the Newcomer of the Year award is Melanie Oudin in 2009 (see list below).
   But the 5-foot-6 (1.68-meter) Oudin has struggled since then. 
   The WTA will announce the Comeback Player of the Year and Most Improved Player on Thursday and the Player of the Year and Doubles Team of the Year on Friday.
   Bouchard's honor caps a tremendous year for Canada, known mostly for its bone-chilling winters and hockey success.
   Led by rising stars Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil, the world's second-largest nation in area (behind Russia) reached the Davis Cup semifinals for the first time. Raonic is ranked No. 11, one notch below his career high in August, and Pospisil has zoomed from No. 125 at the end of 2012 to a career-high No. 32 this week. 
   Peter Polansky, who won the Tiburon Challenger last month, has jumped from No. 260 in July to a career-high No. 140.
   Meanwhile, the 5-foot-10 (1.78-meter) Bouchard reached the quarterfinals or better five times this year, including her first WTA final, and earned her first two top-10 wins.
   Bouchard fell to Samantha Stosur in the title match at Osaka last month after beating the 2011 U.S. Open champion to reach the Charleston quarterfinals in April as a qualifier. Stosur, ranked ninth at the time, retired from the match at 1-6, 0-2 with a leg injury.
   Bouchard also knocked off then-No. 10 Jelena Jankovic 7-5, 6-2 to gain the Tokyo quarters in September.
   As a qualifier at Cincinnati in August, Bouchard won the first set against top-ranked Serena Williams 6-4 but lost the last two 6-2, 6-2 in the second round.
   Bouchard, from the Montreal suburb of Westmount, last year became the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam title when she took the junior girls singles crown at Wimbledon. The next day, Filip Peliwo of Vancouver, British Columbia, became the second by capturing the junior boys singles title at the All England Club.
   Bouchard also won the Wimbledon junior girls doubles title in 2011 and 2012 with Americans Grace Min and Taylor Townsend, respectively. Townsend made her WTT debut for the Sacramento Capitals this season at 17.
   Bouchard debuted in WTT at 15 for the Kansas City Explorers in 2009 and returned for her second season this year as the franchise moved to Irving, Texas, and became the Texas Wild.
   Against host Sacramento, Texas lost the season opener for both teams, 22-17 in overtime, but won 22-19 one week later as doubles stars Bob and Mike Bryan joined the team.
   Ironically, Bouchard lost all four of her sets (two in singles and two in women's doubles with Darija Jurak of Croatia) in those matches.
   Bouchard has never played in the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford on the WTA tour but might next July.
(Since 1995)
1995--Martina Hingis, Switzerland
1996--Anna Kournikova, Russia
1997--Venus Williams, United States
1998--Serena Williams, United States
1999--Kim Clijsters, Belgium
2000--Daja Bedanova, Czech Republic
2001--Daniela Hantuchova, Slovakia
2002--Svetlana Kuznetsova, Russia
2003--Maria Sharapova, Russia
2004--Tatiana Golovin, France
2005--Sania Mirza, India
2006--Agnieszka Radwanska, Poland
2007--Agnes Szavay, Hungary
2008--Caroline Wozniacki, Denmark
2009--Melanie Oudin, United States
2010--Petra Kvitova, Czech Republic
2011--Irina-Camelia Begu, Romania
2012--Laura Robson, Great Britain
2013--Eugenie Bouchard, Canada

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