Friday, October 20, 2017

Stephens, Bellis net prestigious awards

   Two of the WTA's six annual awards went to Northern California products today.
   Sloane Stephens, who grew up in Fresno, was named the Comeback Player of the Year. CiCi Bellis, from Atherton in the San Francisco Bay Area, was selected as the Newcomer of the Year.
   Other award winners were Garbine Muguruza (Player of the Year), Martina Hingis and Chan Yung-Jan (Doubles Team of the Year), Jelena Ostapenko (Most Improved Player) and Angelique Kerber (Aces Award for exceptional promotion of women's tennis).
   International journalists voted on the awards.
   Stephens, 24, won her first Grand Slam title in the U.S. Open only nine months after undergoing foot surgery. At No. 83, she was the lowest-ranked player to win the U.S. Open in the Open Era (since 1968), aside from unranked Kim Clijsters in 2009. Stephens is now No. 15.
   In response to a congratulatory tweet from the WTA, Stephens wrote: "Thank you guys! It has been an unforgettable year."     
   Bellis, 18, jumped from No. 90 at the beginning of the year to a career-high No. 35 in August. Now No. 44, she is the youngest woman in the top 50. Bellis defeated four top-20 players during the season: No. 6 Agnieszka Radwanska in Dubai, No. 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova in Toronto, No. 14 Petra Kvitova at Stanford and No. 18 Kiki Bertens in the French Open.
   "I am so honored to be named Newcomer of the Year by the @WTA," Bellis tweeted. "Thanks to everyone that voted for me. Can't wait for next year!"
   Both Stephens and Bellis are now based in Florida.

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