Thursday, December 12, 2019

American Kenin voted WTA Most Improved Player

Sofia Kenin, shown en route to the 2018 Berkeley (Calif.) title,
  ended this year at No. 14 in the world. Photo by Paul Bauman
  Sofia Kenin, who starred in Northern California Challengers, was voted the Most Improved Player of the Year, the WTA announced on Wednesday.
   The 21-year-old American jumped from No. 52 to No. 14 in the year-end rankings. She peaked at No. 12 on Oct. 21.
   The Moscow native won her first three WTA singles titles (Hobart, Mallorca and Guangzhao) and reached the round of 16 at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time, stunning Serena Williams in the third round of the French Open.
   Kenin also beat reigning No. 1 players in back-to-back weeks, ousting Ashleigh Barty in Toronto and Naomi Osaka in Cincinnati.
   Kenin won NorCal Challenger singles titles in three consecutive years – Sacramento in 2016 at age 17, Stockton and Berkeley.
   Other award winners, as voted on by international journalists, were Barty (Player of the Year), Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic (Doubles Team of the Year), Bianca Andreescu (Newcomer of the Year) and Belinda Bencic (Comeback Player of the Year).
   Barty, a 23-year-old Australian, claimed her first Grand Slam singles title in the French Open, also won the WTA Finals and ended the year at No. 1 for the first time.
   Babos and Mladenovic – 26-year-olds from Hungary and France, respectively – took the French Open crown and won the WTA Finals for the second straight year.
   Andreescu, 19, soared from No. 178 to No. 5 in the year-end rankings. She became the first Canadian, male or female, to win a major singles title, shocking Williams in the U.S. Open final.
   Bencic, a right-hander who underwent left wrist surgery in the spring of 2017 and plunged as low as No. 318, ended the year in the top 10 for the first time at No. 8. The 22-year-old Swiss matched her career high of No. 7 after winning the Moscow title in October.

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