Tuesday September 30, 2014

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Sports in Prime Time

Canada has a new tennis darling


Milos Raonic has been Canada’s Mr. Tennis for a couple of years now, but we now have a female equivalent — Eugenie Bouchard.

The 19-year-old from Montreal, who hit the radar screen of world tennis in 2013 when she started knocking off some big names and wound up ranked 32nd in the world, stepped onto an even bigger stage in January when she made it to the semi-finals of the Australian Open, the sport’s first major.

Making the final four of a major championship is a huge accomplishment and for Bouchard, it’s only the beginning of what promises to be a spectacular career.

“It’s always been my dream to be a professional tennis player, so it’s
not like I’m surprised to be here,” said Bouchard in a Sportsnet Magazine article which featured her as Canada’s “biggest breakout” of 2012. “This is what I was meant to do.”

A relative unknown when she showed up in Melbourne for the first major of 2013, Bouchard racked up win after win until finally being stopped by China’s Li Na in the semi-finals. But her performance foretells great things to come. She beat some big names — notably, former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic in the quarter-finals — before falling to Na, who was the runner-up twice at the Australian Open and the French Open champion in 2011.

Bouchard’s appearance in a Grand Slam semi-final was a first for a Canadian in 30 years. Carling Bassett of Toronto in 1984 was the last to advance that far.

It wasn’t just Bouchard’s play on the court that caught the attention of Aussie tennis fans. Her off-court demeanor and what the National Post called her “bubbly personality” made her a fan favourite.

Commentators are already labelling her the next breakout women’s star, said the Post article. Hall of Famer Chris Evert said, according to Steve Simmons of Sunmedia: “You are looking at the future of women's tennis.”

For the world’s top-ranked tennis teenager, the best is definitely yet to come.

• Greg Cote of The Miami Herald, with the Sports Name of the Week Challenge: “Today, Thai golfer Pornanong Phatlum takes on Swiss bobsledder Beat Hefti.”

• Among the top 10 most unusual exhibits at the Baseball Hall of Fame, from CBS’s David Letterman:
— “Hourly reenactment of George Steinbrenner firing Billy Martin.
— “Kent Hrbek’s missing ‘E.’
— “Wall of used syringes.
— “Salute to the Groin Pull.

• Brian L. Grieb@blgrieb on Twitter: “There's a rumour ATL getting another NHL franchise. People in Saskatchewan already debating what they're going to call the team.”

• Rangers pitcher Derek Holland, to The Dallas Morning News, after tearing knee cartilage when his dog tripped him: “I yelled at him, but I didn’t put him on waivers.”

• Headline at SportsPickle.com: “President Obama meets with baseball writers for advice on nation’s most pressing issues.”

• Seattle Times reporter Danny Westneat, when asked by a San Francisco columnist if the noise at Century Link Park is ‘enhanced’: “The crowd noise up here is enhanced. What we have done is record all the Harbaugh squawking, the Kaepernick pouting and the 49er fan whining from throughout the season, then we pipe it back through CenturyLink's speakers at top volume during the game.”

• Janice Hough of leftcoastsportsbabe.com, on the USADA saying A-Rod’s performance-enhancing drug regimen was probably the most potent and sophisticated drug program developed for an athlete: “If so, we’ve learned one new thing about PEDs. They don’t work in October.”

• Greg Cote again: “Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw signed a new deal making him baseball’s first $30 million-a-year player. ‘Man. Wish I made that much!’ said the entire Marlins roster.”

• RJ Currie of sportsdeke.com: “An AHL fan in Norfolk caught a stray puck without waking the baby he was holding. He received a good cheer from the crowd and a goalie contract from the Edmonton Oilers.”

• Currie again: “Reuters reports that during the recent heat wave, day after day Australians are seeing dead bats. ‘We can relate,’ say Houston Astros fans.”


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