Thursday July 31, 2014


Sports in Prime Time


Canada has a new tennis darling

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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.

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