Eugenie Bouchard named Canadian female athlete of year
Becomes 4th tennis player to win Bobbie Rosenfeld Award
A stunning climb in the world rankings and taking a set off the best female tennis player on the planet was reward enough for Eugenie Bouchard's hard work in 2013.
Now the native of Westmount, Que., is shooting for silverware.
"I want to win a title [in 2014], that's for sure," said Bouchard, who surged to No. 32 in the WTA rankings this year from 144th.
"I'll be happy with any title but the bigger the tournament is the better it will be. And my ultimate objective is a Grand Slam."
Besides her lofty rise in the WTA standings, Bouchard defeated Ana Ivanovic — then ranked world No. 12 — in the second round of Wimbledon, forced Serena Williams to three sets in Cincinnati and was named WTA Newcomer of the Year.
These accomplishments have earned Bouchard, who turns 20 in February, the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as The Canadian Press female athlete of 2013.
It just shows how much hard work I've put in this year that I've had good results. It makes me more proud of my year.- Eugenie Bouchard
Bouchard received 45 per cent of ballots cast, finishing well ahead of snowboarder Dominique Maltais and speedskater Christine Nesbitt, who each had 11 per cent.
"It's special," Bouchard said of the award, which is determined through balloting among sports editors and broadcasters across the country.
"It just shows how much hard work I've put in this year that I've had good results. It makes me more proud of my year."
Bouchard said her first full year on the tour allowed her to appreciate the differences from the junior circuit, where she starred in 2012 while winning the Wimbledon junior championship.
"I feel like I've had a lot of good experiences this year that will help me in the future," she said. "I got to play a lot of big matches on centre courts at Grand Slams like at the French Open and Wimbledon."
Fellow tennis player Milos Raonic was voted The Canadian Press male athlete of the year on Thursday. Canada's team of the year will be revealed Saturday.
A number of women's tennis players have won the Canadian Press honour over the years. Aleksandra Wozniak was the last to do so, taking the honour in 2009. Helen Kelesi and Carling Bassett are also former winners.
Praise poured in for Bouchard from those who selected her for the Rosenfeld Award, originally awarded in 1933 and named for the Olympic champion and all-round athlete who was voted Canada's top female athlete for the first half of the 20th century.
"Eugenie Bouchard is a name I think we're going to be hearing a lot of in the future," said Montreal Gazette sports editor Stu Cowan.
"She's only going to get better and seems to have the game — and the strength — to make it into the top 10. Her name could be at the top of this list for years to come. A real breakout year from her."
Pierre Champoux, news director at Radio-Canada.ca, suggested there doesn't seem to be much that can stop her from continuing her dramatic rise in the rankings.
"How far will she go?" Champoux said. "Eugenie Bouchard opened the eyes of all Canadians with her dazzling progress among the best tennis players in the world."
The expectations are high, but Bouchard says she's not going to let that get to her.
"I put enough pressure on myself, so I'm just going to focus on that and not worry about what other people think because that's out of my control," she said. "I really just want to focus on my tennis and, if I play well, if I perform well, then the results will come."
Moses Woldu, sports director at Newcap TV (CKSA, CITL) in Lloydminster, Alta., put it succinctly for why he selected Bouchard.
"Moving 100 spots in the tennis world rankings speaks for itself."
Maltais, of Petite-Riviere-Saint-Francois, Que., enjoyed a stellar year of her own, winning the overall World Cup snowboard cross title and a world silver medal.
That was enough for Bob Addison, sports anchor for Vancouver radio station CKNW.
"Tough choice, but Maltais takes it as the overall World Cup champ," he said.
Others who received votes included heptathlete Brianne Theisen-Eaton, paralympic swimmer Valerie Grand'Maison, gymnast Rosie MacLennan, snowboarder Maelle Ricker, mixed martial artist Alexis Davis, freestyle skier Chloe Dufour-Lapointe, snowboarder Spencer O'Brien and bobsledder Kaillie Humphries.
Bouchard becomes the fourth tennis player to win the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award. Carling Bassett took it in 1983 and 1985, Helen Kelesi in 1989 and 1990 and Aleksandra Wozniak in 2009.