Photo Credit: Miguel Medina/AFP
A ton of talent and with a little luck along the way, Eugenie Bouchard has made Canadian tennis history yet again. In January, she became the first Canadian singles tennis player to make the semifinals of a major at the Australian Open since Carling Bassett did it at the U.S. Open in 1984. Now, at the 2014 French Open, she has matched her own history by making the semifinals. This is light-headed, giddy territory for any Canadian tennis fan old enough to remember the heady days of the Bassett and Helen Kelesi surge in the 1980s and the lost years of Canadian tennis in the 1990s and most of the 2000s.
But this is a new era. It is also uncharted territory. Much like the 2013 run at the Davis Cup, these mind-blowing performances by Bouchard at the first two majors of the year signal that the hype and chatter around her is very much real. What makes her performances even more special is that you have to remember that she is only two years removed from the junior ranks. Now she’s not only playing in main draw majors, she’s going deep in them – becoming one the last of four women alive in the tournament (out of a field of 128 not including the qualifying rounds) and being given a one in four chance to win the who thing. Incredible.
Given the history at the French Open for Canadians (the best among all the majors), today’s quarterfinal match was a nail-biter. No Canadian singles player has managed to make it through to the semifinals – before today. It really was watching history being made. It was a moment that many tennis and sports fans will remember forever.
And she’s Canadian. Not since the days of Bassett or even Kelesi 25 to 30 years ago has the mainstream world media given any kind of huge press to any female Canadian tennis player. Canadian mainstream press is a given – this is a huge, historic Canadian sports story. But it’s the press that she’s getting from the world media that is historic. The American tennis press is falling all over themselves wishing that Bouchard was American so they could at least talk about something positive about their players. The fans and the world press seems to have gotten behind Bouchard and are cheering for her. And why wouldn’t they? She’s talented, well-spoken, has a great court demeanor, photogenic and focused.
Bouchard has all the goods to get to the top of the game. But lets not get too ahead of ourselves. There is still a lot of work to do and plenty of other players ahead of her (and behind her) who have similar goals. What is incredible to watch is her hunger and focus. Canada hasn’t seen this in any of our tennis players ever. It’s unnaturally Canadian. We want her to win and do well, but can’t she go about her business like other Canadians and be quiet and polite about it – NO! Her outward determination is something that Canadians are not used to seeing – but it’s refreshing. And we like it because she has got the talent and we want her to do well. For Canadians, she ends up being a source of great pride and based on what she has done so far, there is much more to come.
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