WESTMOUNT, Canada - Sometimes the transition from the juniors to the pros is a difficult one - the raw talent is apparent, they just need some time to develop the complete package. But when it comes to this year's WTA Newcomer Of The Year, it didn't take long for the genie to come out of the bottle.
Eugenie Bouchard - or Genie Bouchard, as she likes to be called - burst into the international spotlight last year with her victory in the Wimbledon juniors, becoming the first Canadian, male or female, ever to win a Grand Slam title in singles. She reached her first WTA quarterfinal a few weeks later at the International event in Washington DC and eventually wrapped up the 2012 season ranked No.144.
For some players, a good follow-up season might be getting into the main draws of Grand Slams, making the Top 100, just improving in general. But Bouchard has done more - a lot more, in fact.
Bouchard reached the quarterfinals or better five times during the 2013 season - the quarterfinals of Premier-level events in Charleston and Tokyo, the semifinals of Strasbourg and Quιbec City and her first WTA final at Osaka. She scored her first two Top 10 wins - Sam Stosur and Jelena Jankovic. And she had some near-Top 10 wins as well, Ana Ivanovic at Wimbledon and Sloane Stephens in Tokyo.
The Canadian kept climbing the rankings throughout the year, breaking the Top 100 after Charleston and the Top 50 after Quιbec City, and after that maiden WTA final in Osaka she hit No.32 in the world, where she would eventually end the year - not just Canada's No.1, but the No.1 teenager in the world.
That rapid ascension - as well as her lethal combination of power, athleticism, nerves of steel and a penchant for taking the ball early - earns her this year's WTA Award for Newcomer Of The Year.
So what does the Newcomer Of The Year think about her rise, pressure and everything in between?
"I put enough pressure on myself, and that's really the only kind of pressure I want to focus on," she said during an interview on Canadian TV last week. "I can't really control other players' results and my ranking so much, so I just want to focus on improving and playing the best I can in every tournament.
"If there's pressure, that's great - I love playing in big moments, and in pressure moments."
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