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Tennis Canada: “Eugenie Bouchard and Milos Raonic Named Canadian Press Female and Male Athletes Of The Year”

Tennis Canada: “Eugenie Bouchard and Milos Raonic Named Canadian Press Female and Male Athletes Of The Year”

Photo Credit to: www.canada.com

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The below was released by the Canadian Press today announcing Eugenie Bouchard as the recipient of the 2013 Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as the Canadian Press Female Athlete of the Year.

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MONTREAL, The Canadian Press – 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.

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.

Tennis Canada Original Full Article can be found by clicking here.

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The below was released by the Canadian Press today announcing Milos Raonic as the recipient of the 2013 Lionel Conacher Award as the Canadian Press Male Athlete of the Year.

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TORONTO, The Canadian Press — Milos Raonic entered uncharted territory for a Canadian men’s tennis player this year, reaching the top 10 in the world singles rankings and leading the Davis Cup team to unprecedented heights.

He also won two tournaments in 2013 and thrilled Canadian fans by reaching the final of the Rogers Cup last summer. He capped his impressive year Thursday by winning the Lionel Conacher Award as the 2013 Canadian Press male athlete of the year.

Raonic made some big strides this year despite going through some early-season struggles and a coaching change.

“The fact that I was performing under those circumstances when things weren’t the best leading into those events, it’s really great for me,” he said. “It’s what I’m most proud of.”

The Conacher award is named after the multi-sport athlete who was chosen Canada’s athlete of the first half-century. The winner of the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as Canada’s female athlete of the year will be announced Friday and the team of the year will be named Saturday.

Raonic finished with 45 per cent of the vote in balloting of sports editors and broadcasters across the country. Calgary Stampeders running back Jon Cornish was well back at 22 per cent, followed by golfer Graham DeLaet (13 per cent) and figure skater Patrick Chan (eight per cent).

“Raonic had the most successful year in the history of Canadian tennis and his outstanding performance in the Davis Cup played a leading role in the country’s semifinal appearance,” said Yahoo Canada’s Steve McAllister. “Raonic’s climb up the ATP Tour rankings happens in an era that features more depth than ever before.”

Raonic finished second in last year’s voting behind cyclist Ryder Hesjedal. He’s the first men’s tennis player to win the award, which dates back to 1932.

“To have them vote (for) me and tell my story back home and being so positive about it, it’s really great to see,” Raonic said when reached after a training session in Monte Carlo. “To (be) recognized through an award like this means a lot to me.”

A number of women’s tennis players have won the Rosenfeld Award over the years. Aleksandra Wozniak was the last to do so, taking the honour in 2009.

Raonic won indoor hardcourt tournaments in Bangkok and San Jose and finished with a 45-21 singles record this season, picking up more than US$1.72 million in prize money along the way.

Known for his booming serve, the six-foot-five Raonic showed improvement in other facets of his game in 2013. His ground strokes, backhand and net play were stronger and that helped him to some big victories.

Raonic was ranked 15th at the start of the year and hovered in the teens for most of the season. He rose to a career-high No. 10 in early August before falling to No. 11, where he has remained since.

He won the San Jose title for the third straight year last February after beating Tommy Haas in the final. Raonic also helped the Davis Cup team to wins over Spain and Italy as he endured a stretch of middling results on tour.

The Canadian’s power game has always been most effective on hardcourts but Raonic enjoyed some success on clay this season as well, reaching the semifinals at Barcelona in April before falling to Rafael Nadal. However, he struggled on the grass courts and made a second-round exit at Wimbledon.

Raonic managed an injury-free season for the first time since joining the tour and was able to fight through that early-season inconsistency.

“I learned for the first time in the first three years of my career how to deal with the tough moments,” he said. “Not any moments disrupted by injury or anything, just like a little bit of a slump, let’s say. It gave me a lot of experience and it’s helped me grow a lot.

“It’s great from the educational side, but then also the way I turned around the second half of the year and really gave myself an opportunity to achieve my goal.”

Raonic made a coaching change in the spring with Ivan Ljubicic replacing Galo Blanco, who spent more than two years in the position. An adjustment phase followed before Raonic really got the country’s attention with an impressive performance at the Rogers Cup.

With Ljubicic pushing him to play a more aggressive, higher-risk game, Raonic responded with wins over Juan Martin del Potro and Davis Cup teammate Vasek Pospisil before losing to Nadal in the final.

It was a rare run of homegrown success at the country’s biggest tennis event as Raonic became the first Canadian to reach the championship match in more than 50 years. He lists qualifying for the final in Montreal — his first Masters 1000 final appearance — and reaching the Davis Cup semifinal as his standout moments.

“The fact that I was able to execute and bring my level up in those moments and to do well, it’s important to me,” Raonic said.

The Canadian made it to the fourth round of the U.S. Open in September and pushed Richard Gasquet the distance before falling in a four-hour 40-minute marathon.

A trip to Serbia soon followed as Canada continued its historic run in the Davis Cup World Group with its first-ever semifinal appearance. Raonic, who was 5-1 at the international team event in 2013, got by Janko Tipsarevic before losing to top-ranked Novak Djokovic, and the host side later won the deciding match.

“It’s really been great what we put together this year,” Raonic said. “Doing it in tight moments, doing it at home in Canada and playing well. So really it’s special for us to share this moment as a team considering how individual of a sport we are.

“To see four, five, six Canadians doing well, it’s a lot more motivating for a country than just to see one.”

After the Serbia loss, Raonic came out gunning at his next tour event in Bangkok. He avenged the Gasquet loss and then beat Tomas Berdych for his second tournament win of the year.

Raonic is still trying to break through against the sport’s elite. He has won two of three career meetings against Andy Murray but is a combined 0-13 against Nadal, Djokovic, David Ferrer and Roger Federer.

However, Raonic — who turns 23 on Friday — has age on his side. He’s the first player born in the 1990s and the first Canadian to crack the top 10 in the men’s singles world rankings.

“He’s one of the most focused guys on tour,” said Davis Cup teammate Daniel Nestor. “Someone who is (turning) 23, I think his maturity is far beyond his years.

Raonic, from Thornhill, Ont., has spent the last few weeks training for warmup events ahead of the Australian Open next month. He also has his eye on Canada’s Davis Cup tie against Japan in late January.

“I think it’s just about development,” he said of the upcoming season. “Getting better day in and day out and picking up experience through matches, making sure that I’m making the progress and that I’m pushing myself every day, which I do already.

“I think it’s just about time and I’ve got to keep working away.”

Raonic wants to crack the top six in the world rankings next year, go deeper in the Grand Slam events and qualify for the eight-man ATP World Tour Finals.

“Even as a junior, he was just aiming high,” said Davis Cup coach Martin Laurendeau. “He wanted to be a top-10 player and even beyond that and he just believed it. It was just a matter of giving him the time and opportunities to be able to do that.

“His dream is coming true. I know that he’s not happy or satisfied with No. 10 or No. 11 — he wants to go higher and I think he will.”

Tennis Canada Original Full Article can be found by clicking here.

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