She loves New York

Win or lose, it’s Eu­ge­nie Bouchard’s ‘favourite city in the world’

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTING LIFE - NEIL BEST News­day

Eu­ge­nie Bouchard learned early on that New York-area tennis fans are not bash­ful, whether cheer­ing, boo­ing or of­fer­ing un­so­licited ad­vice. The Cana­dian re­called a U.S. Open match at Louis Arm­strong Sta­dium dur­ing which she went be­hind the base­line to get a new ball and heard some­one in the crowd yell, “Hit more to her back­hand!” “I re­mem­ber think­ing: ‘Why don’t you come down here and try to do it? It’s a lit­tle bit eas­ier watch­ing from the stands,’” she said, laugh­ing, dur­ing a con­fer­ence call to pro­mote her ap­pear­ances Thurs­day and Fri­day for the New York Em­pire of World TeamTen­nis. “But I thought it was so funny. I’ve had numer­ous coach­ing at­tempts from the crowd in New York, and if what they said made sense, I would ac­tu­ally try it.” Bouchard might get to test that no­tion on Court 17 of Bil­lie Jean King Na­tional Tennis Cen­ter, home of the Em­pire and one of the more rau­cous set­tings dur­ing the Open it­self later this sum­mer. “Even if they were all against me I would love it, be­cause I love the at­mos­phere,” she said. “When fans are in­volved in the match it makes it fun to play, no mat­ter who they’re for or against.” The two matches this week are the only two of the sea­son for Bouchard, who twice be­fore has been part of WTT — in 2009, when she was 15, and in 2013 — and found she en­joyed its quirky rules and ca­ma­raderie. “What I love is that team at­mos­phere, be­cause tennis is very in­di­vid­ual,” she said. “So to have not only the coach (Gigi Fer­nan­dez) right next to me, but to have the whole team en­cour­ag­ing me, those are some of my favourite mem­o­ries from World TeamTen­nis.” So Bouchard is look­ing at the matches as good prac­tice as well as “a bit of fun, be­cause that’s why we play this game, right?” she said. “I think the con­cept of try­ing to make tennis more fun, get­ting fans in­volved, lit­tle things like mu­sic be­tween points, re­ally make it a fun ex­pe­ri­ence. I think it’s great for fans to kind of see a dif­fer­ent side of play­ers.” Bouchard has not had much fun on the court this sea­son, watch­ing her world rank­ing sink to No. 69 af­ter she peaked at No. 5 in 2014, when she reached the fi­nal at Wim­ble­don and the semis at the French and Aus­tralian Opens. “I would de­scribe my sea­son as def­i­nitely up and down,” she said. “I’ve had some good wins, but I’ve had some bad losses and I’ve had some un­for­tu­nate strug­gles with in­juries. “So I re­ally kind of want to fo­cus and give ev­ery­thing for this last re­main­der of the sea­son ... I want to try to play a lot of tour­na­ments and get a lot of matches and re­ally, the goal is to get my rank­ing up by the end of the year.” Win or lose this week, she plans to take ad­van­tage of be­ing as­signed to New York, call­ing it “my favourite city in the world, re­ally. It’s amaz­ing.” Last week she joined fel­low Nike en­dorser and golfer Michelle Wie in Man­hat­tan to shoot a pro­mo­tional video of them giv­ing one an­other point­ers in their re­spec­tive sports. “I had a lot more fun than I ex­pected,” Bouchard said. “I think she gave me some good­e­nough tips to ac­tu­ally have a de­cent swing, and it was lit­er­ally the first time I ever swung a golf club. But she gave me very tech­ni­cal point­ers. When I fo­cused on that it ac­tu­ally helped so much. “I was quite proud of my­self to see the ath­letic-ness that I have on the court was able to be tran­si­tioned a lit­tle bit onto the golf course. I had an amaz­ing day and now I am a true fan of golf. I was get­ting into golf be­fore this day, slowly, as I was get­ting older, but now I’m ob­sessed.” Bouchard is 23.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE PHOTO

Bouchard: “Even if they were all against me I would love it, be­cause I love the at­mos­phere.”

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