By Sandra Harwitt
Who is the current “it” girl in women’s tennis?
Ask anyone and they’re most likely to utter the same name: Maria Sharapova. It’s hard not to give Maria the nod as she appears to own the total package. She’s smart, she’s sassy; she’s sexy and sporty. She’s seen the top of the world in tennis, is the dream endorser for marketing mavens around the globe, and possesses a shrewd business acumen.
One can hardly attend a Maria press conference where she isn’t asked questions that are unrelated to her tennis. That certainly was the case at the French Open after her 6-1, 6-2 first round pouncing over fellow Russian, qualifier Ksenia Pervak, on Monday. The limber and lithe Maria was asked about her Sugarpova company that manufactures some tasty and tantalizing candy with each variety adorned with a sugary cutsie name. It is here that we should point out that it seems unlikely that Maria does much sampling of her own product, not with that exceptional body.
But anyway, here’s Maria on being a confectioner mogul: “Well, I thought it might be a stupid ira in the beginning, but it’s turned out to be one of the smartest things I’ve done. It started off as a creative something that I thought I would eventually, down the line when I’m finished with my career, would be able to build and grow, but I wanted to start building during my career. It started off as a little mom-and-pop shop, and now we actually have full-time employees in the company. It’s become a pretty big business in over 30 countries around the world. It’s incredible to see the growth of something that started so small.”
So, as the lovely Maria mentions, eventually she’ll move on. So taking that into account they’ll have to be someone ready to fill her “it” girl sneakers.
I propose that that certain someone could very well be Eugenie Bouchard. The 20-year-old Canadian is one of the rare players who translated her junior success into what appears to be the makings of a quality career in the pros.
Take Genie’s talent, lovely looks and engaging personality and there’s no doubt it can all add up to “it” girl potential.
Bouchard, the 2012 Wimbledon junior champion, arrived at Roland Garros having won her first career WTA title at Nurnberg, Germany. The Canadian commenced her big breakthrough at the Australian Open in January where she surprisingly found herself in the semifinals.
Thus far, it seems like Bouchard isn’t letting any of the achievements or hoopla surrounding her get in the way of keeping her head down and her focus in check. And Bouchard is managing to walk the walk, talk the talk, and not coming across as a neophyte too smug and big-headed for her own good.
“I’m confident,” said Bouchard, after taking down Shahar Pe’er of Israel 6-0, 6-2 on Monday. “(I’m) usually always confident and believe in myself, and know whenever I walk on the court I always believe I can win the match. I think that’s important I’m just trying to take it one week at a time. Last week is last week. I have another tournament this week. That’s all I’m focused on.”
And as it should be for a young lady who seems to be on the cusp of being one of the elite players in the game, Bouchard’s fans already have a working nickname: The Genie Army. And to date the army seems to be rewarded by Bouchard’s continued progress.