Last July, Eugenie Bouchard made headlines when she became the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam singles title at any level by capturing the girls’ singles crown at Wimbledon. A year later, the vivacious teenager has embraced the spotlight as one of her sport’s next generation stars.
Bouchard is fast approaching the top 50 of the WTA rankings and has showed signs of great potential in 2013 as she continues to develop her game. The Westmount, Quebec native notched her first major main draw win at the French Open and followed it up by upsetting Ana Ivanovic on Centre Court at the All England Club to reach the third round.
With her growth in confidence and bubbly personality, Bouchard has found the best of both worlds in playing Mylan World TeamTennis for the Texas Wild, the League’s newest franchise. Bouchard, who played for the team as a 15-year-old when it competed in Kansas City, helped the Wild secure a place in the Western Conference Championship match on Thursday, July 25 against the Springfield Lasers. She also played a pivotal part in ending the Washington Kastles’ major pro sports record 34-match win streak by clinching the final set.
Mylan WTT recently caught up with Bouchard, discussing team bonding, wearing PJs in public and video editing skills among other things.
How have you found your second season of Mylan World TeamTennis, given the four-year hiatus between your rookie season?
Bouchard: I love it. A lot has changed since I last played TeamTennis. I think it's a great thing. You only have three weeks out of the year to do it. I've been having a lot of fun so far.
Mylan WTT offers players a chance to connect through team bonding. What has this change of pace been like for you?
Bouchard: The team bonding has been the best part. There are some really entertaining characters on our team. It's been so fun, no matter what we do. We've had some team bonding activities, like going to the movies. When people are late, they do fines on our home court. Some have had to dance, sing or give speeches, myself included, so we've made it a fun atmosphere. Tennis is such an individual sport, so have a team aspect is something I think we're all enjoying.
The Wild have been spotted on several occasions wearing their official Mylan WTT PJs... just how comfortable are they for you to be wearing them in airports and train stations?
Bouchard: We wear them all the time. We don't understand why no one else wears them, or puts them on rarely. We find them so comfortable. It represents us as a team. We've really taken to the team spirit, so I think wearing the PJs solidifies who we are.
You’ve made quite the transition from the juniors to playing WTA-level events the past 12 months. Why do you think you’ve been able to translate your success so fast?
Bouchard: It's definitely a tough transition. Juniors and the pro levels are completely different levels. The WTA is really about a mental difference. I've had to become mentally tougher. I think I've done that well. Winning in the juniors gave me a lot of confidence and I carried that over to the pros. From then, I've really started playing much better. I want to keep moving up, as I still have a long journey to go.
What is it going to take for the Wild to go all the way to the King Trophy?
Alex Bogomolov interrupts: We have to play collectively.
Bouchard: Did you just learn that word today?
Bogomolov: (Smiles) Yes, just today.
Bouchard: He's a character… but yes, it's close right now. All the teams are tough. We're taking it one match at a time. It's about having fun and enjoying it. We're very competitive and we hate losing.
Last year, you and Laura Robson went viral on YouTube with your own compilation of tennis players dropping Gangham Style moves. How long did it take to put the video together?
Bouchard: It didn't take that long. We filmed some parts in Beijing and then Osaka. We went out every day, a little bit, to film and then spent two hours a night during those weeks editing it. That was a tough process. We wanted to show the fun side of the tour. We're not serious all the time.
When is part two coming out? Perhaps you and Laura have plans to choreograph your own dance, given the latest craze, Harlem Shake, is yesterday’s news?
Bouchard: As for part two, Harlem Shake is so old. Just saying it's old, is old. You can't even talk about it even more. It's so passé. There's no chance of that. There might be something in the works, but I can't really tell you. It's top secret stuff!
For the geekier fans, what software did you use to cut the video?
Bouchard: Haha! We didn't use the basic one. We downloaded Final Cut Pro X for the Mac. It was a full on program and it was intense. It's impressive what you can do with computers. It was fun.
Eugenie Bouchard, her Texas Wild teammates Darija Jurak and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, and Victoria Duval of the Philadelphia Freedoms pose for a photo sporting their official Mylan WTT pajama pants (Photo: Matt Fitzgerald).