Sunday, October 24, 2010

2010 Regional Honors



The 2010 Backspin Awards are almost here, so consider this something of a mini-preview... region by region.

==NORTH AMERICA==
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Serena Williams, USA
POY (RUNNER-UP): Venus Williams, USA
RISER: Rebecca Marino, CAN
SURPRISE: Beatrice Capra, USA
VETERAN: Liezel Huber, USA
FRESH FACE: Coco Vandeweghe, USA
COMEBACK: Bethanie Mattek-Sands, USA
DOWN: Aleksandra Wozniacki, CAN
JUNIOR: Sloane Stephens, USA
DOUBLES: Vania King, USA
TEAM: United States Fed Cup Team
ITF PLAYER: Jamie Hampton, USA
IMPROVED: Alison Riske, USA
UNDERRATED: Jill Craybas, USA
PERFORMANCE: Serena Williams wins Wimbledon without dropping a set
NATION ON THE RISE: Canada
COMEBACK NATION: United States

==SOUTH AMERICA==
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Gisela Dulko, ARG
POY (RUNNER-UP): Mariana Duque-Marino, COL
RISER: Gabriela Paz, VEN
SURPRISE: Florencia Molinaro, ARG
VETERAN: Catalina Castano, COL
FRESH FACE: Camila Silva, CHI
DOWN: Maria-Fernanda Alves, BRA
JUNIOR: Agustina Sol Eskenazi, ARG
DOUBLES: Gisela Dulko, ARG
TEAM: Maria Irigoyen/Meilen Auroux, ARG (Fed Cup)
ITF PLAYER: Roxane Vaisemberg, BRA
IMPROVED: Paula Ormaechea, ARG
UNDERRATED: Meilen Auroux, ARG
PERFORMANCE: Gisela Dulko wins three Premier-level doubles titles
NATION ON THE RISE: Brazil
COMEBACK NATION: Argentina

==ASIA/PACIFIC==
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Samantha Stosur, AUS
POY (RUNNER-UP): Li Na, CHN
RISER: Jarmila Groth, AUS
SURPRISE: Sally Peers, AUS
VETERAN: Tamarine Tanasugarn, THA
FRESH FACE: Ayumi Morita, JPN
COMEBACK: Sesil Karatantcheva, KAZ
DOWN: Chinese Fed Cup Team
JUNIOR: Sachie Ishizu, JPN
DOUBLES: Yaroslava Shvedova, KAZ
TEAM: Chan Yung-Jan/Zheng Jie, TPE/CHN
ITF PLAYER: Jelena Dokic, AUS
IMPROVED: Anastasia Rodionova,AUS
UNDERRATED: Akgul Amanmuradova, UZB
PERFORMANCE: Li Na & Zheng Jie reach Australian Open singles semifinals
NATION ON THE RISE: Taiwan
COMEBACK NATIONS: Australia & Japan

==AFRICA/MIDDLE EAST==
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Shahar Peer, ISR
POY (RUNNER-UP): Cara Black ZIM
RISER: Nadia Lalami, MAR
SURPRISE: Fatma Al Nabhani, OMA
VETERAN: Cara Black, ZIM
FRESH FACE: Chanel Simmonds, RSA
COMEBACK: Julia Glushko, ISR
DOWN: Shahar Peer, ISR (in SF's, where she was 1-6)
JUNIOR: Ons Jabeur, TUN
DOUBLES: Cara Black, ZIM
TEAM: Nour Abbes/Ons Jabeur, TUN
ITF PLAYER: Pemra Ozgen, TUR
IMPROVED: Chanelle Scheepers, RSA
UNDERRATED: Cagla Buyakakcay, TUR
PERFORMANCE: Cara Black completes career Mixed Doubles slam with Australian Open Mixed title
NATION ON THE RISE: Tunisia
COMEBACK NATION: South Africa

==RUSSIA==
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Vera Zvonareva
POY (RUNNER-UP): Elena Dementieva
RISER: Alisa Kleybanova
SURPRISE: Alla Kudryavtseva
VETERAN: Nadia Petrova
FRESH FACE: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
COMEBACK: Anna Chakvetadze
DOWN: Russian Fed Cup Team
JUNIOR: Daria Gavrilova
DOUBLES: Maria Kirilenko
TEAM: Russian Junior Fed Cup Team
ITF PLAYER: Anna Lapushchenkova
IMPROVED: Evgeniya Rodina
UNDERRATED: Ekaterina Makarova
PERFORMANCE: Vera Zvonareva reaches back-to-back slam singles finals at Wimbledon & the U.S. Open

==REST OF EUROPE==
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Francesca Schiavone, ITA
POY (RUNNER-UP): Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
RISER: Victoria Azarenka, BLR
SURPRISE: Anastasiya Sevastova, LAT
VETERAN: Kim Clijsters, BEL
FRESH FACE: Alexandra Dulgheru, ROU
COMEBACK: Justine Henin, BEL
DOWN: Jelena Jankovic, SRB
JUNIOR: Karolina & Kristyna Pliskova, CZE
DOUBLES: Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova, CZE
TEAM: Italian Fed Cup Team
ITF PLAYER: Mathilde Johansson, FRA
IMPROVED: Kaia Kanepi, EST
UNDERRATED: Johanna Larsson, SWE
PERFORMANCE: Francesca Schiavone, days from her 30th birthday, wins herfirst slam crown at Roland Garros
NATIONS ON THE RISE: Belarus, Great Britain, Kazakhstan & Romania
COMEBACK NATIONS: Czech Republic & Germany





Looking to "buy stock" in a few players for 2011? Getting cold feet and thinking you should "sell" your holdings in one of those past investments? Here are a few WTA "market tips"... take them to heart at your own peril.

=BUY=
NORTH AMERICA: Rebecca Marino, CAN & Alison Riske, USA
...they've both put together back-to-back-to-back ITF title runs since the end of the U.S. Open.

SOUTH AMERICA: Veronica Cepede Royg, PAR & Camila Silva, CHI
...ready to fully inherit de los Rios' leading role in Paraguayan women's tennis -- and she's still a teenager. Hey, 17-year old Silva is a "Chilean Minor," and I hear they're hot right now. So... naturally.

ASIA/PACIFIC: Chang Kai-Chen, TPE & Yaroslava Shvedova, KAZ
...slowly, but surely, Chang is proving that her late '09 surge wasn't a flash in the pan. Meanwhile, is Shvedova capable of being a Top 5 Doubles AND Top 20 singles player next year?

AFRICA/MIDDLE EAST: Ons Jabeur, TUN
...finally, a player to follow in Selima Sfar's untouched Tunisian footsteps in the sand.

RUSSIA: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
...next stop: Top 10. Or, at least Top 15 in 2011.

REST OF EUROPE: Justine Henin/BEL, Yanina Wickmayer/BEL & Petra Kvitova/CZE
...crossing fingers and toes for LPT 3.0 is the new Backspin pastime. With less off-court stress, maybe Wickmayer can get back to where she was when she ended '09 and successfully rode the crest of her emotions in January '10. Kvitova has the goods, even if she's been struggling to learn how to traverse the new landscape that comes with being a grand slam semifinalist since July.

=SELL=
NORTH AMERICA: Stephanie Dubois, CAN
...a Canadian who can player decent tennis isn't as much of a oddity/novelty as it was a few seasons ago.

SOUTH AMERICA: Gisela Dulko, ARG (in singles)
...even as her doubles results have soared, it's been over two years since she won a singles title. It's not a good thing when your most memorable singles match of the season is the one in which your opponent literally collapses on the court through not fault of your own.

ASIA/PACIFIC: Samantha Stosur, AUS
...I'm just not very confident in her '11 chances after the way her results have dipped since her crushing loss in the Roland Garros final.

AFRICA/MIDDLE EAST: Chanelle Scheepers, RSA
...what are the chances she'll have back-to-back "career years?"

RUSSIA: Dinara Safina
...a tennis player with back (and head) problems is not something on which to bet the family nest egg.

REST OF EUROPE: Tsvetana Pironkova, BUL
...one wondered what sort of player she'd be after reaching a slam semifinal. Unfortunately, we found out.

=HAVE A LITTLE FAITH IN THE INVESTMENT=
NORTH AMERICA: Melanie Oudin, USA
...she's still only 18.

SOUTH AMERICA: Gisela Dulko, ARG (in singles)
...of course, the more successful she is in doubles (could a #1 ranking be in her future?), the more tempting it is to believe that she'll finally round into the consistent singles threat her fans have always hoped she become.

ASIA/PACIFIC: Sania Mirza, IND
...she missed out on Commonwealth Games Gold, but she showed that she still cares.

AFRICA/MIDDLE EAST: Cara Black, ZIM
...the search for the perfect late-career partner continues. But Black has a history of linking up with a new regular doubles teammate every few years and making it work all over again. Maybe she can do it one final time for old time's sake.

RUSSIA: Svetlana Kuznetsova
...she's drifted off before and managed to come back strong. She will again. Eventually.

REST OF EUROPE: Ana Ivanovic, SRB & Sabine Lisicki, GER
...AnaIvo continues to work at finding the right combination. One day she'll jimmy open that post-'08 Roland Garros lock on her potential, and wonder why it took so long to do it. This is the time when everyone should have one of those mass consciousness moments and try to telepathically force Lisicki's body to hold together, and just hope that no one whispers those "spell-breaking" words into her ear. You know what they are... "Julia Vakulenko."


All for now.

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