When It Rains, It Pours: Bouchard and Peliwo Claim Canada's First Junior Slam Championships at Wimbledon
by Colette Lewis
, 12 July 2012
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When the Wimbledon Junior Championships began, Canada was still seeking its first singles title in junior grand slam history. When the cool and damp week of continual rain delays was over, Canada had two, with Eugenie Bouchard defeating Elina Svitolina for the girls title, and Filip Peliwo downing defending champion Luke Saville to claim the boys title at the All England Club.
Bouchard, the No. 5 seed, had her share of challenges in reaching the final, particularly in the quarterfinals, when she dropped the first set to unseeded wild card Antonia Lottner
of Germany before emerging with a 4-6, 6-0, 6-2 victory.
But once she reached the championship match, the 18-year-old from Montreal was playing her best tennis, with her 6-2, 6-2 victory over the third-seeded Ukrainian clinical in its precision.
"I felt surprisingly calm," said Bouchard, who kept her focus on the court, not on the intimidating surroundings created by the 7,000 fans in the famous Court 1. "I was happy with myself for that. But I felt like I was playing really well. So I was just staying calm and positive, focusing on one point at a time, not thinking about anything else. That really helped me."
Svitolina, the 2010 Roland Garros girls champion who received her entry and seeding for the Wimbledon Juniors based on her WTA ranking of 176, struggled with her serve all day, and Bouchard took advantage of it.
Although Bouchard surrendered a 2-0 lead in the first set, she didn't face a break point the rest of the match, while Svitolina could not find a first serve, leaving Bouchard to feast on her second.
Bouchard, whose best finish in her 11 previous junior slams was the semifinals, didn't let herself think ahead, even when she took the opening game of the second set with a break of Svitolina.
"I was pretty calm, I just blocked it all out," said Bouchard, who trains at Tennis Canada's National Centre and also works part time with former WTA No. 3 Natalie Tauziat of France. "I didn't spend time looking around. I had a job to do and I was just focused on that."
Bouchard kept her 2-0 lead in the second set this time, serving well and hitting 14 of her 21 winners as her confidence grew. Whenever Svitolina left a ball short, Bouchard put it away, and Svitolina was unable to lift her game Bouchard's level.
With the 17-year-old Svitolina serving down 2-4 in the second set, Bouchard really stepped up the pressure. Without giving Svitolina any time to extend the rallies and find her rhythm, Bouchard hit two return winners to give herself two break points. Then suddenly, with an emphatic forehand winner, she had a 5-2 lead and was serving for the championship. Four points later, it was over, with Svitolina hitting a forehand wide to give Bouchard the 6-2, 6-2 victory, which elicited little in the way of celebration from the Canadian.