Always looking ahead, the Family Circle Cup marketing staff Monday had some of the world's top tennis players reading promos for next year.
"The Family Circle Cup, April 4th to 12th, 2015. We'll see you there," Eugenie Bouchard said, squinting through sunshine at a camera.
"Genie. Can we get you to finish with a smile?"
"I'll try," the 20-year-old Canadian said with a giggle.
No problem for Bouchard, the latest prime candidate for the future face of women's tennis. This week's Family Circle Cup has a great group of young Americans, but no one on Daniel Island shines brighter with potential than Bouchard. Ranked No. 20 in WTA singles, the Montreal native slugged her way to the Australian Open semifinals in January before losing to eventual champion Li Na.
"She may be the best player in the world one day," Na said.
Reasons to believe:
. Bouchard was a junior whiz, training in Florida with coach Nick Saviano. She won the Wimbledon girls' final and other prestigious youth tournaments.
. The 5-10, 134-pound Bouchard quickly transitioned from a steady player as a kid to a power pro, vaulting from No. 144 in the WTA rankings to No. 32 last year.
. She gets it. The WTA is selling her look as well as her game, but Bouchard seems to have the head for career management, on and off the court.
"Outside attention is great," she said Monday. "But if there's no tennis, no one will really care. So I know I have to perform on the court and that's the reason I'm here."
Bouchard was asked if WTA players think of her differently now.
"I don't know," Bouchard said. "They can think what they want. I'm just focused on myself."
Popular with fansHer post-Melbourne life has included plenty of adjustments.
"The main thing is just requests," Bouchard said. "My agent will say, 'Don't do this' or 'Don't do that' and I think it's important to say no to a few things just because it will take up so much time. The most important thing is my time on the practice court and fitness. After I get all those things done, then I can go and do something else."
That doesn't mean Bouchard can't enjoy a little popularity. A fan club turns up at every tournament. Canadian pop star Justin Bieber offered a good luck Tweet during the Australian Open.
A Family Circle Cup website poll Monday asked fans to vote for the player they were "most excited to see."
Two-time defending champ Serena Williams was the runaway leader with 560 votes. Bouchard was second with 185, well ahead of everyone else.
"It's fun at tournaments," Bouchard said. "More fans, more people care about what you're doing. I'm just trying to take it all in stride."
High-level tennis success comes with tricky spin, as young players find out every year. Sloane Stephens, 21, reached the semifinals at the 2013 Australian Open, endured a year of ups and downs and finished ranked No. 12. She is No. 18 this week.
"I've learned that I have a lot of tennis to play," Stephens said Monday. "It's definitely been a learning process."
Bouchard carries the extra weight of an eager nation. The only other Canadians in the top 200 are No. 87 Sharon Fichman and No. 172 Aleksandra Wozniak.
Canada is still looking for its first Grand Slam singles champion.
Don't bet against Bouchard.
"She's made huge improvements in the last couple of years," WTA veteran Samantha Stosur said Monday. "Now she's made the semi of a Grand Slam. She has a good game and she's still young and there are still lots of ways she can improve. I think she's going to be an exciting player for years to come."
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff.
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