Eugenie Bouchard nominated for WTA's "Most Improved Player" award for 2014

Eh Game
The Canadian had a little tennis exhibition with The Raptor at the NBA game in Toronto Tuesday night. (nba.com)
The Canadian had a little tennis exhibition with The Raptor at the NBA game in Toronto Tuesday night. (nba.com)

Eugenie Bouchard has been the WTA Tour's Player of the Month.

She's been the Rising Star of the Month. She has been the Newcomer of the Year.

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This week, the 20-year-old from Westmount, Que. has an opportunity to win the Tour's "Most Improved Player" Award for 2014.

There are five nominees, of various ages and accomplishments, from 29-year-old Casey Dellacqua of Australia to Bouchard who, at 20, is the youngest.

Here are the ages, and the beginning and final season rankings for the nominees.

Genie Bouchard is among the nominees for Most Improved on the WTA Tour this year.
Genie Bouchard is among the nominees for Most Improved on the WTA Tour this year.

What are the criteria? Well, we're not sure.

Ana Ivanovic won it in 2005 when she was 17, after winning a small event in January to start the season and going from No. 100 to No. 17 in the rankings by year's end. Simona Halep, currently the world No. 3, got it last year at 22, after winning six titles. Veteran Francesca Schiavone of Italy was 30 in 2010, the year she won her only Grand Slam title at the French Open, even though she was already a top-20 player. At 25, countrywoman Sara Errani came out of seemingly nowhere to win four titles, reach the French Open final and go from outside the top 50 to No. 7 in the rankings in 2012, the year she won the award.

For the first time, The WTA is allowing fans to vote for their awards online. Fans won't determine the entire vote but will, per the WTA, "count as one of the coveted media votes" in the final tally. They don't disclose who is voting or how many media votes there will be in all, so we can't gauge the relative impact of the fan vote.

Click here to vote and see the short blurbs outlining each nominee's credentials, mostly tennis-related. Bouchard's paragraph also mentions that her "attacking style on court and girl-next-door charm off it earned her an army of loyal followers who packed the courtside seats" for her semi-final run at the Australian Open.

Click the image above to see the video
Click the image above to see the video

 In the end, it's a popularity contest. Click early and often.

You can vote for Bouchard an unlimited number of times, in theory. But one Coco Vandeweghe fan found out there is indeed a limit.

All are deserving; the veteran Dellacqua meets one definition of "most improved" because her rankings rise comes relatively late in her career even if she had been at that level before (that might be more of a "comeback player of the year" path, though).

The other four are all young and still improving. The rises of Pliskova and Bouchard have been more linear while Vandeweghe and Garcia, for whom many had huge expectations when they were just 17 or 18, may just now be coming into their own.

Belinda Bencic, the 17-year-old future star from Switzerland, rose from No. 212 to No. 32 in the rankings this season. So she would definitely qualify. But Bencic was already snapped up by the "Newcomer of the year" awards – which you can vote for here – along with Kurumi Nara of Japan, a 22-year-old who has been a full-time professional for more than five years. Bouchard won that award a year ago.

Since the end of her season in Singapore, Bouchard has taken some time off, including a ski trip out west.

Of course, she's posting selfies – the polar-bear selfie is the continuation of her Halloween theme, and therefore puts it a close second to the Epic "Pope" selfie,.

The juxtaposition of themes puts the Polar Bear selfie series a close second behind the iconic "Pope selfie."

If the WTA Tour ever comes up with a fan vote for the "Selfie Award", Bouchard will win it. In fact, just like the "Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award" on the ATP Tour, they might even name it after her.

Tuesday night, Bouchard was back closer to home at the Toronto Raptors' game, playing tennis with the mascot (click on the pic to see the video)

At the Raptors-Magic game Tuesday night, Genie Bouchard played a little tennis with The Raptor  (nba.com)
At the Raptors-Magic game Tuesday night, Genie Bouchard played a little tennis with The Raptor  (nba.com)

Bouchard's racquet sponsor, Babolat, probably won't be too thrilled with the generic white racquet. And the maintenance crew at the ACC probably won't be thrilled by the high-heeled boots on the floor. But it was pretty cute.

Next up is a junket to the exclusive Necker Island resort next week, along with countryman Vasek Pospisil, to play an exhibition in which well-heeled tennis fans get to team up with current and former players in a week-long tennis event.

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